Joseph C. Phillips

According to the website CNN.com, some of the criticism of first lady Michelle Obama is driven by partisan politics. However, “others say the attacks are rooted in white resentment of the “uppity Negro.” Two things quickly come to mind. The first is that no one other than Harry Reid uses the word “Negro” anymore. Second, that it is the 21st century and yet there are those who continue to talk about race as if it were 1955.

Last February, in a speech to honor Black History Month, Attorney General Eric Holder remarked that Americans of all colors should stop avoiding an honest discussion of race in America. Said Holder: "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards."

I disagreed with Holder at the time and still do. Americans are not cowards when it comes to discussions of race, neither are they dishonest. Rather, I believe Americans are simply bone-tired.

The American conversation on race began more than two centuries ago and frankly, we have talked of little else. The topic permeated the discussions during the drafting of both our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution and continues today, with a black man sitting in the white house.

Not cowards, just exhausted and so very, very eager to move on!

This was the great “hope” for Barack Obama. The great tide that swept Barack Obama into the White House was not the hope of a hard left social and economic agenda. Americans were eager to move on to a new and more uplifting conversation about their nation and their lives as citizens. And one of the things they wanted to change was the conversation on race.

In fairness, changing America’s racial conversation may have been a bit too much to ask of one man. Although for a man who promised that his nomination as a candidate for president would be remembered as the moment the planet would heal and the oceans would calm, such expectations were perhaps not so outrageous. Nevertheless--his ability or inability to calm the tides notwithstanding--he is only human.

And early on, there were signs that it was all too good to be true.

There was the revelation of his 20-year association with the reverend Jeremiah Wright, pastor of the universal church of “get back whitey.” This eye-opener was followed by several editorials introducing voters to the new “racial code.” We discovered, for instance, that talking about Obama’s elitism was code for saying he was “uppity” and to point out his inexperience was to call him a “boy.” Alas, this was all a harbinger of what was to come.


Joseph C. Phillips

Joseph C. Phillips is the author of “He Talk Like A White Boy” available wherever books are sold.