Reject and Denounce: Obama and his church

Author’s note I originally posted this here at FPR back on March 18, 2008.

Am I accountable for the crazy things that people say at my church? Luckily, I tend to disagree, and disagree strongly with most political statements made at church. Was Mitt Romney responsible for racist practices that existed with the Church during his younger days? I do not think so. What about Ezra Taft Benson’s delusional politics? While I believe that he was an apostle and prophet, his politics was nasty rubbish. Do I need to denounce him completely? No. His talk on pride (which I read later) was a turning point in my life that helped me decide to serve a mission.

The right and left have some shady religious figures. James Dobson, under the guise of pro-family Christianity, is one of most hateful and disgusting characters in American politics. Is he any different from Jeremiah Wright (Obama’s preacher)?  Mostly just in ideology. A major difference is that Dobson is willing and able to rally large amount of people to his cause, in a way the Wright cannot.

As Mormons, it we are going to expect others to look past our religion and the history of our religion, we should be hesitant to blame political actors for everything that their pastors say or think. Do we want to constantly be in the position of having to condemn polygamy and past racism? If Obama was Mitt, what would you say given the controversies of the last week?

About Chris Henrichsen

Chris Henrichsen has moved Approaching Justice off of Patheos. Find his latest posts and the new Approaching Justice. Thanks!

  • Bill Anderson

    Yeah, but did Romney use his Faith in America speech to explain the origins of mormon racist practices and attempt to justify them in a historical context? Did Romney try to make excuses for ETB’s or any of mormonism’s “delusional politics” by citing examples of other religious figures with equally outrageous views and trying to make some kind of moral equivalence? If he had tried to justify bigotry of any kind I would have held it against him.

    I once had a Bishop who said stupid, stupid things. I still went to church every week and I remained an active member of my ward. But when my child’s baptism rolled around, guess who wasn’t invited to speak? There’s no way I would have asked him to marry me if those had been the circumstances. I respected the office and the role the church (and the Bishop by extension) had on my faith, but I didn’t personally embrace that Bishop or have him play an active roll in my family’s life.

    We shouldn’t blame Obama for what his pastor says and especially we shouldn’t automatically associate Obama, or any politician, with every view of their religious faith– whether current or historical. But I think it’s perfectly just to question Obama’s judgement and why he felt that Wright should be such a close influence in his spiritual journey. Why he chose to bring Wright into his personal life and why it’s okay to overlook bigotry as long as the means justify the ends.

  • http://sundaypage.wordpress.com/ jondh

    I don’t blame Obama at all for what his pastor said, nor do I think it is necessarily indicative of what Obama believes. Obama’s a fine man. I disagree with almost 100% of his positions, but I’ll vote for him anyway, and I hope he takes the White House.

  • Chris H.

    Bill,

    He did get married a while back. I do not think that he said that we should overlook bigotry. I have heard a number of high councilors in my stake make racist comment. I still sustain them at stake conference.

    Can we separate the personal and political. I have to because most of the people I go to church with hold political views that I view as immoral. They are also my friends.

    I also think that Wright’s comment were racial and not racist.

    In my stake, I would not have a choice in deciding who spoke or officiated at the baptism of my child(ren).

    “Yeah, but did Romney use his Faith in America speech to explain the origins of mormon racist practices and attempt to justify them in a historical context?”

    No, and I do not think what Romney said was of much serious substance.

  • Chris H.

    Jondh,

    Thanks for the comment. I pretty much agree with him on everything. So it is easy for me.

  • Bill Anderson

    “But the anger is real; it is powerful; and to simply wish it away, to condemn it without understanding its roots, only serves to widen the chasm of misunderstanding that exists between the races.”

    I found that theme repeated throughout Obama’s speech and he masterfully uses that thought to justify himself. Of course, there’s the eensy, weensy, little problem that bigotry, prejudice, and anger should be condemned irrespective of its origin, whether it’s political, cultural, historical, etc. But Obama decided to understand it first. For twenty years.

    But here’s the real kicker: “I can no more disown [Wright] than I can disown the black community.”

    Of course! So let me make sure I follow the logic of Obama’s speech here correctly: 1. Wright is a bigot, 2. Wright’s bigotry has historical roots so we should “understand” it first, 3. In fact Wright does nothing more than represent the silent thoughts of the entire ‘black community’ (which is homogeneous of course), 4. It’s not entirely Wright’s fault (especially not Obama’s!) because they are just projections and 5. Consequently Obama can’t “disown” Wright because he’d be turning his back on his own ‘people’. Obama uses the word “disown” here because we’re all supposed to remember that Wright is just a “crazy uncle.” Of course, “disown” in this context really just means condemn.

