Tuesday, March 18, 2008
And This We Know
First let’s set the record straight. As far as I can remember not one republican presidential candidate whether he was conservative, moderate or rino ever thought to address the nation on the issue of race during his run for the White House. And as far as I can remember not one of my evangelical friends, their evangelical political leaders (e.g. James Dobson and others) or the well known evangelical pastors ever pushed for a republican candidate or sitting president to raise and address the issue of race and ethnicity in this country. I do know that when President Clinton encouraged a dialogue on race in the mid-nineties the religious right shot it down with all the fervor of the army’s conquest of Bagdad. I know this because I was apart of a white evangelical church in VA and constantly listened to white evangelicals tell me that race was not a problem, that black folks just need to get over slavery and segregation and that if we were really smart we’d ditched the donkey and pony up to the GOP.
I also know that Senator John McCain accepted the endorsement of John Hagee who claimed that Hurricane Katrina was God’s judgment on New Orleans. Interesting isn’t it? I didn’t hear evangelicals calling for Senator McCain to repudiate that remark. So are we to believe that the black bodies who floated down the streets of New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina were the direct objects of God’s judgment? Is that what Senator McCain believes? If not should we question his judgment in accepting Hagee’s endorsement?
Now trust me folks, I’m pretty well aware that Senator Obama knew of Pastor Wright’s feelings toward white people and America. And though you do not want to hear this many (not all) of pastor Wright’s views are held by a great majority of black people. Does that shock you? Probably and it’s more than likely because you have few relationships with black folks who will tell you the truth about our ambivalence as Americans. Look, most black people I know don’t tear up and get misty eyed when the national anthem is played as this country’s multi-billion dollar air force flies overhead including yours truly. Most of us treat July 4th as another day off and reason to cookout, not as a celebration of our freedom because the last time we checked General Washington’s black chattel were confined to the slave quarters when the declaration of independence was drafted.
Many of you may have seen the footage of Rev. Wright’s more controversial remarks. If not look at it again and don’t ask yourself why Senator Obama would have this man as his pastor, but ask why are those who were present reacting so enthusiastically to his remarks? These are the black people you and those in your congregation work with, pass by and smile at when they give you your change at the grocery store. Does that mean that I and others endorse or believe his remarks? No, it doesn’t. But we do identify with the feeling of alienation that generated such remarks. We do know that the only time America seems to want to affirm black men is when they’re driving to the hole or taking it to the house. We do know many white Americans (and almost all the white evangelicals I know) speak of the scourge of affirmative action and then whip themselves into a frenzy cheering for the black bodies who carry the rock for old state u during march madness.
And we do know this. Senator Barack Obama will give a speech on the issue of racial healing and national unity not too far from the very spot where people who looked like him served as lifelong slaves for the very people who began this land of liberty. And while I can’t say for sure I have the sinking feeling that a good many evangelicals will dismiss him and the speech, remain convinced that black people just don’t get it and pray for the day Senator John McCain takes the oath of office and leads the charge against abortion, Islamic fundamentalist, heterosexual marriage, lower taxes, less government, maximized gun rights, family values, school vouchers, privatized healthcare, social security reform, decreased business regulation, vociferous border enforcement and last but not least a strong military.