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. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Jeff,,, You can write, but can you read? Can you grasp the concept that Wright's speech was a defense against racist attacks? It was a highly improper reaction, but without the history and present racism and hatred existing in America Utube would have other things to look at. (I doubt if the Republicans will be stupid enough to raise what their preachers have to say in the upcoming election. No need to say why, huh?)
    What does trouble me about Rev Wright, is the 'holidaying in Europe'.

    What kind of man, marine, or Christian would not come forward with rebuttall or an apology for his statements?

    March 19, 2008 at 12:10 am |
  2. Sueme

    Hi there – This is the Truth, please post this; I'm sure you'll have lots of feedback.
    He that has NO sin cast the first stone!
    WORDS….are like stones! Speak LIFE not Death!
    This is not about Obama, Clinton or McCain… it's about 400 years of hatred. Who is the author of HATE? Who is LOVE? How can someone who has a log in their own eye, say to another.. let me help you to remove the log from your eye? Is this really about Obama or each one of us?
    The economy is about to tank, people are homeless and hungry, we have exuberant job loss, high crime rate and immorality is running rampant. In a time when when America is the darkest – we need Hope, Love and Faith. Martin Luther King mentions in his book 'when the world seems the darkest, that is when the STARS* shine the brightest'. Are you a Star*? Let us strive to be your best we can be… think the best of others and speak LOVE:).
    I pray that each person reading this comment (including the news commentators) will check within yourself first. We can only control our OWN tongue...not others. The book of James talks about how to control your OWN tongue...not others.
    Speak LOVE not HATE!

    March 19, 2008 at 12:07 am |
  3. Vickie

    Mr. Obama has proven himself, as a leader that believes bringing understanding to a situation is more important than taking the easy road. Obama could have distanced himself from his pastor but he chose to stand by his long time friend and ally, disproving of his comments but not "throwing his pastor under the bus." Isn't this refreshing! A true leader! I can't wait to see Barrack Obama bring true diplomacy, dignity and respect into the White House again.

    March 19, 2008 at 12:05 am |
  4. robin

    To whom this may concern,
    I do and still will support Barack Obama . The first time I herd him speak I cried , As I found myself doing once again. I know now why I went to him in the first place , Truth , openness. hope. I came from a family that are very racist . I had to grew up all my life with many many wrong thing my own mother said .

    Until one day I have grand babies that have father that are Black. I finally stood up to my family . They did just as I taught they would do . Stop talking to me .

    I was not hurt . Because I knew this was coming . I listen today to Barack Obama speech as I have to many of his speeches. I was thinking as tears rolled down my face . I hope my mother hear this.

    Maybe she will see what I been thinking all my life hearing these racists remarks . My mother and brother and sister said . I just every day pray there eyes will be open we are all in the same boat . We bleed the same way . We hurt also in same way.

    He is a good truthful man . We all need to hear the truth and know the truth . Also at the same time this is a man that can heal us all.

    Not just in words but in what he can do for us all. Vote for this man is a real change . This is someone for all to long that we been missing in this country , And all over this crazy world of our . We the people .

    Not we only the Clinton's . Bush Or McCain. Take our country back . NOT only our country , Our way of life .

    March 19, 2008 at 12:01 am |
  5. Mauriette Shivers

    Hi Anderson, love show,

    My thought on this and is Race will always be an issue in America, because there are so many different colors, but why is that we can't just let Martin Luther King's dream live and let black,whites, and all colors get along, so what if a "Black man" gets to be president, I think we will do no more wrong than what the others have done, I think if the man is qualified and can do it let, I think all the others just been experiecing with the United States and has been messing it up so why not let him finish it off, so I say Hats off to the man he can do no more wrong than the others have, at least he is not using campaign money to buy him a call girl or finishing up his daddy's wars (like George bush)

    March 19, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  6. Crystal , Mississippi

    I am sick of turning on every news channel hearing Obama's pastor sermons played over and over and over again. I read where somone said they won't vote for him because his pastor gave those remarks. If that was the case WHY did we hand over two terms Bush. After he led us into a war with no reasonable grounds. I am truly sadden that we will write a man off because of what his pastor said, yet nothing is said about man who mislead thousands of people into a war with a hidden agenda.

    People we really need to get their act together. We might be headed into another Great Depression, and ya'll are worried about what a man's pastor said. Also I wanted to address the comment about "blacks needs to let things go, and move on." See the Bible teaches us that you must forgive, but never forget anything. Being a proud African-American, and Native- American, how dare someone could say such things. Until your ancestors is force to give up their land and also taken to a strange place with consent then maybe we well will let things go.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  7. Susan

    The problem with Obama's speech today is that he virtually ignored the fact that the issue with Wright is Wright's anti-American views, and instead, Obama pretended that the issue is race.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:58 pm |
  8. Roland Hubbard

    Please be careful not to make prophetic preaching a black phenomena. There are many white preachers that are of the same opinion about the causes of 911: as being a wake up call to america for it's less than righteous ways.

