At farewell address, Obama says talk of post-racial America was ‘never realistic’

Speaking at his farewell address from Chicago Tuesday night, President Obama addressed an ideal that was perpetuated by millions of bright-eyed voters back in November 2008. “After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America,” Obama said, “and such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society.”

POTUS continued (transcript via LA Times):

I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10, or 20, or 30 years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hard-working white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.

Obama discussed that he believes, despite the bubbling hatred brought on by demagoguery (though POTUS does not mention his successor by name), race relations are better than they were decades ago in America, and we have made progress. He stressed the importance of holding up laws against discrimination, but he reminded that laws aren’t enough, and that our hearts must change too. He spoke of an awareness and participation has to take place in all of us, from finding empathy for the working-class whites whom technology has left behind to “white Americans… acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t just vanish in the 60s.”

[photo: Getty]