Monday, March 24, 2008

This is Jim Perkinson's email to CNN re Jeremiah Wright:

I am writing in response to your broadcast of the Jeremiah Wright clip tonight. I am a white man who is appalled at your treatment of the issue. To present two sound bite surveys of Black Liberation Theology and then ask your audience what they think of that theology is the height of stupidity and arrogance. Black Liberation Theology is far more complex and nuanced than you have represented and the effect of your coverage is merely to continue to circulate the stereotype of legitimate black anger (at American policy toward peoples of color) as "hatred." It is far from such and in fact represents some of the deepest patriotism, historically and in the contemporary moment, in the country. The most profound patriotism is one that dares criticize power when it does damage to others, even if that power is being exercised by one's own nation. That kind of criticism is hard to come by once the drums of "my country, right or wrong," get rolling. And they have been rolling in this country ever since 9/11 in ways that not only have harmed thousands of Americans and 100s of thousands of others around the world, but now arguably threaten the very economic stability of the country. The inability of white people, generally, in this country to listen to black pain, without instantly reacting with affront, is evidence of how far we have not yet come in dealing with the racial history and racialized present of our polity. If you want to shed light on, rather than merely pillory, black expression, do a serious special on the reality of black theology and invite black theologians such as James Cone to speak in a format other than thirty-second sound bites. Otherwise, stop the biased reporting!

James W. Perkinson
Associate Professor of Social Ethics
Ecumenical Theological Seminary
Detroit, Michigan

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