    Give as much time to the other side as you are giving to black preachers.

    Please make sure you are not fanning the fire of racial discord to improve ratings.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  9. deb in az

    what i want to know is why he said he had never heard any of those sermons before and now today he was there.....now if his minster is not let off the hook with the nation are we the racists?

    March 18, 2008 at 11:54 pm |
  10. Arizonalake

    First of all, I herd one of your comentators say that he was the husband of a minister, as if that should make his words have more validity. I found that statement only to be self serving. I will pray for Mr. Obama's pastor, that he should be aware that the bible teaches just by saying the GD word he is using the lords name in vain, thus commiting a sin! If I attended a church that preached a hateful message such as Mr. Obama's Pastor, I would use the brain GOD gave me and the free will he gave me to attend another church. The true job of a pastor is to teach the bible to his flock so they may be able to receive salvation and stay on the correct path. This, however, does not surprise me, the bible teaches us that the lord will judge the pastors who deiviate from biblical teaching in a more servere judgment that the normal man for they have influence over their flock and may lead many into the arms of Satan by their false teachings. Thus, they are helping their brothers to stumble and creating the temtation of sin. We should all love our brothers and sisters for we are all GOD's creation and cells of the body of Christ. Can a man hate his right arm and love his left? I understand Mr.Obama loves his pastor and friend but for years he knew the messages and did nothing to stop them. He had lack of proper discernment in my veiw and could have explain to his pastor the errors of his ways, this shows poor judgement. I do not know who will be the next president but in my mind it should not be Mr. Obama.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:51 pm |
  11. Bev

    It's incredible that while ordinary people, both black and white and in-between are struggling with issues such as health care, the economy, the environment etc, that CNN could be spending so much time on a sound bite from Rev'd Wright.
    For goodness sake get to the issues at hand. The media is behaving just as ridiculous as Washington -Doing business as usual; running the same old story over and over and over. Listen to Mr. Obama and raise the bar folks !!

    March 18, 2008 at 11:42 pm |
  12. Fernel Sullivan

    I have always been an independent voter who researched the candidates qualifications before voting. I am concerned that the media has had such an influence in this democratic primary. Highly visible and very important people should not try to influence voters. Discuss the issues. Let's find a candidate that can bring respect back to America.

    I hope all readers of this blog think seriously about the fact that Obama had several years to inspire his pastor and unite him with the white community. If he had no influence on his behavior how can he influence foreign leaders and bring about "CHANGE".

    This country wants to believe Obama can unite.... it will never happen. This was just another well given speech by a bright young man. Nothing more... Nothing less.. Nothing historic...

    Nothing changes the fact that his mentor is not preaching the way of the lord. Find me the inspiring sermons from this pastor that brought Obama to his faith. if Obama is honest – he must admit that he shares many of his pastors beliefs. And, that is a scary thought.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:41 pm |
  13. Wendy Williams

    Please, enough of the Reverand Wright drama. The news media has replayed the tape numerous times in an apparent attempt to create a controversy. In my field (psychology) we call this "splitting," trying to make a person, a party, a race, or an nstitution either all good or all bad. We are all both good and bad with strengths and weaknesses. Me, Senator Obama, Reverand Wright, Senators Clinton and McCain, and even CNN. It takes a healthy mind to integrate, create wholesness, and recognize that the evil and the good in the world dwell in all of us. It would be more balanced (and psychologically healthy) to also play some of Rev. Wright's positive messages of hope, peace, reconcilliation, and redemption. Please be a role model for your viewers and the world at large and show us that CNN has that potential. Senator Obama is revealing his integration by denouning Rev. Wright's words, but embrassing him as a valued person in his life. He is modeling and attempting to create wholenss and healing in a splintered and fractured world. It would do us all well to emulate him. Maybe then we will have a chance for peace.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  14. Karen

    Racism in America – Alive and well:

    On Anderson Cooper 360 tonight (March 18th) I was APPALLED at a clip you showed of a black man and woman who were being arrested by about 6-7 policemen. The black man fell out of the driver's side of a moving car onto the ground and I saw a police officer approach him from the front of the car and kick him in the abdomen. Then another policeman repeatedly shoved the driver's side door over the man's stomach until he got it to shut – this man was being assaulted by police while the anchorwomen on CNN were saying how "romantic" it was that this man wanted to give rent money to his girlfriend before returning to jail. There were so many police on top of the woman that I could not see what they were doing to her. I think that this was absolutely appalling – and evidence of the persistence of racial injustice and police brutality – and the worst part was the failure of CNN to notice the real story in this video clip.

