Saturday, February 21, 2009

Eric Holder's Speech On Race

Here is the Attorney General of the United States addressing an audience at the Department of Justice -- and obviously, the rest of the nation as well -- this past Wednesday, 18 February 2009. The speech is about 16 minutes long. [Added: transcript here.]

(alt. video link)

Ta-Nehisi Coates, from whom I swiped this video, called this "Eric Holder's Boring-Ass Speech On Race." He also called it "unremarkable and vague." I do not share these views. While it wasn't the greatest thing I've ever heard on the subject (pretty tough to beat Barack Obama's "A More Perfect Union," obviously), I thought it was a solid speech.

I suppose I can see what Ta-Nehisi was getting at, but I think he made the mistake of assuming everyone else listening to this speech would have spent as much time thinking about these issues as he has, or finds them as easy to talk about as he does. I think Holder said some things that a lot of people would have heard for the first time, or at least, could certainly stand to be reminded of. The comments under Ta-Nehisi's post, which come from an above-average online community in my judgment, bear this out without question. Check the pig-headed statements, check the hypersensitivity, check the honestly puzzled questions and sincere groping for responses.

Maybe Ta-Nehisi was speaking partly tongue in cheek, especially regarding his post title, since the only thing the MSM seems to have reported about this speech was the phrase nation of cowards, which of course, led to no end of hysteria.

Whatever Ta-Nehesi really meant, I think Eric Holder is correct in his assessment, even though the appellation of course does not apply to every last individual, and I salute him for his directness. We have more than enough euphemisms, especially when it comes to dealing with (or not) the issue of race relations.


Charles M. Blow has a good column in which he reflects on That Phrase.

[Added] Leonard Pitts Jr. has another. (h/t: grits-n-gravy)


Little too preachy and earnest for you?

Fair enough. Here is something from a little over a year ago that should help, one of my all-time favorite segments from one of my all-time favorite shows:

(alt. video link)

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