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In Tension with the Quest for Power

“I can no more disown him [Rev Jeremy Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother… These people are a part of me.”

— Barack Obama, March 2008

Things sure do change in a couple of months. The applause was deafening for Barack Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia when he made the above pronouncement. Yet when Rev. Wright says that the critiques of him in the corporate media were truly attacks on the Black church, Wright is lambasted for blurring criticism against him into attacks against others. Does anyone see the hypocrisy here?
I am sure few in the media do. CNN and MSNBC were falling all over themselves talking about the courage and pain it took for Barack Obama to distance himself from his pastor.

How does it take any type of political courage to distance oneself from a pastor of Black Liberation theology that refuses to hide his respect for Minister Louis Farrakhan or back down from his condemnation against United States armed aggression throughout the world? Maybe this is the same type of political courage it took for Barack Obama to not attend the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King for fear that it might make him look too black.

Or maybe it is the courage he exemplified when he commented on the verdict that found three police officers not guilty of any criminal charges for shooting at a group of unarmed Black men 50 times, “The judge has made his ruling, and we’re a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.” Barack then went onto say that “resorting to violence to express displeasure over a verdict is something that is completely unacceptable and counterproductive.” So the violence of shooting at unarmed Black men 50 times is not deemed totally unacceptable, only forms of Black anger to this injustice.

Dr. Cornel West, a long time student of Black Liberation Theology and one of the most respected intellectuals today, said of Barack’s refusal to attend the memorial honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, “Martin Luther King Jr.’s deep commitment to unarmed truth and unconditional love can in no way be subject to strategies for access to political power. Hence, I have a very deep disagreement with my dear brother, Barack Obama – in this case, commitment to truth is in tension with the quest for power.”

I voted for Barack and I still hope he becomes president of this nation. I love all the youtube songs and rocky animation supporting Barack’s campaign. But we can’t be blind to the politics as usual routine that Senator Obama is engaged in. Are we supposed to believe that after 20 years of attending Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s church that boldly states it’s commitment to Black Liberation Theology, a theology with strong roots in Black Power and the theology of Malcolm X, that Barack had no idea that his pastor’s theology would be considered radical by most of America?

Senator Obama, please come to your senses. You are not going to win the working class white vote in Indiana or anyplace else even if you change your name back to Barry. You might say now that Rev Wright is not the same man you met 20 years ago, but is he the same man you secretly prayed with last year in a basement because you were afraid to pray with your pastor in public. Senator Obama, you are better than this, even if America is not. You wrote a brilliant book titled after your former Pastor’s sermon “The Audacity of Hope.” I hope that you find the audacity to stand in public with the Black Liberation tradition that so clearly has been inspirational to you, but from which you now sacrifice in your quest for power.

DEDRICK MUHAMMAD is a graduate from Union Theological Seminary where focused on Black Liberation Theology. Dedrick currently works for the Institute for Policy Studies and recently co-authored the report “40 Years Later: The Unrealized American Dream.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Dedrick Asante-Muhammad is host of the Race and Wealth Podcast and Director of the Racial Wealth Divide Initiative at the Corporation for Economic Development.

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