Sunday, March 23, 2008

Obama, Wright, and Race in America

I have a friend, a white friend, who told me once that I should be ANGRY! I was a bit surprised by that as we talked about white male entitlement in this country. I am a black, female, gay, flag waving patriot who appreciates America's unique history and loves its promise. A promise that was not meant for me. Of course, she is right, there is anger. But, I thought, here is someone who sees beyond her own white nose. I thought, here is a friend with whom I could express that anger and she would not think I'm a racist. Priceless in America?

There are a lot of angry and pent up racial feelings in Americans.
Blacks in America are as a necessity of survival, tuned into white public and private thinking. Whites are usually oblivious to common black perspectives. Never paid any attention. Never had to. I think, many white Americans are shocked and amazed to learn that there is still so much anger and hurt expressed among ourselves. I mean, we've dealt with the basic rights. So now we all can get along. We just say the right things in public and the real things in private. When it comes to honesty about race, we Americans are experts at bandaging over wounds, plugging our ears, and avoiding the 3000 lb elephant in the room.

So, Sen. Barack Obama made a speech about race that ripped off the bandaids and exposed the wounds. He suggested that we actually listen to each other and begin the hard work of healing. No lovey dovey, kum ba yah approach will do this. It'll take gut wrenching personal honesty for all of us. It'll take allowing and understanding each other's anger and hurt feelings and legitimate grievances and disagreements. This guy has the audacity to think that we are up to this. Ha! After some of the responses to that speech, I'm hopeful but I got to say I'm not putting my money there. Bring in a fresh supply of bandanges.

Rev. Wright
Rev. Wright is a product of his times and experience as a black man in America. There are open wounds. He was in the Marines at a time when black soldiers were not honored as white soldiers were. (I've heard my step-father's stories.) Wright knows the Tuskegee Syphilis Study. This was a trauma that black men still commonly speak of today. So, he believes AIDS was manufactured to kill black people. I find this AIDS theory totally ludicrous just as Obama does. But, blacks particularly of Wrights era, don't find it or the crack cocaine genocide theory to be far fetched at all.

Wright thinks the USA brought 9-11 on it's self. I agree that our actions or non-actions in the world may have contributed to the attitude that fostered the hate filled lunacy that brought on that dreadful event. But I certainly don't think my country deserved or directly brought this horror on anymore than Barack does.

Rev. Wright is accused of racism. They had to sift through hundreds of hours of tape to find those angry emotional snippets. Monica and I have seen and heard dozens of his sermons and never saw any hint of racism. Far from it. We saw no sign of a crack pot or nut case or hate-monger either. His messages are full of hope and self determination and lots of humor. Wright is blatently honest and in your face and emotional and in the tradition of the Black church excitable. And there are those rare reckless statements. Absolutely.
Sometimes you vent with your family. Trinity Church is Wright's family.
While I understand where Rev. Wright gets these particular attitudes, I don't agree with them, anymore than Barack does.
Understanding is not agreeing.
I am not a Rev. Wright apologist nor will I cite his accomplishments in the areas of health, education, economics, youth or HIV/AIDS and GLBT issues in his community. I just hope people judge this man by his deeds, not by politically motivated snippets.
My litmus test is always GLBT issues.

Hillary Clinton's Methodist Church Influence
The practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching. Therefore self-avowed practicing homosexuals are not to be certified as candidates, ordained as ministers, or appointed to serve in The United Methodist Church. The General Council on Finance and Administration of The United Methodist Church shall be responsible for ensuring that no board, agency, committee, commission, or council shall give United Methodist funds to any gay caucus or group, or otherwise use such funds to promote the acceptance of homosexuality. The council shall have the right to stop such expenditures. "
--From the Book of Discipline of the Methodist Church.

Wow! I'm sure she heard plenty of anti-gay sermons in an atmosphere that encourages staying in the closet. It's a homophobic atmosphere where GLBT folk are deemed unfit to fully serve and ministers are not allowed to conduct same sex unions.

