Tomorrow morning (I’m not sure when or if it will be televised), Obama will be giving a speech in Philadelphia entitled “Race, Politics, and Unifying Our Country.” If there were any doubts about Obama being one of the foremost politicians of this or any generation, the amount of pre-press his speech has gotten should put those to rest. It’s equal parts desire to see him spin his way out of the maelstrom he’s found himself in recently and a desire to hear his thoughts on the issue at hand.
But what will he say?
Back when Obama first entered the race, there was some debate as to whether or not he was “black enough.” This was because of his background, being the child of an African man and a white woman (I find it interesting that one is defined by his nationality and the other by her skin color, but that’s neither here nor there). At the time, I made the claim that Obama’s background was a perfect storm. Clearly, he’s suffered the same prejudices that all people of color have — people who see his skin color aren’t going to differentate because his mom was white or his dad African. At the same time, Obama was removed from any environment that might have subconsciously convinced him that he was a second class citizen. He has never viewed a ceiling in what he could accomplish, real or otherwise. Because many minorities in this country are raised believing that they can only do so much in this country and that’s a hard mentality to break.
I think that’s what Obama should talk about and I think he should tie it directly into Jeremiah Wright’s comments. He’s already made comments that Wright’s (and Ferarro’s) controversial speeches are the result of an older generation, one that is (justifiably) wary of the ground that someone like Obama is treading on. More to the point, Wright is using an old lexicon; he’s stuck in the language of the past.
Obama needs to address this, not just to clear the air of Wright’s comments, but to set the tone for his campaign in the months to come. He needs to make it clear that his is a campaign and a presidency whose time has come. He needs to make it very clear that the social paradigm in this country has changed and that it must change even more.
He needs to make the majority realize that he doesn’t want to overthrow them and that he just wants Americans to be Americans. He needs to make the minority realize that he understands their pains and that he’s going to make things better through positivity — and that the old negativity, on both sides, is no longer welcome.
It’s going to be a big speech, but it could turn the election on its ear.
Tomorrow’s a big day.