Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Who Sounded the Black Ideological Retreat?

Who Sounded the Black Ideological Retreat?
Presidential Politics 2008 - The Issues
Wednesday, 19 March 2008
by Mel Reeves
When did Black liberation theology and the prophetic tradition of the black church become "hate speech"? When did asserting that racism was and remains foundational to the nation's settlement, development and culture become itself "racist" and "anti-American"? When did advocacy on a wide range of fronts and issues begin to take a back seat to the advancement of political figures who build careers and multiracial electoral coalitions by convincing whites that they have repudiated what Barack Obama famously called the "excesses of the sixties and seventies."

Who Sounded the Black Ideological Retreat?

by Mel Reeves

“Obama guards his grill by accepting white standards of what is acceptable among Black faith systems.”

A comparison of the 1968 Kerner Commission Report and the Institute for Policy Studies report, State of the Dream 2008 indicate that, 40 years after the passing of Dr. Martin Luther King, blacks continue to loose ground economically, socially and politically. In what academics call the post-Civil Rights era, African Americans have been in retreat for a very long time, with our eyes wide open.

We have watched with slack jawed amazement as Barack Obama has back-peddled time and time again in fear of being too closely identified with Blacks in general and “militant” Blacks in particular. Obama has distanced himself from his own Chicago pastor, from his Islamic paternal roots, “denounced” and “rejected” Louis Farrakhan, caste doubt on Palestinians’ right to exist; and hid the fact that he likes chicken. I am joking about the chicken and just a little about the Palestinians, but Obama bows to white sensibilities much too easily. His lack of principled backbone allows us to be put on the defensive by people who wish us no good.

There should have been a lot more outrage from our community when Obama disinvited Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright from the candidate’s official presidential declaration. Rev. Wright’s liberation theology was fine with Obama when he was a state senator representing Chicago’s mostly Black South Side. But once he’s running in a white dominated environment, Rev. Wright becomes a liability. Let’s not risk making any white folks uncomfortable, even if it means severing long-time personal and spiritual times with Blacks.

“Obama bows to white sensibilities much too easily.”
Obama is no longer prepared to be associated with a clergyman who preaches from a very political and unashamedly “Black” perspective – a liberation-motivated worldview that requires criticism of white American political culture and encourages resistance to white supremacy. Rev. Wright’s church covenant celebrates positive values and the uplift of the black community – both of which require pro-Black advocacy and support for activism – positions that are generally seen as suspect by tens of millions of white Americans. Obama used to believe – or pretended to believe – that a religion that focuses on “your own house” is not exclusionary, its good common sense.

He and his church have the right to focus on the needs of black folk first and foremost, since blacks are still victimized and oppressed in this country. And they should not have to apologize for a church covenant that celebrates positive values and the uplift of the black community. To focus on your own house is not exclusionary, its good common sense. All religions are based on specific, historical points of origin: Palestine for the Jews, Mecca and Medina for Muslims, Rome for Roman Catholics, the United States for those Protestant denominations that were begun or transformed in America, Salt Lake City for Mormons, India for Hindus, etc. Black American Protestantism is derived from U.S, racist exclusion of Blacks in all arenas of life, including white churches. There is a “liberation” component in all Black-created denominations, not just the Nation of Islam. Yet whites reserve the right to decide what Black faith is “kosher,” i.e., acceptable to them.

Mitt Romney was definitely backed by the Church of Latter Day Saints and nobody put pressure on Mitt Romney to denounce his religion, the Church of Latter Day Saints, with its history of doctrinal black inferiority and exclusion.
“Whites who presume to have the right to dictate what are acceptable associations among African Americans, are attempting to imposing their own ‘black list’ within Black America.”

