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Obama's book tries to help explain racial rift

In 'Dreams From My Father' Barack Obama describes his white grandfather's black friend drawing him aside as a teenager and explaining that the two of them as 'brothers' share an understanding his grandfather can't be part of, opening another of the gradually emerging cracks in his understanding the implications of his biracial heritage. In this and many other instances in his writings and recent speech, in addition to tattling on himself, he involves his grandmother, which has been misrepresented as inappropriate, as have Michelle Obama's spontaneous exuberant remarks, his father, his friends, and his African family (but not his mother and his wife, both of whom he treats with exceptional reverence). In doing this, Obama takes personal risks in helping us understand something of the complexities in the racial gulf that exists in this country. He also shows its existence in Kenya.

Respondents of various persuasions to Ed Smith's Opinion piece in the March 26 edition of The Outlook join Smith in helping with the necessary, often confusing, risky and painful process of figuring this business all out. Whether supporting Obama's presidential ambitions or not, this is a valuable contribution to an important and probably necessary process.

With respect to Obama's pastor's harangues from the pulpit, those of us who have witnessed these types of ego enhancing, truth stretching oratorical spinnings in religious, political and other settings based on sales practices, recognize them as devices used by often brilliant speakers to get attention while manipulating an audience. Some take the rantings seriously, others recognize partial truths and leave it at that, while yet others simply view them as entertainment. The process is not always flamboyant, and can be more subdued and quietly provocative, sometimes on radio or TV, but nevertheless using similar manipulative techniques, and in all cases exaggerated.

(Many of the elements of information I have heard within Jeremiah Wright's otherwise objectionable outbursts, would probably be seriously considered if offered quietly in an academic setting.)

Almost never would it be appropriate to openly object or walk out (I never have - though I will simply switch off the radio or TV - and only witnessed such a confrontation and exit once) as it would impolitely disrupt the spirit of the event, albeit as interpreted very differently by different attendees.

Dick McQueen is a resident of Brightwood.