Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Obama and Wright: Guilty By Association?

Much has been said about the recent. kerfuffle regarding statements made by the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, the church where Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama maintains membership. According to the videos making their way around the Internet, Rev. Wright states that America should not be blessed by God for its role in world affairs, but rather damned for its treatment of minorities and other disadvantaged people. These statements made in the strident, angry tones of the black preacher's pulpit have caused many folks who are still undecided about who to vote for in this election to wonder whether Barack Obama shares those opinions and those who support Obama wonder if this revelation is the event that could spell defeat for their candidate?

Let me first state that I intend to vote for Barack Obama for President of these United States in the Pennsylvania primary and in the general election should he win the nomination. Should he not secure said nomination, I will hold my nose and vote for Hillary Clinton, because as much as I can't stand the negative way she and former President and husband Bill Clinton have run their campaign, she's clearly better than a John McCain presidency which would be at least four more years of Bush without the mangled English and the Texas Twang.

Also, this is my personal blog about stuff that I find interesting. I'm not a news person and this is not a news blog. This is my opinion and only my opinion. So take it for what it's worth, which ain't much.

First, I'm not voting for Jeremiah Wright for President, I'm voting for Barack Obama. Unlike the old saying that one is known by the company he or she keeps, I'm not going to accuse Obama for disloyalty based on things his pastor said. One can have a spiritual mentor that has strong controversial opinions and vehemently disagree with those opinions. That said, there are people out there who are quick to join Obama and Wright at the hip in order to discredit the candidate in order to advance the cause of their candidate, be it Clinton or McCain. According to poll data, Obama's message rings best with educated people, i.e. those with college degrees. Educated people should share my belief that Obama should not be tarred with the same brush as Wright, but that's not always the case.

One thing to remember is that Rev. Wright is of the age that he remembers and has lived through the dark days of racial segregation in America. He has obviously come in contact with the evil of racism and has experienced what it is like to be condemned simply because of skin color. Rev. Wright speaks to an ugly truth that America still has a hard time getting it's collective head around. The history of race in the USA is not a pretty one. Hangings, beatings, Jim Crow, the denial of even the most basic rights afforded to us by the Constitution, even that document considered slaves to be only three-fifths of a person. This was Black folk's lot up from their arrival in the 17th century to the recent past. And while Rev. Wright's chosen words may upset and scare most White folks, many Black folks find that those words resonate deep within their souls. While we may not speak those thoughts in the presence of Whites, around our own kind, they come out. Our America was and is not the same America that White folk embrace. And as much as I'd like to see us as a people move forward and adopt a post-racial America that will once and for all, bury those old evils, I also know that it's going to take a long time for that to happen. Most likely, once the last of the Civil Rights generation has passed, their children will pick up the torch and move on where their parents and grandparents were unable.

So I understand what Rev. Wright is saying and it is a hard and bitter truth to swallow. But Barack Obama is not running for President of the United States of Black America, he's running for the United States of America, period and for him to maximize his chances to occupy 1600 Pennsylvania Ave on January 20, 2009, he's going to have to reassure those who are scared of electing an angry black man, that he's a black man who knows his history, acknowledges it, and will move forward to make sure that it won't happen again. He may hold Wright's teachings in his heart, maybe even agree with them to a certain extent, but he has to work towards an America that can and will live up to its highest potential for ALL of its citizens. Barack Obama has to distance himself from those angry words. He has to reassure his wary supporters and potential voters that Rev. Wright's words are not his words. White folks need to understand that Black folks can't just 'get over it, and just move on' like it's old news. This is a pain that is deep, deep, deep in our souls and won't just leave overnight. Black folks need to take that pain and use it as energy to redouble their efforts make a better future for their children and future, and not just let it sit there and let it eat up their souls like a spiritual cancer.

What will happen should Barack Obama become President? The sun will rise in the east and set in the west, up will still be up, down will still be down. Left will still be left and right will still be right. Pigs will still wallow in mud, and hell will still be hot. But what a day it will be when a black man becomes the leader of the free world. What a message that will send to our neighbors, allies, and especially our children who will be encouraged to dream big dreams. And maybe Dr. Martin Luther King may exclaim in a voice that will ring throughout all of heaven that his dream finally came true.
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