In my latest reading of Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Barack Obama reflects on race.
He highlights a number of dilemmas. How can African-Americans gain the self-esteem that can help them to succeed, when poverty takes a toll on the self-esteem of many within the African-American community? How can they advance, when even African-American leaders prefer to hire whites for tasks because (according to them) whites do things right the first time, or when African-Americans see other African-Americans as lazy, or when banks are reluctant to loan money for African-American businesses, thinking they might fail? How can people within the African-American community reflect on what they may be doing wrong, when doing so essentially slaps down African-Americans, and when whites are quick to jump on such reflections to say that even African-Americans note a pathology within the African-American community?
I’m not entirely sure what Obama’s solutions to these dilemmas are. He does say that he believes in rooting self-esteem in people’s experiences rather than race, which may mean that he wants for African-Americans to draw inspiration from the struggles of others within their community. And he also discusses work that he did as a community organizer to bring a job-training program closer to residents of certain areas of Chicago.