Friday, March 14, 2008

Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright

Please note: when I went to check the original source of the "news," the video has been removed from YouTube due to terms of usage violations. Yet curiously, every major news outlet has a copy and has run it ad nauseam. The Senator was grilled to repudiate, condemn and reject in no uncertain terms comments made by his pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright. Obama's own comments cast doubt: it's not much of a prophesy to predict an army of journalist are pouring over every DVD of the Reverend Doctor's sermons to see a thin future presidential candidate in the midst as he delivers a stirring sermon in the tradition of "call and response."

History: "Call and response"

"In Sub-Saharan African cultures, call and response is a pervasive pattern of democratic participation -- in public gatherings in the discussion of civic affairs, in religious rituals, as well as in vocal and instrumental musical expression. It is this tradition that African bondsmen and women brought with them to the New World and which has been transmitted over the centuries in various forms of cultural expression -- in religious observance; public gatherings; sporting events; even in children's rhymes; and, most notably, in African-American music in its myriad forms and descendants including: gospel, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz and jazz extensions." See:

This tells me two things:

1. Most likely the church did not post this sermon. Out of the thousands of hours of sermons they could post that would not be so controversial, why post THIS one?
2. It is to the advantage of opponents of Obama's candidacy to run it.

Who are the opponents? They are legion:

- History;
- Ignorance;
- The source of the video.

I've read about the history of the black church since, most of my life I've attended one. I started with the Baptist Church, by far the oldest form of worship pattern in the New World. We were organized by masters into separate but hardly equal organizations.

Call and response stemmed from shear enthusiasm: Sunday was a day of rest from labor in the fields, and since we could not read - that would make us "uppity" and question authority, and since, like the history above it was something we brought from Africa, it has dominated our form of worship since. In contrast, evangelical pastors tend to speak in soft, lecture tones. Some can get fiery, I admit like: Jerry Farwell (deceased) - who said 9/11 was due to gays and lesbians, Rod Parsley - who advocates the destruction of Islam by the US and John Hagee - also not a friend of GLBT.

Many things we do in the black church stems from slavery, like: holding up one's finger to walk from one's seat. That meant you were asking permission from the overseer that observed your congregation. It made sure your "pastor" wasn't saying anything crazy like liberation, freedom, etc. Our ancestors made the coded 100s (no wikipedia on it) like "Swing low, sweet chariot. Coming forth to carry me home," itself a coded message for escape to the north to freedom.

The Azusa Street revival was lead by William J. Seymour, a pastor from Houston, Texas that took his revival and "speaking in tongues" to Azusa Street in Los Angeles, California 14 April 1906. It was the first time whites and blacks mingled worship together. The profound prejudice confounded the effort and people went back to their worship patterns.

In the 1930s, W. D. Fard established a new type of church in Chicago that would be inherited by Elijah Poole, a.k.a. Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam. They called for separation because they experienced separation. There is some evidence that the Klan invested in the church since their aims were quite... similar. The lack of teaching of black history, extensively researched by the sect would attract Malcolm Little, a.k.a. Detroit Red, a two-bit criminal that would be known as Malcolm X. He would attract a disciple from Winston-Salem Teacher's College, Louis Walcott now known as Louis Farrakhan. The same who would lead The Million Man March in Washington DC, 16 October 1995 with both Christian and Muslim brothers of color.


It is the ignorance of this history that is quite interesting to watch unfold. That the magazine of the church (not the church) would give Louis Farrakhan an award - what award it escapes me, but enough to ruffle the establishment. That his sermons would stem from his experiences in a formerly segregated country as a former US Marine coming back from the Vietnam War. That such a man might attract followers that struggle to make a middle class lifestyle in a country that does not favor them, or predominately white liberal campuses where they feel "alien" according to Michelle Robinson's senior thesis at Princeton. That his sermons aren't much different than sermons I've heard in churches like his that developed under this rubric. The fact that I said the previous statements will get a reaction - probably from "anonymous" that I am again a racist. That is neither a broad brush on black pastors nor a labeling of African American Christians - just a statement of experiences.

