American Urban Radio Network's Bev Smith of the Bev Smith Show was one of several guests last night on Larry King Live discussing Obama's speech. Check it out! Kudos Bev!
Answer: I can’t go for that.
Question: Why don’t those Blacks just get over it?
The value, importance, and respect for the Black experience in America can be summed up in three little words that have been echoed repeatedly by conservative commentators and whites when no Blacks are around: Get over it!
But you know, it’s always been troubling to me that when it comes to Blacks and America’s history of racial discrimination against us, the answer is that we need to get over it. I never hear those same conservative commentators tell Jews to get over the Holocaust, for Japanese Americans to get over World War II, and for Native Americans to get over the Indian Wars, Indian Removal Act, and the battle of Wounded Knee. But us Blacks, we need to get over it.
Isn’t it quiet convenient that America has allowed itself to have a selective memory when it comes to the atrocities committed against Blacks? It’s almost as if they’d just like to sweep everything relating to the Black experience from 1877 to 1977 under the carpet because it’s too much to deal with.
Along with white America’s selective memory, I forgot to mention that Blacks are supposed to come down with a severe bout of Stockholm syndrome. We’re supposed to just accept the fact that from the first ship’s arrival with it’s cargo of African slaves that our experience here in America is what it was always meant to be. And any talk of it from the perspective of truth constitutes as harboring some form of racism towards whites.
And that my friends is precisely the problem. We’ve been all too willing to accept the current state of Blacks in America for what it is and our voices have been silenced on the issue for fear of being considered racist or politically incorrect.
But as tradition would have it, this has been a conversation that has gone on for generations behind closed doors away from mixed company, and not only in Black homes as Senator Obama eluded too in his “race and politics” speech.
But one speech isn’t going to right the wrongs of years and years of institutionalized racism that has resulted in the current state of Blacks in America.
The United States government could start with an official apology to Blacks for its state sanctioned slavery and generations of racial discrimination.
Congress apologized to the Japanese-Americans in 1988 for holding them in camps during World War II and gave each survivor $20,000. In 1993, Congress apologized to native Hawaiians for the overthrow of their kingdom a century earlier. In 2005, the Senate apologized for not enacting anti-lynching legislation.
Why do we have to fight for reparations from a government that is very aware of the atrocities that it’s committed against African-Americans? Furthermore, that apology shouldn’t have to come from the country’s first Black president.
The fight for reparations is righteous and credible. Before the Japanese were held in camps and before conquering of Hawaii’s kingdom, Blacks were abducted from Africa, transported across the Atlantic Ocean, and sold into slavery for sugar, tobacco, or some other product, and that’s just those of us that made it through the Middle Passage. Many of us did not and wound up at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. And those of that did make it here wished we had died once the realization of the life that lay ahead kicked in.
So, please don’t tell me to get over it.
That one act, the act of invading Africa’s coast and kidnapping her people and bringing them to a foreign land to be sold into a slavery that involved being tortured, raped, beaten, murdered, and exploited, made sure that Blacks would never play on an even field as whites.
We were set up for failure from the jump. And while many of us found a way to make it within a system that wanted us to fail, many of us did not. And I don’t buy into the notion that because some of us “made it” that there’s no excuse for those that didn’t. The disparity between whites and Blacks tells the story.
So here we are in 2008, still living in a state of denial and labeling anyone who dares to speak the truth as being a racist simply because it’s an easy way out of having to deal with something that’s just too uncomfortable and unbearable a situation.
But since when has ignoring something ever made it go away? Exactly.
Where this conversation goes next is anyone’s guess. While Senator Obama is not the first to say what he did, he is the first to say it on this level and at this time.
Obama is not in a position to lead the fight for reparations or an official apology from the U.S. government to Blacks, and nor should he. That’s a fight that should be taken up and lead by others in the community.
While I don’t agree with Obama making excuses for Dr. Wright’s comments, I understand the position that he finds himself in and what he must do to continue on.
I don’t feel in any ways the need to justify my feelings about being Black in America. Knowing my history and owning that history doesn’t make me a racist, just like it doesn’t make Dr. Wright one. You either get it or you don’t and labeling Blacks as racist who refuse to be coddled by the notion that we’ve somehow transcended race with Obama is just a cop out for those unable or unwilling to see the situation for what it really is.
