Dwight Hopkins at The Immanent Frame has posted a great article detailing the differences between Barak Obama and Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and why their parting of ways was inevitable. Here are a few excerpts:
Barack Obama is white and black and immigrant and multicultural. His mother and his grandparents hail from a white, heartland America and semi-rural America. Growing up with a white mother and white grandparents, Obama caught a glimpse of how many white citizens expect society and government to respond to their needs. Socialization processes in the U.S. (i.e., media, education, movies, power positions, etc.) produce white citizens who imagine whatever options they wish to choose in life. Not only can one envision different options, one can also decide to implement and, thus, realize those dreams. Despite his grandmother mentioning her fears of inner city black people, Obama grew up in a predominantly white environment that nurtured a view of government and American citizens as working together so each citizen could realize their desires. This perspective invites a career as a politician.
Obama also emerges from an immigrant sensibility. His father was from Kenya and immigrated to the U.S. to get a prestigious education. Barack Obama, Sr. did not come to America to find the American dreamâ€”get married, have children, and seek permanent residence and naturalized citizenship. Rather, he saw the U.S. as a place to obtain the best resources and then return back to his own home in Kenya. Senior Obamaâ€™s consciousness and history were not rooted in the black American story. Rather, his heart and priority were at home in Kenya.
In contrast, Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. hails from inner city Philadelphia and from a black family that traces parts of its roots back to Virginia and the slavery era. And Wright is a third generation black preacher.
Wrightâ€™s world was intensely racialized by the awareness of Africaâ€™s contributions to humanity, his slavery history, northern racial discrimination, and the segregation he encountered when he went south for his B.A. degree. At the same time, he grew up in a loving household and city where blacks told folk tales, recounted the heroics of enslaved blacks, swayed with jazz rhythms, doo wop, and R&B, and played the dozens on ghetto street corners. Wright knew about other great black achievements such as the Harlem Renaissance, A. Phillip Randolphâ€™s threat against FDR if the president didnâ€™t integrate the armed services, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.
Wright emerged out of a specific lineage of black preaching. His father was a big name Baptist preacher in Philadelphia and he, too, was a son of a Baptist preacher. Thus Jeremiah Wright, Jr. symbolizes three generations of the prophetic wing of the black church, one where Christianity is empty rhetoric if not linked to social justice and occasional prophetic denunciation of the powerful.
Wright and Obamaâ€”the preacher and the politician, race and multiculturalismâ€”have different parental, geographic, historical, and personal experiences. Yet both agree on the Bible as being partial to the poor. Both agree on church function as organizing justice.
Wright is deeply connected to a segregated black community and the importance of its voice and its ability to obtain resources for living. From that particularity, he bridges into conversation and coalition with all of America. In contrast, Obama begins with a vision for all of America. From that perspective, blacks are simply one strand among many in a larger narrative about whites and blacks (as well as yellows, browns, and reds) being their brothersâ€™ and sistersâ€™ keepers.
Go read the whole thing and let me know what you think.
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