Barack Obama & Jeremiah Wright

Probably one of the most apparent and unquestioned problems regarding the backlash of Jeremiah Wright's sermon excerpts and Obama's response is the equivocation on the terms - "American" or "patriotic." More specifically, Wright and even Michelle Obama have been called anti-American and unpatriotic. Yesterday in Obama's exclusive ABC News post-race speech interview with Terry Moran, he was asked, "Do you consider yourself a black man or an American first?" Obama responded, "An American, absolutely," with no qualifications or corrections. But that is what's problematic. The problem turns on the misguided question itself because it unnecessarily bifurcates "American" and "Black" when in fact one entails the other. For a Black person who is an American citizen, being an American does not mean one should choose between two mutually exclusively options as if they are at odds. In other words, to be American is to be Black.

Historically, Blacks have held and upheld democratic values more than Whites because in the face of the worse evil, including racism on American soil, Blacks (e.g., slaves, civil rights activists, etc), by and large, did not retaliate with more hatred, but overwhelming and unimaginable love. In fact, Blacks treated Whites according to founding American democratic values of human dignity and worth because Blacks truly did believe that "all men (and women!) are created equal," even White people. If this is part and parcel of what it means to be American and patriotic, then perhaps, Americans ought to reconsider how "black" their American values are.

Moreover, it should be noted that America produced Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X because America lacked the humane courage to come to terms with the evil in its midst vis-ŗ-vis Jim and Jane Crow, segregation and other forms of racial inequalities. If America had the humane courage early in its history, we would have had no need for the prophetic consciousness of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Malcolm X. With such a tragic failure of moral maturity, America could not become a place for full human flourishing when life in America was largely predicated upon the non-person status of Blacks. And this predication presupposed that God's diverse image upon humanity stopped woefully short of Black humanity.

In contextualizing the "black anger" stigma that has come to characterize Wright and so many other Black persons, it is paramount to see "black anger" as a sometimes unconscious theological response - a response that signifies this is not the way it's suppose to be; this is not how God intended for all of us to be truly human in his world that has gone astray. So when you see an angry Black person, they are in many ways expressing their human sensibilities in frustration with evil (e.g., slavery, Jim and Jane Crow, segregation, racial injustice and inequalities) in creation/world. Given that context, it is worth mentioning that White brothers and sisters cannot be truly human without the socratic voices and lives of Blacks that have continued to urge Whites toward their full humanity in the equitable treatment of people of color in general and Blacks in particular within America. Therefore, we all need one another because God created every people group to live interdependently in order to achieve our full purpose in life - American life.

Co-Founder Xavier Pickett