Obama says race relations have improved, but work left undone
President Obama said during a commencement address at Howard University that race relations have improved over the last 3 decades and admitted that his presidency had not led to a "post racial society."
Obama also advised graduates not to "sleepwalk through life" - which is pretty much what the president is doing when he claims improvement as a result of his election.
President Barack Obama said in a commencement speech on Saturday that U.S. race relations have improved over the last three decades, but that significant work still needs to be done.
"I tell you this not to lull you into complacency, but to spur you into action because there's still so much work to do," Obama told about 2,300 Howard University graduates in Washington, acknowledging that racism and inequality still persist. "We cannot sleepwalk through life," he said.
The United States has faced a number of racial controversies in recent years, including the 2014 shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, that sparked sometimes violent protests.
The United States has a racial gap in economic opportunities, Obama said, noting that the overall U.S. employment rate is around 5 percent, but it is near 9 percent for African-Americans.
Obama, the son of a white mother and African father, told the graduates to embrace their racial identity.
"Be confident in your blackness," Obama said, adding "there is no one way to be black ... There's no straightjacket, there's no constraints, there's no litmus test for authenticity."
He added that "my election did not create a post-racial society," but was one example of how attitudes have changed.
Obama also urged the crowd not to try to prod colleges and universities into disinviting controversial speakers - something that has taken place regularly at campuses throughout the United States.
Howard University is one of about 100 historically black colleges and universities in the United States.
Obama argued that the United States and the world has progressed dramatically since 1983 when he graduated from college.
"America is by almost every measure better than it was" in 1983, Obama said, noting that U.S. poverty rate is down, the number of people with college degrees is up and the number of women in the workforce have risen.
For the record, a CNN poll from last year shows that only 11% of whites and 25% of blacks see race relations as getting better under President Obama. The poll also showed that 45% of whites believe race relations have gotten worse while 26% of blacks think so.
True, over the last 30 years, race relations have probably improved some. But lately, there has been a backlash against political correctness, affirmative action, and anti-police movements like Black Lives Matter. All of these problems have been made worse by the Obama administration and the Department of Justice.
There will never be perfect equality. And whatever strides are made in improving race relations won't come from government and their racialist allies like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Both those men, and many blacks and whites like them, have a vested, financial interest in racial division. Until we can look beyond those with the loudest voices making the most paranoid and fantastical claims about either real or perceived racial incidents, there will continue to be great disatisfaction with the state of race relations in America.