Saturday, July 14, 2012

Thoughts Inspired by Morgan Freeman's Reference to President Obama's Race

            Talk shows and news programs were abuzz this week over Morgan Freeman’s comments about President Obama’s race. According to the press Mr. Freeman stated that President Obama was not the nation’s first African-American President, he was the first “mixed race” president because his mother was white. The ladies of The View gave their opinions about the statement and one of them had to admit Mr. Freeman was right. I don’t know what point Mr. Freeman was trying to make, whether it is that President Obama is not a representative of the African-American people or stating the obvious about the President’s racial status. In any case, I have never thought President Obama’s African-American heritage was the most important thing about his election to the Presidency.  
In 2009, upon the completion of my book “The Peacemaker” I wrote in the Epilogue:

“History was made in the election of 2008 pitting a female and African American male in a dramatic race for the Democratic Party nomination for President. Barack Obama has been elected the first African American president; however, Obama’s mother was a Caucasian.
As I have tried to point out in my book, America is a country of blending. We are not an Aryan nation. We are one people from many different ethnicities and cultures. We are one nation, and the key to our unity must be in coming together as one celebrating our different heritages and traditions that enrich us as we put aside past hurts and grievances.”

The importance of Obama’s election was not that he was of one race, but that he was from a diverse background. The President of this country represents all the people, not one race, economic group or political party. For too long, the President represented only one group of people – those originally enfranchised – the while male, over 21 who owned property. The hope of the 2008 election was not that an oppressed race finally had a voice in the White House, but that perhaps there was someone who would put aside the concept of race and represent all the people of this country and listen to all the voices. The polarization that I wrote about in 2009 still exists and seems only to have gotten worse, paralyzing the nation and crippling the government’s ability to serve the people it represents.
If we are to move forward, we must free ourselves of the concept of race and the entrenched divisions in our government based on race, political party lines and agendas. Perhaps George Washington said it best in his Farewell Address:

“The alternate dominion of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge… is itself a frightful despotism. Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not be entirely out of sight) the common and continual mischiefs (sic) of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it. It (political party) serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another and foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruptions, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions.”

The same could be said of dividing our country along the lines of race. We’ve come a long way from the 18th Century of George Washington, but have we?