    And then Obama goes on to do us the favor of justifying all bigots! Even white ones because after all, they have some grievences too! I guess as a white guy I shouldn’t have “disowned” Trent Lott after his Strom Thurmond comments. After all, when I did so I “disowned” the white community. Guess next time I’ll try and understand the bigot first, after all, he may just be a vocal embodiment of my community.

    “[Wright] contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.”

    And there you have it. Liberal collectivism at its best. The black community is of one thought and one mind because they have the same skin color, and Wright’s biggest mistake was not keeping silent. Trinity Church and Pastor Wright are representative of black America. What a load of crap.

    Chris H., if that’s not a plea to overlook bigotry I don’t know what is. By the way, I’ve never heard of a Stake where the parents have no control over the baptismal program of their child. How strange!

  • Bill Anderson

    Sorry that my last comment is entirely too long also!

  • Gilgamesh

    I think you are mixing apples and oranges. To be Mormon means to be assigned to a local congregation. Obama chose his pastor and his church – if I am to be Mormon, I cannot choose my bishop or ward.

    So while Obama disagreed with his pastor – he did not leave as he could have chosen to do so. He would have been no less Christian and stillable to find a home. If I disagree with my bishop and choose to leave, I would have a much more difficlut time not leaving the church as I could not be an active mormon and do so. (Unless, of course, I get approval from the Stake President, which is unlikely in most cases)

  • Chris H.

    Bill,

    How is Wrigh a bigot? I am not sure if we are using the same terms. My stake has a large stake baptism each month. I have not say in its planning, outside of whether or not I do the baptism and confirmation (which I will, of course). As for Strom Thurmond/Trent Lott, I think that segregation and lynching are totally different than what Wright may have said.

    Gilgamesh,

    I have choice. I do not have to go. However, I have decided that somethings are more important than the political teachings of my pastors and church. Obama has done the same.

  • Chris H.

    Hey Bill,

    Nice tribute to Toby Keith over at BCC. I think that you just gave up your supposed high ground. When it comes to country, I am more Johnny Cash and Dixie Chicks.

  • Bill Anderson

    Chris-

    The bigoted worldview I’m referring to is expressed directly in Wright’s comments about “whites”, and more generally in the black separatism that he has preached.

    I don’t want to threadjack here, but I’m awfully curious now. Your stake has a group baptism day every month for everyone? Is it only for children of record or does it include converts too? I’ve always lived in wards/stakes where the parents have complete control over the program once the Bishop gives the mostly symbolic go-ahead.

    And I’ll give you Cash over Keith, but the Dixie Chicks??!!

  • Chris H.

    I do not think that what he said counts as bigotry. You might not like it, but I think the lack of understanding here is part if the problem. I showed one of my American Government classes a documentary about the role of the black church in the civil rights movement last night. I think that Wright falls within that tradtion, one which has often made whites uncomfortable. I think we have finished that horse.

    Yep, we have a stake group baptism for all of the children of record baptisms at the stake center. I am pretty sure that convert baptisms are done seperately. I live in a heavily LDS part of Idaho and we are talking about up to a dozen kids turning 8 a month. I think that it is done in the name of order. My baptism (grew up in Maryland) was just for me. My mom spoke. My relative said the prayers. Oh well, darn that Mormon collectivism.

    As for the Dixie Chicks, I actually like them now but I think it is sort of like my affinity for folk music – it is just as much about the message as it is about the music. For the most part I am a heavy metal/gunge guy anyways.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • smallaxe

    Can either Chris or Bill point/link to some of Wright’s rhetoric? I’ve seen a few news clips, but I think I need to be more informed before having an opinion on the matter.

  • Chris H.

    Obama’s speech can be found here:

    http://my.barackobama.com/page/content/hisownwords/

    Here is a Wright clip (this one is not bad in my opinion):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAYe7MT5BxM

  • http://walkingtowel.org Shawn Dowler

    “Can’t shake the devil’s hand and say you’re only kidding.” -They Might Be Giants

    I think this phrase applies to Obama and anyone else who tolerates racist and immoral ideas, be they Bishops, Stake Presidents, or relatives.

  • Chris H.

    I doubt that TMBG would interpret it that way. Listen to his speech: he is tolerating the people, not the racism. This is all we can do in a free society. Plus, his pastor is not racist. People are saying that he is racist. Big difference.

  • nearlynormalized

    Atheism has its place and it is right now–religion is for keeping people in place and not to question.

  • Bill Anderson
  • Bill Anderson

    Oops, don’t know what happened there. The link still works however!

  • Chris H.

    With both Clinton and McCain running behind Obama in donations, it is a good thing that Fox News is willing to do their opposition research for them. No spin zone my @$$.

  • Chris H.

