Video: The Opening Speech At Facing Race 2012

The 2012 elections, said Applied Research Center Executive Director Rinku Sen, demonstrated that the allegiances between communities of color are gaining not only strength, but speed–turning back the Three Strikes law and the posse of Republican rape deniers, turning the war on women into a meme and, last but not least, helping Barack Obama win a second term as president.

“Paul Ryan says it was the ‘urban vote’ that did this, not the issues,” Sen said as she opened this year’s Facing Race conference. “We know what the ‘urban vote’ is. But it was not the ‘urban vote,’ it was the majority vote. It was the majority vote that is telling Paul Ryan, in the words of people more polite than I, where he can stick those issues.”

With the election over, said Sen, the publisher of Colorlines, this new majority has the ability to not just win accountability from its elected officials, but to “blowing up” the ladder of racial hierarchy and challenging the notion of racism and tribalism as endemic.

“I don’t think we have to live that way. I don’t think we have to refuse the answer the door when a mother whose children have been swept away by a hurricane knocks on it asking for help,” Sen said. “I don’t think that we have to be sheared down to the thing that is least important about us–our skin color. I think that we can be actual full human beings, and I think that we can change the way that human beings see each other, not by applying some bankrupt concept of ‘color-blindness’ that has no grounding in reality, but by demanding what we really want, which is the taking apart of the racial hierarchy.”

Watch Sen’s speech in full, delivered Nov. 16, above, courtesy of ARC.

  • Elton

    Is President Obama’s re-election really a sign of the times, social-justice-wise? The cynic in me wants to believe Romney simply made too many mistakes, while Obama got a last-minute boost from Hurricane Sandy. Despite Romney’s “Big Bird,” “binders full of women,” and “47%” blunders, he was still tied with Obama in the polls up to the last second. Romney still decisively won the white vote. The electoral college map is still a field of red between the coasts.

    A huge portion of the country still listens to Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity and watches Fox News; still believes Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11; still buys into yellow peril; still believes that rich people got that way solely through “hard work” and has never heard of the term “privilege”; and still doesn’t understand what “racism” means. These are the people who voted for Bush/Cheney in 2000, and, defying all logic, voted for them AGAIN in 2004.

    Why are we still at war? Why is Guantánamo still open? Has the first black president made life better or worse in the last four years for black people? Whatever happened to the single-payer system? In 2008, Candidate Obama was said to be our most liberal senator. Really? Is Obama as far left as it gets? He’s practically a moderate Republican! I think we can do better.
    As an aside, it seems that a lot of the president’s relatives are struggling. Meanwhile, Sasha and Malia are going to private school. Have they even met their relatives on their African side? I’m not saying that Barack owes them anything, but there is something incongruous about the way someone so powerful and successful has ignored that side of his family. Are they an embarassment to him? Does Barack Obama care about black people?

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