March 18th, 2008
04:36 PM ET

Healing the Wounds of Race

Editor's note: Jim Wallis is a guest on 360° tonight.  He originally posted the following blog on sojo.net

It has simmered throughout this campaign, and now race has exploded into the center of the media debate about the presidential race.  Just when a black political leader is calling us all to a new level of responsibility, hope, and unity, the old and divisive rhetoric of race from both blacks and whites is rearing its ugly head to bring down the best chance we have had for years of finally moving forward.

And that is indeed the real issue here.  A black man is closer to possibly becoming president than ever before in U.S. history.  And this black man is not even running as "a black man," but as a new kind of political leader who believes the country is ready for a new kind of politics.  But a new kind of politics and a new face for political leadership is deeply threatening to all the forces that represent the old kind of politics in the U.S.  And all the rising focus on race in this election campaign has one purpose and one purpose alone—to stop Barack Obama from becoming president of the United States.

Barack Obama should win or lose his party's nomination or the presidency based on the positions he takes regarding the great issues of our time and his capacity to lead the country and the U.S.'s role in the world.  He must not win or lose because of the old politics of race in the U.S.  That would be a tragedy for all of us.

The cable news stations and talk radio are playing carefully selected excerpts of the most potentially incendiary statements from Rev. Jeremiah Wright's fiery sermons.  Wright is the retiring pastor of Barack Obama and his family's home Trinity Church in Chicago. Obama, while affirming the tremendous work his church has done in his city and around the nation, has condemned the most controversial remarks of his pastor.  But the whole controversy points to the enormous gap in understanding between the mainstream black community in the U.S. and the experience of many white Americans.  And that is what we are going to have to heal if we are ever to move forward.

Here is what I mean.

There is a deep well of both frustration and anger in the African-American community. And those feelings are borne of the concrete experience of real oppression, discrimination, and blocked opportunities that most of America's white citizens take for granted.  African-Americans across the spectrum of income and success will speak personally to those feelings of frustration and anger, when white people are willing to listen.  But usually we are not. In 2008, to still not comprehend or seek to understand the reality of black frustration and anger is to be in a state of white denial – which, very sadly, is where many white Americans are.

The black church pulpit has historically been a place of prophetic truth-telling about the realities that black people experience in their own country.  Indeed, the black church has often been the only place where such truths are ever told.  And, black preachers have had the pastoral task of nurturing the spirits of people who feel beaten down week after week. Strong and prophetic words from black church pulpits are often a source of comfort and affirmation for black congregations.  The truth is that many white Americans would indeed feel uncomfortable with the rhetoric of many black preachers from many black churches all across the country.

But if you look beyond the grainy black-and-white clips of the dashiki-clad Rev. Wright and the angry black male voice (all designed to provoke stereotypes and fear,) and actually listen to what his words are saying about the U.S. being run by "rich white people" while blacks have cabs speeding by them, and about the U.S.'s misdeeds around the world, it's hard to disagree with many of the facts presented.  It's rather the angry tone of Wright's comments that provides the offense and the controversy.

Ironically, a new generation of black Americans is now eager and ready to move beyond the frustration and anger to a new experience of opportunity and hope.  And nobody represents that shift more than Barack Obama.  There is a generational shift occurring within the black community itself.  This shift is between an older generation that is sometimes perceived to be stuck in the politics of victimization and grievance, and a younger generation that believes that opportunity and progress are now possible—not by ignoring, but by being committed to actually changing the facts of oppression and discrimination.

Barack Obama represents that hope of dealing with the substance of the issues of injustice while at the same time articulating the politics of hope, and even the possibility of racial unity.  Obama's attraction to many who are white, especially a new generation, demonstrates the promise of a new racial politics in the U.S.  But to be a leader for a new generation of black Americans, Barack Obama had to be firmly rooted in the black church tradition, where the critique of white America, the sustenance of the African-American community, and God's promise for the future are all clearly articulated.  That's why he began attending Trinity Church, where he was converted to Jesus Christ in the black liberationist tradition of, among others, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

So it would be a great tragedy if the old rhetoric of black frustration and anger were to now hurt Barack Obama, who has become the best hope of beginning to heal that very frustration and anger.  Obama has never chosen to talk about race in the way that Rev. Jeremiah Wright does on the video clips that keep playing, and indeed has never played "the race card" at any time in this election.  It's been his opponents that have, especially the right-wing conservative media machine that wants the U.S. to believe he is secretly a Muslim and from a "racist" church.

This most recent controversy over race just demonstrates how enormous the gap still is between whites and blacks in the U.S. – in our experience and our capacity to understand one another.  May God help us to heal that divide and truly bless America.

