Thursday, March 20, 2008

Race and Religion in America

Let’s Talk About Race, Part II

Let’s Talk About Race

Clinton Rising — Or Democrats Just Sinking?

Did Obama’s Speech Reach the Voters He Needs?;
“He did take a risk, but he saw this as something bigger than his candidacy, bigger than this election,” said Camille Charles, an Obama supporter who is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Pennsylvania.

“With the people who are already likely supporters, all of those groups to some extent already understand that race is a complicated issue,” she said. “They also have a different perspective on traditional American politics. They know he could have just denounced Rev. Wright but it would have been perceived as pandering and no one would have bought it and he’d find himself with the same problems.”

But there are other voters in the state for whom the speech may be more of a question mark — notably white, working-class Democrats, mostly men, the same sort who helped Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton win neighboring Ohio. They represent perhaps a quarter of the voters in Pennsylvania’s Democratic primary.

In his speech, Mr. Obama spoke to some of their concerns.

Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race,” Mr. Obama said.

Many have worked hard all their lives, he said, adding: “So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African-American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.”

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