Hillary says about her church:
"I have always had a deep personal faith that was rooted in the Methodist church in large measure because I was christened into it, I grew up in it. But, it also very much reflected how I thought about faith as I matured. You know, if you look at the Methodist book of discipline it talks about the four contributing streams of faith -- scripture, tradition, experience and reason. I always resonated to the fact that it was both revelatory and scripture-based but that you were invited to use your power of reason to think through your faith and to work through what it meant to you and how you would live it in your daily life."
--Hillary Clinton

So she learned and grew from her church's teachings without becoming a homophobe.
Hillary doesn't leave her brain at home when she goes to church anymore than Barack does.
The same United Methodist Church stance on homosexuality was reaffirmed just last week. But there is no call for her to renounce her church because of it's homophobia. Why not?

United Church of Christ (Trinity)
In 1973, The United Church Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Concerns was formed. Since then GLBT folk have participated in all aspects of church service.
In 1985, the UCC General Synod formally urged their local churches to welcome gay and lesbian members, offering an "Open and Affirming" program and advocate in their behalf against discrimination and persecution.
A resolution to endorse same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly approved by General Synod 25. (2005) The resolution calls on its congregations to consider wedding policies "that do not discriminate on couples based on gender." They also ask its congregations to support changes in state marriage legislation to give equal rights to same-sex couples. An alternative resolution which would have defined marriage as being between one man and one woman was rejected.

I have personally heard many Jeremiah Wright sermons on this subject and he is very up front about how he feels about GLBT people in the world and in the church.

In a sermon Monica and I heard, he said "Some of these ministers try to shrink God down to the size of a tiny little shrimp and put him in a tiny little box and it stinks to high heaven. HPGB is all they want to do. That's High Praising and Gay Bashing."

Also from Rev. Wright

“I refuse to limit my God, to lock God into my cultural understandings because culture is fickle,” Wright said. “And culture is often wrong. Culture was wrong about slavery. Culture was wrong about women. Culture was wrong about Africans and Indians, and culture was wrong about Christ,” he said. “I have been the pariah among many of my clergy colleagues who somehow see me as defective or not quite saved because I won’t join them in their homophobic gay bashing and misquoting of scripture.” (Rev. Jeremiah Wright)

He does not sound like a nut case, hate monger to me.
If Obama loses, he loses. But it would be a travesty if it was based on this trumped up issue.

Rev. Wright sermons
YouTube or
Trinity United Church website

Here is an interview with Rev. Wright.

Here is the UCC response to the hoopla.

Denise Clapsaddle(Huffington post)
Obama channels Jefferson


Stephen R. said...

Brilliant post! Absolutely brilliant!

Jackie said...

Thanks, Stephen. Whew. I feel better just getting that all off my chest too.

Gabi Clayton said...

Thanks Jackie - great post.

And thank you for your comments on mine and for your friendship!

Anonymous said...

A magnificent piece of writing! It was worth all the pain and patience
it took to write it. You have what is so often lacking...clarity. You
easily penetrated the complex issues making them clear and easy
to understand. I pray Barak Obama and other leaders work together
to bring our country the peace and harmony it so desperately needs.

Jackie, you are an open our minds and hearts.


Jackie said...

Welcome gabi, I found you through Steve Schalchlin's blog. Thanks.

Thanks for that hon. It was painful that's for sure. You are right about leaders working together. It doesn't even have to be Barack, any president should want this. Imagine all the problems that disappear once we start to get over the race hump.

Dharma Kelleher said...

Wonderful post! I am blessed to be a part of a diverse women's group, where women of all races, ages, nationalities and sexual orientations came come together every week and be totally honest about what's going on in our lives.

I have learned so much from simply listening to the experiences and perspectives of those different from myself. One lesson is that I can't assume to know what another person feels or what their motives are unless they express them.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful post!

Jackie said...

Dharma, I can imagin it is a blessing to be part of a group like that. So many important lessons learned. Thanks

Tabu said...

This post is right on.

I have posted all over blogland about my feelings on this issue, and it all boils down to one thing.

We should never be held accountable for what comes out of someone elses mouth.

Thanks for visiting me. I will be back.

Jackie said...


Anonymous said...

If we are judged by our deeds, then we have no need for God or His salvation. Just because you do well in helping the poor, sick, gay, blind, crippled or crazy doesn't mean that you are a good "soldier" for the Lord.

Jackie said...

I don't know your definition of soldier for the Lord, but doing God's work would be one qualifier, IMO.
Also, you have a very narrow view of what we need God for.

Monica Roberts said...

Jackie, I'm with you.

Just what God does 'The captain' worship?

Sounds like it's conservaGod that exhorts you to hate thy neighbor