"What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them and that's our legacy." Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice
March 28, 2008 By Nicholas Kralev
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that the United States still has trouble dealing with race because of a national "birth defect" that denied black Americans the opportunities given to whites at the country's very founding. "Black Americans were a founding population," she said. "Africans and Europeans came here and founded this country together â€” Europeans by choice and Africans in chains.
That's not a very pretty reality of our founding." As a result, Miss Rice told editors and reporters at The Washington Times, "descendants of slaves did not get much of a head start, and I think you continue to see some of the effects of that." "That particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront it, hard for us to talk about it, and hard for us to realize that it has continuing relevance for who we are today," she said.
Race has become an issue in this year's presidential campaign, which prompted a much-discussed speech last week by Sen. Barack Obama, one of the two remaining contenders for the Democratic nomination. Miss Rice declined to comment on the campaign, saying only that it was "important" that Mr. Obama "gave it for a whole host of reasons." But she spoke forcefully on the subject, citing personal and family experience to illustrate "a paradox and contradiction in this country," which "we still haven't resolved." On the one hand, she said, race in the U.S. "continues to have effects" on public discussions and "the deepest thoughts that people hold." On the other, "enormous progress" has been made, which allowed her to become the nation's chief diplomat.
"America doesn't have an easy time dealing with race," Miss Rice said, adding that members of her family have "endured terrible humiliations."
"What I would like understood as a black American is that black Americans loved and had faith in this country even when this country didn't love and have faith in them and that's our legacy," she said.
Miss Rice also said that what "attracted" her to candidate George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign was not foreign policy, but his "no child left behind" initiative, which she said gave equal opportunities to black and white students. The proposal, much criticized by Mr. Obama and his Democratic rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has been successful, Miss Rice said.