Saturday, March 22, 2008

Obama, Wright and Race

By now, I suppose most every voting adult in the United States has heard of the controversy surrounding Sen. Barack Obama’s membership at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ and the firestorm created by several YouTube video excerpts of Trinity’s retired senior pastor, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, in which Wright condemns the United States in the strongest possible terms and explicitly describes why Sen. Hillary Clinton can’t identify with Black people. If you have somehow managed to miss this controversy, just go to YouTube, type in “Jeremiah Wright” and view and listen to your heart’s content.

Frankly, I’m not disturbed, surprised or upset at what Wright said. Don’t misunderstand me: I do not share Wright’s Black Liberationist theology, I do not think he should have said any of the controversial things he said in those videos, and I certainly don’t agree with everything he said (though, I do agree with some things he said). However, I was not surprised or shocked at what he said. Wright’s views are not unique. Neither am I concerned that Barack Obama would be a member of a church like Trinity United Church of Christ or be associated with Jeremiah Wright. In my opinion, those who are shocked by those things reveal their ignorance of the Black community and the church in the Black community.

Wright has been the pastor of Trinity for 36 years. He is not an unknown figure. In fact, he is nationally known. His sermons have been broadcast on radio and shown on television. Why was there no firestorm of protest before now? I’ll tell you why: Because the Black community, in general, and the Black Church, in particular, are not considered worthy of attention by the majority of Whites. Only when it became clear that Barack Obama could possibly win the Democrat nomination did his church and pastor become an issue. It sure seems to me that this controversy is more about keeping a Black man out of the White House than it is about Obama’s church affiliation.

What is disheartening is that so many Christian bloggers have seen fit to join in the “White Fright” in response to Obama and Wright.

Let me make clear: I am not endorsing Barack Obama or defending Jeremiah Wright. I have good reasons not to vote for Obama, if he should win the Democrat nomination. What concerns me is the irrational, racist and all-to-common fear of Black men which, I believe, is driving this furor. I would expect Christians to rise above the hysteria, not wallow in it nor add fuel to the fire.

I have found much more helpful, thoughtful and thought-provoking reading at the blogs of these brothers in Christ:

Thabiti Anyabwile (Pure Church)
Lance Lewis (Blaque Tulip)

Anthony Carter (Non Nobis Domine)

If you want a Christian perspective on Barack Obama, Jeremiah Wright, and the current controversy that rises above the fray, I encourage you to read what these brothers have written:

At Pure Church:
“My Mama and Barack Obama”
“This Is Not A Retraction”

“Obama Drama Rama”

At Blaque Tulip:
“Divided By Obama”
“And This We Know”
“Where Do We Go From Here? Repent”
“This, That & The Other”

At Non Nobis Domine:
“Yes We Can!”
“Anyabwile a Prophet?”

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