Villagers are invited to see the video (down lower in this blog post) of speech given to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month where Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives and that most Americans avoid candid discussions of racial issues.
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards."Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but "we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race."
Holder urged people of all races to use Black History Month as a chance for honest discussion of racial matters, including issues of health care, education and economic disparities.
Race, Holder said, "is an issue we have never been at ease with and, given our nation's history, this is in some ways understandable... If we are to make progress in this area, we must feel comfortable enough with one another and tolerant enough of each other to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."
In a country founded by slave owners, race has bedeviled the nation throughout its history, with Blacks denied the right to vote just a few decades ago. Obama's triumph last November as well as the nomination of Holder stand as historic achievements of two Black Americans.
Holder told hundreds of Justice Department employees gathered for the event that they have a special responsibility to advance racial understanding. I think that this challenge that he gave to his employees should be taken by all villagers.
Even when people mix at the workplace or afterwork social events, Holder argued, many Americans in their free time are still segregated inside what he called "race-protected cocoons."
"Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago. This is truly sad," said Holder.
Holder's speech built on the words from the speech on race given last year by presidential candidate Barack Obama. Obama urged the nation to break "a racial stalemate we've been stuck in for years" and bemoaned the "chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races."
I think that the Attorney General was provocative in a positive and proactive manner. Quite the opposite of that New York Post cartoonist. What say u?