    Please make this right – call those police to account and bring them to justice. This behavior is not acceptable in this country.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  15. Tim Petreikis


    March 18, 2008 at 11:35 pm |
  16. Pat

    Someone said they like Obama because he faces things head on. Really? I am amazed at that statement. He sat in a church for twenty years, strongly (silently) disagreed with some of the statements of the preacher, tried to hide the preacher away because he knew he would be a political liability (disinvited Wright to his announcement speech), supported his campaign surrogates to scream racism at the slightest word from the opposing campaign, out and out lied to the news media (CNN, Fox, etc.) last Friday saying he knew nothing of these awful statements (well maybe a couple) but was certainly never in the pews when the worst of the worst were said, and said his grandmother's remarks made him "cringe," but never said anything that strong regarding Jeremiah Wright's remarks. If that is facing things head on, well I don't know what to think. Mr. Obama ran too soon. If he wanted to enlighten us on race, he should have introduced us to the ways of some black churches, introduced himself as an advocate for all people (not just black people as his church tells him), and brought us along slowly so we really could vote for him and believe in him. He is a politician and not a very good one at that. Mr. Obama, you have done more harm than good here. I will vote McCain before I vote for Obama now.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:33 pm |
  17. jeremiah

    I have always had concern about the way obama has felt about the united states. From listening to his pastor now I understand . Obama made a good speech,but I feel it was a coverup. If he would not have come out and said something it would be over for him. This pastor only talks about the african americans suffering. My ancestors were Native Americans and Irish. Maybe the pastor needs to get out his history book and start reading about what they done to my people. It was alot worse.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  18. Lonnie Harper

    Where is the "First Black President" and his wife, the candidate for President, on the issue of race that swirls around Barak Obama? Are Bill and Hillary enjoying the heat on Barak? Will they not apply the healing balm of togetherness on the issue? Or will Bill and Hillary , along with the conservative Right, enjoy seeing racial politics destroy Barak so that Hillary or John McCain can win the Presidency?

    March 18, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  19. Racheal Sawyer - Canada

    Obama really spoke the truth in love, he hated the sin and not the sinner. I am mixed race like Obama and he really struck a chord, it gives one such a great understanding of both races to be biracial and he clearly expressed the racial concerns of America from such an objective, loving point of view.

    His speech about how the working class' exploitation and abandonment by corporations feeds into their discrimination against blacks and immigrants was so true. Thank God so many of them understand how the elite and corporations are the reason for their job loss.

    I wish the Media would show the end of his speach about Ashley... that was the most meaningful and poinant part of his speech which pointed to the future along with his emphasis on overcoming all these things, corporate exploitation, lack of healthcare, usery, etc. to pull America together.

    You guys need to really, really stop showing the reverend Wright clip and focussing on the race, gender, white men issue. I wish the media would participate in unifying America and focus on the issues and do your research.

    What about Hillary's donations from UAE, China and outsourcing companies, and what about her donations from the defense contract compaies. Why don't you research it and put it on TV. Why don't you talk about the tent cities in LA filled with all the people who have lost their homes. Why don't you break down exactly how Bear Stears was bailed out and then taken from the American people for a song by another corporation. Why don't you question why the government didn't hold on to it as a national asset until it made it's money back, at least. MEDIA, DO YOUR JOB, stop focussing on gossip and blowing up race, gender, ethnic or religious issues, rather than Magnifying the economic, healthcare, housing, war concerns of the nation.

    There is lots to do, go get on it!

    March 18, 2008 at 11:30 pm |

    I think Barack speech was fantastic!! It is more than enough to answer the questions of skeptics and the confused. People desires are never satisfied. They thrive on negativity. IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH, simply because they are trying to soothe their own guilt and insecurities... It is unfortunate that the media is abusing the term "Freedom of Speech". There should be a point where someone should say enough is enough. The Media have destroyed the lives of many good people who for a moment made a silly mistake–whether intentionally or accidentally. The media create more hate and division among races by reporting negativity over and over into the hearts and minds of the people thereby widening the gap of division. THE MEDIA SHOULD BE DISCIPLINED.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:30 pm |
  21. cary

    Ok so Obama has established that white people have brought him and his church down. Now, if he loses he can easily blame it on "racist whites". He obviously needs a lot of white votes to win hte nom. and even more to win in the general.