– Jim Wallis, Author The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post–Religious Right America

soundoff (152 Responses)
  1. keith leadhead

    I would like to stop talking about race, sex, or anything but the issues. Remember thhis is the way the campaign needs to focus on. It is important to check out your canidate, se where they stand on issues. Barrack says that he has voted practically the same while in the Senate. Well there are a few differences between these two.
    One difference between their records was on the Bush Energy Plan. I would like to know more about why Obama crossed the isle to vote with the Republicans? He voted YES on the Bush Energy Plan. Did he decide on this issue after shaking hands with Syrian native Toni Rezko’s money men in the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago? One of these characters was Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraq Billionaire. Auchi is convicted of corruption in France and hiding out in London. He is also the chief investor in the proposed power plant in Iraq.

    Toni Rezko Borrowed millions from Auchi through off shore accounts ironically just weeks before the house deal. I wonder if this “Meet and Great” made Bush’s Energy Plan sound great! So let’s get off this race card and move onto the issues. Why did Obama cross the isle and side with Republicans on this one issue? We should remember the new type of politics he wants to introduce, “CHICAGO POLITICS”!!!!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
  2. Chris, Montana

    Summer at least you have a job. does barrack know what it is like to not have college backing because of his skin color? Nooooooo, barrack dont know.There is a thing calll reverse discrimmination. un like you summer i am alot older and i didnt have a united white college fund..... oh yah i didnt understand a word he said,Had to watch it twice..

    March 18, 2008 at 10:40 pm |
  3. Aja Emmanuel

    I agree with the pastor!!!
    This country was built on lies, murder, and the backs of slave labor!
    We have slaughtered women and children in the name of Freedom and God.... We committed genocide on the Native americans and oppressed a whole race of people and then the media wonders why people of color still have anger! There are still people alive who were in Alabama when the civil right marches were going on.
    Have we forgotten about the dog's, Rocks and fire hoses!!
    Have we forgot Katrina????

    March 18, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  4. Carole - New York

    I think that Mr. Obama displayed a thoughtful, insightful, and depthful and personal understanding of our racial past, and present, and hopefully the future. Those who have doubted his Christian faith, should see that he embodies loving the sinner, not the sin. It seems that there are so many people who can only see the world in black and white (literally and figuratively), good and evil. They are far more comfortable with demonizing and rejecting others. Mr. Obama clearly is a very different man from his minister. He could do a Hillary, reject and polarize anyone who could effect his poll numbers, but Mr. Obama will not do that. He is able to appreciate what this man has done to build his community and lift people up in loving ways. Mr. Wright may be stuck in not being able to see how things have changed in the country – embodied by Mr. Obama, but hopefully Mr. Obama's vision, his solutions to problems in our country ,and with the world, will heal the heart of his minister.......as well as others who are stuck in hate for people of different color, sexual orientation, or religious difference..

    March 18, 2008 at 10:33 pm |
  5. haynes

    I have been a life long democrate. i am sad to say today im now going indepentent over all this race stuff. yes I am white, 35, middle class working family man. today i no longer feel the democratic party shares my views , for years the party has been heading away from the center more to the left of my views and the countrys. it's no longer the party of hope you cant share your views becuase if you do and someone doesnt like them you are brand as a racist. I just can bring myself to vote for a man that goes to a church that spreads hate. Obama wife made a statement weeks ago about how she's never beeen proud of her country till now. I did get it till now those were words of racist feeling that she holds in her. just like this man obama call his uncle. so now if i cant vote for hillary i must look to some one else not obama never obama i cant over look the facts obama isnt looking out for me. fair well to the democrate party hello independent vote

    March 18, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  6. Gail

    I am white and I was moved to tears by Obama's speech today, as I was listening to one of his previous speeches. Of course I can not help but notice that he is black, but that does not matter to me. What matters is that I feel that he is basically an honest, decent human being that is trying to move this country forward. If we all want to be honest, I'm sure that most Americans would admit that they have friends or family members that have made racist comments. That does not mean that we agree with them, or feel that it is necessary to bannish them from our lives. The media needs to let this go, or at least be fair and start airing clips of all the Clinton scandals. We need to have the courage to give Obama a chance. He is open, honest and intelligent and I believe he will surround himself with a staff that will have experience in the areas that he may be weak.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  7. Jane Story

    I am not religious...I do not adhere to nor do I attend any traditional church. I am, by choice, spiritual....I believe in a Higher Power, a Universal "One"....and that God is in everyone and everything.

    I never hear about other people who describe themselves in this way.