Just because you voted for Obama doesn’t mean you’re not racist, it means that you voted for Obama. Don’t let it go to your head.
And just because Obama is where he is doesn’t mean that Blacks should get over it [slavery]. I am not sure this is something that Blacks will ever be able to get over and nor should we have too, especially given the fact that we are still dealing with the effects of slavery. A good place to start the healing however would be with an apology and reparations.
If you recall, throughout his campaign for the presidency, he’s been painted out to be an undercover Muslim who was swore into office on the Koran. When that didn’t work, it switched to rumors that he doesn’t say the Pledge of Allegiance and he was the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s flunky. He’s anti-Israel, friends with terrorists…who actually want him to win. And the most absurd of them all…he’s the Anti-Christ.
Now the focus for Obama haters has turned to his former pastor Dr. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago and what’s being called “controversial” comments he’s made from the pulpit regarding America’s politics.
It seems that it’s not enough that we’ve adopted their religion and most Blacks are worshiping to their white blue-eyed Jesus, but now they want to dictate the message that we receive as well. And in the process, they’ve backed Obama against a wall forcing him to publicly distance himself from his pastor in order to prove that he’s not an angry Black man in disguise.
Civil rights icon the Rev. Joseph Lowery once said, “The country’s creating a 51st state—the state of denial.
I guess if the history books favored my race against all reality, I’d be pissed off at anyone who tried to say otherwise. Too bad.
The fact is that Rev. Wright isn’t the first or the last preacher or Black to call out America for her racist history. A history that for some reason we are always being encouraged to forget because today Americans are transcending race. Is that why Black men and women are being imprisoned almost as fast their mothers can give birth to them? Is that the reason why a man who called a group of young Black women “nappy-headed ho’s” is still on the air? And were we rising above race when it was joked that Tiger Woods should be lynched? Is us transcending race to blame for the pimps and ho’s parties on university and college campuses around the country?
The belief that America is somehow transcending race because whites voted for a Black man is dangerous thinking.
Another greatly feared Black man, Dr. Maulana Karenga, taught me that I am American by birth and African by choice and quite frankly that’s the feeling of a lot of African-American’s who are fully aware of the United State’s role in the history of not only the underdevelopment of Africa, but generations of Black Americans. And let me tell you, one Black man running for president isn’t enough to erase that history or the feelings that many Blacks harbor whether publicly or on the down low towards the United States government and white folks. We haven’t touched on the issue of reparations, which our government continues to down play.
But it’s this constant state of denial that continues to have some white folks sheets all up in a bunch to the point where they want to now go into our churches and dictate the message that the pastor delivers. And if they have their way, we’ll be singing hallelujah and thanking Jesus for slavery, Jim Crow, and the end of affirmative action because if you recall it was the Bible that justified whites mistreatment of Blacks. But wait---we haven’t forgotten Guyana.
The church, our church, white Jesus aside, is the one institution that carried Blacks through America’s state-sanctioned slavery, lynching, racial discrimination, oppression, disenfranchisement, and exploitation. It is not our responsibility as Blacks to sugar coat the truth to make it a easier pill for some whites to swallow. We didn’t have a choice between the red or the blue pill, reality or make believe. We came out of the womb awake to the ways of the world.
And it’ll probably be right about now that most whites reading this will begin to tune out.
Yes, it’s that state of denial that begins to kick in right about now whenever the words lynching, racism, and slavery are mentioned in relationship to the Black experience and the role whites played in it that is hard for some to comprehend. Unless however it’s in the form of a primetime movie special during Black History Month, then it’s all good for about two hours and some change to remember.
So here comes the mainstream and at times divisive, media trying to take Wright’s comments out of context and making it into a bigger issue than what it should be, perhaps to make up for a slow news day and/or Clinton’s complaints of a media love affair with Obama. Either way, I thought race isn’t supposed to be a factor in this election? Maybe they’re forgetting that Wright is but one Black pastor in this country and I am willing to bet that a peek into other Black churches around the country and the message is quite the same, maybe even more controversial. And that’s just Black churches. Let’s not forget All Saints Church in Pasadena, California who had been under investigation for a guest sermon its former rector had given just before the 2004 presidential election. In it, he strongly criticized the war in Iraq but said he believed that both President Bush and his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, were good Christians. This was taken as an endorsement of Kerry over Bush and in came the IRS.