    He's a race pimp in the mold of Sharpton and Jackson. If he really wanted to unite the country, he would have just avoided any race talk altogether and distanced himself from Rev. Wrong. Notice that only blacks talk about race. You don't hear other minorities, Aisans or Hispanics whining about race. For the most part, they just work hard to achieve all this country has to offer in reward for hard work.
    Race will cease to be a problem in this country when blacks stop whining about it and pursue their goals that all other races are already doing. It can't much easier, with free education for minorities, grants, affirmative action. How much easier do blacks want it to be to receive help in this society?!

    March 18, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  22. Cindy

    This speech was given by a true leader and will go down in the history books as one of this countries great speeches. I am a white 48-year-old woman, and I believe this man will be one of this countries great leaders. He has what this country needs at this moment in history. In short, he gets it. He seeps of common since, good judgment and courage. Let us hope the American public gets it. As far as leaving his church, why should he. A church is not the man who stands at the pulpit; a church is the sum of the people who make up that church. I am a catholic and I have belonged to the same church for 25 years. We have had priests who I have disagreed with on issues but still looked at them with respect for their accomplishments and for their struggles. I was on the line, but this week made my mind up and Obama has my vote and I will work to get him in the White House.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:28 pm |
  23. ben ohio

    It is good for the country to be facing all of the racial problems and I appreciate Barak Obama for getting this discussion going, it is long overdue. But I do not believe it can be going on in this election. We need a president to work on economy ,war, foreclosures, medicare,social security, jobs etc. And all of these issues concern all of us.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:26 pm |
  24. Elise B

    I CAN'T BELIEVE all the absolute racist comments i'm reading tonight. First i want to address the issue that "African-American people should just let it go"...i'm only 20 yrs old, and i still to this day encounter racism! I will let it go, when the hatred against me, because of my brown skin stops!

    Secondly, you don't know why he chose to stay in that church. My parents, grandparents, teachers, friends, say stuff to me all the time that i dislike and don't agree with, does that mean everytime someone says something i don't like, i'm going to move, disown them, terminate our friendship, switch schools...switch churches...it doesnt make sense....

    Thirdly i'd like to add, that Obama handled this situation today very well...i have more respect for him than ever before.

    And one more thing: those are NOT the views of all Black churches in America.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  25. Ernest

    What we have seen is a designer racisim in action against President Obama. Black chuches has been the support of black politics. That is how the civil rights was organised.......white folks do not understand black churches. White churches operates from top-down while black churches operates from bottom-up (grassroot effort). God help America.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  26. ICL


    I am a Canadian, and I have been following "America Votes 2008" for quite a while now.

    You might say that being a Canadian, I should not be interested or concerned in this process, but of course you know that this is not true.

    I have been watching this process unfold so much, during these past few months, that I may just have become a political junkie!

    I would like to say that Sen. Obama's speech today was one of the best I have ever heard given, by any politician bar none. He has brought to the forefront, a topic that very few people would want to even admit exist today. I give him credit for an excellent understanding of this issue. I give him credit for his courage, and I give him credit for his ability to inspire in us everything that is good, while being able to admit that this is not a perfect world.

    Sen. Obama's speech was superb, soul searching, and moving. It is now up to Americans to decide where they will go from here.

    I would also like to know, who dug up this video on Sen. Obama's
    Minister, and why the media did not play the entire video. It does not say much that these people only chose to air just these snippets of a sermon. Also the objectionable peices aired, concentrated only on areas of Sen. Obama/Sen. Clinton and post 911. Why is it that everyone is assuming that this minister has been saying these things for the past twenty years?

    Senator Obama I take my hat off to you!

    March 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  27. FAITH

    I am a middle class African American women living in the DC Metropolitan area. I am sadden to see that Campbell Brown focused so much on what is happening inside the Black churches without recognizing that blantent discrimination and bias is present in so many non black churches as well. I will share this brief story with you. Our church currently rents our facilities to a Hispanic church two nights each week and Sunday evenings. I speak Spainish and attended an activity at the church with a friend. We arrived a early because there was a small reception being planned after the service. When my friend and I entered the kitchen facilities I could not believe my ears. A couple of older Latio women were opening speaking about the dirty black people who had failed to sufficiently clean the church to their satisfaction. I was truly angered by some of the things they were saying about Black people. What angered me most was that they were in MY church. We were renting this space to them. Another interesting fact was that the (Lation) minister of the church was in the kitchen with the ladies. He said nothing but laughed and particiatped in the discussion. So while some Americans resent what was said by Mr. Obama's minister, I challenge all Americans to examine themselves and ask yourself, have you ever been in an environment where a racial comment or jester was made... More importantly how did you respond. Mr Obama cannot be held responsible for the opinion of his minister and how it was express. Beneath the cloth, we are all human beings and no one is perfect. America is in need of much healing. President Obama is a refreshing change in politics....the right person at the right time to bring this country together and willingly discuss the difficult and sensitive issues that have long been kept in our closets. Are the no white people who have ever heard their pastors/ministers make a controversial statement inside or out of the church???? As a result of the comment did they elect to leave their church and condemn their minister. Let's get on with the more serious issues ot this election.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm |
  28. karen anderson

    I've never in my life as a staunch Democrat felt so angry as I did after I watched Obama's speech. Once again, Obama uses race to dictate the conversation and divert attention away from the other troublesome and glaring problems of this Wright situation and of his own candidacy. He knows he can make a speech about race, and that the press and pundits will tread with political correctness in response.

