Pardoning, parsing “black truth”

How long will it take for this latest controversy involving Barack Obama and his very, very, VERY outspoken pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, to become part of Hillary Clinton’s talking points as to why the super delegates should steal this nomination for her? (New York Times)

How long ago was it when Malcolm X said that “chickens coming home to roost” thing after the Kennedy assassination? Sigh …

Ever hear the one about Barack Obama and his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who scared the white off the white people?

Normally, this is where I would rant about the hypocrisy of how the black man has to disown his black Archie Bunkers but John McCain can get in bed with bigots and spoon all night. Hell, it’s like the Republicans got some free pass to marry those bigots and shack up with them for life as long as they don’t do anything they can’t plausibly deny the next day.

Somewhere John McCain is on a nature walk holding hands with Pat Robertson remarking on the lovely weather and whistling about the coming destruction of Israel for the Apocalypse as the birds and woodland creatures all sing in harmony about cutting the Capital Gains Tax.

Must be nice.

But no, I’m not going to bitch about that. Instead I’m going to just smile and nod in recognition that Obama’s minister didn’t really do anything wrong but be black in his own church speaking the universal “black truths” about how America’s racism at home and imperialistic attitude towards the rest of the world tend to get the US in a lot of trouble.

Only he didn’t say that in the way I just said it, he said it in the way Ron Paul would say it if he were a 60-plus year old black man who’d seen a whole lot of racist horrors happen to his own people, over and over again, his entire life.

The Obama preacher thing wasn’t shocking to me because like a lot of black people, this wasn’t new. This was my childhood. It didn’t matter that we were a family of assimilationist blacks in suburban St. Louis County. I came from a house where you spoke perfect English, where everyone had English first names, where you didn’t swear and you got good grades and, on the weekend, received instruction from our mother books by educator Kwanza Kunjufu.

What? Everyone didn’t do that?

A little piano lessons here, dance lessons there followed by Malcolm X speeches. Discussing the manipulation and subsequent murder of black men by injecting them unknowingly with syphilis and comparing it to the neglect in of the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and early 90s.

Forced listenings of always controversial St. Louis talk show host Onion Horton? Hmm?

History and the black truths don’t disappear just because you’ve assimilated and you have nothing but white friends. You don’t stop talking about slave ships, Tuskegee, Civil Rights, Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” the white man’s ice water tasting colder, police brutality, sugar sandwiches, race riots, discrimination and white flight don’t disappear if you close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears. Not if you’re black and had the rearing I had.

It’s hard to divorce the personal from the political. Barack Obama didn’t pick this man to be his pastor based on what people might think if he ran for president. Wright was a nice guy. He was involved in the community in Chicago and did good things. Barack was in Chicago trying to find his way, wanting to help people, wanting to live his life as a black American. His story is the story of countless black people who had their minds and hearts challenged by smart, complicated, sometimes crazy elders who hold you up when you can’t stand and taught you to not hate what made you different. To love it best of all.

It’s hard to throw your crazy pastor under the bus when your “crazy” pastor is about 90 percent of the black population.

I feel for Barack who’s trying to stutter his way through an interview with Anderson Cooper while video plays Rev. Wright hollering how Hillary Clinton has never been called a nigger. (Not true, media? Hmm? Has she been called a Nigger? Hmm?) This would be like me trying to explain why my mother balked at a Christmas ornament with white people on it because she didn’t “want no white folks” on her tree.

Is that racist? I guess. Does that mean she hates white people. Not really. She was told so much of her life that black was wrong and ugly, by not just whites but many of her own family. She heard it so much that during the “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” 1970s she decided to love blackness with two arms wide open. And loving it meant teaching her daughters to love it and to make her own black ornaments until stores started selling them. She didn’t want us to be ashamed of who we were.

She won’t hang white ornaments. I know. That’s a form of Christmas ornament bigotry. Yet she raised me to be curious of different cultures and give everyone love and respect. Two of my closest friends who stood by me during the darkest times in my life are a pair of red-headed aspiring ministers who can’t tan.

And I was born into the black truths, unlike Barack who had to find h
is own way through them.

I know you can’t do it, Barack. I know you can’t just give your minister a big hug and tell the world to go fuck itself. But you can’t. Try your best to fumble through this. Lord knows, by the time this is all said and done they’ll want you to disavow knowing every black person you’ve met in your entire life. Then they’ll demand you to start repudiating the ones you did not met. Then they’ll move on to all the those controversial inconvenient black truth people who died years ago.

Can’t wait until they bring up Marcus Garvey!

