March 20, 2008

Never Enough

"Threw his old, white, grandmother under the bus." "Should leave the church." "Liar." Yada yada. Just some of the comments heard and read in response to Obama's speech on Tuesday. So the point of the speech was missed, dismissed, ridiculed by many. Ingrained beliefs were further hardened. Because they heard what they wanted to hear or, better, didn't hear what they wanted to hear. Much easier to take a 30-second sound bite and run with it.

You've probably gathered by now that I support Obama in his quest but probably wouldn't vote for him. I am thrilled at and proud of his success. He just wouldn't have been my choice out of the initial field of candidates. Edwards got caught between two stellar personalities. But, I wondered how Obama was going to address the issue of Rev. Jeremiah Wright so I was right in front of the television set to hear for myself what he said. I wanted to know how he was going to explain service at a Black church. Fantastic, superb, historical. And, capsuled into 30-second sound bites, much like Wright's sermon.

One person has commented on the ability of Blacks (Dr. Cornell West, to be specific) to live in gated communities, in homes costing a million or more. So? The ability to drive expensive cars. And your point would be? Is that person's privilege the norm? Another noted that his daughter's Black teacher attended her house-warming. And? Interracial dating is a sign of acceptance? Does all of this attest to America's NOT having a problem? I think not.

Hard-earned rights are taken for granted by my youth. To Obama and my Black youth, take off the rose-colored glasses. Some things are NOT "a thing of the past." They cannot be wished away (paraphrasing Obama). The appearance of nooses around the country--in military academies and universities, no less--are a pointed reminder that we have not come as far as we think. Code words such as "articulate"--a favorite of mine--are employed with abandon. The practice of steering Black employees to predominately Black departments (note to former employer: hellooo!) or, of not considering them for jobs for which they are well-qualified. The extremely high number of Black youth in special education programs whereas white students exhibiting the same behaviorial problems occupy seats in a regular classroom. Racial profiling is still the norm. But now, brown-skinned brothers have been thrown into the mix.

Activism has always come from the church. Since I don't attend white churches, I don't know what the sermons are like. Their content or intent. I do know, however, that many white churches have condemned America's morality or lack of, its diplomatic and/or social practices. Why, then, is it so unacceptable for a Black minister to condemn/criticize? Remember Dr. King and his anti-war stand and the heat he took for his position? Traitor...treason. Maybe white ministers, rabbis, priests, don't condemn in the "extreme" language used by Rev. Wright but still condemn or criticize. Perhaps Rev. Wright's ENTIRE sermon should have been aired. Then we would know whether he is a heretic. But to give him the benefit of the doubt would be asking too much, wouldn't it? Take the 30-second sound bite and condemn in the name of self-righteousness and patriotism.

I go to the church for solace, leadership, and to hear the Word. Make no mistake, I have met Rev. Wright and he is me. And if Obama had fallen to his knees begging for forgiveness for SOMEONE else's words, it still wouldn't be enough.

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