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Obama, Trayvon, and a path to healing

By Donna Brazile CNN Contributor | 7/22/2013, 10:19 a.m.

Rather, he said, we should talk in what I would call our "small places," within our families, places of worship, workplaces and community gatherings. Because in those places "there's a possibility that people are a little bit more honest, and at least you ask yourself your own questions about, am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can."

I grew up in the once segregated South. I experienced forced integration during my formative school years. I lived the sacrifices, burdens and tears. I also lived the moments of understanding, of acknowledgment, of fellowship and success. I saw my parents and grandparents coming home beaten down -- and some of my friends beaten up. But I was also forbidden by them to hate anyone, and learned from them to love, respect and be tolerant of others.

Obama's groundbreaking speech about race -- his "More Perfect Union" speech in 2008 -- spoke about the balance and the struggle and the promise of mutuality inherent in the Constitution. He referenced it today. He sees himself, as president, a spokesman for all Americans. Both of his presidential campaigns were based on American diversity, its value and its power.

Power to the people.

So, where do we start? Person to person, neighborhood by neighborhood. We can start with the kind of self-examination the president suggests -- by looking at our knee-jerks, our stereotypes, our blame-game projections. We can start by acknowledging the progress we've made in the long march for equality under the law.

We can start by listening better. We can start by admitting we're not always right and that "I don't see it that way" aren't fighting words.

We can start by making opportunities for our youth a high priority, and by showing them -- by example -- how to work out differences, without ridiculing those who are different.

We can start by taking action -- action is the main thing. We can start by increasing, by a little, our acts of goodness and kindness, especially toward those with whom we disagree.

Editor's note: Donna Brazile, a CNN contributor and a Democratic strategist, is vice chairwoman for voter registration and participation at the Democratic National Committee. She is a nationally syndicated columnist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University and author of "Cooking With Grease: Stirring the Pot in America." She was manager for the Gore-Lieberman presidential campaign in 2000. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Donna Brazile.