Friday, March 21, 2008

Barack Obama’s “Race” Speech

No, I am not discussing politics in this post. I don’t even discuss politics with my friends, preferring to keep them as friends.

Why then bring up this speech given in Philadelphia on March 18?

Because in this speech Obama addresses a history of discrimination against blacks in America that is still present today.

And one of the main themes in my upcoming novel MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL is that very prejudice against blacks, along with one person’s overcoming of her ingrained prejudice.

When I was a new officer’s wife at Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in the spring of 1970, something happened for which no explanation was given. And thus I set out in my novel to find an explanation for myself, an explanation in keeping with the social and political climate of 1970 – only 20 years after the U.S. Army first integrated combat units (in the Korean War).

Regardless of how many World War II movies we’ve seen that may have African-Americans in combat units with whites, this is not historically accurate. (White officers frequently headed a unit of all-black soldiers.) And although some all-black units did amazing feats of bravery in World War II, those feats are not well-known.

The manuscript of MRS. LIEUTENANT was once rejected by a New York publishing house editor because she said there’s no such discrimination against blacks any more so readers wouldn’t find the story pertinent. I’ve always wondered what block of Manhattan the editor lived on to be so totally wrong.

Thus Obama’s discussion of race in America is a fitting background for the introduction of MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL. Because prejudice does exist all around us – and we are all guilty of it to some extent.

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