Kyle-Anne Shiver has some very personal reflections on the Obama speech. Our frequent contributor now her own blog, Common Sense Regained, up and running, and it features her latest essay, Reflections on Obama's Race Speech. Two brief excerpts:
I grew up as a white girl during the Civil Rights Movement. Even within the confines of my very white Southern home, I never heard racial hate preached, or even condoned. My grandmother forbade use of the N-word within her home, and I grew up knowing that one had to be crude and ignorant to use that word. I knew it early as a hate word.
Nevertheless, no one in my family did anything to change a system that institutionalized racial discrimination, humiliation and outright cruelty against all persons with black skin. They all took part in the system just as it had been passed down to them by their parents. All the adults in our family, especially the older ones, still held terrific resentments over the horrors of the War Between the States and the period of Reconstruction, which was designed to punish, rather than to reconcile. [....]
The one thing, in my opinion, that gave Dr. King his greatest strength was that he truly understood that under Jim Crow's institutionalized racism, the ones in the most danger, the ones to whom the most ultimate harm was being done, were not the oppressed, but the oppressors.
How could he understand that? He was a genuine Christian, who understood that earthly suffering was merely temporal. He knew that it was the white people, blinded by their own hate and sin who were dooming themselves to hell and that many among them would pay eternally for the sin of racism.