May 8, 2008

Senator Obama: A White Black Discussion Taken from the Faith In Action: Heber Brown Blog!

A dialogue between black and white regarding 'the campaign'!

May 5th, 2008 at 9:11 pm
Emily and Common Sense,
I will be checking in for a few days or so in the future to see whether either of you respond. I would encourage Common Sense then to remember the scriptures: Man looks on the outward appearance, God looks at the heart!
I suspect that all of us would do better, if we were to look at persons heart!Peace & grace
# 16 Emily Says: May 5th, 2008 at 10:13 pm
Hi Rev. Solomon:
As you know, I am an ardent Obama supporter so you know where I come from. Personally I wouldn’t want Obama elected if he weren’t someone who I believed could be transformational for our country, and the world. I believe he would be a role-model not just because he is black but because of who he is– his character. I think he is wise. I watch how he has run his campaign, how he has mobilized and empowered everyday folks to get involved in his campaign. He has raised all campaign money from the grassroots because he does not believe that he should be accountable to corporate lobbyists but to ordinary citizens. I look at his experiences working as a community organizer in Chicago- that speaks to me to his commitment to the poor and dis-empowered of all colors. As far as civil rights issues go- I know he was a civil rights lawyer and also led massive voter registration drives. As a state legislator he helped tackle issues such as reforming capital punishment, and helped pass one of the first racial profiling laws. He also helped expand Illinois earned income credit program. Those are just a few of the things I admire about him.
Nobody is perfect — but in my personal opinion he has an immense amount of integrity, something the Clinton’s for all their skills and strengths, do not.
I also whole heartedly agree with you that we do need to look at a person’s heart– and I see God’s shining through Senator Obama. No doubt- he will end up disappointing some should he be elected. That is inevitable, but I have no doubt he will be a great leader. God bless you, and thank you for the opportunity to have a dialogue.
# 17 Common Sense Says: May 6th, 2008 at 7:38 am
@Rev. Solomon
I first must find my ” Common Sense” that you said I don’t have any before I respond later, but I must say that you put a smile on my face with that line. When I get home from work I will dialog on this issue. Have a great day.
# 18 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 6th, 2008 at 11:41 am
Hi Emily and Common Sense,
I am pleased to know that we will continue our discourse on the secondary issue that you raised, the benefit of having black American role models.There have been many of them, and Obama is certainly an excellent role model, I would not for a minute try to take that away from him. Let it be said that I am neither a foe nor a venal critic of the Senator, I nothing but profound praise for him and the accomplishments that he has made. I lived in Chicago for a year myself, Chi-town can be a tough place, politically and otherwise!
Now as Eddie Murphy once quipped in one of his comedic routines, I also grew up in a predominately black family. And to add to that, I grew up in black America, and having said that, none of what I have written disqualifies you from taking on a social engineering role with respect to the black community. Many white Americans have been unequivocal supportive of the black struggle throughout our embattled history in America - some of our people overlook what the John Brown, Quakers and others have done!
One of the challenges that we face in our community happens to be, when anyone speaks outside of ‘the proverbial Americanized black box’, some blacks view you as being an Uncle Tom, or as Common Sense put it: Your love of the white man shines brightly through in your posts. Derrick Bell, a black author wrote in Faces At The Bottom of the Well, that if you keep doing what you’ve been doing, you will keep getting what you have been getting! He is not the originator of the quote, however, he used it in a timely fashion. We are not a monolithic community!
Black Americans obviously have suffered a lot at the hands of some white Americans, throughout the course of our history in America. The desire of the black community to experience black leadership, which we equate with axiomatic justice, at times results in the suspension of logic, reason, critical thinking or a thorough examination of would be black leaders, pastors, preachers and friends - many of whom have done more damage to us than anyone else.
The Wright Reverend has not done any damage to us, unless we consider the Prophet Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses and Jesus’ comments to Israel, were damaging. The latter, including Paul, spoke the truth to their incumbent nation.
It is a part of our black pathology and pathos, given the mistreatment that blacks have received at the hands of some whites, to believe that the solution to our problem is simply to have something or someone who happens to be black! We completely overlook the fact that blacks captured and sold our ancestors into slavery, or that other blacks exploit, rob, rape, steal from us and betray us as well! Consider Rev. Jackson’s comments about hearing footsteps approaching you as you stroll down the street, and the relief you feel when you look around and discover that it is not a black person. Consider the late Rosa Parks, it was not a white man in her neighborhood who violated her! Blacks can be exploitative as some whites can be!
Black Americans, will turn their backs on whites who have historically shown fidelity and loyalty to them, at the drop of a hat! That kind of behavior is indicative of very deep pathology!
My housemate is a black ardent Obama supporter, and like too many blacks, all that he really knows about Obama is that he is black and therefore the right man for the job. In using presidents Mandela and Mbeki of South Africa as examples, my aim was to show that the color of ones skin, does not portend instant progress or success, or qualify one to act in a leadership role.
