Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama on Race

I just watched today's Obama speech on race and I have to say it was pretty impressive. It was more interesting than American Idol, which I turned off when I realized that this was one that I had to watch straight through and not during the (long and frequent) commercials.

I kind of feel like I've just watched a really good episode of West Wing, like those times when I can hear good writing happening in my head and my fingers try to keep up.

But I think Obama's message was fantastic. I agree wholeheartedly that this election should stop being about race, because what my experience in South Africa taught me is that Americans have so much in common, even when they don't realize it. I don't want to denigrate South Africans by saying that they're not like Americans (because ultimately we're all human) or pretend that I completely understand the African-American experience, but the truth is that we watch the same tv, DO have many of the same problems and hopes (as Obama pointed out so eloquently), are governed under the same set of laws and by the same people, share a language, and learned many of the same things in school. And I wish more people realized that and would focus on our similarities, rather than our differences, as Sen. Obama did this morning.

His remarks reminded me of one of the things we learned about in South Africa, but so often struggled to integrate into our lives: Ubuntu. As many of you know, it's the concept that "I am, because we are." And realizing that we MUST recognize our overwhelming commonalities, rather than our differences when tackling the problems that almost every American worries about, the economy, education, health care, and foreign policy, seems to me like our own American Ubuntu.

It was great.