Hope is the eternal tool in the survival kit of mankind.
We hope for a little luck.
We hope for a better tomorrow.
– Sidney Poitier

According to this poll, white folks are seriously spooked by Jeremiah Wright. Until the Wright clips emerged and the “Bitter” comments, a lot of people bought into Barack Obama’s themes of hope, unity and transcendence of our differences for a common American good. Perhaps his half-whiteness allowed him to have all the coolness of being black without any of the scary, guilt-inducing anger. That black people seem to have. Sometimes. About all the slavery. And Jim Crow. And the poverty and discrimination. Um. And whatnot. Geez.

Now they want to know who he really is. What he really thinks. If Wright was his pastor, they figure either he really is angry or perhaps worse — he was attending Wright’s church in an effort to fit into the community better and is thus just another insincere grip-and-grin politician. I mean, who knew Barack and Michelle went to church every Sunday clad in dashikis and afro-picks and with raised fists denounced The Man? Or at least pretended to do so for political gain. Hmmm. So much for the holy vision of hope, eh? Wright has become the black boogeyman many whites must have feared was hidden behind Obama’s warm smile, inspiring words and welcome embrace.

When white people hear Rev. Wright say things like (emphasis mine):

As I said to Barack Obama, my member, I’m a pastor, he’s a member. I’m not a spiritual mentor. I’m his pastor and I said to Barack Obama, last year, if you get elected, November 5th, I’m coming after you because you’ll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.

yeah…they get scared. And then they want to vote for the less scary candidate. Which is apparently now Hillary “3 am” Clinton.

I agree with Rep. Charlie Rangel:

I’ll tell you one thing, any politician would know the last thing in the world you want to do is diss a black pastor.

He’s right about that. And frankly Barack Obama has shown a strange sort of bravery in distancing himself from Wright without alienating the black community. It hasn’t been enough for white folks though. During this roundtable on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Donna Brazile said:

But the truth is, Wolf, I think, in many ways, Senator Obama did not handle the controversy correctly the first time. And, clearly, you know, others have picked up on his discomfort — and separating himself from his pastor — not his faith, not the congregation, not the good work of Trinity United Church of Christ.

I think, at this point, especially among people who are regular church-goers, they want to have a more useful conversation about race in this country.

They don’t want to use race as a wedge, as we saw down in Louisiana, which backfired in the congressional race in the sixth congressional district, where the Democrat pulled it off despite a heavy play on Obama’s pastor.

I think it’s time that we all look at ways to reconcile, to heal, and to forgive one another, and not to use someone’s words to hurt another person.

I find myself agreeing with her on this last point. What people need to see now is not more renunciations of Wright’s rhetorical flourishes from Obama but a renewed vision of his political, racial and spiritual tenets. In short, Obama needs to find another pastor. One that more closely matches his messages to the American people of a shared future no matter your color nor your creed. That pastor might best be white, popular and famous — with a multi-racial congregation.

It might even help to have more than one pastor or to create a multi-hued panel of religious leaders of several faiths as advisors and ambassadors. It’s time to think outside the box and explode the fallacious cloud of intolerance, anger and division that the Wright controversy has created. More than anything the Clinton campaign team has done, Rev. Wright has begun to create the image of Obama as the “black candidate”. Obama can show now that he’s bigger than that label and is truly the candidate for all Americans. Because Obama’s message of hope as a vehicle for change is an important one in these troubled times. Because it’s human to hope for a better tomorrow.

Related Posts with Thumbnails