    Smallaxe,

    Politico has a nice background summary of the controversy:

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0308/9051.html

  • John

    [expletive deleted] Obama and his religion.

    Im voting for Ronald Reagan!

  • jookboksnmbr3

    I’ll have to agree with Chris H in his assessment that Wright’s words were not racist. I am a black woman [21 year old college student], and I no longer attend church, but for most of my childhood I had to. What Wright says in these sermons, while certainly inflammatory to whites who are not used to hearing Black anger directed at them, are not racist. He says rich white people run the country [true]. He says our unjust foreign and social policy led to 9/11 [debatable]. This is what black preachers say every Sunday at Black churches. The truth of the matter is that White America wants us to be all cozy and forgive and forget, but most Black people have not and will not do that because of the fact you’re trying to minimize our bad experiences. Barack trying to understand anger is in no way trying to accept bigotry. To even say that him trying to understand a certain group’s anger at the government is a fault, shows complete ignorance. That’s basically saying we should assume everyone who doesn’t like how the country is run is wrong and has no legitimate justification for their feelings. What Wright said wasn’t bigoted, it’s a view that most black people hold that the White controlled government is not looking out for us. Like Barack, I don’t speak in those terms [us against them], but I hear sentiments like that around me every single day. I know enough to understand that White people are not out to get me, they just cannot see from our perspective and are ignorant to our experiences. But people growing up in ghettos and lower income housing are not going to be that open minded. To hear what Wright said out loud may be uncomfortable for you, but that just shows how little white people understand the Black community.

  • Jack

    There was a lot I liked about Obama’s speech–though I didn’t care for his dissing of Corporate America. That’s not a good way to go about fixing the economy, IMO.

  • jookboksnmbr3

    One more thing–the clips I’ve seen are not of volumes of sermons by Wright. They’re short snippets of no more than 8 questionable comments by the pastor. In 20 years of Church membership, if that’s all they can come up with, do you really think Barack was sitting in church every Sunday hearing his preacher America bash? I just think it’s ridiculous to think that he knew everything Wright said considering the fact Barack is an elected official and would assume these types of things come back to bite him in the ass. Although I do NOT doubt that he’s aware of his pastor’s leanings in politics. But that really is a generational thing. More affluent younger Black Americans are looking forward to fixing the racial divide, but for those who grew up during the Civil Rights Movement, they still in many ways view the arm of power in America as the enemy. It’s just facts. And it’s sad that people won’t try to open their eyes to this, they’d rather dismiss the Black community’s feelings and cry bigotry. What exactly was racist about what was said?

  • Chris H.

    jookboksnmbr3,

    Thanks for your comments. I agree with you, so I will let others address you question about what was (or was not) racist. It does seem like a standard MO for conservatives to label blacks as racist when they are critical of American Society or if the talk about racism. It is sad. Imagine how sexist LDS leaders would sound if a TV show only showed tailored clips.

    Jack,

    Whatever.

  • stushie

    I’m sorry to see that during Holy Week, a man with a radical message of hope is being crucified by the religionists, press, and gossips.

    It seems that even after 2000 years, things are still the same…

  • pressleyk

    How is it possible that no major news station, nor any in Philadelphia, thus far, have mentioned that there is supposed to be, constitutionally, a clear separation between church and state.

    Moreover, te problem of race in America today is being exploited and propagandized on every level, as it has been since this country’s inception. Take into account the diaries of abolitionists in this country wherein the dates and names of clergy who indicated that the reason Blacks were inslaved was because they’d been cursed by God.

    Many church have promoted the agendas of their congregation and continued to do so.

  • Jack

    Pressleyk,

    The question isn’t a religious one, it’s political. Wright was talking politics over the pulpit.

    Chris,

    Why “whatever?” I’d like you to show me how Obama plans to elevate the standard of living among poor minorities. If you want jobs to be plentiful then make corporations you allies not you enemies.

  • Jack

    “your” allies…

  • http://www.louisrose.com Louis Rose

    Jeremiah Wright’s existance is an singular example of God’s Providence. For if ever a man purporting to be a minister of the Gospel spoke in such a manner in my presence it would certainly be the last day on earth for one of us. Therefore, it may be said that God has been merciful to us both.

    Nevertheless, those who would sit and listen to such a man without rising immediately to openly and boldly condemn his words are not fit to be a public servant of any kind, not a President or a Senator, and frankly they are not even fit to be citizens.

    As military men we are sworn to protect the Constitution and the Republic from “all enemies foreign and domestic.” The word “domestic” means those people living among us, who by their treasonous acts have forfeited their rights to citizenship and have become enemies of the United States, fit to be treated, not as citizens, not even as criminals, but as any enemy on the battlefield should be treated.

