March 31st, 2008
06:24 PM ET

Forget Rev. Wright: Condi talks tough about race in America

Sen. Barack Obama has called for a national discussion on race in America, and one of the folks who sure didn't hold back when asked was Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.


In a discussion with the editorial board of the Washington Times on Thursday, Rice called racism a "birth defect" of America, and said that black Americans have loved the nation even when it didn't love us.

The Times reported:

“Black Americans were a founding population," she said. "Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together — Europeans by choice and Africans in chains. That's not a very pretty reality of our founding.”
“As a result, Miss Rice told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, "descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that..."

"That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today," she said.

Rice later said: "America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race," Miss Rice said, adding that members of her family have "endured terrible humiliations."
"What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them — and that's our legacy," she said.

Wow, was all I could say to that.

What was even more stunning was the relative lack of coverage on this issue.
I was told CNN's "The Situation Room" did a piece on her comments Friday.   But when I surfed the Net to see follow-up stories in other papers, it has pretty much been ignored, except for some briefs.

Why would the mainstream media be so dismissive of Rice's comments? Imagine if Rev. Al Sharpton or Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said such a thing. Do you think they would have gotten ripped?

The fact of the matter is that Rice was right on the money with her comments, and should be commended. She spoke honestly and openly about the issue, and deserves credit for speaking the truth.

I just wish my colleagues in the media would do a better job at advancing the issue of race in America and our sordid history.

We went bonkers about the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, but when Rice, the nation’s chief diplomat, spoke truthfully, it barely made a ripple.

– Roland S. Martin, CNN Contributor

soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Anastasia

    Racism is like metal and minorities in this country wear a magnet whether we like it or not, because of this magnet racism is naturally attracted to us.

    I am a 25 year old African American woman in Omaha, Nebraska. People act surprised that I am single without children and I have a college education. I have encountered people including blacks that have low or no expectations of me. When I go into department stores I am often followed, even though I work everyday and have never stolen anything from anyone. I have gone to the grocery store on the first of the month and was asked if I would be paying with my EBT card.

    I know racism is still an issue in this country; it's a virus so we cannot get rid of it, but we as individuals can treat the symptoms and make our nation an example to the rest of the world.

    April 1, 2008 at 4:56 pm |
  2. Cleo

    It's laughable that people think race doesn't matter anymore or its only a southern thing. When the Rev. Wright thing blew up on TV, there were racist comments from many republican and conservative who weren't all from the south. America is still racist, it runs deep in the fabric and thread of our society and can be seen in all corners of our world. Her comments are so truth and we will probably never overcome the issue of race because we are too stubborn to open our eyes and ears to the issue of race in America.

    Higher education still does not undo the long historical relationship of racism and America. Many people cite affluent blacks(Condi being one herself) as a source of relationship change because they are products of ivy leagues and this provide all other blacks with the same option; saying such comments on reveal someone true inner racist thoughts. Both Wright and Condi words are important because it reveals that America isn't perfect but because we gloss it over with you have rights and we are free - you have no right to complain. We are doing ourselves and the future of this country a disservice. The fact that we cannot have a civil discussion about race in America just means that we haven't come that far. Just because blacks are superficially "treat" better or there appearance from chained naked slaves has improve does not mean that we have come a long way from the issue of race.

    April 1, 2008 at 3:55 pm |
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