    I have always found it a total turn off to hear a minister raise his voice, shouting and eliciting shouts of enthusiasm from his congregation – in almost a fanatical way – when expounding upon his beliefs or words from the Bible. Some call this "charismatic"....and many are caught up in this religious fervor.

    I was frankly, disturbed by Rev. Wright's tirade. However, as a Democrat and a free-thinking, open-minded person, I now understand better where the Reverand was coming from.

    I admire Barack Obama's speech, not dis-owning a man whom he calls friend and advisoir, but taking a stand against what the Reverand said.

    It profoundly points out the reality of the racial divide, and I applaud
    Barack for his forthrightness.

    All we have to do is open our minds and accept all people, regardless of race or religion....for after all, we are all connected....we are all One.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  8. Margaret

    Obama shouldn’t be penalized for what his pastor says. There are many things, I am sure, that people don’t agree with that their pastors might say over the pulpit, but you don’t jump up and leave the church. Evidently you don’t know anything about the Word of God.

    “Christians are in a state of covenant with the Lord. One way that supreme covenant finds expression is through the “mini” covenant of their relations and duties to Christ’s local church. Bcause Christians are in covenant with Christ, they are to be in covenant with a local church. hey are not “married” to the local church, but they are to be in a state of formal covenant with it. This “mini” covenant (an extension of our covenant with Christ) carries privileges and responsibilities, and is not to be taken lightly. Furthermore, it is designed as a covenant of blessing and should be viewed with profound gratitude by the believer.

    Contrary to what some say, there are sound biblical reasons for leaving one local church to attend another, but the reasons for departure must derive from sound biblical reasons, not personal whims and preferences. Biblically leaving a local church involves transferring covenant duties and privileges from one local body to another. It does not involve breaking a covenant.”

    The fact is this: Honorable men can disagree and still be friends. Honorable men can disagree and still work through problems

    You must be in obedience to God and when the Holy Spirit tells you to leave, then that’s when you leave and not just because you may disagree with what’s said. That’s the problem now, too many church hoppers, to many ego’s. Go to the Word of God and see what He has to say.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:31 pm |
  9. al

    Today Obama decided to be white.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
  10. Aja Emmanuel

    I hope everyone in the media and the general public got a good education today! Obama gave one of the most important speeches in modern history about race...... He made my 74 year old white grand ma cry today with that speech. She just saw the speech and said she hasn't felt this much hope for our country since world war 2 ended...
    She is the reason im writing this Blog entry.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:22 pm |
  11. al

    I don't expect Obama to denounce his pastor but after all the comments were being made could he not have just found another church that did not preach hate? If Obama gets to the White House will he invite this man to the white house for dinner?

    March 18, 2008 at 10:21 pm |
  12. june carol

    I wept when I heard the speech–so clear and brave, with such an expansive spirit for his pastor, family, church, community, and the country. I'm not surprised that some people can't hear what he's saying. We don't have a political tradition for the likes of him–rather than duck, dissemble, distract he just addressed the issue.

    Why do we not ask similar questions of the other candidates? Why is how he talks about race the issue? Why doesn't anyone call McCain or Clinton to task for the lack of diversity in their support? Or for the divisiveness of their supporters, including conservative pastors?

    March 18, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  13. billie wilkinson

    Obama did exactly what a christain should have done, he did not forsake a friend.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  14. Leo

    Obama no doubt gave a brilliant speech, but like many pointed out the speech won't put out all the controversies especially among the less educated blue-collar folks. I think that the media can play a big role in relaying his messages in a productive way to the mass. Instead of keeping playing those controversial clips of sermons, the media can and should "take a side" for a greater cause – unite the nation and move it forward.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:18 pm |
  15. Womenvoice

    For those who blame Obama for keeping going to his church, what do you want him to do? Go to another black church? Or a white church that his wife and children have no connection with? You can make your decision to leave your church, but should not judge your peer who agreed with you but never left your church.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:12 pm |
  16. Michelle in Los Angeles

    Jim Wallis' article articulates perfectly what is happening in the race issue today. The fact that Obama has to "explain" to , or in someway "pacify" a large fraction of White America clearlhy shows how race is still a huge issue today. As a black american woman, I wonder why white is right? Why do they have the last word on what is acceptable? This is a country of many ethnicities, and I believe our Constution grants us all the right to a equal voice and vote as to what is right. Look people, white people cheat, lie, bleed, hurt, love, cry and so does every other race, WE ARE ALL EQUAL. Barack Obama's speech was beautiful and it gave me hope as to what could be. Great job Obama, you have my vote

    March 18, 2008 at 10:01 pm |
  17. JMB

    I don't see this as an issue about race; this is more about honesty, judgment and his attempt to present himself as a change agent.

