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Barack Obama Gives 'Race Speech' in Philadelphia

Barack Obama's much-anticipated speech on race is underway at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and the text has been released. In it, he addresses the controversy over comments by his pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright and urges America to move on from the "racial stalemate" the country has been in for years.

ObamaSays Obama in the speech: "For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies. We can do that. But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change."

WATCH the clip and read the full text of the speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

"A More Perfect Union"

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama

Constitution Center

Tuesday, March 18th, 2008

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

As Prepared for Delivery

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations.

Of course, the answer to the slavery question was already embedded within our Constitution – a Constitution that had at is very core the ideal of equal citizenship under the law; a Constitution that promised its people liberty, and justice, and a union that could be and should be perfected over time.

And yet words on a parchment would not be enough to deliver slaves from bondage, or provide men and women of every color and creed their full rights and obligations as citizens of the United States. What would be needed were Americans in successive generations who were willing to do their part – through protests and struggle, on the streets and in the courts, through a civil war and civil disobedience and always at great risk - to narrow that gap between the promise of our ideals and the reality of their time.

This was one of the tasks we set forth at the beginning of this campaign – to continue the long march of those who came before us, a march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America. I chose to run for the presidency at this moment in history because I believe deeply that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together – unless we perfect our union by understanding that we may have different stories, but we hold common hopes; that we may not look the same and we may not have come from the same place, but we all want to move in the same direction – towards a better future for of children and our grandchildren.

This belief comes from my unyielding faith in the decency and generosity of the American people. But it also comes from my own American story.

I am the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas. I was raised with the help of a white grandfather who survived a Depression to serve in Patton’s Army during World War II and a white grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line at Fort Leavenworth while he was overseas. I’ve gone to some of the best schools in America and lived in one of the world’s poorest nations. I am married to a black American who carries within her the blood of slaves and slaveowners – an inheritance we pass on to our two precious daughters. I have brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, uncles and cousins, of every race and every hue, scattered across three continents, and for as long as I live, I will never forget that in no other country on Earth is my story even possible.

It’s a story that hasn’t made me the most conventional candidate. But it is a story that has seared into my genetic makeup the idea that this nation is more than the sum of its parts – that out of many, we are truly one.

Throughout the first year of this campaign, against all predictions to the contrary, we saw how hungry the American people were for this message of unity. Despite the temptation to view my candidacy through a purely racial lens, we won commanding victories in states with some of the whitest populations in the country. In South Carolina, where the Confederate Flag still flies, we built a powerful coalition of African Americans and white Americans.

This is not to say that race has not been an issue in the campaign. At various stages in the campaign, some commentators have deemed me either “too black” or “not black enough.” We saw racial tensions bubble to the surface during the week before the South Carolina primary. The press has scoured every exit poll for the latest evidence of racial polarization, not just in terms of white and black, but black and brown as well.

And yet, it has only been in the last couple of weeks that the discussion of race in this campaign has taken a particularly divisive turn.

On one end of the spectrum, we’ve heard the implication that my candidacy is somehow an exercise in affirmative action; that it’s based solely on the desire of wide-eyed liberals to purchase racial reconciliation on the cheap. On the other end, we’ve heard my former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation; that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Reverend Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain. Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren’t simply controversial. They weren’t simply a religious leader’s effort to speak out against perceived injustice. Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country – a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America; a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

As such, Reverend Wright’s comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems – two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.

Given my background, my politics, and my professed values and ideals, there will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church? And I confess that if all that I knew of Reverend Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and You Tube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

But the truth is, that isn’t all that I know of the man. The man I met more than twenty years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor. He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine; who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God’s work here on Earth – by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

In my first book, "Dreams From My Father," I described the experience of my first service at Trinity:

“People began to shout, to rise from their seats and clap and cry out, a forceful wind carrying the reverend’s voice up into the rafters….And in that single note – hope! – I heard something else; at the foot of that cross, inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion’s den, Ezekiel’s field of dry bones. Those stories – of survival, and freedom, and hope – became our story, my story; the blood that had spilled was our blood, the tears our tears; until this black church, on this bright day, seemed once more a vessel carrying the story of a people into future generations and into a larger world. Our trials and triumphs became at once unique and universal, black and more than black; in chronicling our journey, the stories and songs gave us a means to reclaim memories that we didn’t need to feel shame about…memories that all people might study and cherish – and with which we could start to rebuild.”