Liberality and ecumenicalism in all things religious have come to be accepted as standards in U.S. political discourse – except for Black Muslims and Black Protestant liberation theologians. In practice, Obama guards his grill by accepting white standards of what is acceptable among Black faith systems. Blacks apparently can’t exercise their rights to self-determination in the religious arena – without paying a price. Barack Obama, through his conduct towards his pastor and Min. Louis Farrakhan, demonstrates his willingness to bend and bow to the peculiar mores of ethnic-race-based white belief systems, while scrupulously avoiding even a whiff of criticism of Mormons and (white) Southern Baptists, whose denominations are steeped in race supremacy. Farrakhan and Rev. Wright, however, are fair game.

Hillary Clinton has been denounced for “bullying” Obama, demanding that he “denounce and reject” Farrakhan, the man. The truth is, she didn’t need to “bully” Obama. He immediately caved in to Clinton’s arrogant demands, even laughing while bowing to her wishes in a transparent attempt make his opponent appear to be silly or unreasonably picky. But the problem was not Hillary’s hectoring, forcing Obama to use her preferred words of denunciation. It was that Obama did not himself denounce Clinton and all other whites who presume to have the right to dictate what are acceptable associations among African Americans, thereby imposing their own “black list” within Black America.

When did it become a crime to be a Muslim in this country? Some have directly accused the Senator of being Muslim, as if that were a heinous offense against civilization. Who said that support for the oppressed Palestinians is paramount to anti-Semitism? Who gave Zionists or anybody else the right to dictate Black people’s political behavior, in general? Who? Obama did, when he abdicated his responsibility to defend Black people’s right to choose their own faith and their own leadership.
Obama’s abject surrender to white bias – and the failure of African Americans to criticism him for his craven behavior, instead limiting their anger to Clinton, alone – further demonstrates that Blacks are retreating in the ideological fight for racial justice. The evidence is everywhere.

Whites are becoming more and more comfortable in saying, “racism doesn’t exist, blacks are just whining,” or that Blacks are playing a so-called “race card.” And more and more blacks tend to agree.

“Who said that support for the oppressed Palestinians is paramount to anti-Semitism?”
Racism does exist and if any people ever used a so-called “race card, it would be white folks who it as a trump card to either hold us back, or jump ahead. The “Black” race card does not exist, so can we please stop talking about it?
And let’s stop agreeing with our enemies about how we or others should be able to overcome the obstacle of racism. Elimination of racism is dependent on the people that profit from race privilege, not the victims. All the victims can do is resist this white supremacist phenomenon. Only whites can ultimately solved the problem, which is at root a white problem.

We must also cut out the moralizing crap. The point is that the racial obstacle shouldn’t be there in the first place, and not how good you are at hurdling artificially created adversity. Denied opportunity opens the door for all kinds of failure, moral and otherwise.
And since when did legitimate complaints about being done wrong, become “whining?” When rich white folks are wronged, they don’t mess around, they sic their lawyers on you and no one dares say, “aw just let it go, drop the suit and quit your whining.
Some folks even naively proclaim that we have transcended race. Almost as frightening, is the fact that more and more, black folks mouth this foolishness – especially since the rise of Barack Obama.

“Some folks even naively proclaim that we have transcended race
Several years ago comedian Chris Rock popularized the idea that, there were two kinds of black folks: “niggers” and the rest of us. I knew it was going to come back to haunt us. I was having an intelligent conversation with a white person about why some of our people struggle more than others and he sent me a copy of Chris Rock’s joke. I was reading someone’s introduction of themselves on an internet site and they said they “love black people but hate niggers.” Enough said! The obvious problem is that so many white folks hate us and limit our progress at every opportunity, and don’t really bother to distinguish which one is the “nigger” and which one is the “nigga.”

It still is true that a house divided against itself, can not stand. Today you may be patted on the back for being a good “one” (Negro) and tomorrow you may have to go, just because you are “one.” (Negro). I don’t know who sounded the retreat, but if we keep backing up and failing to stand up to these attacks, it will become even more difficult than it already is for us to go forward.

Mel Reeves is an activist based in Miami. He can be contacted at


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