    Dishonest: Americans are not this gullible; to think that he had never heard these comments before as he attended the church for over 20 years is really hard to believe. He is simply lying!

    Judgment: If this is an example of whom he chooses to align himself with and ultimately defend, I would definitely question his judgment.

    Change Agent: None existent, it's the same old lies just nicely packaged and polished.

    In reality, it's the same old politics, and lets not be blinded by well sculptured words. He still has not addressed the real issues nor how he will put this country back on track!

    March 18, 2008 at 9:48 pm |
  18. Beverly

    Mr. Obama spoke eloquently and I believe from his heart today. He did not say obviously what many wanted to hear. Hindsight is foresight and no doubt he would like to have done things differently. The fact of the matter is we are Americans and because of the democratic nation founded by our forefathers, (none men of color I might add). Initially everyone wasn't allowed to vote, just a little oversight I'm sure. But now everyone can and should we have no excuse, and if our candidate doesn't win hey it's the democratic process as we have it. We should vote for the person that fulfills the requirements we as individuals decide upon for President. Race, religion, gender, or size realistically should not enterinto the equation. But who are we fooling? For many Americans, the "best" candidate looks only one way – you get to choose. I pray the we do our very best, to think on who is the best and then vote for the "best". This nation is besieged with serious problems; War, distressed economy, struggling schools, lack of health insurance for far too many, inflated pharmacy prices, housing slump, mortgage catastrophe, and the list goes on. Someone in the White House needs to get a handle on this – how in the world could we let race decide who will lead us in building this nation into the nation it deserves to be!

    March 18, 2008 at 9:29 pm |


    March 18, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  20. Womenvoice

    The line that brought tears to my eyes is when he talked about his white grandmother who loved him for everything and yet was fearful of a black man seen on the street, and her confession made him "cringe."

    A child who was caught in this imperfect world. A child who felt pain from both sides.

    March 18, 2008 at 9:25 pm |
  21. TiffIn in Ohio

    As an African American woman I found Mr. Obama's speech to be accurate. I too have listened to firery sermons in church and may not have always agreed with the pastor but because of my connection to the pastor and the people in the congregation I stayed. Above all I was there to be spiritually charged, give praise and lift up my Savior Jesus Christ. Not to lift up the man who after all is flesh as the bible stattes "The flesh is weak."

    Just as those who are of the Catholic faith have known for years that their priest were molesting their children. Many times the church just moved the problem from parish to parish yet many have stayed even after the cloak was pulled off. Therefore, they must have received something more from their worship then the sins of their priest.

    Mr. Obama challenges us to take a look in our own closets and pull out the racially motivated thoughts and comments that keep the divisive spirit alive. Once the dialogue starts we have to keep it alive as that is the only way we are truly going to be able to move forward and deal with the issues that could free us all to live in a better America.

    March 18, 2008 at 9:18 pm |
  22. raymo470

    The Washington Times front page article (3-18-08) states that "Mr. Cawley (Bucks County, Pa. commissioner) a Republican, and other suburban leaders from both parties praised Mr. Obama for severing ties to the pastor, who was removed Saturday from the campaign's African American Religious Leadership Committee." Barack Obama has done all he can do at this point to "condemn the rhetoric" and sever ties with his former pastor, without condemning Pastor Wright as a human. I hope Obama continues this open and courageous and intelligent dialogue about race relations he has started. I have not heard any CNN commentator mention the fact that Obama has severed his campaign's ties with Pastor Wright. This is an important fact and should be pointed out .

    March 18, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  23. gerry

    90% whites vote for hillary thats ras=cism
    90% blacks vote for obama thats not how is that
    for a double standard that is why he talked to his own only

    March 18, 2008 at 9:12 pm |
  24. Dominique, VA

    No sooner should Barack Obama have to apologize to white America for his "blackness" , than should black America still await an apology for their historical setbacks. If there is one thing evident about blacks, it is that they have the capacity to be resilient as seen in the empowering role models of Carl Brashear, "The Little Rock 9", Rosa Parks, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Olaudah Equiano. What blacks need to do is let go of the mentality that whatever they do, they will be haulted by a repressive white society, it is simply not true. Black's reality is so negative because of their perception that they won't be anything more than what they are given. The only way we will heal these racial wounds is by acknowledging who we are, acknowledging that we are in control of our destiny and no one else, it is then that our commonness will erode these racial divides and unity will prevail.