On it states "About 10.4% of the entire African-American male population in the United States aged 25 to 29 was incarcerated, by far the largest racial or ethnic group—by comparison, 2.4% of Hispanic men and 1.2% of white men in that same age group were incarcerated. According to a report by the Justice Policy Institute in 2002, the number of black men in prison has grown to five times the rate it was twenty years ago. Today, more African-American men are in jail than in college. In 2000 there were 791,600 black men in prison and 603,032 enrolled in college. In 1980, there were 143,000 black men in prison and 463,700 enrolled in college." 1980: that was my freshman year. Beyond statistics, those experiences might shape how we see things, how we view things and how we relay the gospel to each other in the nation’s most segregated hour.


It's possible that someone released the video to YouTube, but it's doubtful without the church's permission. What's more possible is someone at the church that for whatever reason did not like Obama. Not some racist, but someone that looked like him and did not like his meteoric rise to possibly becoming the president. That person may or may not be a Hillary Clinton or John McCain supporter. The only description I can muster that best illustrates him or her is: crab. Crabs are boiled alive. The proverb is that they pull each other down below the steaming depths and all die together.

The candidates’ repudiate, reject, distain and respond to surrogates every week. The economy is in a shambles, the Iraq war is unpopular and cost 12 billion a month, gas is approach $4 and milk $5. I'm paying the same mortgage on 20% less of an income, and THIS is what I get from the First Amendment Media?

"Separation of church and state": what a NOVEL idea!


Anonymous said...

i cannot believe you are defending this garbage.

most segregated hour? are you kidding me? what about AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, EQUAL OPPORTUNITY, ACLU LEGISLATION.

biased, arrogant, partial, and misleading.

you should be embarrassed.

GriotPoet said...

Anonymous: no one is debating the contributions of Affirmative Action, equal opportunity or ACLU legislation that HELPED civil rights. I merely explained the history of the origins of such comments as it pertained to the black church and Mr. Obama's church in particular. I particularly made it a point to not paint all black churches or black Christians with a broad brush. After 400 years of slavery, 100+ years of Jim Crow and bias in educational opportunities K - 12, college, job placement and advancement, Sean Bell ( and Amadu Diallo ( being gunned down by the police (coming from a bachelor's party before his wedding and while surrendering respectively), SOMETHING about the subject matter at black churches is GOING to be different. What is embarrassing is this is probably the first time in the 20th or 21st century that white/European Americans are shocked at what might be said in black/African American churches. What is patently embarrassing is that after the Pentagon publishes a report: after researching 600,000 PLUS documents that Saddam Hussein had NO ties to Al Qaeda and 9/11 that this attack is the major story. 12 BILLION of yours and my tax dollars a MONTH are allocated to this fiasco (the title of a book on the same subject). What is embarrassing, sir or madam is the timing and the subject you've chosen to comment on this blog. You've had over 70 opportunities to make any statements that you'd like and you missed them: that, sir or madam you should be embarrassed at. The 21st century is just a date on the calendar. The threat of a black man possibly becoming president has brought the worst out of both major parties. THAT sir or madam is embarrassing. Congrats: I post your original comments for my readers to see. I'm sure you'll spark a discussion and get some other perspectives that you've not considered. Lastly, sir or madam, Griot Poet is a stage name I use quite often. Most people know of and know me. "Anonymous" is probably not your family name, but the requisite for a bully and the sure mark of a coward.

Anonymous said...

Muslims Against Sharia call on Senators McCain and Obama to cut all ties with their racist, Islamophobic, and anti-Semitic supporters.


cynthia said...

Reverend Wright might not have said what he had to say in the most politically correct manner, but I believe what he has said is the truth. This country has done some things it shouldn't have, and maybe that's why our economy is in the mess it's in and we continue to suffer from unusually bad weather and natural disasters like we've never seen. Just because someone says something like this doesn't mean they're anti-American. Wrong is wrong! Even the prophets in the Bible had to call out their own people and tell them they were wrong and on the verge of punishment if they didn't change their ways, and the prophets were hated for that reason. Ironically there was a prophet in the Bible named Jeremiah and he is known as the weeping prophet I think because the people he prophecied to didn't listen to his warnings and this grieved him greatly. The law of reaping and sowing applies to everyone, even the richest and most powerful country in the world. Though many Blacks are doing well, many continue to suffer and suffer greatly. We might not be hanging from trees or being burned alive but the enemy is still at work. The enemy hasn't gone nowhere, and a person is a fool or ignorant to think otherwise. From my perspective, I don't see what the reverend says as "racist". I can understand why some people might be upset, but I understand where he's coming from. And lastly, I don't think Obama should be punished for what his pastor said. I figured I'd be very old or dead before anyone Black would accomplish what he has.