The Speech is really quite impressive—a richer, more thoughtful, and more honest speech on race than I recall hearing (or expecting to hear) from an American politician. I can pick out in advance the ones that are going to be flagged and quoted by angry conservatives and angry progressives. Watch for those; they’re probably the importantly true ones.
Update: Argh. How f**king obtuse can you get? If you listened to this speech and heard some kind of blame-whitey boilerplate… well, then you didn’t listen to this speech. Apparently there are plenty of white Americans who simply tune out the instant anyone dares to suggest that the past is still with us, that contemporary racial disparities are not entirely unrelated to our unlovely racial history. (“Why you always bringin’ up old shit?” might make a good slogan.) In a way, this just underlines Obama’s point: We’re so segregated that the crew linked above just cannot conceive how someone might utter the words “God damn America” out of anything other than sheer depravity.
I wrote a while back about feeling uneasy when some feminists react as though you must, ipso facto, be engaged in “victim blaming” and “slut shaming” if you observe, on the heels of a well-publicized rape, that there are parts of American cities where it is, tragically, not safe to be alone, intoxicated, and female at 3 am. I feel even more uneasy when I see folks like these guys treat it as whitey-bashing anytime someone observes that black anger at American institutions is (in certain quarters) real, deep, and not completely irrational. This is actually so maddening that I don’t know whether I have much constructive to say just now, but I hope to circle back to all this later in the week. In the meantime, I’ll endorse Jesse Walker’s take.