A reader writes:
My wife pointed out to me that this Sunday will be very telling. The young and thoughtful members of families who have so far flocked to Obama will sit down with their possibly more volatile relatives, and the conversation will turn to the political contest. Here these Obama supporters, the often passionate and sometimes quiet relations, ubiquitous in every family, will explain Obama's speech to those who have not seen it. It will, I can hope and see, raise the level of discourse within these families on this segregated Sunday of all Sundays. They will see the bright and hopeful faces that I see in Obama supporters. The elderly will take note and smile indulgently; the middle aged will think, perhaps remembering the earliest moments of their conscious childhoods, that maybe we are not a broken nation, forever splintering.
The kitchen sink has been hurled, and the "worst" that could have happened, what I personally have been fearing since the summer, is over. I have been afraid of a Wright-like controversy for almost a year. These are fears born of being a white man working in a "black" high school in the Bronx. Seeing everyday the unadulterated complexity of black America in its beauty and ugliness. A beauty for which we would not be America, and ugliness all too often demonized in popular culture. Fears that white America would wake up and realize that a black man was running for president. I will be showing this speech to my students this week, and I hope they hear it. It's not my primary reason for supporting Barack Obama, but next year, when some of my students inevitably start blaming white people for whatever, or talk about thug life as the best life, or wax poetic on the relative virtues of 50 cent vs. Lil' Wayne, I can look them in the eyes and say: "What about Obama?" We are not past it all yet, but as far as I can see in my 31 years, we are finally moving.