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White, Male Pastor Responds to @GOPBlackChick

Before today, I had never heard of Crystal Wright. That was until the Christian Post published an op-ed by her, entitled Unlike Dr. King, Obama is Not Black.

In case you are wondering, no, I'm not kidding.

The title of the article is what drew me in – which was the point. The article doesn't really live up to the über-inflammatory title, though it does go off the deep-end.

It is, of course, what you'd expect from a conservative person who has decided anything from this president must be – in the words of Kathy Bates in The Waterboy – “ub da debil.” However, more specifically, Wright takes aim at the themes of race and how the POTUS has “used” and/or responded to them. As you'd expect, there is nothing positive to be found.

Essentially, her editorial remarks come down to this:

Sadly, dignity is far removed from discussions on race today. After a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin in cold blood, Obama blamed Martin's death on racial profiling…[r]ather than acknowledging black men are committing most of the killing in America, Obama continues to feed blacks the lies they want to hear to keep the support of his most loyal, blind constituents. After all when it comes to Obama and blacks, it's about the color of his skin not the content of his character.

Not only are these things inflammatory, almost none of them are true.

First, the only real conclusions that can be drawn from the verdict on Zimmerman is that Florida's gun laws are far too lax and George Zimmerman ignored police advice and followed an innocent, black teenager in the middle of the night. Oh, and there's some pretty damning tape of George Zimmerman's thoughts about how “they always get away.”

Second, Wright chooses to ignore the actual things POTUS has said on race, or what he's said when addressing the issues within the black community. Though this is a quote from yesterday's speech, it is indicative of the way Mr. Obama has addressed black Americans during his presidency (note the dignity in this particular quote):

 

 

Rather than placating blacks with reasons they should remain in a constant state of victimhood, the above quote speaks to the opposite effect.

In addition to that:

 
Again, rather than calling blacks to continued victimhood or to be permanent wards of the state, the implication is that one must actually do something in order to change their circumstances.

As I've said in previous social media engagements, the clever misuse of facts can make anybody's case – and that's what we're dealing with here.

Unfortunately, the issue of race – especially since the passage of the '64 CRA – has gotten more complicated. That is, finding broad swaths of racists or racism is difficult to do nowadays. As I told someone on Facebook yesterday, “It doesn't look like racism because it's done from afar and is based loosely on facts.”

Certainly, strides have been made on the issue of race. However, that does not mean racism has ended – nor does it mean that it doesn't still need to be identified and weeded out of the shadows.

Racists have become a savvy lot. The shining example remains when Regan identified “welfare queens in Cadillacs,” but code words and misused and misunderstood statistics have become the weapon of the racially biased.

What Wright does in her piece is to apply the GOP formula of “everything about Obama is bad,” and add in the digs on race. She added nothing new to the discussion, and nothing that we didn't hear from any number of black conservatives on August 28th, 2013 – disappointingly, I might add.

My belief isn't that you can't be black and conservative, but that you can't talk about events and twist them in a way that meets your ideological needs. This is the problem with Wright's article.

Now, I'm a white guy. I'm also a pastor. I'm a white, male pastor. Why do I choose to blog about this?

Having been a history major at Ball State University – and having taken classes specifically on the black experience in America – it has become far too easy to see when people are choosing to gloss-over the more painful and disgusting portions of our history.

Glenn Beck and his lackey, David Barton, are the best at it.

The trick is to appropriate all the “pick myself up by my bootstraps” and “rugged individualism,” while dismissing and ignoring important facts about the poor and marginalized. Unless it speaks to American Exceptionalism – which has become a dangerous and idolatrous religion for too many people – it has no place in our history, nor does it belong in our collective conscious, according to people like Beck and Barton.

Race is still a problem in this country. Not only in this country, but it still exists here. As a product of my faith, I believe it is the job of people like me – and people who are unlike me – to persist in the march for social justice.

I don't care if that phrase has come into disrepute in certain circles, I will always believe in the importance of social justice. The issue of race is still in need of attention, even when it comes to social justice.

Someone left me a wonderful and beautiful comment on Facebook yesterday. It is written by a friend and colleague in ministry. I treasure it. I wanted to share it with you, because it speaks in direct opposition to the unwise and misguided words of the aforementioned CP contributor:

Chris, I have appreciated your posts and support in regards to racism, (particularly towards black people) since we've become fb friends. I continue to appreciate it. It is so healing to have racism not only acknowledged (named) by a white person, but, understood (so to speak). The fact that you have educated yourself about the history of racism in this country speaks volumes during a time when everyone is suddenly, “color blind” and “so over it.” I pray that those who read your posts will understand, as you seem to, the deep wounds that racism has caused us as a people, and more, to the human race and that it will help some of us to work more closely and purposefully towards healing them. God bless you my friend and brother.

The wounds of racism are still real and raw for many. In part, that is the reality because racism is still alive and well in our country – despite people's desire to deny it.

The good news is you don't have to agree that something exists for it to actually exist (lucky for us Christians, huh?), so Wright's article isn't all that big a deal. However, in the wake of #MLKDream50, let's not faulter in continuing to seek out the dream.

We've made some strides, but let's not mistake that for a job well done.

 

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