I listened intently to Sen. Obama's speech this morning. And it was a great speech. He emerged from behind the curtain, a "whole man," as my grandmother used to say, finally expressing what I believe were HIS complete views on race.
He stood up like that whole man and SAID, "I cannot disown this man...." though he's, in his words, "already condemned in unequivocal terms the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy and in some cases, pain." (Okay, he's still got some truth to face!) He stood up like that whole man and SAID, "Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American foreign and domestic policy? Of course." "Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes." "Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely, just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you've strongly disagreed." (Okay, he could have left that last part off, no need to qualify his disagreement by pairing it with that of others.). My point is - at least he stood up for a change.
That one paragraph above was all I expected from this Black man running for president confronted with a media-fueled firestorm such as this. And had I heard it when he wrote On My Faith and My Church." for The Huffington Post, my expectations would have been met. But he did the knee-jerk thing - first (no doubt on the advice of those "handlers" of his), denouncing the words of his mentor and denying he ever even heard him say anything like that.
That didn't sit well with me at all for a couple reasons. First of all, anybody with a few firing brain cells could figure out he'd lied about never hearing Rev. Wright's statements over the 20+ years he's sat in that church. And secondly, but most important for me, "denouncing" and distancing himself from somebody who'd had his back far longer than those "alleged kingmakers" he calls advisors for the sake of making history was unconscionable to me. It had me thinking, "Shit, if he'll do that to his mentor, what about me?"
And what do I think now? The jury's still out on that one, mainly because he was "forced" to do the right thing. I know, I know - he did the right thing regarding his pastor! But would he have? He's been campaigning for a little over a year and it sure didn't look like he would have.
If this had not become an issue, would he have continued his "change-train" without ever addressing the fundamental issue driving the inequity in this country? Was he planning to be the "undercover brotha," stealthily pulling the elephant out of the corner after he'd gotten the nomination, the seat? And if that was the plan, that ain't too cool either because plenty white folks would have felt bamboozled for sure - and rightfully so. I don't care how much they protest, many of them would not have been supporting him so vociferously had he come out at the bell with this speech. What happened to John Edwards is evidence of that.
I can't say for sure how this will all play out or how I will respond in November (I'm a "hold the feet to the fire kind of girl"). But this much I know is true, he has done today what needed to be done as a Black man running for president in my book - he stood up. Granted it was grudgingly, but he stood up. This speech allows him to really become the agent of "Change We Can Believe In." I hope he is being honest. And if he isn't? Well, at least he's raised the bar - a little, making race a topic his opponents will have to address.
Oh, and Rev. Wright, you can safely roll on out from under that bus now.