[col. writ. 3/15/08]
The recent quasi-controversy over the comments made by the
Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, retired pastor of the United
Church of Christ, to which Sen. Barack Obama (D.IL), both
belongs and attends, has shown us how limited, and how
narrow, is this new politics peddled by the freshman
Senator from Chicago.
Although first popularized via the web, the Reverend's
comments caused Sen. Obama to say he was "appalled" by
them, and he has repudiated such remarks as "offensive."
Just what were these comments? As far as I've heard, they
were that Sen. Hilary Clinton (D.NY) has had a political
advantage because she's white; that she was raised in a
family of means (especially when contrasted with Obama's
upbringing); and she was never called a nigger.
Sounds objectively true to me.
Rev. Wright's other remarks were that the country was built
on racism, is run by rich white people, and that the events
of 9/11 was a direct reaction to US foreign policy.
Again -- true enough.
And while we can see how such truths might cause discomfort
to American nationalists, can we not also agree that they
are truths? Consider, would Sen. Clinton be where she is if
she were born in a Black female body? Or if she were born
to a single mother in the projects? As for the nation, it
may be too simplistic to say it was built on racism, but
was surely built on racial slavery, from which its wealth
was built. And who runs America, if not the super rich
white elites? Who doesn't know that politicians are puppets
of corporate and inherited wealth?
And while Blacks of wealth and means certainly are able to
exercise unprecedented influence, we would be insane to
believe that they 'run' this country. Oprah, Bob Johnson
and Bill Cosby are indeed wealthy; but they have influence,
not power. The limits of Cosby's power was shown when he
tried to purchase the TV network, NBC, years ago. His offer
received a corporate smirk. And Oprah's wealth, while
remarkable, pales in comparison to the holdings of men like
Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet.
Would George W. Bush be president today if he were named
Jorje Guillermo Arbusto, and Mexican-American? (Not unless
Jorje, Sr. was a multimillionaire!)
In his ambition to become America's first Black president,
Obama is in a race to prove how Black he isn't; even to
denouncing a man he has considered his mentor.
As one who has experienced the Black church from the
inside, politics and social commentary are rarely far from
the pulpit. The Rev. Dr. Martin L. King spoke of politics,
war, racism, economics, and social justice all across
America. His fair-weather friends betrayed him, and the
press condemned his remarks as "inappropriate",
"unpatriotic", and "controversial."
Rev. Dr. King said the US was "the greatest purveyor of
violence" on earth, and that the Vietnam War was
illegitimate and unjust. Would Sen. Obama be denouncing
these words, as the white press, and many civil rights
figures did, in 1967? Are they "inflammatory?"
Only to politics based on white, corporate comfort uber
alles (above all)" only to a politics that ignores Black
pain, and distorts Black history; only to a politics
pitched more to the status quo, than to real change.
Politics is ultimately about more than winning elections;
it's about principles; it's about being true to one's self,
and honoring one's ancestors; it's about speaking truth to
It can't just be about change, because every change ain't
for the better!
--(c) -08 maj