    This is why I support Ron Paul for President of the United States, and if not Ron Paul, I very much like Ambassador Alan Keyes, my true brother in Christ, although he is a little pompous at times isn’t he?

    But then again, so am I

    Louis William Rose
    http://www.louisrose.com

  • Jack

    Louis,

    While I appreciate your patriotism, I think it’s important to understand that many blacks have great difficulty loving a country that has a long history of treating them as second-rate citizens or worse: slaves. I think it’s vitally important that we reach out to our black brothers and sisters with tolerance and understanding rather than fighting back–retaliation will only deepen the wounds.

    Wright comes from an older school–one that emerged from the horrific realities of segregation–and I give him a pass on his anger because of that. And I think Obama carefully (and wisely) walked a tight-rope (in his speech) between the old and new schools on the race question.

    That said, I do believe that much of the rhetoric we hear from many black leaders is more divisive than unifying–and Obama has made it clear that he denounces the divisive rhetoric. I love him for that–I just wish I could agree with his politics.

  • http://www.louisrose.com Louis Rose

    Sorry,

    Too many clear thinking conservative African Americans around for that kind of talk. The fight against racism is a fight against ignorance. All sins may be repented of and forgiven, but stupidity is forever. The anger and of gentlemen like Mr. Wright can only be emeliorated by prematurely facilitating their enjoyment of perfect peace….

  • Chris H.

    Jack,

    I said “whatever” because I am a cranky socialist who is not in the mood to deal with that issue (though I will shed a tear for Bear Sterns later), one not related to my post. Both Clinton and Obama are corporate friendly. More than I would like them to be. I am not his spokesman. Feel free to visit his website.

    Louis,

    I am not sure if we would agree on much of anything (other than the Keyes being pompous part). As a vocal critic of many aspects of American society, you would likely find me to be a traitor as well. I guess I will have to tolerate you along with pastor Wright. That is the worst part about being a liberal, I tolerate my enemies out of principle. As a Christian, I love them (and I guess that includes you). Clear thinking conservatives…ok, I will let that one go.

  • http://www.louisrose.com Louis Rose

    No sir quite the contrary,

    I love criticism of this country. I do not consider myself a conservative. I consider myself a Peripheralist. Far on the left on some issues far on the right on others. I prefer to sit on the edge of the ring and engage in dialectic debate while others compromise. Of course compromise is necessary. To be a blind liberal or conservatiive is folly, just as being a hardline Communist or Capitalist is. Socialism has much to reccomend it as does Libertarianism. Both are seriously flawed as is most everything in this life. There is no way to heaven but through Christ, but I also know that I am not Christ, and to be a member of the body politic is to have convictions one is willing to die for, and also to take life in the defense of. I know treason when I hear it and enemies when I see them. I hope they give their hearts to Jesus, because…ak, I will let that one go as well.

  • Bill Anderson

    The best part about all of this is that the next time some religious right wacko goes off (and enivitably one will) and says something offensive, the Democratic Party won’t be able to say a word without the Obama-Wright hypocrisy being thrown in their faces.

    But Obama has already contradicted himself. How is Obama not a huge hypocrite for the position he took after Don Imus’s racial remark last year? At the time Obama said of Imus, “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America.” He went on to say that Imus should be fired immediately. But didn’t Wright also feed into some of the “worst stereotypes” in America? Obama said further, “I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus, but I would also say that there’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group.” Now we find out that Mr. Wright was a member of his campaign at the time. And Obama has never once called for Mr. Wright to step down from his position in the church.

    I think Obama owes an apology to Mr. Imus. What hypocrisy!

  • jookboksnmbr3

    Once again–what exactly was bigoted or racist about what Wright said? Other than the WAY he worded it that made Whites uncomfortable, what did he say that was so completely out of line? So many people claiming racism and bigotry on his part but yet not one person has answered that question. I get so frustrated hearing this kind of talk from Whites because they so clearly have no insight nor any care to understand the perspective of the average Black person on the street. Indeed some of you said as much in your posts–”I don’t care what his motivations are, he’s a bigot and an enemy of the state”. Really? This is the same man who was a key player in civil rights movements and a respected pastor of a predominantly White Christian Church [not his individual church, but that faction as a whole]. Seeing the injustices done against black people in his time, does he not have a right to be angry? Just because you integrate schools and provide affirmative action doesn’t mean everything is A-OK and we’re all squared. See this is how the Black community’s cynicism against the gov’t and anger comes into play–Whites want to move along and brush things under the table without hearing us out. This is so frustrating, but I’ve come to accept that most of you just will not understand because you don’t have to deal with it.

    Sad.

