This was a week for soul searching and serious conversations about race in America, and today President Obama weighed in with his own, very personal observations.

“There are very few African American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store.  That includes me.  There are very few African American men who haven’t had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars.  That happens to me — at least before I was a senator.  There are very few African Americans who haven’t had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off.  That happens often.”

Read the full text of the President’s speech here.

We have a long way to go, but this gives us hope: People CAN change, as evidenced by this message from Derek Black, a son of the KKK, whose father runs the world’s largest racist web site — renouncing white nationalism and apologizing for the harm he has done over the years.

“I can’t support a movement that tells me I can’t be a friend to whomever I wish or that other people’s races requires me to think about them in a certain way or be suspicious of their advancements…Minorities must have the ability to rise to positions of power, and many supposed ‘race’ issues are in fact issues of structural oppression, poor educational prospects, and limited opportunity.”

Over in Texas, you’d think Rick Perry and his minions would feel they’ve done enough harm to women for one year. But the Texas GOP ain’t done yet: Yesterday they introduced a fetal heartbeat bill, which would make abortions illegal once a heartbeat can be detected through a transvaginal ultrasound (around six weeks).

Do members of your family have selective hearing? Apparently, “female voice deafness” is actually a thing — especially in the Republican party, which seems to think that women are too stupid to understand the benefits they receive under Obamacare:

“The GOP retains a 1950s “I Love Lucy” caricature of women because the party doesn’t listen to women. The party doesn’t hear women’s voices. Literally. Republican Texas Sen. Troy Fraser told a Democratic colleague, Sen. Wendy Davis, during a floor debate four years ago, “I have trouble hearing women’s voices.”

Female-voice deafness explains why Republican members of the U.S. House conducted a hearing on birth control last year at which they allowed only men to testify. The GOP couldn’t hear women’s voices, so what would be the point of calling female witnesses to talk about women’s health?”

Also in Republican-land this week, we saw an end to Mitch McConnell’s reign of terror, as noted by Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky:

“At a meeting of Republicans Wednesday, as McConnell tried to argue that he could have gotten a better deal out of Reid without McCain’s intercessions, Bob Corker of Tennessee said “bullshit!” loud enough for people to hear. (Corker, who is certainly a conservative but has often shown signs of wanting to be a real legislator, voted “yea” seven out of eight times, the exception being Perez’s confirmation.) The next day, asked if he would apologize, Corker said he was “glad that that occurred.”

Ted Cruz vowed that he will shut down the government if Obamacare is not defunded. This is an example of why he is not loved in the Senate. Unfortunately, this stuff plays great with the GOP base and is why he’s taken seriously as a contender in 2016.

Speaking of Obamacare, it turns out that the American public really doesn’t like it when corporations try to weasel out of the mandate to provide health insurance to full-time workers, as restaurant chains like Papa John’s and Applebee’s said they would do. Since making those plans public, sales at those companies have plummeted — and months later, the profits have not bounced back. (Think Walmart is listening?)