Both gentleman are black, and I suspect that their hearts were in the right places, however, there were other structural barriers in place in South Africa, just as there are in America. Both black South Africans, and black Americans have overlooked the other factors that will come into play. I suspect that if Senator Obama prevails, Americans like common sense, will be calling Senator Obama an Uncle Tom right about February 2009, one mother after he is in office. To the Zulus, Chief Butheleizi was considered a great role model, to other black South Africans he was not!
I have been encouraging blacks to engage in critical thinking with respect to the Senator, and to consider more than the color of his skin as ‘a variant to determine whether he is capable of leading this nation or not. Senator Obama remains my default candidate behind Senator Clinton, simply because I feel that she is more suited to step in and to do what needs to be done, and because Senator McCain is apparently less equipped to lead than either of the two Democratic frontrunners.
I also feel that, in addition to her worldwide contacts, she will make an excellent role model for all Americans for that matter, and her election will obliterate sexism in the Oval Office by opening the door to future female candidates. The world is out of balance, because of historical world-wide oppression of females.
Hillary has shown what it means to withstand diversity. This is not meant to be a criticism of Senator Obama, however, upon closer examination and up under the specter and the test by fire, all he has done so far is to capitulate, and to distance himself from whatever has been toxic (from the perspective of the dominant culture).
Hillary remained with the toxic factor in her life, and has demonstrated her mettle and toughness, Obama capitulates. The whole world, not just Americans are vested in this American election. The whole world needs someone who can stand up to the spirit of white supremacy and hegemony (does not include all whites) in America. So far, Obama has proved that he cannot stand up to it.
Again, he has distanced himself from the Civil Rights Movement, Minister Farrakhan, his wife’s heartfelt comments, his own beliefs about gun-toter’s, his pastor, his church and now his faith! I believe in a fair and balanced examination of a person - I see his strengths, however, I also see his glaring weakness.
Black youth would benefit more, in my opinion, from a role model that can stand up in the face of adversity and speak truth to power, whether they get elected or not. Dr. King did, Rev. Jackson, Minister Farrakhan and many others have done it — I wish that Obama would follow suit! Why will I still vote for Obama as my default candidate, other than Hillary, he is better than the alternative!
Common Sense, at the ouset most black ministers were equally damning of Dr. Martin Luther King, however, over within a half-century later he received a Nobel Peace Prize, a national holiday, and his own place on the mall. Evolve, common sense, I am not the enemy!
# 19 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 6th, 2008 at 2:03 pm
Obama has not even faced his real opposition yet, the Republicans are chomping at the bit to get at him. And what has he done on every turn so far? He has capitulated, being unable to get the opposition to give up an inch of ground. Ergo, what can he possibly win for the masses?
I ask, how can we expect him to do any better, given that he has run with the footmen and lost. What will he do when the calvary comes to town?
I must tell you later about my first visit to speak in Washington and visit Parren Mitchell’s office, former head of the Congressional black caucus…
I also must tell you about why Bill Gray, Mfume and others left Congress…
And why Maxine Watters and Bobby Rush complain often that we can’t get anything done in Washington…, I was there and planned to run for congress myself….
# 20 Common Sense Says: May 6th, 2008 at 7:11 pm
@ Rev. Solomon,
In your very intelligent discources that you have so eloquently posted, I still get a tinge of your love for the white man. You don’t say anything about the various injustices done to the black race by whites, but you are quick and accurate to point out shortcomings or untoward behavior by blacks. Where is the balance??
Mr. Obama could not have gotten this far in this campaign by relying solely on the black vote. Most of the criticism of him comes when he won’t allow himself to be pigeon-holed as the black candidate(or back down from a position as you say). We’ve had that before(Jesse and Al and Ms. Fulani). Obama is smart enough(or i’m pretty sure in your eyes some white man told him) to know that a BROAD BASED campaign, white, black, latino, women and men would be vital for a serious run on the white house.
All races have good and bad elements as you well know but I will always stick with my own and try to find the root causes of our problems and will try and lift up people who look like me before condeming them. And for the record, I do not find rogue law-enforcement(no matter what color), pimps or drug dealers fashionable.
The Right Reverend reminds me alot of Elijah Poole and his jealousy of Malcolm X. Even as Malcolm ascended in popularity, he always held Mr. Poole up. And what was his reward? Envy and jealousy that ultimately led to the nation splitting as you well know. Apply that lesson to Obama and the Right Reverend.
Lastly, it is funny that you would mention Ms. Chisolm because I was a child when she made her run at the White House. It was her image that one, made me proud to be black, and secondly got me interested in politics. A black queenly image. Just as I used to work as a child for Victorine Adams and people in her district and all I knew is that they were running for office. The way they carried themselves, the respect they showed us as kids(plus 5.00 was a lot back then) and the example that they showed us is emmbedded in me forever. Just as admant as you are about the goodness of white folk, I’ll debate you to the end about the goodness of being black.
