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Eric Holder, Michelle Obama Address Race

Submitted by on May 18, 2014 – 2:34 pmOne Comment

Orlin Wagner/AP

In two separate commencement addresses, the First Lady and the Attorney General of the US made similar points: that racial discrimination is still a reality in the US, and the only way to better the situation is to face it.

Speaking at Morgan State University, a historically black university in Baltimore, Attorney General Eric Holder took particular aim at Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts. In a recent decision striking down affirmative action, Roberts wrote a decision that declared that the ”way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Holder countered:

“Chief Justice John Roberts has argued that the path to ending racial discrimination is to give less consideration to the issue of race altogether. This presupposes that racial discrimination is at a sufficiently low ebb that it doesn’t need to be actively confronted. In its most obvious forms, it might be. But discrimination does not always come in the form of a hateful epithet or a Jim Crow-like statute. And so we must continue to take account of racial inequality, especially in its less obvious forms, and actively discuss ways to combat it.”

Meanwhile, in Topeka, Kansas, Michelle Obama spoke to a large high school graduation, in part to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision, which originated in the city. She also emphasized that though segregation may legally be a thing of the past, it is still a de facto reality.

“Our laws may no longer separate us based on our skin color, but there’s nothing in our constitution that says we have to eat together in the lunchroom or live together in the same neighborhoods,” Obama told a full house at the 8,000-seat Kansas Expocentre.

“There’s no court case against believing in stereotypes or thinking that certain kinds of hateful jokes or comments are funny.”

Both may have been responding in part to recent high-profile incidents, including offensive remarks from conservative rancher Cliven Bundy, LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and a police chief in New Hampshire who recently refused to apologize for referring to the president by a racial slur.
What do you think- are Obama and Holder right? Let us know in the Comments.


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