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I missed President Obama's "conversation" but saw highlights of it later, and of course all the media take on it. What made it genuine was that he spoke freely with no teleprompter and without a script for 17 minutes...from the heart. Yes he is absolutely the right person to lead discussions about race in America precisely because it is a divisive issue...and because from his personal experiences, he is uniquely qualified. So much of our everyday life and politics is tainted by race, and it's time we had a serious dialogue on it. The stereotyping, as Obama indicated by his personal examples, is real. And it hurts.
I do understand the reluctance of so many people to talk about race. For many of them, their worldviews are defined by their unconscious mind...a product of the upbringing in a society, culture and home life where racial stereotyping was ingrained into them. It's hard to change that...in many cases it's generational. The young people of America, however, are indeed more open minded and tolerant, especially those that are exposed to other races, ethnicities, religions, and cultures at schools or in jobs.
Those kids that are home schooled to protect and shield them from the "other" will struggle in later life.
I should make one other point, however, about the timing of Obama's speech. In reading the media (if it's true) there is a lot of racial pent up anger and frustration ready to boil over in cities across America, much of it years in the making, but the Zimmerman verdict perhaps the final episode that could cause it to cascade into violence. President Obama was speaking on behalf of the African-American populace, and his words resonated with many African-Americans that someone is indeed hearing and talking about their frustrations. If his speech quelled any thoughts of protests becoming ugly this weekend then it served its purpose...for now at least.
Nevertheless, we must have that dialogue, and look past and ignore the Sean Hannity's of this world who can't seem to get past his own race baiting.