Friday, March 14, 2008

On impulse, I sent these comments to the Obama website after watching the media spin on the sermons of Rev. Wright.
Senator Obama:

Re the comments of Rev. Wright: Please do not capitulate to the media spin on this issue. There is an opportunity here to educate the American people about the "possessive investment in whiteness" of white folks who, instead of trying to understand the differences between the Black experience and the White experience, would rather deploy all power within their means to refuse to understand the comments of Rev. Wright within the context of black theology, black history, and black experience. (Only David Gergen's comments were close enough to show some understanding).

It is unfortunate that you have to distance yourself from your own spiritual mentor because sound bytes will not allow you to explain fully the context of his comments. I hope your staff and volunteers will be able to craft an intelligent and passionate response to these attacks by pundits who don't understand theology, esp. black theology, and how to many black folks, whiteness (all that it embodies and signifies) continues to represent "terror" in their imagination.

I think the white Americans who have chosen to support your candidacy are ready for this kind of reckoning with the historical consequences of white supremacy and how they are wanting to unlearn and dismantle their white privilege along with their patriarchal, class, and other privileges. These are the folks who understand what solidarity means, what an ethics of accountability is, what it requires of white folks.

The Christian ethicist Mary Elizabeth Hobgood (Dismantling Privilege) calls on white privileged folks like herself to enter into grief and mourning as they awaken to the truth of American history's underbelly of white supremacy for it is only in allowing themselves to feel the pain and suffering of the "other" do they also become fully human.

Obviously, most white folks are not ready to grieve and mourn. Sociologists are warning that as economic hardship becomes more and more real, white folks will deploy their racial privileges to continue to secure their (false) sense of security. Instead of realizing that it is in the interest of poor and middle class white folks to ally themselves with people of color, they will be blinded by the idea that their whiteness will provide some sort of insurance against what they fear most.

I sense that this is the larger calling that is on your shoulder as you lift the nation to imagine itself differently. Your opposition will try to undo this and will do everything to make sure you don't win the nomination and election. You are now larger than this candidacy.

I've been really disturbed by Obama's distancing from Wright. While it's evident that American political discourse has become so narrow on issues of race and patriotism, I really agree that what we're witnessing is a spiritual violence as well.
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