    And “clear minded Conservatives”…lol. That’s funny.
    I actually used to have pretty Conservative values until I learned a thing or two. Never been so clear minded in my life, and still have plenty left to learn.

  • jookboksnmbr3

    Let me clarify–I wouldn’t say what Wright said. I do agree what he says is divisive and not the best way to handle racial and political issues. But to be honest, the delivery was more of the problem than what he was trying to convey. Obviously if I’m standing in front of a room full of White people, I’m not going to say something like that and turn them off towards me immediately. But go ahead and ask 20 a group of 20 black people to discuss this topic and 18 of them will have no problem with what he said. You can’t dismiss everything as “bigotry” when an entire group of people feel the same way. You have to start investigating the reasoning at some point. You’re dismissing the statements because you’d rather sweep it under the rug, much like instead of dealing with the issues that cause much of the Middle East to despise us, we label them evil terrorists and put a stigma on Muslims. Definitely not defending terrorism, but there’s a reason for everything and America doesn’t do a very good job addressing the real issues

  • Bill Anderson

    jookboksnmbr3- So let me get this straight. As long as I keep my offensive stereotypes within members of my own race, it’s okay? So was Obama’s white grandmother right when she said she was scared of black people– her only mistake being to reveal that prejudice to her black grandson??

    What offends me about Wright is the fact that he takes individuals and assigns thoughts and motives to them based solely on the color of their skin. He shows incredible intolerance of white people. He may be a sympathetic case because of his past, but like it or not that’s bigotry.

  • jookboksnmbr3

    lol you guys keep making these statements about offensive comments and racism and bigotry but you still fail to point out what was racist and bigoted. He said America is run by rich white people. True statement. He said America’s mistreatment of people brought about 9/11. Maybe not true, but it’s an opinion that can reasonably be argued. Where’s the offensive stereotypes? Yes, the average black person believe White America is not really thinking about our issues. So it’s an offensive stereotype for us to feel that we’re mistreated? lol tell me how that works out…maybe I’m missing something

  • jookboksnmbr3

    No–a bigot is intolerant towards a race or group. I’m quite positive Wright doesn’t walk around being intolerant of White people because he has White people in his church and the Church as a whole is predominantly White. Finding that the majority in power are not suitably catering to concerns of a minority does not make you a bigot. It makes you frustrated. And by the reaction of MANY white people to Obama’s speech, it is clear that the majority more often than not does not want to listen to your complaints seriously. So speaking frankly to a group of your peers does not make you a bigot, it makes you candid. Now that Joe Blow White guy has heard it, he feels offended. How do you think Black people feel? [don't even answer that, rhetorical]

    I could say similar things Wright said in a different tone, and I’m not bigoted against White people at all. It just the realities of life that you don’t have to deal with.

  • jookboksnmbr3

    forgive my typos. eh.

  • jookboksnmbr3

    I swear I am commenting so much…I’m sorry for taking over your blog lol I am just really bothered by the many comments I’ve seen by White people to this situation. Seriously if you ever met me in person, I grew up in suburbia, I can hang out with white people, I’m not caught up in racial injustice all the time because I am NOT a victim of poverty or the streets or anything like that. But if I ever do have to talk about racial issues…Whites are just so clueless. You think everything should be fine between Blacks and Whites, and when Blacks say otherwise, you get soooo offended. You act like our words really can do something to you, when those in power [majority White] have done things constantly to ignore or hurt the Black community in some way. But let one of us speak out about it frankly and watch the media come down on us. Give me a break!

    And can we not forget that John McCain recently tried to reembrace Falwell and that other “agent of intolerance” after they already shitted on almost every minority possible?

  • Chris H.

    jookboksnmbr3,

    Amen. Comment away, it makes it look like my post was actually interesting. I completely agree. What I am reminded about when I watch O’Reilly and others is that they seem most upset about the fact that blacks “have forgotten their place.”

    Bill,

    Wright was dismissed from his campaign when the comments became an issue. Do you also condemn Rudy for accepting the endorsement of Pat Robertson. If you are looking for offense you will find it. Anticipating your response to that, yes this is different from white racism because of the real impact that white racism has had on blacks over the centuries.

    I am off to bed. I will be crying myself to sleep as I think about all those oppressed white males living in America.

  • Bill Anderson

    jookboksnmbr3- I have no doubt that Wright treats white individuals well. And that you do too. But what I don’t get is how you can assign motives, thoughts, and actions to a race of people in general without regard for the individuals that compose that group. You say, “whites are just so clueless.” But surely you recognize that some of the most vocal civil rights leaders throughout history have been white. Wright says that ‘whites’ are oppressing ‘blacks’. But I’m white and I’m pretty sure I’ve done nothing to oppress anyone. Why define me by my race at all?