    I want to know, what does race have to do with all the other incendiary comments made by his pastor like "God Damn America," and America was responsible for 9/11, and "the government lied about Pearl Harbor," and all this ANTI-ISRAEL agenda including promoting divestment from Israel?

    I found the speech to be academic, predictable, full of holes and contradictions, disingenuous, politically convenient and apologist. He never made eye contact with the television viewer because he resorted to using a teleprompter. And for him to inject Ferraro into it was such a cheap shot and a political swipe at Hillary Clinton and her supporters. I couldn't believe Obama would bring up Ferraro in his speech, not once but twice. This was not the time or place to try to score cheap political points, but I've come to expect nothing less from Senator Obama.

    What's more, to mention OJ Simpson by his nickname "OJ" in the singular, as if he were a brother and not a double-murderer, was beyond belief. From the standpoint of the Brown and Goldman families, it was totally inappropriate for a would-be president to refer to a killer by his nickname "OJ."

    Additionally, Obama now admits that he indeed HAS heard controversial statements in church when just a couple days ago, he claimed he knew nothing about it. So which is it? One way or the other, he lied.

    I have a question for him. Now that he continues to embrace his Anti-American pastor, does that mean Rev. Wright will be with him in the White House, praying with him before important decisions and speeches? Does he and the rest of the Elite Dems that support him REALLY think this is going to go away, just because he delivers a "courageous" speech about race? It makes me SICK to see Matthews, Gergin, CNN et al, fawning over his every word.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  29. Don Fortune

    I think Obama showed political maturity today with this speech. Now, the question we need to ask ourselves is, are we mature enough to turn this page of our history?

    The media need to remove this wedge the have put between citizens of this great country. There's no such thing as a "White" vote or a "Black" vote. It's time for the media to focus on real issues such as the war and the economy.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:24 pm |
  30. Danette Hartford, CT

    I think that it is important to realize that if one is trying to be a unifyer and influence others, he/she must walk alongside those with different beliefs and lead by example, not shun them and say that it is only possible to be allies or partners when our beliefs are exactly the same. We must learn to come together for the greater good.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:22 pm |
  31. Cathy from Texas

    How many of us have heard prejudiced remarks from a family member? As a white female from the south, my Dad was extemely prejudiced against blacks. I hated his opinions, but I didn't hate him as a person. Even though I'm not sure who I'm voting for (except it certainly won't be Hillary) I would never exclude Obama merely due to the color of his skin or the words of his pastor. I had not heard Obama utter a work about race until it was forced upon him. We all, black and white, yellow and brown,need to get rid of our preconceived notions of each other and work together as one and help to make this country strong again. We are destroying our country from the inside out with our own actions.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:21 pm |
  32. Mary in Oklahoma

    Senator Obama tried to rationalize his pastor's words of hate or his reason for staying in the church. All he did was try to talk down to a white intelligent, college eduated woman stating we are not smart enough to know hate when we see it.

    Senator Obama has lost the respect of many Americans over this.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  33. Tamisha D. Mansfield, TX

    have read most of the comments posted, however, one in particular was offensive ( DEE)…obama is clearly not a racist. If one were listening to the speech …obama talked about the struggles of all races and the history of this country…and how its time for us as a people to choose wether or not to be divisive and not to allow the media to form our opinions for us,,. “We the people” have the power to move forward, change for the better for this country….enough is enough…bottom line is… “WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” wether we like it or not... we all (I.E ALL RACES) have to live together..

    March 18, 2008 at 11:18 pm |
  34. Marwill Gallardo

    Makes me question Obama's Judgement. You judge the person on the company he keeps.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:17 pm |
  35. calvin armstrong

    i remember sitting in my church, which is a conservative black church in comparison....and my preacher said that young black men shouldnt be walking around with braids in their hair. he said it in a fiery manner, such a way that made one think it had something to do with bible scripture.....while it didnt, it was obvious that I disagreed. why? because i was a black man sitting in the 3rd row with a head full of cornrows.

    but I didnt disown him, even though i pretty much didnt shake his hand for weeks after church was over.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:16 pm |
  36. BJ

    A missed point.....Obama did not lie. He stated that he did not hear those particular 30 second bites, he did not say he never heard anything controversial. If you are going to comment listen to things in their entirety.

