Make Like A Tree…
I was listening to one of the programs on National Public Radio that was discussing the condition of the presidential race and taking questions and input from callers. Like most discussions on this topic these days, the conversation rather quickly turned to the feud between Barack Obama and his former pastor, and one might consider former friend if they heard Mr. Obama’s latest comments on their relationship, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. It didn’t take long for a question to come from the listening audience, why doesn’t Jeremiah Wright leave this country if he’s so unhappy with what’s happening here? The guest on the show, I apologize because I cannot recall his name, hesitated for a brief second and replied, maybe he’s just trying to make this country a better place.
What a novel concept. A lot of people have the impression that patriotism means never uttering a critical word. Or when we hear someone criticizing our country we need to escort them to the south side of the Mexican border. We are supposed to believe that everything is perfect in all of our personal space of America and the person who has something negative to say is an American aberration. Although the conservative approach is to keep things status quo in order to prevent things from getting any worse, or any better for that matter, one of the first step in making things better is to acknowledge that there is a problem.
Last year, when the altercation in Jena, Louisiana had reached a crescendo and had garnered the collective attention of the nation, CNN went to the town to interview the people who lived there. When the reporter interviewed the white residents of Jena, each and every one of them said that there was no racial problem in Jena and the media was just blowing things out of proportion. Every white resident thought black people and white people got along fine and nothing needed changing. However, the black residents were full of criticism about the racial disparity in the town. The black residents wanted and needed change. According to many people, the black people who were criticizing the town of Jena were just making trouble and should have been asked to leave. Yet, if someone had said something sooner then maybe the whole flap over nooses could have been avoided?
Not really! I’m not so naïve to think that the white residents would have listened and addressed the concerns of the black residents. If black people were to say something white people would have just dismissed them as uppity ungrateful negroes. Kind of like what they did and are doing to Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Kind of like what Pat Buchanan says about the black community in general (click here to hear what Pat Buchanan has to say to the black community).
Relative to the national population numbers, not too many people were familiar with Reverend Wright prior to the release of the sixty seconds of video that has become the national rage. And yet, virtually overnight, he has become one of the most vilified and racist persons in America. In the past couple of years we have had white politician stand on stage and call a black person in his audience maccaca, a white comedian goes into a racist rant asking somebody to get him a rope so he can hang some niggers, a white television personality is recorded telling his son to dump his nigger girlfriend if he wants to participate in the family business. Barack Obama can ask for racial healing and Mr. Buchanan complains that the black community needs to shut up and get on our collective knees. Why isn’t somebody telling him to get his racist ass out of the country? Probably because most white people think black people on their knees before white people would make America a better place.
White people are free to say whatever they want to say about the black community and nobody thinks anything of it. It’s just a rant behind closed doors or a frustration expressed after a bad day or whatever. But let a black man saying something about the dominant community and people stand in line to buy him a ticket to hell. Jeremiah Wright isn’t alone. Mr. Obama can say his grandmother was typical of many white people and white people want to grab their pitch forks and two by fours with protruding nails. Mr. Obama can say that small town America is bitter about the condition of the country and looking to their religion and guns for comfort and you’d think he had thrown a rock at a hive of killer bees with NRA memberships. The dominant class is outraged at the audacity of a black man who would say that small town America is bitter. They will grab their bibles and pray that Mr. Obama drops dead. They would grab their guns but they know that the chances of getting past the Secret Service detail would be slim to none.
There is a disconnect the size of the deepest chasm on Earth between the black community and the white community. The white community is America. The black community is dirty leftovers that is swept under the national rug. A criticism of the black community is not a criticism against America. It’s just a joke or some manifestation of white people’s frustration. But a criticism against the white community by someone outside the white community, for example a black person, is an unpatriotic rant against all things wholesome that America, that is white people, hold dear.
The criticism that people from the black community make against America shouldn’t be considered automatic permission to invite any of us to leave. Even the constitution guarantees our right to stay here and voice our concerns. Some of the most patriotic Americans were the ones who spoke up and openly criticized the way things are. In fact, to deny black people our right to criticize the nation is downright unpatriotic. So to people who are so intent to tell black people to quit bad mouthing America and grab a flag and start waving like our lives depend on it, I say shut up and listen.