I know it’s hard to believe for some, but everyone isn’t down with America’s unwritten policy of bomb now ask questions later. I think we all know what lengths the American government will go to keep the truth from coming out.
It wasn’t that long ago when we were dealing with the Ku Klux Klan and Jim Crow. Then came the mysterious arrival of crack cocaine in Black neighborhoods around the country and COINTELPRO. By the late 70s, the white sheets had been replaced with business suits and phony smiles. And even though the damage had been done that didn’t stop them from giving us Reagan.
A.M.E. church founder Richard Allen said “the only place that Blacks felt they could maintain an element of self-expression was the church,” and I’ll add, but they still managed to burn down more than a few back in the day.
Fortunate for Dr. Wright, it’s not so easy to get rid of dissident voices today as it was 30 and 40 years ago.
Dr. Wright may be retired now, but thank God for us that there are still pastors and ministers like him out there who aren’t afraid tell it like it is when it comes to the United States Government and the history that was so conveniently left out of the schoolbooks.
Those who don’t know their history are doomed to repeat it…and this ain’t no reentry in slavery. Preach on, preach on.
I just added a couple of videos to the archives...check em' out.
Dr. Jeremiah Wright and Sen. Barack Obama
Fox News, "The O'Reilly Factor," March 14, 2008)
Bill and Hillary's Questionable Race Comments
TV One, "Access Hollywood," March 2008)
Hat tip: Jeff Hobbs :)
Yesterday, Rick Perlstein and I concluded our Dust-Up for the Los Angeles Times with a discussion on the prospects of long-term Democratic Party success. Previously, we discussed the reasons for the left's apparent national strength, the compatibility of progressive politics and religious values, whether Democrats have co-opted the national security plank from Republicans and the core identities of the modern liberal movement.
A few years ago, conservatives were beginning to think the Republican ascendancy would be indefinite. Are we entering a period of Democratic ascendancy, and if so, how long will it last?
Progressives act, Republicans obstruct
By Rick Perlstein
Now here's a question I can sink my teeth into!
The answer is: as long as Democrats do their work and continue to earn the trust of the people. If not, I myself want them as good as gone. But the conditions are propitious.
The notion of a conservative ascendancy has always been a bit of a confidence game. In 1980, 38% of Reagan voters said they were voting for him mainly because "it is time for a change." Only 11% did so because "he's a real conservative" -- yet the right claimed that election as a mandate for conservatism. Likewise, in 1994, Newt Gingrich's revolutionaries ran on a poll-tested, focus-grouped marketing strategy to convince disaffected Ross Perot voters that the Republicans were all about Perot-style reform -- and then, after they won, once more called that a mandate for conservatism.
So it went with Karl Rove. He loudly barked that President Bush's anemic three-point victory in 2004 with a fading, jerry-built coalition heralded all-but-permanent realignment and prayed political reporters wouldn't call his bluff. They never did -- even though Rove's plans for a permanent Republican majority relied on two strategies that were already unraveling: attracting Latinos into his coalition (his base proved unwilling to buy it) and building up a "client-based" national machine to reward friendly Republican constituencies and punish unfriendly ones. But that didn't lead to an unceasing majority. It led to unceasing congressional and judicial probes of plainly illegal activity.
Now a progressive congressional majority faces the challenge of keeping its promise to push a plainly popular progressive agenda. Here are some approval ratings for the Democratic majority versus the Republican minority's legislative positions (click here for sources): stem cell research, 64% to 31%; troop withdrawal from Iraq, 59% to 36%; Medicare drug-price negotiation, 79% to 17%; and renewable energy, 70% to 7%. None of these things have passed into law, of course, and that's largely because of a rather monstrous strategy on the part of the Republican minority: They've intentionally abused the minority's power to obstruct in order to get the media to label this a "do-nothing" Congress.
It's stunning: The most cloture votes -- filibusters, in other words -- in any previous modern Congress was 61. Each Congress, of course, lasts two years. But in just the first year of this Congress, Republicans had already filibustered 62 times -- yes, they're on track to double the obstructionism of any previous Congress, and so far the political press hasn't even noticed. "The strategy of being obstructionist can work or fail ... and so far it's working for us," Sen. Trent Lott told Roll Call last year.
