Outraged at the Media, not Jeremiah Wright

Date March 21, 2008

I watched Obama’s speech Tuesday in Philadelphia on race. http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords I was very moved by it and was in awe of his ability to name these racial and economic elephants so simply and truthfully. His ability to rise above the petty accusations and stay connected to his goal of leading our country to face our challenges is astounding. He reminds me of what I perceived to be Lincoln’s greatest strength (as described by Doris Goodwin in “Team of Rivals”): instead of defending himself, accusing others, and taking sides he really is able to rise above the fray and see others, the system, the larger purpose with clarity — and then somehow hold all those pieces in his head and communicate in common English.

I have worked incredibly hard on myself (my critical thinking, leadership, and systems analysis skills), for all of my adulthood — just so that I might blindly discern that such a clear vision exists. To challenge my assumptions, to see others behind their fight/flight behaviors, to grasp the system and dynamics behind seemingly random events/conflicts — and to do so when the stakes are so high… it’s not just that Obama is intelligent or brilliant (though true, those words aren’t appropriate); he is evolved, more conscious.

I’m of course putting him on a pedestal of sorts, and I’m sure he has his flaws, or loses his temper and clarity from time to time. But for him to have the insight, courage and eloquence to provide such a personal, powerful, and sweeping “state of race in the nation”, to create an opportunity from crisis, he irrefutably showed that he has the self-awareness, commitment and grasp of human nature needed to lead us.

After watching the speech on Tuesday evening, I turned on the news to see the reaction in the media. Overall, they did a hatchet job. I was outraged. If someone didn’t watch his speech in its entirety, and then simply caught the update on Fox news, they might simply conclude that he did a poor job of damage control. I perceived most of the main media channels to be focused on did he know, should he have known, he was spinning, he was lying, etc.

What Obama aimed to do on Tuesday was to help us heal, help us see each other, black and white, for the vulnerable, well-intended, contradictory creatures that we are — and to work together from that starting point. I don’t know what the media’s goal was. It wasn’t to help us move forward as a nation.


Shayne Hughes


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