    Just like Michelle Obama did not say for the first time in her life she was proud of her country, she said that for the first time in her adult liefe she was REALLY proud of her country. I had no problems understanding exactly what she meant, because I listened!! Listening is fundamental before speaking!!!!!

    Still a supporter in Idaho

    March 18, 2008 at 11:15 pm |
  37. rosita jackson

    Today I am Proud to be an African American. When I saw Obama explain to a group of white people why he did not denounce Rev. White , I realized how fortunate I am to belong to a race of people who have embraced obama in spite of the fact that his mother and grandparents are white.Inspite of his heritage, meaning that he is not a descendent of slaves. We as a race have emrbaced him as a brother ,while whites who bore him into the world , raised him and educated him find it so difficult to call him one of them. It is so amusing to me to see how whites grapple with their feelings of racial hatred. When one of their own sons is not welcome in their community and turns to the black community where he has been taken in as one of us. Now silly white poeple want him to denounce the only people who have treated him with dignity and respect.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  38. Suzette

    Y'all we have a tough choice. The only three choices we have is McCain, Clinton and Obama. Are they flawed? Yes. But do I believe that each one has a good heart? Yes I do. Political leaders are not superhuman. They are not perfect. Everyone is flawed. To be honest, every politician is suspect. I remember four years ago when Bush, right before the election, started courting the church with his conservative views on gay marriages. I recall him appealing to church folks that he was the paragon of Christian virtues and values. He promised he would maintain a sense of decency in this country. People were ignoring that he had lead us only four years earlier in a hostile and deteriorating war, yet they voted for him again. They felt it would be bad for the country to change presidents in the midst of the war.

    Do I like what Rev. Wright said? No. But if you are going to bestow on Obama guilt by association, what is to be said about Hillary? She has been married and even slept with Bill for quite a few years. She has told us that she's her own person. She has said that she is to be viewed by her own merits and not because of what her husband did. In case anyone has forgotten, Bill was impeached due to his indiscretions. What would happen to her candidacy if she was bestowed guilt by association. Would we fear that she would be as dishonest as her husband who said vehemently, "I did not have sex with that woman?"

    In truth, we don't truly know ANY presidential candidate. We have to trust our instincts and what we are able to examine. One thing I can say with absolute certainty, I don't want another 4 years of Bush politics. And McCain has been forthcoming about his position in that regard. So, I KNOW I'm not voting for McCain. Then there's Hillary. Nothing BIG or blaring has come up with her, but I have sat back and watched how she has run her campaign. I don't trust her. And it's not because of her associations, it's by observing her, listening to her, and observing how she's prone to change or switch when under stress or when it seems people aren't getting with her. I am concerned that, if the pressure gets too intense while she "fights" for us, she'll shift on the American people just as she did when she voted for the war.

    So, that leaves Obama. He is being hit with Rezko, Wright, Muslim, not Black enough, too black, criticized for not going to the State of the Black Union, the underdog, not as experienced, not able to assume the role on Day1 and so on and so on and so on. Yet, he continues to have confidence in the American people. He continues to be respectful and handles people and issues in a dignified manner. After hearing his address about race in this country, I applaud him. He took a great risk and spoke from his heart. It may have not been what people wanted, but he was speaking what he truly believes.

    I, like you, do not understand why he would remain at Rev. Wright's church. But I don't believe it's because he shares Rev. Wright's beliefs. I don't believe he is a terrorist. I don't believe he is racist. There is a genuineness to him that I trust. And I'm willing to examine and observe him over the next 2 1/2 months. I'm willing to trust time to reveal who is the best candidate. For me, that candidate continues to be Barack Obama.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  39. Bill Sommerville

    Obama’s speech showed one of the most important elements that many have failed to see, the man himself. Those whom wish to continue to press the issue fail to see truth when it is right in front of their face, the man himself. When many politicians talk down to us like we are infants, it is refreshing to find a person whom tells it like it is. Being a black man myself I was very proud today. I was proud that Obama spoke about both side of the issue. Many white may feel that after many years of injustice towards blacks that a state of reckoning may exist with Obama. I believe he touched on this to where many whites may see the challenge to rise above this and move towards a better society.

    Many times I have been disappointed of our government and angry. What really angered me are the same things that bothered the prophets of the past. Why must the poor become
    worst off and the rich become richer especially at the middle class and poor’s expense? Many times when I am disappointed with someone I say to him or her that you remind me of America, so beautiful yet so short of your potential.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:12 pm |
  40. BJ

    I pointed my finger in scorn one day at one who had fallen along the way, But then as I noticed, what did I see three of those fingers were pointing at me!!

