In Philadelphia this morning, Barack Obama confronted the remains of the Jeremiah Wright brushfire, the smoldering embers of this anecdote of his grandmother using racial stereotypes that made him cringe… and promptly spilled gasoline on those embers.
610 WIP host Angelo Cataldi asked Obama about his Tuesday morning speech on race at the National Constitution Center in which he referenced his own white grandmother and her prejudice. Obama told Cataldi that “The point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity, but that she is a typical white person. If she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know (pause) there’s a reaction in her that doesn’t go away and it comes out in the wrong way.”
The grandmother reference from the speech, as you’ll recall:
I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.
You know, typical.
UPDATE: A reader suggests I acted in bad faith by… quoting the Philadelphia Daily News. Apparently they mis-transcribed Obama’s remark: “the point I was making was not that my grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person who, you know, if she sees somebody on the street that she doesn’t know, there is a reaction that has been bred into our experiences that don’t go away and sometimes come out in the wrong way.”
This reader seems to think the phrase “that has been bred into our experiences” changes the meaning dramatically. I disagree, but here’s the full quote for your own assessment.