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Rev. Wright, Obama and racism in the U.S.

Published Mar 31, 2008 12:48 AM

Now that a Black presidential candidate has a real chance of winning the Democratic nomination and even the presidency, we’re once again asked not to talk about oppression. We’re supposed to reject the teachings of, for instance, Malcolm X, and even Martin Luther King Jr. We’re supposed to deny what, for so many poor and oppressed peoples in the United States and throughout the world, is a clear-cut reality. We’re not supposed to be angry—and we’re definitely not supposed to speak up and fight back.

Rev. Jeremiah Wright

Such is the case in the media-bashing of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former spiritual mentor of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

In a media flooded with racist, sexist and anti-LGBT images and voices, the words of a Black man calling the U.S. on its violence and oppression are labeled “hate speech.” Obama’s opponent for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Rodham Clinton, went so far as to put Wright on a par with Don Imus—who is back on the air even after his racist, sexist rants made international headlines.

The attack on the Rev. Wright is nothing less than nationalist baiting and anti-patriot baiting. It is being used not only to undermine Obama’s campaign, but particularly in an attempt to defeat the Black struggle.

The media, as they will often do when attempting to defile someone’s character, have reduced Wright’s comments to mere snippets and sound bites of supposedly inexplicable outbursts against the U.S. Even in that limited context, it is hard to find fault in his words.

For instance, the idea that HIV was created to target people of color (and LGBT people) is not new, and understandable given the overall government attack on those communities.

The warehousing of people of color in the prison industrial complex, as well as the flooding of drugs into poor people of color communities, has been well documented. Why, then, wouldn’t Wright say: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strikes law, and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, God damn America.”

However, the media was also careful to omit the obvious evidence Wright presented for some of his words. Here are some excerpts of Wright’s comments on 9/11, the video of which can be viewed at alternet.org:

“I heard Ambassador Peck on an interview yesterday. ... This is a white man and he was upsetting the Fox news commentators to no end. ... He pointed out that what Malcolm X said ... was in fact coming true, America’s chickens are coming home to roost. We took this country, by terror, away from the Sioux, the Apache, the Arawak, the Comanche, the Rapaho, the Navaho—terrorism. We took Africans from their country to build our way of ease and kept them enslaved and living in fear—terrorism.

“We bombed Grenada and killed innocent civilians, babies, non-military personnel; we bombed the Black civilian community of Panama with stealth bombers and killed unarmed teenagers and toddlers, pregnant mothers and hardworking fathers. We bombed Qadaffi’s home and killed his child. ...

“We bombed Iraq, we killed unarmed civilians trying to make a living. We bombed a plant in Sudan to pay back for the attack on our embassy; killed hundreds of hardworking people, mothers and fathers who left home to go to work that day, not knowing that they’d never get back home. We bombed Hiroshima; we bombed Nagasaki; and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon—and we never batted an eye: kids playing in the playground, mothers picking up children after school, civilians, not soldiers; people just trying to make it day by day.

“We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and Black South Africans, and now we are indignant, because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought back into our own front yard.

“America’s chickens are coming home to roost. Violence begets violence. Hatred begets hatred. And terrorism begets terrorism. A white ambassador said that, y’all, not a Black militant, not a reverend who preaches about racism.”

Elections in the U.S. are always an attempt to dampen militant people’s struggles, to silence our legitimate outrage at oppression and demands for justice.

With the attacks on the Rev. Wright, the continued attack on communities of color, an election season and a growing economic crisis that is sure to exacerbate misery for working people—now is the time to affirm the self-determination of oppressed peoples and stand together in solidarity with the Black struggle.