Author: Thomas

Why Jerry Brown’s Speech Was So Important

Why Jerry Brown's Speech Was So Important

Op-Ed: L.A.’s history of Latino-Black political conflict? It’s a curiously short tale.

In late September 2012, as millions of Americans were celebrating the conclusion of the 2012 election, California Governor Jerry Brown was making a big speech to the National Action Network. His speech was a passionate call for what he called “a more perfect union” that would “end the history of discrimination, racism and segregation,” a declaration that he would repeat just days before he would announce that he would be seeking the office of the presidency. On Sept. 27, 2012, Brown made history by becoming the first non black president of the United States.

I wanted to know what had made Brown so successful and why he had been able to unite Americans of all colors before they were divided. Here’s a portion of the speech that gave me pause.

“So where does it all begin?” the governor asked the audience. “In our hearts we know the answer to that.”

Before answering, he went on to explain that the two sides have each had their turn at defining the nation’s collective racial identity, and that he and his administration have tried to move toward a more “whole” collective sense of identity instead of one that divided people.

“The idea of identity and race is a foreign concept to most people. They have never spoken to somebody who is black in their lives because most of them have never had a black friend, a real close black friend, in their lives…. We’ve come from a point where we don’t know all the ways that our country has been created,” Brown said.

So how did we get here? And why is the struggle over the way we perceive race today so emotionally charged and so politically consequential in the United States?

It’s a story Americans haven’t really heard.

It’s also a story that few Americans are being told.

Part of the story is that we’ve been in this story too long, and it’s become a familiar one

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