  • AJizzle

    lol @ your last comment. pretty much. night!

  • http://www.lavalane.org/blava/ Bradley Ross

    Jookboksnmbr3, I’ll admit to be being very surprised that you don’t see ANY racism in Rev. Wright. Perhaps you have a different definition of racism than I do. (I don’t mean that snarkily; some people believe racism can only exist towards minorities, for example.) In my view, one form of racism is believing the worst about a person based merely on their race.

    I suppose there is more than one way to read the comments that Wright made and see them as either racist or not. To understand his intent, we must look a bit deeper at the underlying theology. If this source is correct, Wright preaches “black liberation theology.” One man named James Cone, who helped to systematize that theology, said, “Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.”

    You’re right that a lot of black people don’t have any problem with what Wright said. But just because a lot of people are okay with something doesn’t make it right.

    As to the political consequences of the flap, I suspect the story will be gone in a month and won’t have any bearing on the general election.

  • AJizzle

    oh, that was to Chris, not you Bill. We all speak in generalities. GENERALLY, White people have no clue about Black problems. Not even generally, UNIVERSALLY. You will have no clue because you have not experienced it firsthand. Even those sympathetic to certain causes cannot fully grasp that issue unless they know from personal experience. And the fact that now White people want things not to be about race–well, thats pretty much too late for that. It has been about race for centuries and just because we’ve made steps forward, doesn’t mean all of a sudden race doesn’t matter and we should just stop mentioning it. White people are the ones in power 99% of the time [maybe a slight exaggeration]. Therefore Whites can ACTUALLY affect a black person’s day to day living [and have, for years]. This makes your widespread apathy to our issues a grave concern. A black preacher’s sermon is not going to harm you in any way other than cause you to have a hissy fit over the Internet. Are we gonna stop you from getting that promotion? Are we gonna pull you over on the road as part of a racial profiling initiative? No? Then trust me, you guys will be ok.

    It’s stuff like that–”why define me by my race at all” that can get really annoying. Civil rights movement passes and white people wanna wipe the slate clean and say they’re color blind. Unfortunately it is not that way, because if it was, the state of the black community would be much different from what it is now. So no, we cannot ignore race because it is still making an impact on our lives. It’s much easier for you to say that than it is for us.

    I don’t believe you personally are striving to oppress Black people, but the ignorant mindset of MOST of you indirectly leads to inequalities that you don’t want to recognize because you are not “trying” to do it. And instead of opening up discourse about that, you guys would rather deny its happening and turn around and call us bigots for being upset about it.

  • AJizzle

    so in a way, yes Bill, you are part of the problem. [i say this in jest--with a tinge of seriousness]

  • Bill Anderson

    Well, you’ll have to forgive my ignorance because you’re right, I’ve never experienced (that I recognized at least) active discrimination. And it’s not like I live in a hole in the ground either. My boss is black (and a woman!), my community is diverse (Houston, TX), and the majority of my friends are non-white (not black, asian and hispanic mostly). I actively try to live a color-blind life. And I think that’s a goal everyone in our nation should try and have. One of the most attractive things about Obama is his willingness to pursue that goal himself. He seems ready to let go of his past and even present challenges and move forward.

    I think we just have a fundamental difference of opinion! I think I’m part of the solution and you think I’m part of the problem.

  • Bill Anderson

    Chris H.- So the moral of the story is it’s only bad when you’re caught?

  • AJizzle

    Bill-

    I don’t think you’re a part of the problem because you want the world to be color blind. It’s a noble idea that hopefully in the future that can be achieved. I think your ignorance is part of the problem, because your belief everyone should think this way sort of implies that Blacks as a whole are going to be willing or able to do this. Your way of thinking encourages blacks to in essence “shrug it off”.

    I think about it like this–Let’s say Sarah has a dad who beats her and her mother every day from birth until she’s 18. Years pass, her dad goes to counseling, he apologizes profusely, and wants to re-establish a relationship with her. Sarah accepts his offer warily and with a bit of skepticism and distrust. And even though she wants to be able to form some bond with him, she finds herself resenting him more often than not and cannot get over how he made a mess of her life.

    Should his most appropriate response to this be
    A) Hey, we’re good now, I apologized, so stop talking bad about me! Just get over it. I mean…that was soooo long ago anyway. What do you want me to do?

    or

    B) Accept that she is going to have issues with him, and if they are ever going to get even close to having a normal relationship, he is going to have to deal with the consequences of what he did to her and realize things aren’t mended that easily.

    I love analogies. Lol.

