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