That has been my experience at Trinity. Like other predominantly black churches across the country, Trinity embodies the black community in its entirety – the doctor and the welfare mom, the model student and the former gang-banger. Like other black churches, Trinity’s services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear. The church contains in full the kindness and cruelty, the fierce intelligence and the shocking ignorance, the struggles and successes, the love and yes, the bitterness and bias that make up the black experience in America.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions – the good and the bad – of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

Some will see this as an attempt to justify or excuse comments that are simply inexcusable. I can assure you it is not. I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork. We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.

But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now. We would be making the same mistake that Reverend Wright made in his offending sermons about America – to simplify and stereotype and amplify the negative to the point that it distorts reality.

The fact is that the comments that have been made and the issues that have surfaced over the last few weeks reflect the complexities of race in this country that we’ve never really worked through – a part of our union that we have yet to perfect. And if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs for every American.

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, “The past isn’t dead and buried. In fact, it isn’t even past.” We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven’t fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today’s black and white students.

Legalized discrimination - where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

This is the reality in which Reverend Wright and other African-Americans of his generation grew up. They came of age in the late fifties and early sixties, a time when segregation was still the law of the land and opportunity was systematically constricted. What’s remarkable is not how many failed in the face of discrimination, but rather how many men and women overcame the odds; how many were able to make a way out of no way for those like me who would come after them.

But for all those who scratched and clawed their way to get a piece of the American Dream, there were many who didn’t make it – those who were ultimately defeated, in one way or another, by discrimination. That legacy of defeat was passed on to future generations – those young men and increasingly young women who we see standing on street corners or languishing in our prisons, without hope or prospects for the future. Even for those blacks who did make it, questions of race, and racism, continue to define their worldview in fundamental ways. For the men and women of Reverend Wright’s generation, the memories of humiliation and doubt and fear have not gone away; nor has the anger and the bitterness of those years. That anger may not get expressed in public, in front of white co-workers or white friends. But it does find voice in the barbershop or around the kitchen table. At times, that anger is exploited by politicians, to gin up votes along racial lines, or to make up for a politician’s own failings.

And occasionally it finds voice in the church on Sunday morning, in the pulpit and in the pews. The fact that so many people are surprised to hear that anger in some of Reverend Wright’s sermons simply reminds us of the old truism that the most segregated hour in American life occurs on Sunday morning. That anger is not always productive; indeed, all too often it distracts attention from solving real problems; it keeps us from squarely facing our own complicity in our condition, and prevents the African-American community from forging the alliances it needs to bring about real change. 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.

In fact, a similar anger exists within segments of the white community. Most working- and middle-class white Americans don’t feel that they have been particularly privileged by their race. Their experience is the immigrant experience – as far as they’re concerned, no one’s handed them anything, they’ve built it from scratch. They’ve worked hard all their lives, many times only to see their jobs shipped overseas or their pension dumped after a lifetime of labor. They are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition, opportunity comes to be seen as a zero sum game, in which your dreams come at my expense. So when they are told to bus their children to a school across town; when they hear that an African American is getting an advantage in landing a good job or a spot in a good college because of an injustice that they themselves never committed; when they’re told that their fears about crime in urban neighborhoods are somehow prejudiced, resentment builds over time.

Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company. But they have helped shape the political landscape for at least a generation. Anger over welfare and affirmative action helped forge the Reagan Coalition. Politicians routinely exploited fears of crime for their own electoral ends. Talk show hosts and conservative commentators built entire careers unmasking bogus claims of racism while dismissing legitimate discussions of racial injustice and inequality as mere political correctness or reverse racism.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

This is where we are right now. It’s a racial stalemate we’ve been stuck in for years. Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naïve as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy – particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

But I have asserted a firm conviction – a conviction rooted in my faith in God and my faith in the American people – that working together we can move beyond some of our old racial wounds, and that in fact we have no choice is we are to continue on the path of a more perfect union.

For the African-American community, that path means embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past. It means continuing to insist on a full measure of justice in every aspect of American life. But it also means binding our particular grievances – for better health care, and better schools, and better jobs - to the larger aspirations of all Americans -- the white woman struggling to break the glass ceiling, the white man whose been laid off, the immigrant trying to feed his family. And it means taking full responsibility for own lives – by demanding more from our fathers, and spending more time with our children, and reading to them, and teaching them that while they may face challenges and discrimination in their own lives, they must never succumb to despair or cynicism; they must always believe that they can write their own destiny.

Ironically, this quintessentially American – and yes, conservative – notion of self-help found frequent expression in Reverend Wright’s sermons. But what my former pastor too often failed to understand is that embarking on a program of self-help also requires a belief that society can change.

The profound mistake of Reverend Wright’s sermons is not that he spoke about racism in our society. It’s that he spoke as if our society was static; as if no progress has been made; as if this country – a country that has made it possible for one of his own members to run for the highest office in the land and build a coalition of white and black; Latino and Asian, rich and poor, young and old -- is still irrevocably bound to a tragic past. But what we know -- what we have seen – is that America can change. That is true genius of this nation. What we have already achieved gives us hope – the audacity to hope – for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

In the white community, the path to a more perfect union means acknowledging that what ails the African-American community does not just exist in the minds of black people; that the legacy of discrimination - and current incidents of discrimination, while less overt than in the past - are real and must be addressed. Not just with words, but with deeds – by investing in our schools and our communities; by enforcing our civil rights laws and ensuring fairness in our criminal justice system; by providing this generation with ladders of opportunity that were unavailable for previous generations. It requires all Americans to realize that your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams; that investing in the health, welfare, and education of black and brown and white children will ultimately help all of America prosper.

In the end, then, what is called for is nothing more, and nothing less, than what all the world’s great religions demand – that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us. Let us be our brother’s keeper, Scripture tells us. Let us be our sister’s keeper. Let us find that common stake we all have in one another, and let our politics reflect that spirit as well.

For we have a choice in this country. We can accept a politics that breeds division, and conflict, and cynicism. We can tackle race only as spectacle – as we did in the OJ trial – or in the wake of tragedy, as we did in the aftermath of Katrina - or as fodder for the nightly news. We can play Reverend Wright’s sermons on every channel, every day and talk about them from now until the election, and make the only question in this campaign whether or not the American people think that I somehow believe or sympathize with his most offensive words. We can pounce on some gaffe by a Hillary supporter as evidence that she’s playing the race card, or we can speculate on whether white men will all flock to John McCain in the general election regardless of his policies.

We can do that.

But if we do, I can tell you that in the next election, we’ll be talking about some other distraction. And then another one. And then another one. And nothing will change.

That is one option. Or, at this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, “Not this time.” This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.

This time we want to talk about how the lines in the Emergency Room are filled with whites and blacks and Hispanics who do not have health care; who don’t have the power on their own to overcome the special interests in Washington, but who can take them on if we do it together.

This time we want to talk about the shuttered mills that once provided a decent life for men and women of every race, and the homes for sale that once belonged to Americans from every religion, every region, every walk of life. This time we want to talk about the fact that the real problem is not that someone who doesn’t look like you might take your job; it’s that the corporation you work for will ship it overseas for nothing more than a profit.

This time we want to talk about the men and women of every color and creed who serve together, and fight together, and bleed together under the same proud flag. We want to talk about how to bring them home from a war that never should’ve been authorized and never should’ve been waged, and we want to talk about how we’ll show our patriotism by caring for them, and their families, and giving them the benefits they have earned.

I would not be running for President if I didn’t believe with all my heart that this is what the vast majority of Americans want for this country. This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. And today, whenever I find myself feeling doubtful or cynical about this possibility, what gives me the most hope is the next generation – the young people whose attitudes and beliefs and openness to change have already made history in this election.

There is one story in particularly that I’d like to leave you with today – a story I told when I had the great honor of speaking on Dr. King’s birthday at his home church, Ebenezer Baptist, in Atlanta.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organized for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She had been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and one day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that’s when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

Now Ashley might have made a different choice. Perhaps somebody told her along the way that the source of her mother’s problems were blacks who were on welfare and too lazy to work, or Hispanics who were coming into the country illegally. But she didn’t. She sought out allies in her fight against injustice.

Anyway, Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they’re supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who’s been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he’s there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, “I am here because of Ashley.”

“I’m here because of Ashley.” By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we start. It is where our union grows stronger. And as so many generations have come to realize over the course of the two hundred and twenty one years since a band of patriots signed that document in Philadelphia, that is where the perfection begins.

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Comments

  1. Jimyboyo, that was hillary-ous! Team HRC is too much, her hatred that she is not in the drivers seat and has more or less lost to a *gasp* black man has her and her supporters in a tizzy. let them stay in it, they are so anti Obama, that they will have 4 more years to get gay rights trampled into the ground by McCain, who good old HRC will probaly vote for herself.

    If those who hate Obama for whatever reason they have pulled out of the air, would actually listen to the speech without the typical negative judgement they have, guess what, you might learn to not be so narrow minded.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Mar 18, 2008 3:59:16 PM


  2. ZEKE -

    I wasn't calling YOUR comment laughable and pathetic. I should've separated that from where I was addressing you. My apologies.
    And if that was a Straw Man, well I hope it means my fat ass is gonna lose some weight. Somehow I know I'm wrong, yet again. UGH!

    oh, and let me clarify something else before someone jumps all over it.

    "Then denying he had any knowledge of the Rev.'s views, only to say today he knew and strongly opposed them...but didn't distance himself." (at the time...I know he does now)

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 4:00:31 PM


  3. The Talmud has many rabis of the past saying that non Jews are not human

    Oops all Jews are now quilty of hate

    Jesus said to gouge out your eyes for ogling a hotie.

    OOps you anti rev wright xtians need to gouge out your eyeballs you hypocrites

    The budha left his wife and son to fend for themselves in a society that didn't look kindly on single mothers.

    Oops you Budhists have a lot to answer for for your ties to that mysoginistic hater.

    etc
    etc

    Hypocrites.

    As long as it isn't your crazy relgion and or your own personal crazy preachers.

    Hypocrites one and all stirring a tempest in a tea pot because you have no hope of Hillary being at the top of the ticket.
    Get ovr it alredy and face reality.

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Mar 18, 2008 4:01:00 PM


  4. JIMMYBOYO -

    Oh, I had to leave my church for all the crazy crap they spewed there. I went as a child 'cause I had to. Those Baptists at my church...crazy! Lemme tell you.

    I gotta say, however, your constant dismissive comments about Hillary and her supporter don't make it any more pleasant to vote for Senator Obama in November. Not that you have to, mind you. But it does help make the dislike of his followers tactics more ardent. Plus it's not exactly following in the footsteps of his gospel of "unity".

    Oh, and it's always been so interesting to see that whenever anyone speaks of racial issues in America, it's always categorized in a black/white divide. All other ethnic minority's are left aside. Whites don't get this, blacks don't get that.
    America is not made up of only two races, and as a member of the current biggest ethnic minority, it's always a bit insulting to only be brought up when Immigration is the topic. Of course only African Americans know about racism.

    Posted by: Silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 4:22:59 PM


  5. JIMMYBOYO -

    The last paragraph of my last post was not addressed to you. I neglected to separate that from what I was saying to you.

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 4:27:15 PM


  6. Silverskreen

    I appologize for coming off so dismissive.

    I have tried in the past to push for an Obama/ Hillary ticket

    I'm pissed and probably went overboard.

    I appologize

    We are all supposed to be united against the repubs.


    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Mar 18, 2008 4:34:06 PM


  7. Thanks, Sami. When you try to be humorous on so many blog topics, it's hard for some folks to ever take you seriously. I appreciate your comment--very much.

    SILVERSKEEN: You write very, very well.
    I am hardly what one could call "militant". In fact, a few mohths ago on this blog, I was called a "Stepin' Fetchit" by a black commentor. The white folks I come in contact with, I have no problem with, even get along well with many of them. But I do have a long history of being interested in Black American history, and uncovering a Black Gay American history. So, even though I criticize homophobia and anti-gay violence in the black community using the same language as any "bigoted" white gay, I still have an emotional recognition of Reverend Wright's firey condemnation of my country's treatment toward Africans and people of African descent...and me, I guess.

    I told a strong Obama supporter months ago, "it may not be anything Barack or Michelle have said or done that's going to be used against them, but it will be their associates...going back to elementary school that will be investigated." I knew the Republicans would try this sort of thing; I was too naive to believe the Clinton Camp would use it. This is why it took me so long to support Obama. I didn't/couldn't believe that race would NOT be the factor which stopped him.

    The longer we go on with this primary race, the more I feel that the opposition to Obama is indeed racial. It was Obama's message that caught the attention of so many white voters. Contrary to Ferraro's statement, if Obama was a white HE WOULD HAVE THE NOMINATION BY NOW. I believe that if John Edwards had had the same message as Obama--he would still be in the race--tied with Hillary & Barack. If just Hillary & Edwards? THe nomination would be Edwards' by now--IF HE HAD OBAMA'S MESSAGE.

    But I've made my commitment now. Yes, I could still vote for Hillary Clinton, but that isn't going to happen unless the super delegates steal the nomination from Barack Obama. If that happened, there would be millions of young black, Latino, Asian & WHITE newly registered Democrats who would say, "fuck this shit. I aint votin'"

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Mar 18, 2008 4:40:07 PM


  8. Jimmyboyo -

    Understandable...apology accepted (sniff, sniff) LOL. Just wanted to point it out, actually...but the apology was sweet, thank you:)

    And yes, let's tear down the old man!

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 4:41:42 PM


  9. :-)

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Mar 18, 2008 4:50:04 PM


  10. Derrick From Philly -

    Point taken, Mr.
    I know I sometimes get so worked up when starting my posts that I completely go off in a tangent because I'm so incensed. Of course I then have to take a step back and realize my own misgivings and personal biases to try and not make it all about me. And I must say, it ain't easy. I'm a stubborn and opinionated Mo'fo - and often short sighted, to my own dismay.

    I was basking in your comment about "you write very, very well" with my 'I do? (GRIN), I do?! (hugs keyboard)', only to read back the last post where I said "minority's" when I meant "minorities"...ugh, I'm a hack. LOL
    Still, thank you, and let's keep the hack part between us:)

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 5:23:11 PM


  11. Derrick responded to me by saying, "LANDON, gay-bashing and homophobic attacks are basically INTRAracial activiities. When it comes to politics (referenda, anti-gay initiatives)--that's when the black and white gay communities have conflict."

    Yes. This is a political speech. I care about Obama only as a politial figure. Political conflict is what is relevant here. It is ignorant to claim that antigay bigotry is not a specific problem of the black church community- Obama is regularly praised for recognizing that it is. Of course, most churches are antigay. Most are also less bigoted on that issue than black churches.

    It is even more ignorant to claim that Wright is a spokesman for gay rights, even though he did once acknowledge the antigay bigotry which is endemic in the black community. Obama shares his pastor's views on gay marriage (both oppose it, as does their congregation, DESPITE the fact that most churches in their demonination do not.)

    I write this recognizing that many people confuse holding black people to the same standard (not hating me, not congratulating those who advertise their hatred of me) I have for other people with racism. It is the opposite of racism.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Mar 18, 2008 5:32:34 PM


  12. Landon,

    You wrote:

    "In a world where the NAACP gives an award to Isaiah Washington after he becomes one of the world's most famous bigots, Obama's tepid and occasional mentions of homophobia in the black community are not enough."

    Well, unless I missed something in the news in the past year, the NAACP and Isaiah Washington don't have a goddamn thing to do with Barack Obama. You seem to be holding the man accountable for all the anti-gay bigotry ever voiced or espoused by any black person.

    And that is the very definition of racism.

    Posted by: 24play | Mar 18, 2008 5:49:47 PM


  13. SILVERSKREEN, apology accepted. Now THAT is class my friend! It's amazing how your kind, thoughtful and consiliatory response to me changes the entire tone and tenor of the thread. Thank you.

    Thanks JIMMYBOYO AND SILVERSKREEN for changing the dialogue.

    Let the healing commence!

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 18, 2008 5:59:53 PM


  14. 24PLAY wrote:
    "Obama's denomination is extremely pro-gay and Wright himself has often spoken out against anti-gay bigotry."

    I wrote:

    "It is even more ignorant to claim that Wright is a spokesman for gay rights, even though he did once acknowledge the antigay bigotry which is endemic in the black community. Obama shares his pastor's views on gay marriage (both oppose it, as does their congregation, DESPITE the fact that most churches in their demonination do not.)"

    Caught in a lie, 24PLAY returned to my earlier post and tried another tack.

    The NAACP is very much tied in with the SCLC. It represents the most public face of the power which is centered in black churches. Since my post was about my hesitancy to a support a candidate who is tied as strongly as Obama to that culture.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Mar 18, 2008 6:04:12 PM


  15. 24PLAY, I probably didn't make it clear but my Aunt is from Mississippi, as I am, but she lives in a suburb of Tampa very near me and my family. Trust me, we need her vote in FLORIDA too although we never know if it will count or not.

    This is the aunt who took me in when my family threw me out and disowned me. That's why I'm in Florida. She is a WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL woman and in some ways more of a mom to me than my mom (who finally came around).

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 18, 2008 6:04:42 PM


  16. People who already supported Obama will continue to do so and will be satisfied and even moved by the speech.
    ---------------------
    Sorry ZEKE but I did support him from day one, I just never thought middle America would. Even his misstep in SC I still backed him. If he gets the nomination, which is in serious jeopardy, I will now have to hold my nose to do SC. He is a major disappointment to me and our country.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 18, 2008 6:06:31 PM


  17. ZEKE - cheers ;)

    PATRICK NYC -

    Yikes!! Was it this whole thing with Wright that changed your mind?
    I remember your support for him.


    I find this whole thing very interesting, needless to say.

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 6:22:31 PM


  18. SS

    When I first heard the remarks on video it made my stomach turn. To read them is one thing, but to hear that kind of hate. Not only did Obama sit through it for over 20 years, on Friday he lied and said he never heard them. Once a person lies to me I can never trust them again. No matter how much he says he's sorry, he's just cost himself the election. Middle America just will not forgive him, neither will I.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 18, 2008 6:40:15 PM


  19. PATRICK NYC -

    It remains to be seen, bud. I hear ya, however. Loud and clear.

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 6:45:59 PM


  20. "America is not made up of only two races, and as a member of the current biggest ethnic minority, it's always a bit insulting to only be brought up when Immigration is the topic. Of course only African Americans know about racism."

    African Americans were this country's only bonafied slaves though and therefore that will always be the main prism through which race will be viewed. For Christ's sake Italian immigrants were lynched in the South because Southern whites thought them to be black. Discrimination and bigotry don't disappear overnight. Obama's speech addresses many of the issues that people gloss over. With every generation race relations get better, but the work is not over, obviously.

    I'm a Clinton supporter and it saddens me to read others being so derisive when referencing Obama. I support Clinton because her positions are more detailed, but I also recognize that Obama and Clinton share virtually the same position on every topic that I think is important. I would be more than happy voting for either candidate. The idea that a Democrat would either not vote or defect to McCain's camp is retarded. McCain is at the other end of spectrum of these fine candidates. And it voters don't know that and elect another Republican then this country deserves to continue going down the crapper.