  • AJizzle

    I don’t hate White people at all. Most of you are well intentioned in your own way. But since you have always been in the privileged position during racial divide, Whites nowadays see the world through rose colored glasses while the rest of us deal with issues that are still hurting us from 100 years ago. So when I hear the large majority of white people COMPLETELY unable/unwilling to understand that these things in the past still affect black people, it makes me hate White people in the general sense of the word…just a little bit. You essentially [not you specifically] call us whiners over something that has systematically killed the Black community. You see it as nothing when to us it is a BIG something. And I think a lot of Black people feel that way. You’re not bad people, you’re just out of touch with our reality.

    Note: Were this blog not specifically about racial issues, I wouldn’t be so starkly dividing Whites and Blacks in every post.

  • Bill Anderson

    Option B of course!

    And I like your analogy. I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to tweak it now to make it reflect the situation as I (the white guy!) see it. So here’s how I would rewrite it:

    Let’s say Sarah has a dad who beats her and her mother every day from birth until she’s 18. Years pass, she meets a guy, falls in love, gets married and wants to start a family. But Sarah is filled with skepticism and distrust due to the horrible relationship she had with her own father. And even though she wants to be able to form a trusting relationship with her husband, she finds herself resenting him more often than not and cannot get over how her own father made such a mess of her life.

    Should the husbands most appropriate response to this be:

    A) Hey, we’re good now. I know I’m in the same role as the last guy, but I’m a different person than he is so stop talking bad about me! Just get over it. I mean…that was soooo long ago anyway. What do you want me to do?

    or

    B) Accept that she is going to have issues with him, and if they are ever going to get even close to having a normal relationship, he is going to have to deal with the consequences of what her father did to her and realize things aren’t mended that easily.

    Of course the answer is still B, but looking at it that way fills me with more hope that there’s a future relationship there. And that the healing can take place a lot quicker. Of course, sometimes the husbands in that role take answer A, and they’re never quite sure why they’re having problems. Ultimately, the decision to move on, painful as it may be rests with Sarah.

    What do you think?

  • Bill Anderson

    Of course, it’s always possible that Sarah’s husband will turn out just like her father too. But I honestly believe that the majority of husbands/whites are good people who are trying to do the right and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

  • Bill Anderson

    “Note: Were this blog not specifically about racial issues, I wouldn’t be so starkly dividing Whites and Blacks in every post.”

    That’s perfectly fine. Who would I be to complain when I’m here speaking for “white people” like I represent them. I’ll bet Chris H. would beg to differ!

  • Bill Anderson

    “White people are the ones in power 99% of the time [maybe a slight exaggeration]. Therefore Whites can ACTUALLY affect a black person’s day to day living [and have, for years].”

    True. And so I’m curious, what would you like to see done differently to make things better? Different policies? Or does it have to be different people (less whites)? Or both?

    Yikes, now who’s taking over this thread!

  • AJizzle

    Bill-it doesn’t surprise me that you see it this way. Whites see it as “hey, I’m a different person, I don’t discriminate” but the sad truth is that even if you don’t overtly try to discriminate, it happens every day. The current power structure has made it so that Whites are going to be more privileged than blacks, blacks are going to be locked up and in poverty more than Whites, White issues are going to get more coverage and concern than Black issues, etc…so Black people don’t feel like it’s a whole new go around, a level playing field. While there is certainly more opportunity for us now and less obvious racism to deal with, there IS institutional racism that makes us feel like not enough has changed. When we have the same likelihood of going to college, when employers don’t look at us as less qualified for a white collar job right from the first look [and they do], when cops stop looking suspiciously at every black male in a nice car [regardless of the area he's in], then we can talk. But you guys don’t see yourselves trying to do these things, so you want to act like they don’t exist. and therein lies the issue–we still see the same things, and you think you’ve almost completely eradicated racism.

    As far as what is needed to be changed, there are many things that Black people themselves need to work on and can only heal from within. But the nationwide change that needs to happen is an awareness that things should not always be taken at face value. Black people aren’t locked up at vastly disproportionate rates from every other race because we don’t know how to act or because we’re just “violent” people…black people aren’t in poverty at a far higher rate because they’re lazy and don’t like to work. There were generations of circumstances that have led up to these circumstances and it’s not something that we can snap our fingers and say “Hey, we’re cured, slavery’s over, let’s all be as prosperous as the White folks.” Because that mindset of inferiority has penetrated the consciousness of most black kids from birth. It’s true. There are studies showing that toddlers as young as 3 will overwhelmingly point out the black doll as the “bad doll”…even black toddlers themselves. It’s something thats subtly fed to America’s children from birth. That’s why I’m so upset this is happening to Obama now, because he was looked at as the safe black man to much of America, but still had street credentials with the black community. A black man’s ascenscion into the White House would completely change how black people are looked at in very few years; it could do a load to help us pull ourselves out of the gutter. Seeing him get attacked for what an average everyday black person thinks is so upsetting. Cuz white people don’t really wanna know how we feel–they just wanna feel like they’re not racists and we’re all friends. Yeah I’m cool with you, but in the back of my mind, I know you’ll never relate.

