How Rice’s Childhood Experiences shaped her Perceptions of Intercultural Events in Today’s World

How Rice’s Childhood Experiences shaped her Perceptions of Intercultural Events in Today’s World

An American diplomat and political scientist, Condoleezza Rice, was the 66th United States Secretary of State and also the first African-American woman Secretary of State. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Rice served as the Secretary of State from 2006 to 2009 in President George Bush Administration before continuing her career as a political science professor at Sanford University. On September 21, 2006, Condoleezza Rice conducted an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric where she revealed information about her child and other matters she had partaken in as the Secretary of State.

From the interview’s onset, it is clear that Rice’s childhood was a huge influence on her view of the world. In the interview, Rice mentions her experiences growing up in the south as an African American woman. Being treated as an inferior from an inferior race and being underestimated fueled her determination not to allow other people to underestimate other nation’s readiness for democracy. According to Rice, this view was created by many years of African Americans being underestimated; she specifically says, “I think there are those echoes of what people once thought about black Americans” (Rice, 2006).

Rice’s childhood also shaped her perceptions of the war in Iraq. According to Rice, her experiences when growing up in the 1960s made her understand the evil side of human beings. The violent at Birmingham was a testament of the evil that people can commit; she recalls it was the referred to as “Bomb-ingham” for the violence that occurred there (Rice, 2006). She experienced this evil first hand when four innocent girls in her neighborhood were bombed by racists in a nearby Baptist church. When asked whether the Middle East suicide bombers remind her of the Birmingham bombers she replies affirmatively “sure” (Rice, 2006). In her opinion, any people seeking to commit acts of terrorism prey on the innocent which is the worst of inhumanity due to the underserved status of the innocent. Rice is adamant that this experience continues to fuel her determination to eliminate terrorism and justifies the war in Iraq (Rice, 2006)

Rice’s childhood was laden with instances of racism. For instance, she gives an example of segregated fountains, with one for the whites and one for the blacks as a sign of such racism. Even though her parents tried earnestly to shield her from such discrimination, it never often worked. She says instead of drinking from a black fountain, her parents would simply say, “We’ll just wait ’till we get home” (Rice, 2006). Such experiences have been a reminder of the importance of freedom and liberty. She uses this view to validate America’s foreign policy at the time to spread democracy among the people of the world. Although she is questioned on whether it is America’s duty to control the opinion of other people and country, she emphasizes that the need to listen to the voice of the people gives America the mandate to spread democracy (Rice, 2006).

All these childhood experiences shaped Rice’s actions and perceptions concerning the critical matter of terrorism around the globe. It is clear that growing up as an African-American demonstrated the importance of freedom, liberty and the need to curtail oppression of people. Her views on the war in Iraq and the war on terrorism seem to be influenced by her difficult childhood.



Rice, C. (2006, September 21). Condoleezza Rice: True Believer. (K. Couric, Interviewer)