    March 18, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  25. Laura

    It is too bad this speech was motivated from politics and not principle. Its too bad the Reverend feels a "need" to preach as he does. Its too bad this democratic primary season isn't about issues facing ALL Americans (those of us that had to check "other" for the vast majority of our lives and didn't exist as white OR black OR hispanic OR Asian) and not just those black Americans that somehow feel they are the only people that have a stake in this election. There seems to have been exposed, finally, the previously underlying attitude that ALL Americans, except black Americans, somehow owe this election to Obama because he is black. At least that is the face that has become visible in the blogoshpere. The Reverend's remarks pulled this to the forefront. This forced Obama to step up and answer this underlying hatred SOME black Americans have for ALL other people of this country, INCLUDNG those that have woked to correct the very social injustice experienced by blacks and other minorities. There has been, for weeks in the blogosphere, the aggressive attitude of hatred, threats ( I actially read assassination threats to Clinton on one blog...later removed) , accusations of racism and general nastiness towards any person that dared to question anything Obama said. Coupled with Obama's beloved Reverend's remarks and Michelle Obama's admission of not being proud her entire adult life until now opens a window to something quite differnt that what has been presented to the American people in the candidate Barack Obama. He is NOT who he has been claiming to be. Not unusual for a politician EXCEPT, if your message is that if change, you are outright, a liar. So, we are now to deciding which liar has the best plan for moving this country forward. It is quite obviously , from these events, not Barack Obama.

    March 18, 2008 at 9:08 pm |
  26. Annie Kate

    Its ironic that the issue that has hurt Obama's campaign the worst didn't come from the Clinton camp but came from within his own ranks. I am so tired of the "race issue" from whites and from blacks. As an American we all have issues that this country is going to have to respond to in the next 4 to 8 years – Obama said he stood for change but he doesn't tell us the specifics of change so how can we know where he is going? And with his pastor's speech behind him how can we be comfortable in not hearing the specifics? Right now OBama is asking us to buy a pig in a poke – I like to know what I'm paying for and voting for. So please Mr. Obama sit down with us and go through your plan step by step. Until you do I can only assume you don't have one.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    March 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm |
  27. Christine

    I wonder how many people, who are judging Barak Obama about his pastor's horrible statements, have belonged to and have attended (on a regular basis), a church for more than 10 years . I have attended the same church, every Sunday, for 33 years and I have to tell you that you become a family and leaving your family and/or losing your family can be extremely painful and difficult. 7 years ago the Priest at my church told my Mother and a small group of individuals, that they had blood on their hands because they voted for the Democratic Party. That they also would have to Answer to God for the choices they had made about who they supported politically. My Mother was upset by his comments and didn't know if she could continue to vote for the candidate that she felt would best represent and help the United States, she told me that perhaps she should just stop voting. Now did we agree with our Priest's statement? No, because you should not vote for only one issue it should be the whole picture. Did we leave our church and church family? No. Instead when something was said by our Priest that we didn't agree with we withheld our contributions and I personally confronted our Priest about what he said to my Mother. Did this change anything? Yes, slightly in that he thought about his words before giving his political view to a group of people. My point is that Barak Obama selected the road that was more difficult. He told us the truth about how he feels and what he sees. That is a risk most people aren't willing to take, especially those running for political office. Barak Obama showed us that he is a man who can be trusted and who will do what is right, not what is easy.

    March 18, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  28. Nadine Houston-Dalo

    I think Mr. Wallis' blog is right on and absolutely correct! The struggle in the Black community for 400+ years has always been held together by the church. From messages to slaves in rhymes to discussing political topics and of course Jesus. I do not attend any religious place as I believe that religion has been a major problem in using people as sheep and for wars and control.

    We must understand that the African-American experience is very different than the Caucasion one and that is fact. Jeremiah Wright served his Country – THIS COUNTRY- couragously and dutiful. He has a right to voice his concerns from the pulpit and the truth is if you are not Black or have been in another's shoes you can't know what they are feeling.

    I never disagreed with Wright. I believe in Obama and am more determined to help him to become president because he was honest but sadly put in the hotseat due to the MSM spreading these snippets of sermons rather than looking at the Pastor's 30 year career. I walked with Dr. King- I know the struggles and I don't think that White America feels or knows what it is to be BLACK!

    The MSM is beating this like a dead horse and I think it's disgraceful.
    Focus on more important things rather than the negative same old good ole boys bias.

    OBAMA ALL THE WAY! I am proud to be a 60 yr. old white woman with bi-racial children and grandkids that feels and understands what Pastor Wright was saying. It takes one hellava courageous young man to get up and challenge all Americans to take a look at the reality of our country take a step forward.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:56 pm |
  29. Michael / Los Angeles

    Let me get this straight –

    Rev. Wright utters the divisive comments, but white America is divisive for not understanding his methodology and goodness.

