The elephant that has not only been in the room, but sitting on top of us, has finally been revealed and we are stronger for it. Senator Barack Obama, in his speech in response to the littering of the Internet with videos of his ex-pastor's sermons on race in America, talked openly about the progeny of a nation conceived in liberty and yet mired in the most heinous of institutions--slavery. Sen. Obama identified that progeny--racism, Jim Crow laws, discrimination, black anger, and white anger, and the world did not come to an end.
Finally, someone has just flat out said, "Let's talk about race." If we listen, and I mean really listen to what Sen. Obama has to say, we can move towards an understanding of America's race problem that is an essential step in healing the racial divide that weakens and undermines our nation.
I became a lawyer because I believed in the ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the Preamble to the Constitution. When I re-read those documents, which I frequently do, I am still moved at the ideology expressed therein.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed...
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
I am not naive, and I do not believe that we, as a nation, have always lived up to these ideals, but what gives me sustenance is the ideals themselves, something worth striving for, worth working to achieve. In the words of Robert Browning, "Ah, if a man's reach does not exceed his grasp,then what's a heaven for?"
Obama's speech today joins my list of inspirational documents. I hope that it is the catalyst to begin conversations at the dinner table, around the water cooler, and in our places of worship about the the ways in which we relate to one another. I hope that we engage in dialogues in which we acknowledge our biases but also recognize our commonalities; I hope that we work together to discover a healing place, grounded in respect and love for all of humankind.
To read the full text of Sen. Obama's speech, please click here. If you would like to watch and listen to him deliver the speech, please see the video below.