Tags: Barack Obama | Exclusive Interviews | MidPoint | michael steele | racial | strife

Michael Steele: Obama Not Solely to Blame for US Racial Strife

By    |   Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 06:06 PM

Society as a whole, President Barack Obama included, has "a lot of work" left to do to bridge America's racial divide, even as the issue has become more complicated than it was during the Civil Rights era, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.

Steele acknowledged on "MidPoint" with host Ed Berliner that discord between blacks and whites still exists six years into the country's first African-American presidency:

"There's a lot of work in race that needs to be done in the country. It just hasn't been done, as recent evidence shows."

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But, said the GOP's first black chairman, "It's a lot to put on the president's plate to say he alone should be the one to calm the fears of white America and address the agenda singularly on behalf of African-Americans."

The former Maryland lieutenant governor also discussed race relations amid the national unrest that has followed two grand jury decisions this fall clearing white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men.

Steele, without naming names, was critical of some contemporary black "leadership" for "perpetuating" racial tensions, and he said that African Americans have some reckoning of their own to do "to see where we have failed ourselves."

"We've got a lot of internal discussion to have," he said.

But he said that Americans collectively are not dealing with "the tension that still exists between blacks and whites on a host of issues."

Steele said, for example, that it's important to talk about "why blacks are still distrustful of the system that's largely been created by whites" and "why whites still look at blacks through a lens that's rather outdated in many respects — the fear of seeing a large black man coming down the street, and all of that craziness."

"There are still elements here that we refuse to address in a holistic way — not singularly as an individual or as a president or as a chairman of a party, but as Americans," he said.

Steele agreed with Berliner that the country seems afraid to tackle these issues head-on, and he suggested that that very question — "What are we afraid of?" — could be a good starting point.

"We've gone through the travails of Jim Crow and 'separate but equal,' with all of the harshness and ugliness of race," he said. "We've now moved into this period where it's a little bit more nuanced and it's more subtle. You have people talking about reverse discrimination and all these other elements that now come into play.

"A lot of it stems from the fact that the country is changing," he said. "For white America, America's future is not a majority white future. It is much more pluralistic, much more multi-colored, if you will, and there are adjustments that have to be [made] to that."

He called the grand jury decision to not indict a New York police officer in the chokehold death of Eric Garner "disappointing," but said that racially divided reactions to the ruling are evidence of the problem facing all Americans.

"Because we have two very different views of that outcome, that is really one of the central things we need to begin to focus on," he said.

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Society as a whole, President Barack Obama included, has "a lot of work" left to do to bridge America's racial divide, even as the issue has become more complicated than it was during the Civil Rights era, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele told Newsmax TV on Wednesday.
michael steele, racial, strife
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2014-06-10
Wednesday, 10 Dec 2014 06:06 PM
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