J. Kameron Carter, obama

Carter on Obama

I was looking around the internet a few minutes ago and found J. Kameron Carter’s response to Obama’s speech on the Des Moines Register.

Here is some of it:

Obama sought to narrate race in such a way as to cut to the quick of the matter: the realities of race and how the destructive effects of racism damage everyone. And rather than “transcending” race or denying the effects of racism, he called us to cast our eyes in hope toward the possibilities of what can be.

The challenge of Obama’s speech is that it advanced a politics of race that says post-racial politics cannot amount to a refusal to remember. It requires memory, even though it is more comfortable not to remember. We remember for the sake of being responsible for the present so that we can chart a new American future.

Obama had no choice but to distance himself from Wright, whose comments, when reduced to a couple of video snippets and 30-second sound bites drawn from his sermons, were racially inflammatory and politically incendiary. The reaction threatened to derail Obama’s presidential bid.

Obama’s speech therefore was arguably the most important of his political career: Its immediate objective was to rescue his campaign.

Yet the significance of Obama’s Philadelphia speech should not be measured ultimately by how it affected his run at the presidency. Rather, it should be viewed as Obama’s effort to take the American public to a new place in engaging the fraught intersection of race, religion and politics.

It is worth noting that in disavowing his former pastor’s remarks, Obama also held up his former pastor as a symbol of the larger frame of black prophetic Christianity. This Christianity is a voice of the nation’s conscience, calling us to our better lights. Black prophetic Christianity lives from hope and from a memory of America’s less-than-stellar racial past that is oriented toward America’s future possibilities.


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