  • AJizzle

    I can respect you for at least addressing the issue and engaging in conversation with me about it. But there are few others who will take the time to do this. They’ll hang up their hats, call Wright and Obama a bigot, and go back to their merry lives. It’s amazing how as SOON as Obama addresses racial relations, things blow up in his face and half of his supporters turn on him. White America just does not want to hear it! I have never been so aware of that until now…and it feels like a slap in the face to me personally when I read these comments some of you leave about the situation. Just ignorance at its worst. And it’s willful ignorance because they don’t want to investigate any further than the superficial.

  • AJizzle

    If people of all races were more informed about the causes and motivations of beliefs of other minorities, so much change and acceptance could happen. But the majority in power [in MOST countries, if not all] do not want to be open to hearing that. Their belief/goal that everything is different now is completely being prevented by ignoring what the minority group at hand has to say. Youre marking the progress of social change by your own standards, expectations, and experiences, but you’ve always been the group holding the power–can’t you guys see what’s a little silly about that?

  • Jack

    While there is no question that racial prejudice still underscores so much of our social imbalance, I also think many whites have a hard time bearing the burden of guilt for our racist past/present–it’s an incredibly shameful thing to be the son of a slave owner these days–and so, that plays a part as well in their turning the blind eye to the real issues. On the other hand, we see many black leaders continually reminding the black community of it’s lowly status at the hands of the whites thus promoting a continual catalization of rigid racial divides.

    Another problem this “continual reminder” promotes is a lack of awareness as to the real possibilities for advancement among blacks. While blacks generally have a much higher ladder to climb than whites with respect to social matriculation, I think the argument that they have less opportunity for education is a bit more complex than racism only. One only need do a quick perusal of the net to discover that blacks have *huge* helps for securing financial aid and placement for/in higher education, for example.

    The problem is getting from the ghetto to the college. Some how we need to inculcate a more positive “can do” doctrine among blacks so that children are brought up in more hopeful circumstances. Just throwing more money at them isn’t going to do the trick–yes it will do some of the trick; yes we need to infuse the black community with greater benefits, but we also need to actively change the long tradition of hopelessness brought on by generations of oppression.

    Frankly, I don’t think the racial divide will fully heal without addressing the economic divide. Some may think that I put the cart before the horse with such thinking, but the reality is that the problems of racial division has received far more attention over the last forty years than those of class division. Most educated well-to-do whites would much rather keep company with educated well-to-do blacks than with poor ignorant whites.

    And so while I think it is incumbent upon whites to shoulder the burden of helping the blacks, it needs to be done in way that promotes dignity among blacks; that promotes hope and well being; that promotes a “can do” spirit. Because any fool can see–and call me racist–that blacks seem to out-perform all others when they find a way and believe they can.

  • AJizzle

    Jack–great post. And I agree with you on most levels. It is true that most of the injustices perceived in the Black community by Whites is more related to their socioeconomic status than their race alone. But since such a vast number of Blacks are living in poverty and such a vast majority of affluent citizens are White, it gets boiled back down to this age old issue. But race IS still part of the problem, no doubt. I definitely can agree that black leaders need to stop pointing fingers and start helping their community themselves. Saying how bad the White man is will only inspire self-pity and/or hatred; it won’t spur the community to build itself back up

  • Jack

    AJizzle,

    How in the heck did you respond so quickly! Yes, there is no doubt that race is still part of the problem and that tackling the problem of poverty will probably do more than anything else in healing the divide between races.

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  • Bradley

    Wow, my respect for Obama just tripled. Why? Because he didn’t throw his friend under the bus. He understands loyalty.

    Now look at Mitt. Has he taken the heat for his friends? Or have they all taken the heat for him?

  • http://ldsorganplayer.com Mark N.

    “I know treason when I hear it and enemies when I see them.”

    Yeah, and so did the Romans.

  • Aaron

    Not to put too fine a point on things, but Jeremiah Wright is President Obama’s “former” pastor, therefore this whole discussion seems more like an excuse to bash the president than shed light on anything in particular. Maybe we should really do an self-evaluation before we throw stones at someone else. It was my experience growing up in the church that prior to 1978, our church was incredibly racist — anti black, anti Pacific islander, anti Mexican. I could tell you stories about BYU, about wards I attended, about places of employment in Utah that would curl your hair.

  • lyle

    Aaron:

    Anti Pacific Islander? What shadowy world did you work in? Perhaps one where there is no huge percentage of Tongans who are LDS?

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