Obama’s Preacher

There’s been a lot of talk in the media over Obama’s minister (I don’t know the right word, I don’t go to church) but none of it to date has acknowledged the truth of Wright’s statements. He exposed the ugly underbelly of race that exists in this nation and yet no one wants to discuss that part of it. Unlike most white people I don’t have the luxury of ignoring race as an issue. I am a black man until the day I die and trust, the idea of me as a black man is not behind us and will not be behind us in my life. Especially because white people react to truth…well the way their reacting to Wright: ‘Oooh, he’s scary.’ A lot of this reaction comes from the subconscious knowledge that black people (and people of color in general) in the West have a right and reason to be angry. It’s not an arbitrary anger it’s an anger based on over 200 years of history that ignores that this country was built on the backs and with the sweat and death of people of color, not just the slavery of Africans, but the Chinese who built the railroad that crosses this country, the Latino/a population that we all want to kick out of the country now because their illegal but who’ve historically been forced into horrible conditions to pick fruit that ended in your grocery store and a thousand other contributions that routinely go unacknowledged. This is not even getting into the really violent nature of racism in this country, not just in the past but today.

But I’ve been trying to talk about race with white people most of my adult life and while I still do it and always will I realize that it’s not my job to fix your racism (or to even educate you, I might volunteer at times but I am by no means obligated). It’s your job. You should be talking to each other, dealing with each other and I should be expending my energy making bridges and coalitions with other oppressed peoples, looking inward to my community and my communities allies instead of outward towards whiteness. So in the interest of talking amongst your self please follow this link to read Tim Wise break down the whole Obama/Wright thing.  Link goes to the wonderful blogger TransGriot’s reposting of the essay.

Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama and the Unacceptability of Truth
Of National Lies and Racial America

Here’s just a little taste:

For most white folks, indignation just doesn’t wear well. Once affected or conjured up, it reminds one of a pudgy man, wearing a tie that may well have fit him when he was fifty pounds lighter, but which now cuts off somewhere above his navel and makes him look like an idiot.

Indignation doesn’t work for most whites, because having remained sanguine about, silent during, indeed often supportive of so much injustice over the years in this country–the theft of native land and genocide of indigenous persons, and the enslavement of Africans being only two of the best examples–we are just a bit late to get into the game of moral rectitude. And once we enter it, our efforts at righteousness tend to fail the test of sincerity.


7 responses to “Obama’s Preacher

  1. Pingback: New Website GeeksWithColor.com seeks Contributors. « Words From The Center, Words From The Edge

  2. Thank you for saying outright that Wright’s statements constitute not an irrational hatred toward America, but a clear, nuanced truth about a country that has routinely and systematically oppressed millions of people. The national reaction just proves how far we have to go as a society.

  3. Check out http://www.hipolitix.com. A radio show that discusses these issues weekly.

  4. Elspeth –
    The media surrounding Wright just makes me so angry because they’re acting as if he said some really crazy stuff, which he didn’t. In reality he spoke the truth and no one wants to acknowledge that because they don’t want to deal with their own guilt and complicity.

    Thanks for the link! I’ll definitely check them out.

  5. The other thing about Rev. Wright that many such people seem to be missing–and you would think the bible thumpers would get this, wouldn’t you?–is that he is speaking as a prophet. The prophets in the Bible “rant” and criticize. They speak truth to those in power. That’s their, well, job. So Rev. Wright totally is part of that tradition, even if he is rather more gentle in his criticism than, say, Jeremiah.

  6. Kate-
    I hadn’t even thought about it that way but you are so right. He is very much in the prophet tradition and within that tradition not even as radical as he could be.

  7. I should have said, “his namesake, Jeremiah.”

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