    Human nature so quickly points fingers at people and situations, quickly condeming thoughts and actions. This is the very reason speeches as the one given today are still necessary in reference, to race, gender, sexuality, etc. Always wanting us to condem someone or find fault in others.

    Judge on the individual, not on the actions of those around us. I have worked for bosses that say far worse than the Rev. Wright and I haven't quit my job because of it. Nor would I quit my church because I didn't agree with some of the comments of the Pastor. If I did I would be changing jobs and pastors on a regular basis. I base my job on my performance and pride in my work. I base my church attendance by the spiritual fellowship with those around me and the blessings on my life.

    Food for thought: It is only imperfection that complains of what is imperfect. The more perfect we are the more quiet and gentle we become towards the defects of others. I think this is what Obama demonstrates and this is what I would like to see in our President. Not the same old dirt politics. Go Obama, may God bless you and yours!

    A supporter in Idaho

    March 18, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  41. mama watoto

    I am saddened yet not entirely surprised that Barack Obama has to keep explaining who he is and everything his associates do or say. First they circulated flyers and emails that he was a Muslim. When that failed to gain traction( or when they realised it was false), they started digging stuff from his pastor. why hasnt anyone asked Hilary what she believes in?? I am a conservative, but I also happen to be an American who is also Kenyan like Obama. Before the speech, I had settled on McCain, after the speech, I will vote for Obama. He has convinced me today that we have to support our own.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:11 pm |
  42. Greg

    I just want to thank you for summing up the hard work I have put into my life. That the only reason I have anything is because I'm white. That I pulled myself out of my parents poverty, served my county, sought a good education, worked two or three jobs in the process, pounded the pavement to land a job and worked hard so I don't lose it. I went through all this when I could have been handed it because I'm white. Boy what a fool I am.
    Am I to feel bad for what I have? NO!

    March 18, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  43. Susan Shannon

    I don't buy this racist theory at all. WAS there white against black racism in America? Yes. Is there today? Let's evaluate. Isn't Barak Obama a black man who is currently in the lead for the Democratic nomination? This country is mostly white. And it is those white people who are voting for him- more so than for a WHITE woman- Sen. Clinton. Let me ask the question again. Is there racism in America? Let's evaluate again. With two candidates who vary very little from each other concerning their major stances on issues, white people are logically split between the two contestants. However, black people are voting for a black man in the high 80-90 percentile points. Why? Because black people are the racist folks these days. If the data showed that white people were voting along those lines against a black candidate, it would be all over the news and black people would be in an uproar. But when black people do it, the news just says things like, " Barack Obama stands to win _____ State as there is a heavy black population there..." and no one blinks! Everyone is so afraid to say anything negative against black people because they are afraid that everyone will call them a racist. I am not afriad of that. I know myself and this is a valid criticsm. If you are black, be honest and ask yourself, are you racist against white people?

    Here we have a situation where a black man has risen to such a position of power- supported by the majority of white people, and black people still want to claim racism! My personal experience (I'm a mixed race asian-white woman) has been for black people to either ignore my hello, avoid my eye contact- or to meet it with aggression. It is rare for my 'hello' to be returned with equal politeness. Sorry, but I just don't buy it. If there were white racism today, Barack Obama would not be where he is today- which is possibly the next president of the most powerful nation on earth.

    Black people, if there was a glass ceiling based in racism, why is Barak Obama where he is?

    March 18, 2008 at 11:04 pm |
  44. Kristin, WI

    What really worries me is when I hear Obama talk about the need to invest in black schools and communities – all this kind of talk does is widen the racial divide. Why must we invest in just black communities? There are thousands of white people who live in poverty in this country too – what about them?

    The past is the past and people need to let go of it. White people of today did not create or participate in slavery – so please stop blaming us for it. So many black Americans blame white Americans, that it just perpetuates this vicious cycle of anger. People need to look forward, not backward and just let go of the past.

    What about all the white people who are victims of their circumstances, where the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and violence just continue generation after generation? Who should they blame for their situation? Rich white folk?

    People have to stop blaming everyone and everything else for their circumstance, and take responsibility for themselves. This means black, white, Latino, Native American, everyone. The government needs to provide solutions and opportunities for all Americans – not just black, not just white, not just female, not just young, not just rich, and on and on.

    Let us all please just move on from these issues and focus on who can deliver the solutions that will lift up not just black Americans, but ALL Americans.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  45. Deb from Lancaster, PA

    Dee, you did not listen to the entire speech. All of the items you said were absent were there. He spoke of immigrants from all peoples (white, Asian, Black, Latino) and Native Americans. you need to go back and listen to this speech again without selective hearing.

    It was nothing short of briliant. I'm certain that it forced many people (myself included) to perform some serious self examination.

