President Obama's election as the first African-American President of the United States was symbolic of how far we've come over the last half-century since Brown v. Board of Education and the brave actions of people like Rosa Parks, right? Not according to new Attorney General Eric Holder, who recently stated that our nation "still ha[s] not come to grips with its racial past, nor has it been willing to contemplate, in a truly meaningful way, the diverse future it is fated to have." AG Holder explained that, "we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards." With all respect to Mr. Holder, he is overstating his case and dismissing the great steps our nation has made toward racial equality in the past several decades.
How can the Attorney General believe that on "Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago"? Surely he need only look around his own administration to see the leaps and bounds our country has made towards embracing our American ideal of human equality. Those same people he accuses of ignoring race on Saturdays and Sundays have elected our first African-American President. Since 2001, we have seen an abundance of African-American "firsts": the first National Security Advisor, Condoleezza Rice; the first Republican Committee Chairman, Michael Steele; the first Secretary of State, Colin Powell; the first governor of New York, David Paterson; the first owner of a TV and movie studio, Tyler Perry; and the first male and female billionaires, Robert L. Johnson of BET and Oprah Winfrey. Moreover, the Obama Administration has filled many posts with African-Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, U.S. Trade Representative, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, White House Social Secretary, and, obviously, Attorney General. Ordinary Americans have demonstrated their rejection of racism at the box office, in the voting booth, and in front of their home televisions. The Attorney General believes that we are not having a discussion of race in our everyday lives, but he ignores the evidence of the nigh-constant discussion of race that goes on in the media, politics, the workplace, and many homes.