Sunday, March 8, 2009

Beyond Conversations about Race?

Here's something interesting to consider.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, President Obama was questioned about U.S. attorney general Eric Holder's comment that America has been a “nation of cowards” when it comes to discussing race. "It’s fair to say that if I had been advising my attorney general," noted Obama, "we would have used different language."

And more important for our concerns here, Obama went on to observe that “I’m not somebody who believes that constantly talking about race somehow solves racial tensions. I think what solves racial tensions is fixing the economy, putting people to work, making sure that people have health care, ensuring that every kid is learning out there. I think if we do that, then we’ll probably have more fruitful conversations.” Here, Obama privileges "fixing" things over "constantly talking."

On college campuses and in liberal circles, there's typically been a focus on talking as opposed to fixing. Unlike the President, most of us are hardly empowered to make policy decisions that can repair or address widespread damages and problems. Still, it's worth considering how we would go about making the practice of fixing things more central to our approaches of dealing with race and racism.

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