8 thoughts on “Pardoning, parsing “black truth”

  1. Hey,Ballet lessons are important for a growing girl =). However, there was never any indication in my household that these things were mutually exclusive from Nubian activities. Except when it came to dialect. My sis and I were embarassed by our parents’ accents. When I became an adult, I wished to god that we could recite many of their phrases. I’m deeply sorry about this and it definitely added to the black-girl-in-a-white-worl’ identity crisis.Not that we weren’t interested in our parents’ background. It’s just that since we didn’t travel much (Dad had to travel all over the world so, he often wanted to come home and stay home), we ended up experiencing his and Mom’s culture via food more than anything else. ~Otherwise, I find it highly interesting that a newsroom editor decided to “spring” this Obama-Reverend story on us immediately after Ferraro stepped down from Billary’s campaign. I question from which campaign was the source and whether FIRMly “motivated” by a Major Donor. Why it was done, we awready know.

  2. Another tour de force from the snob. Of course, DuBois in his analysis of dual consciousness dealt with a lot of this a long time ago. Some things change. Some things don’t. This nomination will come down to how just how afraid the white folk in the the democratic party are. We’ll know soon enough.

  3. mmm.My prediction: I know it’s coming…the big interview with Oprah dispelling all the myths…stay tuned: it’s just a matter of time.

  4. I’m just amazed by the level of histrionics among the press and conservative detractors. It’s so hypocritical. It’s like everyone forgets that the reason why white hate speech is so damaging is because the speech is usually backed up with force. We don’t have the ability to terrorize huge swaths of white people and hold sway over their lives. The most we can do is sic Al Sharpton on somebody and if you’re afraid of Al Sharpton you’ve got no business shouting hateful things in the public sector anyway.And the reverend didn’t even call white folks the “devil.” He just criticized our foreign policy. You can’t criticize foreign policy now? Did advocate killing anyone? Did he even call for a flag burning?No. He said G-D America. Oh my word! I think I just caught the vapors! I’m sick of conservatives being so obsessed with everyone pledging fealty and taking loyalty oaths. Not judging by actions, but by flag pins and bumper stickers. Never mind that the Constitution says there should be no such things and that dissent is to be expected and protected.And they ignore the fact that man was in the US Marine Corp, but, oh, he must HATE America because he thinks his country does really awful things and doesn’t atone for it. No joke. How dare he not just say America is perfect and has never done anything bad to anyone ever, not even those black people who’s rights were started protecting around 1970.But who expects people to take that into consideration. The crazy old black man is accosting us with the truth! Run away! Run away!

  5. So, it’s perfectly valid and understandable when ministers exhort their congregations to picket abortion providers, to call for the teaching of creationism in public schools, to demand that so called sex education not broach condom use in preventing STDs or pregnancy, to refuse funding of family planning in countries that can’t feed their overburdened populations. These are all perfectly valid forms of calling our government to act in the interests of our “morals” but to address, no ~ to point out, our governments explicit and complicit racist effects of drug sentencing, education funding, access to redress of generations of not just discrimination but outright persecution …. this is called hate speech?Good god. It’s an uphill struggle to raise thinking, questioning, challenging human beings in this society of ours.

  6. just to encourage the theological side of everything, I think its very interesting that out of all the interviews we haven’t heard from someone with a degree in theology (be it a Masters in Theological Studies or moreover a Masters of Divinity or a Ph.D. in the realm of theology) speak on this matter. Mostly we’ve heard from political pundits both liberal (and we now see just what liberal means after Rev. Wright’s sermons) and conservative speak as experts on the subject of theology.I think this is a perfect example of the need for public theologian(s). Those who are capable of accurately speaking from context the matter of the church and help shape our God-talk in a manner that isn’t dictated to us by what many would consider conservative theology? I mean, since when did Jesus become a Republican?

  7. Oh, Uppity Negro, you know the media is lazy. You didn’t think CNN rolling out James Dobson of Focus on the Family for the one-millionth time was sufficient? Don’t you know that the media decided a long time ago the only Christians in the US are white, right-wing evangelicals? Why would they need to talk to an Episcopalian or a Catholic priest, or a woman priest or an AME minister. Heaven forbid! They might offer another opinion! Seriously speaking though many journalists don’t know much about religion are kind of confused on how to cover it so the loudest guy usually gets the most attention and, wouldn’t you know it, the crazies are the loudest.But I’ve never understood why they couldn’t dig up a black minister of any stripe, conservative or otherwise. I wasn’t aware that church loving black folk worshiped a different Jesus from everyone else? Do they still think our ministers just learn preaching as a trade and don’t go to seminary? Because a slew of black ministers went to Morehouse.Also, I think not-so-secretly the press prefers the religious nut bags because either they’re confirming their suspicions about crazy church folk or their network is in cahoots with the extremists. I’m not going to name names but I’m almost positive I saw Sean Hannity giving James Dobson a foot massage on air once.

Leave a Reply

Back to top
%d bloggers like this: