Barack Obama | Election 2008 | News

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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  1. Obama's speech was SUPERB!

    It was very moving, and for this originally Edwards supporter, his words made me have even more enthusiasm for him.

    He is someone that is needed NOW more than ever. He's truly the UNITER not divider - he will turn those words into ACTION vs. the current slected prez who said that.

    Oh the mainstream media whores try so much to bring him down with negativity and more. They want Hillary cuz they know they can beat her. But now with Obama, he's comes from almost out of no where, and they can't smear himor railraod.

    Obama responds back with his WAM! BAM! back at you MSM bitches. But he does it with a calm, cool & collected demeaner. This is what I call "shortcircuiting" the press and others who know they can't win over HOPE, the reality of a united America and more.

    Today confirm what my instinct have been telling me ever so strongly:

    Barack Obama will be the next President of the United States of America!
    :-) :-) :-)

    Posted by: FunMe | Mar 18, 2008 9:02:15 PM

  2. @ patrick nyc

    Oh. My. God.

    You've never heard of ANY church speak this way? No tele-evangelists etc.

    Ok. Right. Sorry.

    Posted by: John | Mar 18, 2008 9:10:41 PM

  3. Well, he certainly did a fine job of revealing all of the hidden and underlaying intricacies of racism. And while I can appreciate that every black person in this country finally feels like maybe, just maybe they have been heard...what the hell you gonna do about the economy? Iraq?

    No...I'm not being a jerk. But I am not voting for anyone due to their sex, race, religion, etc. I want to know what the fuck they are going to do to clean up this Bush disaster.

    It's all very nice, and the oration is virtually impeccable - but I've been in those rooms at those big companies with big diversity policies. It's is still fucking queer, and it is still fucking nigger - or kike or wetback. Those narrow minded bastards will die off sooner or later, and while I await their demise - Obama, what the hell are you going to do about the economy??? Iraq? Oil Independence? Or is there a mandatory "come to Jesus" meeting first?

    Posted by: Mark | Mar 18, 2008 9:22:17 PM

  4. I can’t believe that any self respecting GLBT person would vote for a right-centrist Democrat like Obama or Clinton or a rightist Republican like McCain. They jointly support the war. They jointly support NAFTA, union busting, deregulation and cuts in medical and financial aid for the growing numbers of poor people. They jointly stabbed us in the back with DOMA and DADT and by gutting ENDA and then scrapping it and the hate crimes bill. They join in the abuse of immigrant and imported labor or at best turn a cold shoulder to them. Both parties refuse to support laws to raise the minimum wage to trade union levels to even out the racist discrepancies in living standards. Etc.

    But given that, we should do all we can to protest and reject race baiting by the Clintons. The election campaign has already produced an increase in anti-GLBT violence, including murders. If Obama wins the nomination the Republicans will pick up where Bill and Hillary left off. (They’ve already done polling to see what they can get away with.) That’ll most likely lead to racist violence as well.

    Secondly, Wright has a healthy contempt for racists and racism inslucidng it's extension into the Middle East which is support for the zionist apartheid state and the oil piracy in Iraq. He has a perfect right to his opinions. How could any one object to that?

    Posted by: Bill Perdue, RainbowRED | Mar 18, 2008 9:27:40 PM

  5. 24PLAY:

    My point in bringing up marriage equity is that it is ridiculous to praise Wright for belonging to an inclusive denomination when he objects to its inclusivity and has kept his congregation as antigay as possible. His opposition to justice for gays would be more excusable if he was not opposing his own church in doing this.

    Naturally, I expect to be branded as racist for saying that black churches have a tremendous amount to answer for in the way they have treated gay people and that it is hard for me to support a candidate whose ties to that community are so strong that he borrowed one of Wright's sermon titles for one of his books.

    The Youtube statement from Wright that irritated me most was his claim that Hillary Clinton never had to work twice as hard as everyone else to be taken seriously. This myopic view, which ignores not only sexism and homophobia but all forms of racism which have not hindered them personally, is one which many people like him share. It is this quality in the NAACP which allowed them to give Isaiah Washington an award for calling TR Knight a faggot.

    And I fear that it is this quality in Obama that made him let Donnie McClurkin shout, "God delivered me from homosexuality!" at his rally, and do so with no public criticism from Obama or from his campaign. The candidate's behavior there remains despicable. I had hoped that this speech would help me move past that incident- I'll vote for the Democratic nominee, who I certainly expect to be him-- but he did not address his willingness to allow the black Christians who love McClurkin to revel in their shared hatred of gay people. It was a very relevant to the discussion, the essential part for me, and he ignored it.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Mar 18, 2008 9:38:51 PM

  6. For 20 years he sat there and listened and nodded to Wright and all his racist comments. He brings his family every Sunday. His children learn from him. He teaches racism. You can't blame Hillary for Wright's 20 years of racist rants. A beautiful speech will not makeup for 20 years. At anytime his family could've gotten up any never come back. He chose to stay and nod in agreement. He chose his spiritual leader. He chose one of the most controversial black churches. 20 years and now he wants "CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN"? LOL

    Posted by: z | Mar 18, 2008 9:45:14 PM

  7. I read it as written, a POLITICAL DAMAGE CONTROL speech. Initially he stated that he had never heard Rev. Wright speak that way, then he clarified that he wasn't present when those speeches were made. Wright's pulpit speeches were not isolated. I would bet that Obama, his wife, and children have been in that church during some of these tirads hollering 'hallelujah' with the rest of the congregation. Oprah was a member and left, Obama stayed. Wright was his advisor, or more specifically, as he would say, spiritual advisor. They have been friends for 20 years and now Obama denounces his statements. Face it, Obama got caught, literally with his pants down and had to do something. He is now finding out what it is like to be scrutinized. Clinton has had it her whole time in Washington. We know Clintons skeleton's, we are now finding Obama's. He has portrayed himself as an African-American, yet he is half caucasian and was raised and supported by his white mother and grandparents. Where, really, do his priorities lie? If he, in his speech, stated that he was not Black, not White, but just an American, he would have impressed me. Instead, his race speech, as he stated in an earlier (plagerized?) speech are "just words".

    Posted by: MP | Mar 18, 2008 9:54:05 PM

  8. In the speech that got him more attention than any in his life; that was broadcast live, in its entirety, on some cable networks, Barack Obama spoke of wanting to

    "build a coalition of"

    Whites - check
    Blacks - check
    Hispanics - check
    Asians - check
    Native Americans - check
    Women - check
    Young - check
    Old - check
    Rich - check
    Poor - check
    Veterans - check
    LGBTs - ?
    LGBTs - ?

    Barack Obama chose to "talk about"

    Improving race relations – check
    Health care - check
    Education - check
    The economy - check
    Jobs - check
    Iraq withdrawal - check
    Veterans support - check
    LGBT equality - ?
    Escalating hate crimes - ?

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 18, 2008 10:18:38 PM

  9. For those of you who keep repeating ad infinitum that Obama sat in this church for 20 years listening to these "racist" "anti-American" rants on a "weekly" basis, lets put the rubber to the road here and stop with all of the straw man rhetoric.

    Give me an example, ONE SINGLE EXAMPLE, where OBAMA himself has EVER said ONE THING racist or anti-American. Google it. Check out his record in Chicago, in the Illinois legislature, in the U. S. Senate or in his private life. Go to Fox News Archives; if it ain't there, it don't exist.

    If you can show one single time where OBAMA showed that he repeated these views, held these views or in ANY WAY agreed with these views.

    I you can't show a single example of any of the above scenarios then your incessant ranting about that he went to this church and found spiritual guidance from a man who had 36 years of ministry beyond the 5 minutes of cherry picked video clips that are being replayed over and over and over again, is hollow and nothing more than inflammatory rhetoric.

    Obama quickly and rightly released Wright from his campaign advisory staff.

    The reports Obama's demise were premature. The polls are showing that he didn't take that big a hit and he's already rebounding.

    PATRICK NYC, I really respect you. I understand how this angered you. I suggest that you take a deep breath and read/WATCH the Obama speech again and base your decisions on HIS words rather than Wrights. More importantly look at his ACTIONS and his RECORD that show a man who loves America deeply and loves both sides of his racial heritage. I don't think you could possibly find anything outside of a Fox News broadcast that would suggest that Obama is racist or anti-American. If after doing that you still can't support him then fair enough.

    I personally think that today he showed just how capable he is in turning a crisis into a learning moment and a time of national healing. I think that is EXACTLY what our country needs right now.


    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 18, 2008 10:26:40 PM

  10. Enough

    The experts as vs us little people at towleroad have spoken.

    WAPO, TIME etc are all praising his speech and feel that he did a lot to deal with the kurfufle.

    huffpo's front page has all the links to the experts.

    The nick name "teflon kid" is proving to be true.

    Nothing bad ever sticks to Obama.

    Time to get over it , lets move on. Time to get the old man Mccain bush jr.

    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Mar 18, 2008 10:34:19 PM

  11. I didn't finish one of my sentences.

    I meant to say:

    If you can show one single time where OBAMA showed that he repeated these views, held these views or in ANY WAY agreed with these views, then I will concede this point and immediately jump on the bandwaggon with the others here who believe that this shows that Barack is a clone of Wright and should not be the Democratic nominee.

    That's a pretty sweet deal for Hillary supporters.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 18, 2008 10:36:04 PM

  12. For someone that has made judgements a major concern in his campaign, he didn't show very good judgement for 20 years. Rezko is another bad judgement. this is not a person I would want making international judgements for me.

    Posted by: z | Mar 18, 2008 11:30:54 PM

  13. Zeke, I believe he was there nodding in a agreement to Wright preaching .

    Oh, and how were you not able to finish one of your sentences when you are typing and responding 5-6 times per article, usually bashing anyone that disagrees with you or calling them idiots because they don't match up to your intelligence.

    Posted by: liz | Mar 18, 2008 11:47:47 PM

  14. "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."

    Then they get what they deserve.

    Posted by: GIOVANNI | Mar 19, 2008 12:22:14 AM

  15. Landon: I really think you need to reflect on what you are saying. You're not being branded a racist because you're trying to hold black people to the same standard. In fact, I don't think anyone called you a racist per se. What some folks have said, me included, is that it's racist to hold Obama accountable for what the NAACP does or other black people do as a general proposition. It's reasonable to chide Obama about his pastor, but alarm bells go off when we start going from the specific to making generalized comments about black people and black churches generally.

    Do you want to be held responsible for what other gay people to whom you have no direct relationship do?

    Was Wright wrong about Hillary Clinton not having to work as hard: yes.

    Have many black churches failed to be supportive of gay people: of course.

    But haven't most churches failed to be supportive of gay people? Why do black churches have some special role for tackling homophobia. In all honesty, it doesn't sound like you are applying an equal standard. You're trying to apply a higher standard to black people.

    (As an aside, I also don't understand precisely to whom black churches have a lot to answer for. But, I'd assume that the individuals that should be most upset about homophobia in black churches would be black gay people-- not non black people.)

    What's really problematical is your description of the NAACP giving Washington an award for calling TR Knight a faggot. First, Washington didn't call TR Knight a faggot. He stated that he wasn't someone's faggot. He SHOULD NOT have used the word, but we need to be clear about what he said. Second, the NAACP image awards was an ACTING award. The NAACP did not give him award for spokesperson of the year or representative of the race. Third, I have no idea how they choose the award or about the votes, but Julian Bond (the chair of the NAACP) condemned the remarks and said that the nomination occurred before the remarks and that most of the ballots were cast prior to the remarks. Fourth, I do know that the NAACP does not conduct a national negro plebicite to give out awards. So, unless ALL black people are voted for Washington after he made his comments, I'm not sure how this figures into the mix about "black" homophobia or is evidence that black people are myopic about other people's issues. Perhaps Wright is, but I am not sure how you go from Wright to the great black collective.

    I mean if the HRC gives someone an award, does that mean all gay people back them? Is the fact that HRC gave Nancy Pelosi and award evidence of the "myopia" that many gays have about transgender issues?

    Again, my concern is that you go from the specific to make generalizations without, I think, understanding all of the things driving your thoughts.

    But, let's go with this line of thinking for a moment? What about Dog the Bounty Hunter? He called his son's girlfriend a "n*&^er." I mean hello? And what happened? His show was put on hiatus and now it's BACK. Does that fact that A&E is allowing this bigot to have a show mean that white people don't take prejudice seriously. (I think A&E's decision is reprehensible, but I see it for what it is: commerce. It isn't an indictment of white america.)

    Perhaps your experience is that black people are homophobic and you are looking at what happened as further evidence of that.

    If that's been the case, that's truly regrettable. But, it is no more acceptable to hold all black people liable for the actions of some than it is for black people to hold white people liable for every racist incident by a white person.

    The only path forward is to treat each other as individuals.

    Posted by: Brandon | Mar 19, 2008 12:23:10 AM

  16. LIZ

    Oh, really????????????????

    Turns out the specific sermon in questio which was reported on has seen the reporter admiting that he has no notes from that semon 2002.

    It has also been revealedby many news statons that their is video o Obama being in MIAMI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! on the day of that particular sermon.

    Obama is great but he isn't divine and able to be omnipresent.


    Support hillary all you want but don't lie and say that obama was there noding his head.


    There is freaking video of him being in Miami on that day.


    Lieig liars and the lies they spin


    Posted by: Jimmyboyo | Mar 19, 2008 12:35:07 AM

  17. LOL

    typos galore yet again from my figers directly to you


    Posted by: jimmyboyo | Mar 19, 2008 12:38:19 AM

  18. Reading many of these comments help confirm how much racism is embedded in the gay community. Talking about the "black church" and homophobia as if all black churches are the same is racist.

    Gee, Obama has to fall on a sword for all the homophobia committed by any black person. Why isn't Hillary required to do so for the sins of white homophobes, like the Rev. Phelps or the Pope?

    Why aren't there similar attacks on Catholic politicians who are members of a church that fights against gay rights with tooth and nail? Given the Catholic church's turning a blind eye to the rape of children, why aren't you condemning all the Catholic politicians or even yourselves for being members of the church?

    Most of the anti-Obama comments aren't about his policies or anything he's done but simply reflect the racism he discussed in his speech.

    The Catholic Church and the evangelical white churches have done more political damage to gays of all races in this country but no one seems to be railing and ranting at them with the same level of venom expressed about the "black church."

    More ludicrously is tying the NAACP to the "black church." Just how is the NAACP connected to every single black church in America? That is incredibly ludicrous. There are hundreds of thousands of churches.

    Do some research, the NAACP has been losing membership for years.

    Again, how does Obama have any responsibility for the actions of the NAACP? Because half of his DNA is African? Wow! Guilt by genetics, isn't there that whole anti-semitic thing where all Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus?

    Logic, integrity, decency, justice, are just words that don't apply to "black" people.

    Over the last year, when Towleroad reported on the homophobia in Jamaica and eastern European countries, there was a striking difference in the comments.

    The Jamaicans inevitably faced broad, generalized comments that were frequently racist. The Poles, Russians, and Lithuanians didn't. Only the actors were condemned. The violence and oppression in Poland and Russia were state sanctioned. In Poland, the President and Prime Ministers encouraged the homophobia. In Russia, the mayor of Moscow and the leaders of the Orthodox church also supported anti-gay oppression.

    Towleroad is a microcosm of the United States. The shameless racism presented here reflects the attitudes that exist throughout America.

    What's always fascinating to me is how racist gays can justify their bigotry but then rage against homophobia. One kind of bigotry is acceptable since it doesn't affect some people. Having someone underneath your feet to despise is comfortable.

    Dobson and company are only too happy to spread anti-gay hate because they know that there are plenty of people who have anger about gays wanting "special rights," demanding accommodation in employment and housing like "real" Americans.

    George Bush won the 2004 election using anti-gay bigotry. It's pretty interesting to see how some gays are quickly able to forget that.

    As other posters have said, Jeremiah Wright has been a supporter of gay rights and gay marriage. Because someone is angry at white racism and rails against it doesn't mean that person hates all white people.

    Larry Kramer raged against the U.S. government. Did that make him a traitor? How many gays marched in protest with ACT UP? Following the 9/11, the Pentagon began surveillance of gay rights groups, in particular ones that fought for the rights of gays in the military. Were those people anti-American for calling the government on the carpet?

    It's also interesting to see how Isaiah Washington is demonized for using the word "faggot" but white actors who use it like Scott Caan or even the bozo on Big Brother don't experience the same hatred.

    Some of are more equal than other; and rules only apply to some people.

    The next time you read about some gay bashing victim and read about the ambivalence of the police or the larger community, look at the words written here that embrace anti-black racism and excuse it. Then look in the mirror and understand the straight people who don't care about gays and their struggles look a lot like you.

    Posted by: noah | Mar 19, 2008 1:32:02 AM

  19. LIZ, I challenge you to show me ONE example where I bashed anyone or called ANYONE an idiot.

    I challenge anyone to show me an example of where I've bashed anyone or called anyone an idiot.

    I really resent your making this spurious accusation.

    You are clearly trying to flame bait me in order to make me break my earlier pledge. Well it won't happen.

    LIZ, I'm calling you out here and now. Either produce evidence to back up your accusation or do the descent thing and apologize.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 19, 2008 1:55:10 AM

  20. Brandon:

    Thanks for the sensitive and well-considered response. Please note that I do state specifically why I think Obama is more tolerant of bigotry when it comes to religious blacks and their hatred of gay people than any presidential candidate should be of any sort of bigotry: Donnie McClurkin. This is the cause of my discomfort with this specific candidate and this specific issue. Am I making generalizations based on race in believing that this arguably racist incident belonged in Obama's speech on race?

    Re: Washington

    I have never seen it disputed that what he said was, "I'm not your little faggot like TR." Check that out- I'd be very interested to see anyone who was there claim that those are not the words that were spoken. I can see how someone as self-infatuated as Mr. Washington would be able to say with a straight face that he was referring to himself when he said this, not TR. I can see no reason why anyone else would see this as not calling TR a faggot.

    Have you seen the videotape of Washington accepting his latest Image Award? He got a standing ovation. That happened after his eccentric performance at the Golden Globes.

    And, certainly, the HRC displays myopia in many, many ways. The award to Pelosi is nothing compared with siding with the DNC in the suit filed by the employee who they fired because beause his boyfriend said gays should stop giving to Dems unless they showed some actual commitment to gay issues. The current HRC is much more a Democratic organization than it is a gay organization.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Mar 19, 2008 2:05:34 AM

  21. LIZ, you said that I claimed that people didn't match up to my intelligence rather than that I called them an idiot.

    Still I challenge you to prove this claim.

    Posted by: Zeke | Mar 19, 2008 2:12:19 AM

  22. Dear Noah,

    Again, I do think the McClurkin incident is relevant. If you don't, I'd like to know why. Although the Catholic church and white Evangelical churches have done infinitely more damage than almost anyone else, Hillary did not choose to put a gay-hating bigot on the stage to raise votes and money from Catholics or Baptists. Obama did put a gay-hating bigot on the stage to raise votes and money from members of black churches. That seems to me to be a significant issue.

    Racism in the gay community is horrible. I no longer go to the Lone Star in San Francisco because of a nasty racist incident a friend had with a bartender there. I spent two years as half of an interracial couple. I actually know a little about this.

    I think the state-sanctioned nature of gay oppression in Easter Europe tends to make it feel less personal than the hit Jamaican songs about what a great idea it is to kill me do. But, yes, I would never say that gay people were not at least as racist as the general population.

