According to a recent NY Times and CBS poll, there is a continuing disparity between what white and black Americans think about race relations.
I don't have the statistics handy - I don't really need them. What I do know is that blacks and whites are not integrating, either in work, at school or in their neighborhoods. They are not spending a significant amount of time with people of another race. Blacks think that race relations have changed little in the last 30 years and whites think they have. How can one know the answer to that question when one lives in a homogeneous society?
During recent months, Barack Obama has spoken of race - thanks to his former Reverend Wright, he has spoken more on race than he expected, I imagine. He has spoken of missing fathers, broken homes, child support reform and more. He is trying to have crucial conversations, but the American people are not ready to have them.
Jesse Jackson has criticized Obama for not addressing issues germane to the black race, but what has he been doing in the last 10 years? I don't recall him having any crucial conversations. It is so easy to point the finger at others when all in our own house is not in order.
It scares me to think that intelligent thinking Americans will really not vote for Obama simply based on his race - he is, after all, 1/2 black and 1/2 white - he is NOT black - he is NOT white - he is BOT. I am offended at the notion that he should have to deny his heritage to appease anyone. Indeed, while his mother was pursuing her further studies, it was his white maternal grandparents who stepped in and raised him to be the person who was able to get scholarships to Harvard.
Let's start talking about race - in our homes, in our places of work, our places of worship and anywhere else where it is appropriate and expedient.
I know that the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church are both having these conversations. Others would do well to follow suit.