I'm a latecomer to this discussion at mtpolitics and don't want to get involved in the overwrought comments section there. But I would like to make a point or two, especially since this is likely to be a campaign theme.
First, Craig sees no distinction in 2008 between blacks aspiring to build stronger black families and communities and whites expressing similar aspirations. To me, the distinction seems obvious and potent. Whites, of course, spent centuries consciously building strong white communities, often on the backs of people of other skin colors. We finally figured out that was a source of great evil, and we have been trying to get over it.
But we are still top dogs. To refer to the "white community" is not only racist but redundant. The community we all live in is the community whites built, so references to white identity are widely recognized as code for a desire to return to the days when blacks were menial laborers and Indians were savages.
When blacks use similar language, no such code is implied. I read the references Craig refers to as a call for blacks to shake off the bonds of history and assume their rightful place as equals -- not as rulers -- in the world community. I detect no threat in it, and if it works, I am all for it.
Second, Craig asks in comments, "So, now that we’re 5-6 generations removed [from slavery], do we still have to wring our hands over it? When does the statute of limitations expire?"
I do not know the answer to that question, but I would suggest that the statute hasn't tolled yet. We are not nearly so far away from slavery as the chronology suggests. I have made this point before, but it may bear repeating: I grew up in the South in the 1950s. Blacks had to sit in a separate section at the movie theater. Blacks had to attend their own (inferior) schools. Few blacks dared date, much less marry, whites. Blacks couldn't play football in the Southwest Conference and had been in major league baseball for only a handful of years.
(Odd side note: a resident of my hometown was Lou Rochelli, whom I once interviewed and who helped show Jackie Robinson the ropes at second base on the Dodgers; he then became a player-manager in Great Falls.)
My parents, who certainly understood the evils of racism and tried to protect their children from it, still never quite got over the surprise of meeting blacks who were well dressed, well educated, well housed and well spoken. It took them years to fit that idea into their concept of how the world could be.
So I have often wondered: If I had grown up black in my hometown, confined to second-rate jobs, attending a second-rate school, constantly derided by whites who thought I would never be good enough or smart enough to do any better - and who had the weight of law on their side - would I be over that now?
I suspect not. I think I would carry that with me to the grave, and I suspect that many others who say that's all ancient history would feel exactly the same way. We have miles to go.