Today, Racism is everywhere according to Hollywood, the media, professional athletes, the education system, social media, elected officials and activism groups. We went from hearing about racism occasionally, in school or when semi-annual larpers trotted out in nazi attire shouting white supremacy to hearing about it everyday everywhere, even in our churches and our workplaces, areas where previously such topics were avoided. With the media claiming a sudden surge in racism following the Trump campaign, but the also sudden discussion of how everything is racist the question is becoming much like the chicken or the egg in some ways. Which is coming first? More racism or more talk that there is more racism?
During Obamas time in office and run for president, talk of racism first started to ramp up and some say his speech on Reverend Wright was one of the best speeches on race ever given by a president. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said at the time “The best speech ever given on race in this country. This is the kind of speech I think first graders should see, people in their last year of college should see before they go out in the world. This should be, to me, an American tract.” Anti-racist rhetoric did become an American tract years later only it spread in o something much greater, much stronger and much more controversial, identity politics.
This excerpt from Obamas speech discussing the unity of Americans and their desire to bring multiple identities together peacefully stands starkly in a world where people are violently beaten in the streets for sharing opposing views in an political capacity in our current climate. “Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.
In the years following this speech Obama would go on to support the tactics of groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa contradicting his speech of unity and not being a nation based on racial politics. He would lead a charge against racism unlike we have ever seen besides the likes of JFK Jr. He pushed America full speed ahead, silently accepting identity politics while also preaching diversity, inclusion and tolerance with the other hand. Obamas flirtation with identity politics left the nation divided and at a boiling point, directly before handing it over to President Trump.
We now see more racial division than we have since the civil rights era and identity has started to become something that everyone is considering either because they have become interested in the topic or because daily life has forced them to realize that they have a group and an in-group preference which is innate whether they like it or not. Did Obamas racial hysteria in turn feed more racial hysteria and can America heal from its wounds or will we continue to divide down racial lines? Only time will tell, but one thing is sure we are living in a racially super charged time.