Friday, March 30, 2012

UNDERSTANDING OBAMA: THE CONUNDRUM OF RACE - Charles Ogletree Lecture, Harvard Law

In February of 2011, Harvard Professor Charles Ogletree gave a three-part lecture at the W.E.B. Du Boise Institute for African and African American Research.  The title of the lecture series was "Understanding Obama" - focusing on Obama's life from Hawaii to the White House. Because each lecture is roughly 90 minutes long, I have clipped portions that I think people will find interesting. You can, however, see the lectures in their entirety here and I would encourage readers to do so.


In the final lecture of his "Understanding Obama" series, Charles Ogletree explores what he calls "the conundrum of race." Ogletree is introduced by a man who sums up the previous two lectures in this way: "The first one took us through the intersection of race and Obama's earlier life then last night we followed him and race, I don't know why they're so intersected." The term "intersection of race" is an interesting term...I'm not sure why, but it's ringing a "Bell".

Ogletree correctly points out that not every criticism of President Obama is racist. Kudos for that, Professor!  He plays the clip of Obama talking about the Louis "Skip" Gates incident and notes Obama's history of highlighting racial profiling. He claims that people looked for ways to disagree with Obama, noting that Glenn Beck's ratings went up when he started criticism Obama. Ogletree applauds Obama's appointment of a "diverse" group of Circuit Court judges - gays, African-Americans, women, etc. 

When asked if Obama will play the "class card", Ogletree says "he already has!" and then explains how Obama has carefully framed the argument for class warfare by using the term "middle class" instead of "poor." Ogletree plans to publish a book about Obama, but says he will wait until after the election. He says that "WE" do want government in our lives, to help us and give us stuff. Ogletree wonders if we will ever be post-racism, because he claims racism is so deeply embedded.

Please watch the video and share it with your friends, family and tweeps. 

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