    Scott Caan apologized before his studio ordered him to, never denied it, has not claimed that the other guy was really at fault, and has not been given an award by a major advocacy group or a blog on the Huffington Post. Again, these seem like significant differences to me.

    Larry Kramer was the first person to come to mind when I heard Wright on YouTube, and I did think that the same people who have been most horified by Wright would be even more horrified by Kramer. And I would have qualms about a gay politician who was as close to Kramer as Obama is to Wright, especially if he had already shown signs of Kramer's messianic streak.

    Posted by: Landon Bryce | Mar 19, 2008 2:48:29 AM

  23. If the speech had been soley about misdunderstanding between races, I wouldn't be asking why LGBTs were not mentioned. But he moved from that to an assortment of political agenda issues that he's running on.

    McClurkingate was a “teaching moment”—Obama effectively described it as such himself at the time. But no one got taught except us...not to expect him to choose us over votes. Today was his greatest teaching moment opportunity of fact of any candidate on either side in this election...with the whole world watching but again he chose to leave us out. Wasn’t there room for mentioning brave gay and lesbians in the whole paragraph he devoted to the war and soldiers and veterans?

    Somewhere around “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,” couldn’t he have worked in a couple of words about not kids not killing other kids like Lawrence King because they’re LGBT? That schools should not just be better but safer? So many missed opportunities—so many he CHOSE to ignore.

    I don’t know whether to say he threw us under the bus or just hid us in the back under a blanket. But I do know that the greater tragedy is that so few even noticed.

    Posted by: Michael Bedwell | Mar 19, 2008 3:26:26 AM

  24. I doubt that anyone will read all of these comments, but if they do,a few thoughts on Obama's speech yesterday:

    I thought this was a great speech, perhaps even an historic one.
    Obama could have taken the easy way out and distanced himself from his pastor. He would then have watched as the media and Republicans showed his past ties to him. They would have trotted our news about Obama's marriage ceremony and the baptism of his children. Instead, Obama didn't shy from the issues. He addressed them and then went on to address some deeper problems in this country. He showed more awareness of the issues that both White and Black people face than any other person who has ever run for the office of President. When was the last time that any politician of any persuasion so frankly confronted the flaws in our "perfect union."

    To those who say that Obama didn't address gay right as part of this problem, I think that this was neither the time nor the place for that discussion. It would have been a distraction. This was billed as a speech about race in America - not gender rights or marriage rights. That's a separate issue. But it's an issue that Obama will address at some point with the same wisdom and compassion that he showed in this speech.

    I do believe that Obama will forcefully support equal marriage rights after he has been elected. One must remember that when Obama's parents were married, it was still against the law in many states to inter-marry. How can someone with that history not also see the current inequality and ingrained bigotry in the discrimination against gay Americans? He said that this country is still working towards a more perfect union and this country is special for its ability to change. I think that he could just as easily have been addressing the issue of gay marriage rights.

    Posted by: gr8guyca | Mar 19, 2008 5:02:54 AM

  25. Oh. My. God.

    You've never heard of ANY church speak this way? No tele-evangelists etc.

    Ok. Right. Sorry.

    POSTED BY: JOHN | MAR 18, 2008 9:10:41 PM
    I wish people would read and perhaps re-read posts before they reply. I said in my 48 years I had never heard IN MY CATHOLIC CHURCH. Yes the catholic church itself is homophobic and I'm sure many are just as racist, but not preached from the pulpit as Obama implies.

    My oldest brother is a born again Evangelist Minister and even he does not spit out this kind of hate.

    It has been five days since this story broke and it is clear it's not going away. And Jimmyboy do not tell me when I should get over it. I had faith and this liar and fake took that away. I do not take it lightly and how dare you mock me for feeling so. And please use spell check. Your posts are like reading a retarded two year olds rants.

    Zeke, thanks for the kind words, I wish I could put this all back in the bottle but that is not going to happen. I can stomach being pissed off by scum like Bush and Cheney, but Obama does not get a pass on this one.

    Posted by: patrick nyc | Mar 19, 2008 6:45:45 AM

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