    Rev. Wright utters the racist comments, but white Americans are the rasists for not understanding the "black experience."

    Oh, I got it - black is always right and white is always wrong!

    That's a good trick, and it's nice to see the MSM is playing along.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  30. Chuck in Alabama

    Reality Check: Clinton began this race in the lead. We all know that when you are on top there is nowhere to go but down. While the media was assasinating her character as every chance, (usually using her husband's record), Obama was rolling across the country wooing everyone. BUT. Suddenly, somewhere, someone in the media said "african american vote" out loud. The race has not been the same since.

    Supposedly, as a white man, (according to Obama), I have no idea what it is to suffer racism. I don't remember him there the day I was told there were no more grants for me to go to college because 60% were set aside for "other than white." I certainly don't remember him there when I was stationed in Korea and hated by many I met. I don't remember him there when I was told I didn't make the military promotion cut because I wasn't black or latino. Trust me, Mr. Obama, if you were a lower middle class white man for the last 40 years, you certainly know what racism is all about. Of course, we didn't call it racism, we called it Affirmative Action. Oh.. I suffered, trust me I suffered.

    I voted for you in my state primary, and now, after seeing the truths about you surfacing, I wish I had my vote back.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  31. D.L.

    Good evening Anderson
    Sen Obama's speech was good and powerful. However, the Sen should not point the finger back to the voters. Voter's personal view on race is NOT the focusing point on this election. It's Sen Obama's view that people should look at:

    It is Sen Obama's choice to be the member of that church for 20 years. He shares his values and faiths with the Rev. and other members. That should reflects him.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:46 pm |
  32. Judy

    Let's move past this issue. Obama is running for President not his pastor.

    If Obama was to react emotionally (as people are urging him to do) by disavowing his Pastor etc. I would be more afraid of Obama as a candidate. Do you think the President of the United States have not heard language like this from other countries and Polictal heads of state? If he stormed out of a church would we expect him to storm out of a politcal meeting with heads of state? Would we expect him to nuke countries that don't like us? NO! We would want him not to show his hand. Believe me I am sure heads of state could shock us on what they have heard other countries say about the United States some of that is why we are in Iraq today. Maybe if our leaders had not stormed out the door we wouldn't be in Iraq. If cooler heads had prevailed we might have figured out a better solution. The Cowboys days are over. We need to treat ALL people with dignity. Obama08!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 8:42 pm |
  33. Penny

    How is it possible for Obama to dare to say, that he disagrfees with what Rev. Wright said and stands for, when up until just several days ago, Rev. Wright was an advisor to Obama's campaign. First Obama said (on your show) in church when Rev. Wright made this tyoe of sermon and then today he said "Of Course I was!!" He can't have it both ways – but most of the media is allowing him too!!
    This is not an issue of race. It is an issue of judgment. Barack has come up short in this area by not immediately disassociating himself and leaving the church the first time he heard the type of comments Rev. Wright preached. If a radical Iman in the middle east who preaches hatred of the US should be condemn, any preacher/reverand/rabbi/iman etc. in this country should be condemned for doing the same.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:34 pm |
  34. Calvin

    In the 60’s some were concerned about John Kennedy membership in the Catholic church, Mr. Kennedy gave a speech saying that the constitution not the church would rule in his presidency. Controversy ended. He was elected president.
    Just last year.some were concerned about Governor Romney’s membership in the Mormon church, Mr. Romney gave a speech saying that the constitution not the church would rule in his presidency. Controversy ended.
    Some of the same “conservatives” who are now attacking Barack Obama supported Governor Romney after he did this. Curiously, in this race to destroy Barack Obama, no one has asked him that question. Why? And if he answered as Kennedy and Romney did, why wouldn’t that be enough?
    As a child of a white mother who is greatly revered by the black community no one seems to mention that Mr. Obama’s very life transcends certain racial issues.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:23 pm |
  35. Lola

    Why, just why if we hear the exact Hate Comments from Muslim countries and mosques, we 're happy to condemn them as a "terrorist" and their actions as Evil. But when we hear the same hate comments from Obama's pastor, we call them as a "Nature"?

    March 18, 2008 at 8:10 pm |
  36. Brion Hanlon

    I found Barack's comments about his pastor and religious experience comfortably realistic. I grew up in a Catholic church, predominantly white, that routinely preaches doctrine which suppresses women and some minority groups. Yet, so many stay with it, based on some comfort or history or family custom. I have heard many relatives make racist comments throughout my 38 year history...in fact...I can recall some comments of my own that may have been racist or insensitive. Am I to denounce my family or even myself? Am I to walk away from any relationship that may be 80% alright but 20% troublesome? I would like to hear what the conservatives have to say about that.