    Posted by: sugarrhill | Mar 18, 2008 6:58:26 PM


  21. Zeke,

    Florida's okay. But Ohio, Missouri, or Virginia would be SO MUCH better. See what you can do. It'd do you all good to get out of Florida for the summer anyway. And you can all be back in plenty of time for Thanksgiving!

    Landon,

    I posted no "lies." Not only has Wright spoken against anti-gay bigotry, he did so in the very same YouTubed speech where he made his disparaging remarks about Senator Clinton, saying, "I want my gay-hating holy folk to hear God's message on Christmas. God's good news is for all people!"

    And as for Wright (or Obama) not supporting marriage equality, if you're arguing that Kucinich or Gravel should be the Democratic nominee, then I'll gladly accept your criticism. But if Clinton is your candidate, you have no standing to criticize Wright, Obama, or me on the issue.

    Finally, on the subject of the motivation for your anti-Obama stand, I don't think I can make it any clearer. You are holding Obama responsible for disagreeable actions by other blacks, blacks to which he has no connection. That is a textbook example of racism. You can deny it to everyone here, as well as yourself, or you can take the time to examine your feelings and motivation and try to get past the ugliness.

    Posted by: 24play | Mar 18, 2008 7:05:59 PM


  22. SUGARRHILL -

    "African Americans were this country's only bonafied slaves though and therefore that will always be the main prism through which race will be viewed."

    No denying they were - absolutely. Still, I can't help but take that statement as dismissive of any one else's plight, and it really angers me to the core, I must say.
    I'm sure it wasn't meant that way, maybe it's just something in the water I'm drinking today, but yeah.

    Retarded as the notion of a Democrat not voting or voting for McCain may be, it's also a very real possibility for many a supporters.
    Not I, mind you, but they are out there.

    Posted by: silverskreen | Mar 18, 2008 7:31:40 PM


  23. I hear and read a bunch of talk but yet not much action. This is the same guy that threw us under the bus and allowed a homophobic Rev drive the bus then rethinking his deeds the other "O" thought he might need to mention folks need to be open minded in MLK's former church. I hear the other "O" speak and not address the issue or distance himself from this Pastor and condeming him. Only to use the phrase the AFA and Dopson use hate teh sin not the person. I dare say if this was a pastor of any other shade ALL THE REGULARS jess and AL would show up and go after them. I fear should the "O" get the nod there is going to be a lot of shoe kissing from those who sort tugged on MLK coat. I view his speech equally to what Strom or Goerge Wallace spewed in the 60's. The "O" is not someone who will answer the freakin questions or back up his words hes just merely another politician wanting a vote to go back on a promise after elected. I dare say we as a community will be in the back of the bus regardless

    Posted by: ruralarch | Mar 18, 2008 7:38:19 PM


  24. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely – just as I’m sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests, or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.
    -------------------
    Where to begin. When I read his statement at work this morning I could hardly read. I just was so angry at being let down. When I got home tonight I felt it important to hear the words from the man himself, all 40 minutes.

    While I no longer am a practicing Catholic, in my 48 years I have never heard any priest or member of the church speak in that way. It is clear they are homophobic but it is never at the level of hate in Wrights clip. In this past year or so I have been to both my parents funerals, my Godson's wedding, and two of my brothers children's baptisms. This is not something you hear from them.

    While I was angry when I read his remarks this morning tonight I started to cry. I had such hope for this man and in turn this country. Like our past Governor Spitzer, he threw that away. It is a sad day for America.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 18, 2008 7:38:20 PM


  25. Well, Sugarhill, as one who could never support HRC,too Republican for my tastes, I must say, you have been one of the few supporters of her's who has ben civil in regards to my candidate of choice, Obama. So, they had all better get ready for the McCain years, since, somehow, if Obama is the nominee, I doubt if any of the HRC supporters on this blog will vote for him if he is the nominee,too petty and out of touch with the real world and issues, and, will be the ones most vocal of McCain's anti gay stance.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Mar 18, 2008 8:38:16 PM


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