To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I read of black people who are confused as to what to think about J. Wright. They are confused because their own pastors say some of the things Wright says.

The church I attended in Memphis, while predominantly white, has black members, deacons, and elders. But time was, in conscious memory of some of the older members, that black people would not have been allowed to attend at all; they would have been turned away at the door. I daresay that if the black folks who now say that their pastors have said "some of" what Wright has said could have attended those services, they would have heard some familiar things from the preacher there too. It's not impossible that a church, and a pastor, can get the major things about Christianity right, and still be profoundly wrong about some pretty important stuff. Of course, one might say that racism and race relations are the most important things there are. If that's the case, then we aren't dealing with a church anymore.

Wright says that white people aren't comfortable with the styles of black churches; they are loud, the members move around. Surely he is not so stupid as to think that style is what we might find objectionable. "God damn America" is not style, it is substance, and inexcusable substance at that. His recent assertion that criticism of him is actually criticism of "the black church" is arrogance in the extreme. And his complaints about being "crucified" (while looking like he is mightily enjoying the attention) are actually blasphemous. Does he think he's Jesus?

Here is what I think is happening to Obama. I've seen it happen to some white folks a generation or two back. They spend a lot of time, a LOT of time, associating with people like them and they fall into a habit of thinking and speaking a certain way. Maybe they don't mean any harm, but they never stop and really think if they're being racist, or if they're being fair, or how others outside the group would think of what they're saying and doing. At some point they get caught out, and they are extremely embarrassed, mortified if they have the character to be, and they have to apologize and hopefully straighten up. I think Obama meant all that stuff he said about wanting to be a unifier and I think he truly never really thought about how that was not compatible with lending his supporting presence and money to a church that preached that hateful stuff. I bet he gets it now.

And I hope we get to the point that more black people in America can feel comfortable openly disagreeing with racist claptrap when it comes from people like Wright. Maybe, in the end, that will happen and it will end up being a positive thing for America.

6 comments:

CreoleInDC said...

Humph.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

[running "humph" through my translator ... coming up with "I take a dim view"]

MrsSaditty said...

The sooner people start openly disagreeing, the sooner preachers and other orators stop speaking bs

Laura(southernxyl) said...

It can't happen soon enough for me.

Erica B. said...

Laura,
I can understand where J. Wright was coming from. I have older relatives whose hearts were hardened from the experiences they had growing up in Jim Crow Alabama. They never got over the mistreatment they encountered and still felt that all white folk were that way. Now, even though I understand where they were coming from does not mean that I agree with them. My own grandmother had very, very strong feelings, but still she taught me that there were also "good white folk", and taught me to differentiate between the two. Even if Obama had separated himself from Wright and that church, his opposers would have still dug and found his past affiliation with him. That was a no win situation.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Erica, did your older relatives end up in multimillion dollar homes in gated communities? I don't think Wright feels downtrodden. If he does, he's mentally ill. I think he is cynically encouraging other people to have grievances and using their partly manufactured pain for his profit. I'd have much more sympathy for a black person expressing those things if he lived like, for instance, my grandfather in Mississippi who plowed behind a mule all his life and never really had anything (but didn't blame anybody else for that either).

The thing about Obama is that I've seen it commented elsewhere that he shifted from "I can't disown Wright any more than I can disown my grandmother" to disowning Wright pretty vehemently, just to try to see how he could minimize the damage and get the most votes. Like he really does just do the politically expedient thing, as Wright said. I don't think that's the case, really, and some may actually think I'm giving him too much credit. I think he was surrounded with that kind of rhetoric for so long that he never heard it objectively until he heard it through the lens of the reactions of shocked, angry, and disappointed white folks. And it took a while to sink in just how twisted Wright's words were. When Wright repeated them after Obama had started thinking about it he heard all of it afresh and was appalled (at last). It shows, IMO, an immaturity beyond what one would hope of a person his age, that it took so long to see all that, but does not reveal him to be the completely calculating, integrity-less politician some have made him out to be.