Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Dallas, Obama Acknowledges America's Long Road on Race Relations

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Beyond Dallas, Obama Acknowledges America's Long Road on Race Relations

Article excerpt

President Obama has laid out a tender and frank appraisal of race relations in the United States, calling for "open hearts," while acknowledging America's legacy of racial tension means resolution is a task well beyond the limits of his presidential term.

"Because of the history of this country and the legacy of race, and all the complications that are involved with that, working through these issues so that things can continue to get better will take some time," Mr. Obama said during a nationally broadcast, primetime town hall meeting. The event was one of a number of quickly organized public appearances by the president following the assassination of five police officers in Dallas last week.

Obama took questions from the live audience and remotely, some from those directly affected by the high-profile police shootings of black men, including Diamond Renyolds, who livestreamed the aftermath of her boyfriend Philando Castile's shooting by police on Facebook. Another questioner from the other side of the debate, Texas's Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick urged Obama to heed a national law enforcement request to light the White House blue as a sign of solidarity - a request Obama refused.

But beyond the debate surrounding backsplash from the most recent spate of violence, Obama pointed to the more tricky and nuanced task of healing America's self-inflicted wounds stemming from deep- seated racial divisions, a task he reiterated is not the quick fix of a few presidential words or a single policy.

For one, in his request that Americans keep their hearts open, he said now was not the time for people to turn their backs on each other by hiding in cliques.

He did, however, re-emphasize certain policy suggestions he thinks would help if adopted, even as he said there were other more fundamental societal problems that are undergirding the ongoing racial tensions between police and the black community. …

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