    March 18, 2008 at 8:01 pm |
  37. Lesley

    Plain and simple.....Obama is Presidential. He stood and delivered today when he spoke and called us all to attention...he spoke the truth, hard as it may be to accept...regardless of the cost to his campaign. He has challenged us back to the issues. He is the real deal....as I heard someone say on Air America today, "It's 3 A.M. – the phone is ringing....and he answered it."

    As for the mess that Obama's pastor has created....Clearly we cant unring that bell....we can't deny it happened and it isn't the last time someone's words will inflame someone someplace. But like John Edwards has said, "Who is talking about this mess gonna buy health care for?"

    March 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm |
  38. Linda Cross

    To those of you who switch from church to church trying to find a Pastor or a membership who will agree with you on every issue, I have some information and experience that will save you a lot of time, No One Will Ever Totally Agree With You on Everything. It gets even more complicated if you attend a multicultural Church. Remember you must first try to see through the eyes of someone else to know where they came from. I do not agree with the statements of Jeremiah Wright neither do I agree with a lot of the racist statements made to me by my White family members but I do understand that their experiences in this life have been different from mine. I don't put them away or separate myself from them but I try to educate them.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  39. Michelle Abbott

    What about the white WOMAN, why is it always about the black man?

    March 18, 2008 at 7:53 pm |
  40. Jerry simons

    Hi Anderson, first time blogger and I do very much enjoy your insight.

    Heres mine,if the people in my beautiful country of the United States of America will only vote for someone out of fear,hatred and intolerance,then we do deserve war,world wide hatred and a faultering economy.

    If the reason people decide they won't vote for Mr Obama is one of those reason's then we as a nation desevere what we belive in.

    Let's see what happens.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  41. Jo Ann, Ohio

    I listened carefully to Barack Obama’s speech this morning and I read the transcript. It has not changed my opinion about the implications of his relationship with Reverend Wright.

    Obama did admit that he was less than honest when he claimed, as he did Friday during his interview with Anderson Cooper, that he had never heard or knew about Wright making any incendiary remarks. I think that this will cause many Independent undecided voters to suspect that he may be dishonest about other issues and make them reluctant to cast their vote for him.

    I also found it quite surprising and a little disturbing that he is only now bringing up his White relatives and only to say that his White grandmother made the same type of racist remarks as Wright.

    Mr. Wallis claims that the media is playing “carefully selected excerpts of the most potentially incendiary statements” from Wright’s sermons, but no one is preventing him or any Black organization from bringing forward other excerpts from Wright’s sermons that would refute or be in opposition to the inflammatory remarks that we have all heard.

    Wallis also says that there is “a new generation of Black Americans who are now eager and ready to move beyond the frustration and anger to a new experience of opportunity and hope.” Does Mr. Wallis believe that this “new generation of Black Americans” may not be willing to “move beyond the frustration and anger” if Obama is not elected?

    If this speech had been made six months ago it may have really meant something, but the fact that he gave it in an effort to save his political neck is troubling to say the least.

    If Obama really meant all that he said about unifying the country and bringing the races together he would have confronted Wright at the time the incendiary statements where made or as soon as he learned about them, but he did not and the moment has passed.

    Like Wright’s remarks and Obama’s speech, Mr. Wallis’ post is not about hope and unification, it is rooted in the anger and resentment of the past and seems designed mainly to point the finger at White America.

    Although I do realize that Blacks, like so many other minorities, have a right to their anger and resentment, I believe that in the end this speech will only exacerbate the divide between the races.

    @Dee: Nicely said.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  42. Connie, Oklahoma

    Take Heart, Americans. I agree with Jim Wallis, and I am comforted that on mainstream media, someone with his opinions and insight will be on Anderson Cooper 360 tonight. I have supported Obama for two years now, and am excited with his success. I believe what Obama said this morning is from his heart and I hope we have listened and understood. I am in the process of changing to satellite TV so that I can get HD NET and Dan Rather's unfiltered truths. There are American's who know that the media is out of control and we are searching for the real news outside of the mainstream spin. Take heart America, there is yet, hope. White Female age-44 voter.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:48 pm |
  43. Linda Cross

    I agree that the media has put their own spin on Pastor Wrights message and have tried to make the statements that were made by Wright, Obama's statements. I pray that I am never held accountable for my mothers feelings and I pray that I am never held accountable for my Pastors statements because he has said many things that I do not agree with. I think Obama has put this issue to bed but the media is trying to keep it going at the expense of everyday americans like me who would really like to here about what the candidates will do for the economy, health care and the war.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  44. annie