Give progressives a fair fight on an even playing field, and this progressive movement will last a very long time indeed.
Rick Perlstein is the author of the forthcoming "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" and a senior fellow at Campaign for America's Future.
Keep reading for my counterpoint.
Yesterday, Rick Perlstein and I discussed the ideological spectrum within the Democratic Party. Previously, we weighed the causes of the party's apparent national strength, assessed the compatibility of progressive politics and traditional religious values, and discussed whether Democrats have co-opted national security as a campaign plank from the Republicans. Later today, we'll debate the prospects of a long-term Democratic ascendancy.
Ideological diversity is good for the party
By Jasmyne Cannick
I think that most, if not all, Democrats would agree that priority No. 1 is ridding the county of this catastrophic administration and ensuring that we don't endure another four years of conservative policymaking under right-wing power.
With that said, the modern American left, in my opinion, often serves as the conscience of the Democratic Party. Today's left is very much a movement of economic and social justice.
How do the New Democrats fit into the contemporary left?
I'm not sure that I buy into the notion that the New Democrats have to fit into the modern left movement. I would argue that both are necessary, as they both add to the party. They act as a sort of checks-and-balances system for the party.
New Democrats have been described as the modernization of liberalism with a heavy focus on progressive policies. At the center of their platform is economic growth versus redistribution. This is followed by traditional American values -- personal responsibility, individual liberty, faith, tolerance, family and hard work. New Democrats want both an activist government and for those who benefit from government to give something back to their country and community. It was a message that evidently resonated with American voters in 1992 with the election of Bill Clinton, who championed the New Democrat philosophy.
But that was 1992, and 16 years later, we see the left's movement invigorated with new life, thanks in part of the horrible policies of the Bush administration.
With America in a recession that no one wants to call by its proper name, a national mortgage crisis, an immigration emergency, a war that won't end and more Americans uninsured and unemployed, the message of economic and social justice for all is resonating loud and clear with many Americans who feel the effects of the current administration.
The role of the left as the party's conscience will be particularly important as we head into the 2008 convention in Denver to select a nominee. As the Democratic Party attempts to send American voters the message that it will provide national security and economic growth, you can count on the left to be front and center waving the banner for ending the Iraq war, defending our civil liberties, ensuring economic justice and universal healthcare, and fighting global warming. In other words, the left will continue to hold the party accountable and push forward a real progressive agenda.
Once we have our nominee, it will be up to the Democratic Party as a whole to put aside ideological differences for the time being and focus on the most effective strategy to capture the White House in November. That crucial goal is where all Democrats' focus should be, regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum within our party.
Today, Perlstein and I discuss whether Democrats have co-opted a traditionally GOP plank. Previously, we weighed causes of the Democratic Party's apparent national strength and assessed the compatibility of progressive politics and traditional religious values. Tomorrow and Friday, we'll discuss the party's core values and if Democrats can expect a long-term political ascendancy.
This is a tricky one. As a general rule of thumb, Democrats do better in national elections when the year's defining issue is economic fairness, and Republicans do better when the defining issue is national security. But there are plentiful signs that this trusty, traditional logic is getting scrambled in this remarkable period of ideological flux.
In the 2006 congressional races, of course, Democrats, with their message that we need to get out of Iraq sooner rather than later, dominated. Voters took in the same old tired Republican message that unless we smashed everything in sight and kept on turning our nation into a garrison state, the terrorists would smother us in our beds -- and yawned and pulled the lever for Democrats. More recently, in the 14th Congressional District of Illinois, west of where I live in Chicago, Democrat Bill Foster scored a shocking upset against Republican Jim Oberweis, a local dairy magnate with very high name recognition and very traditionally hawkish Republican positions on foreign policy. The Oberweis message was the same old, same old: Terrorists would smother us in our beds unless we smashed everything in sight and kept on turning our nation into a garrison state. Foster's message was standard issue for Democrats: We can fight terrorism smarter and more effectively by ending the distracting war in Iraq.
