Racism is such a deep part of the American character and experience, I have sometimes despaired that it will ever be eradicated. It has dominated America's civic life for the last two centuries -- where Americans live, how they school their children, how they organize their health care and welfare systems, how they design their cities, how they vote, their political parties -- to the point that racism has become one of the most basic distinctions between American society and Canadian society.
But if there is any one person who can lead America toward a better future, it is Barak Obama.
Here he is talking about LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. While calling Sterling's comments "incredibly offensive racist statements", he also provided, in just a few words, a perspective for Americans to adopt toward this controversy:
Obama cast the comments through a broader prism of racism in America, adding that “we constantly have to be on guard on racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.”Its more than "vestiges" of course, as Obama knows very well. This description acknowledges the reality of racism while also marginalizing it, assuring America that the better angels of their nature will prevail, that the future will be better than the past. That's what leadership looks like.
“The United States continues to wrestle with the legacy of race and slavery and segregation, that’s still there, the vestiges of discrimination,” Obama said during a news conference in Malaysia, where he was travelling.
“We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often,” he added. “And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why statements like this stand out some much is because there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.”