    I'd like to know if he ever gave a speech in his church like the one he gave us today? If not, why not? If he is the uniter he claims to be, isn't his church a good place to start? My opinion.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  45. Susan

    Has anyone been to a Catholic Church close to election time?? If so I am sure you have listened to your priest directing you to vote for a certain candidate who is a proponent of the beliefs of the church. Did they leave their church because they did not agree with this directive? NO!! Were they taken to task by their employer/friends/political affiliates because they attended this "sermon"? NO!! Did they have to justify what this priest said? NO!! Ask yourself who is helped by this latest debacle? Hilary Clinton and her subversive tactics. How timely the comments of Geraldine Ferraro!!!!
    I am a middle class, white, american woman and I support Barack Obama wholeheartedly. Rather than vote for yet another unscrupulous Clinton I would not vote at all.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  46. Cheryl

    I feel that we did not need a speech about slavery. Get over it, I'm an American Indian , I don't blame any race for what happened years ago.
    He put his Grandmother under the bus and let his Pastor off scott free. This is not a man I want as President. The Clinton's have done alot for the African American people and when the seen that he won Iowa they dropped her like a sack of potaoes, thats racism!!!!!

    March 18, 2008 at 7:35 pm |
  47. MonicaPG

    To Dee:

    Obama spent a little more time on the black/white issue because that is what apparently the "powers that be" have made an issue. Overall, however, he spoke of unity as Americans overall......perhaps you missed that, and the need to have honest discussions about how we have allowed race/gender/religion to divide what is supposed to be a United States...that liberty isn't supposed to be for a select few with either the "right" credentials or who are "well" connected....and that opportunity should not be for American citizens because it had to be LEGISLATED. Further, I would have lost ANY respect for him if he had completely distanced himself from Pastor Wright because you can't be with someone for 20 years and then try to distance yourself from him completely because it's politically expedient.

    I believe Senator Obama was truthful and realistic in his remarks. Now, as I have said....if you were an Obama supporter then this speech will have either had no effect or endeared you more to him. If you were not an Obama supporter based on all the externals that the media and the political establishment would like to you believe are considerations, then you'll find (or not find) whatever you need in this speech to keep you where you are. If you were on the fence leaning toward the right, you toppled over because you were looking for an excuse to say no......and if you're a Clinton supporter (because she's a woman, because she's white, because she's a Clinton, or because you believe she is qualified and would be an excellent president for ALL Americans) then, this speech did little if anything for you. You are solidly where you are.

    I do think, however, people should just be honest and say, I'm not voting for Obama because he doesn't LOOK like what I've been conditioned to believe a president should look, and stop hiding behind the code words of "experience" or making his faith a litmus test, or his associations a litmus test (we've rarely if ever done this for ANY other presidential candidate to the degree with which its being done here). When America get serious about being truthful and honest about what we fear, what we don't like, what we want, and we start concentrating on solving our REAL problems then maybe we'll have a chance...a real shot at that more perfect or perfected union.

    Until then, we keep up this constant bickering, we start a very tenuous journey down a slippery slope that erodes away at the freedoms and liberties we say we stand for...and pretty soon, those that point the finger at Obama (or even Clinton) for race, religion, gender, may soon find that they set up an environment where it all backfires and they find themselves in the minority, being judged by the very same externals that have held back generations of Americans for years.......and we'll suddenly wonder how did it all happen?????????

    If you ask me, the infighting that we do as Americans is far worse than any terrorist attacks. The world is looking at us now and either laughing, shaking their heads at our hypocrisy, or beyond gleeful at how the Great America....that last, best, greatest hope for the world, the shining city on a hill......is in such turmoil and collapsing on itself.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  48. SJ Wilson

    This issue is not above whether or not Obama should have left his church. It's about race. If it weren't, he would not have had to give this speech to begin with. The racially, biased media wanted this to happen. I hope that Barack is correct: that America can move on past this. If not, this country will be more racially divided than it was before Obama ran for President.

    March 18, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  49. Gayle

    And what if Hillary Clinton's Pastor was spewing anti-American, anti-Black hatred on Sunday?
    I have never heard such hatred from a minister. If this were to happen in my church, I would contact the head of the church to report the minister's behavior as threatening. What does this silence say about the real Obama?

    March 18, 2008 at 7:17 pm |
  50. andy

    Never happen!! and Im a mexican

    March 18, 2008 at 7:10 pm |
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