He also did something gutsy that no Democratic consultant trapped in the tired old triangulations of the past would recommend: He aggressively opposed the president's call for "retroactive immunity" for telecommunications companies that may have broken the law in cooperating with National Security Agency spying. His opponent said this would all but surrender us to the terrorists. But the Democrat won handily. This was all the more significant because the 14th District was previously represented by then-Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. It's a suburban and rural district. It also includes Ronald Reagan's hometown of Dixon. How Republican is it, traditionally? Well, I remember when I reported there during the 2004 presidential election the few civil servants I met who were voting for Sen. John Kerry and begged me not to reveal that fact. They were afraid that if it got around, they'd lose their jobs.
The old Republican story about national security didn't work. This time, the voters of the 14th District chose a Democrat.
There is even fascinating new poll evidence that the very foundation of the old opposition between national security voters and economic fairness voters is breaking down -- in a way that gives the advantage to the Democrats. People are blaming the bad economy on the Iraq war and Republican security policies generally. They're intuiting that Republicanism is making us both less secure and less prosperous. If Democrats are able to run with a message that firms up this equation in voters' minds, this whole thing could blow wide open.
Rick Perlstein is the author of the forthcoming "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" and a senior fellow at Campaign for America's Future.
Keep reading for my counterpoint...
Continuing in our debate series for the Los Angeles Times' Opinion Dust-Up, today, Rick Perlstein and I discuss the compatibility between progressive politics and religious values.
How can Democrats lure religious voters with the same success as Republicans? Should they even try?
Here's my take...
One thing in which Democrats can take comfort as we head toward November's election is that Republican mastermind Karl Rove, President Bush's former chief political advisor, is missing in action. But that doesn't mean GOP strategists won't try a repeat of the 2004 election that saw Republicans courting the evangelical vote and dividing the nation over same-sex marriage, abortion and stem cell research.
Nowhere was that more apparent than with African Americans, who without a doubt are the most religious and the most Democratic-oriented constituency. Consequently, our last presidential election saw many black preachers reading from the Bible as much as white conservatives, willing to stand with the KKK if it opposed gay marriage and urging their parishioners to throw common sense out the window and support President Bush because he'd protect the institution of marriage.
While the Democratic Party may be painted as having a "God problem," let's not forget that all evangelicals aren't Republican and that all Democrats aren't Christian. So there's no easy way for Democrats to speak to evangelicals without alienating part of their own base.
And let's be honest, the Republican Party has its own issues with morality -- lest we forget Mark Foley, Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, Bob Allen and Glen Murphy Jr. I am not suggesting that Democrats engage in a competition with Republicans on which party is more God-like, let's be clear that each party has had its share of struggles. There are no saints in Washington.
For me, what it comes down to is that Democrats cannot have it both ways.
We can't be the party that is known for our progressive, diverse ideologies that embrace liberal positions -- including a woman's right to choose, stem cell research and the legal recognition of same-sex marriage -- and then want to change our message depending on what part of the country we're reaching out to on a particular day. Unless we're willing to change the philosophies that make us Democrats, we need to accept the fact that we aren't going to win the popular vote with the hard-core "holier than thou" evangelicals. Any attempt to do so would be seen as patronizing.
A perfect example of transparent pandering is the now infamous speech Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton gave last year at a black church in Selma, Ala.: "I don't feel no ways tired. I come too far from where I started from. Nobody told me that the road would be easy." She was accused of adopting a Southern black drawl as her own.
Democrats can speak to religious voters without comprising our values and coming off as fake. We just need to be honest with ourselves about the situation.
As a Democrat who is a black, female and a lesbian, I don't like the fact that my party can't fully support marriage rights for lesbians and gays or reparations for African Americans. However, I accept the fact that it's more important right now to look at the bigger picture. We must put an end to the conservative era by electing a Democrat as our next president. From there, we must work to put our country back together.
Heading into November, religious voters -- both Democratic and Republican -- have to make the same decision. They have to choose which is more important: protecting marriage from gays, and women from their right to choose, or being able to pay the mortgage and put food on the table. It's as simple as that.
If Democrats won't adopt new principles, then the Democratic leadership should spend less time "Jesus-ing up the party" in an effort to appeal to religious voters, some of whom will never vote Democratic even if Jesus himself were on the ballot, and spend more time telling the American voter the following truth:
There will be only two choices for president on your November ballot, both of whom will be Christians. Only one of them will have what it takes to bring this country out of its recession, provide your children with healthcare and an affordable way to college, protect our nation and get us out of Iraq. The choice is clear; the choice is yours.