    I want to tape it, and watch it with my kids.

    BTW, I am white, as if that should matter.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:03 pm |
  46. haynes

    Obama tackled race, obama didnt take the easy way out, that was one of the best speechs on race i have heard, I have seen the light the media wants obama to win. thats why the media started pounding on hillary at the start of the primary so cnn, msnbc, fox new, and every other person that cant till it like it is. So they CAN have a story and talk about it's not bill,hillary, and other lady that has hate in them it is obama , his wife, his uncle. obama played the race card in S.C not bill just compard rev.jackson to obama so the obama team brand bill as a racistobama new what his uncle was about but choose to leave him on his team any way that says it all. i guess obama cant do no wrong sorry hillary you now been brand as a racist.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:01 pm |
  47. kris1908

    I have a hard time believing that most white people have not spewed racial comments towards African Americans at some time in their lives. In fact, if a camera followed most white people around and post their comments on You Tube, we would see a lot more racism than what minister Wright is speaking of. I grew up around white people who often referred to African Americans as the "N" word, yet this seems to be socially accepted. White people have no idea what it is like to be an African American today or any day for that matter. They always state that African Americans are playing the race card when we feel that we are being discriminated against. Most white people walk around and think that racism does not still exist today. If most white people looked themselves in the mirror, they would see someone that has exhibited some form of racism in their lifetime. Yet when an African American male does it, it is all over CNN, MSNBC, and any other form of media outlet that exists. People need to wake up and understand that we are living in a racist society where race does matter. Why are you all acting like minister Wright is the only racist person in America??????? I challenge all of you to look yourselves in the mirror, and let he who has NEVER exhibited some form of racism; throw the first stone at Minister Wright.

    March 18, 2008 at 11:00 pm |
  48. cary

    If Barack and his Pastor are all about "don't judge me by the color of my skin" then why does that church have their own set of "Black Values"? Isn't that divisive? Why are they excluding whites and other races from their 'set of values'?

    March 18, 2008 at 10:54 pm |
  49. Lutasha J Sanders

    Barack Obama-What is really feared by Hillary Clinton?

    The mere thought that we still allow race to become a issue simply is amazing. Here we have been introduced to a man who was the first black president over law students at Harvard to be plaqued with ignorance belittlement in regards to race.

    Our country is in a despair and if we do not learn how to concentrate on the important issues just as the universal health care for all citizens, the war on Iraq then what are we doing? This is exactly what Hillary Clinton was waiting to happen. To t;urn people from the agenda of Senator Obama.

    We, as a country should be tired of all political games that are being played in the White House. It is time for a change and once again here is the race issue in another form. The form of his past Pastor. He has no control over what a person think or feel about a situation.

    This was a simple decoy to distract people from the real issues at hand. How Senator Obama can bring our country sincere change if given the opportunity to do so. We must come together as nation, with no regards to the color of skin but unite in a fight together for the common good of our country. It is now that we must the race card away.
    Put away the ignorance of prejudiceness and realize that we all are a part of the human race. That Senator Barack Obama is fighting for all of us for we are all affected by the controversies in our country.

    To once again regain strength and with peace treaties with foreign countries. For during the last eight years this was lost.

    We as human beings must stop fearing each other and listen to a chance to see real change within our government. This chance will only come once. If we allow it to pass us by, then we have only ourselves to blame. So to all:

    March 18, 2008 at 10:53 pm |
  50. Ronn

    As I read this blog I truly see there are very few African-Americans to respond here.Simply put,Sen.Obama really did not need to explain himself at all,because as you see some of you did not hear a word he said anyway.It has always been about race ,and it will always be about race.Why do we need a breakdown of all the demographic numbers each primary?Does it matter if blue collar males ,or older women ,or blacks for that matter voted for whom?It shouldn't.Those numbers are posted to get that protectionist gene flowing in each of us ,just to make sure that someone you don't like doesn't win.The real problem is with the media ,they are new to this also,this is unchartered territory for them ,they are so used to seeing middle age white men running for president that they don't know what to do now.It has finally dawned on them that this black man just may win.It has even come to the point that Hillary ,even though she is behind ,is somehow portrayed in the media as really having a viable chance to win the nomination,if the roles were reversed ,Obama would have been shamed out of the race by now so Hillary could focus on McBush.It IS about race people ,he spoke the truth ,and until we get past it ,we will continue to get what we deserve(ie:8 years of the worst president in the history of America).Keep it up ,maybe Hillary steals the nomination,and that means McCain can carry on Bush's legacy.In four more years we'll wish we had listened...maybe we can say it was gender bias,not her divisive brand of politics when the African Americans stay home in November.

    March 18, 2008 at 10:50 pm |
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