# 21 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 7th, 2008 at 12:16 am
Common sense, do you recall Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington?
A black friend of mine, from DC, called to consult with me about a year ago. Why? She was concerned that her African-American teenage son had a proclivity for white girls, I reminded her of Dr. King’s speech, with respect to a color blind society, and his dream of a time that would come when people would be judged by the content of their character and not their skin color.
Ironically, I attended an affair at Stanford a few months ago that was sponsored by a former colleague, Professor Clay Carson, editor of the King Papers and the MLK encyclopedia. Clarence Jones, Dr. King’s former speech-writer and attorney was present. It was the first time that I had the pleasure of meeting him. There were other prominent former civil rights leaders present from all over the nation.
You wouldn’t have cared for that audience, because all of the brotha’s, including Clarence Jones were married to white women. The majority of Dr. Carson’s staffmembers who were working on the King Papers, were white. However, I ask you again, what is it that the member of the civil rights movement fought for?
Someone sitting in that audience might have concluded that the civil rights movements sole basis was to eventually change the racial climate in America, so that black men could be with white women. If we are going to be a truly color blind society, black Americans are going to have to get over what they accuse whites of being, race conscious. Have you forgotten that Dr. MLK dated a white woman, and proposed marriage to her, however, daddy King and the family forbade it? Judge Thomas, who is he married to? Should he stop loving her because she is white?
We can never overlook the contribution of white Americans to the black cause and to the cause of social justice for all people. Many of them were ostracized, tortured and murdered as a result of supporting our freedoms. To wit, my uncle in the early 1920’s was captured in Mississippi, hung up in a tree, as whites shot 56 holes in his body. Should I be angry with all whites because of what a group of knuckleheads did to my uncle?
Ironically, you don’t seem to have a problem accepting the white people who accept and support Senator Obama - is it okay to use them in order to get what you want? BTW, if some white Americans who are supporting Senator Obama’s campaign read your threads, they would see you as more of a Reverend Wright figure than me. Think about that!
My last comment I think: Once a month all of the male black staff and faculty members at Stanford met in what we called the Amen Corner. We discussed black issues. I raised their ire as well when I explained that we cannot on one hand criticize white Americans for certain misbehaviors, if we are so willing to repeat the same behaviors.
I explained that as leaders at Stanford, we should fight for social justice for every person, student, staff or faculty, regardless of the color of their skin.
Think about it common sense, you have feelings of racial animus, I transcended that years ago! Get angry with injustice, instead of racial groups!
Sorry for the length, however, the other thing that concerns me about Senator Obama, given his current retrenchment campaign, has to do with all of the people in the ROW who are looking for someone in the USA to stop American injustice around the world. Congresswoman Barbara Lee said it best at one of our CBC Legislative Conference meetings in DC a few years back, i.e., we need to stop talking about racism, and call it what is, ‘white supremacy’!
White Supremacy is the cause of the pain and suffering of nations like Iraq, Iran, Cuba, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Pakistan…, and much of the continent of Africa…! Obama has not shown that he has the strength, willingness or ability to stand up to the spirit of white supremacy; and having said that the majority of white people are not white supremacists.
Do you recall what happened when El Hajj Mailk El Shabazz visited Mecca for the first time, he returned to America with a whole new outlook, just before forming OAAU?
My objective is to undo what racist white Americans have done to the world, and to support a genre of leaders (regardless of color) who have the ability, willingness and capacity to lead the fight. John Brown died for us!
I will not repeat the behavior of whites and some blacks and become a racist myself. A black woman asked me once, aren’t you married to a white woman? I asked, why would you ask me that? She replied, men like you who are articulate, professional (and handsome- I added that comment) typically abandon the race and turn to white women!
We’ve got to get past our own sickness; again it points to a deeper pathology that is all too common in the white as well as the black community!
If we’re not careful like many in the bible: Miriam and Aaron, Jeremiah (Can the Ethipian change his skin?), Peter (who didn’t eat unclean things or deal with certain racial groups), are a few example that came to mind!
# 22 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 7th, 2008 at 12:35 am
I trust that Reverend Brown will tolerate my loquaciousness.
However, you have put a lot on my mind to. The first time I visited Mt. Vernon, home of our first President in Virginia, I was stunned. The first stop on the tour was the slave quarters. I asked the docent, as we continued the walking tour, having stopped in the rear of the plantation at a spot where approximately 96 black slaves are buried - how many whites lived on this plantation at any given time.
He knew where I was going, given that over 350 slaves supported that planation at one time or another. He dropped his head and said, customarily 4 to 8. The famous defense attorney who was a frequent visitor at the OJ Simpson’s trial, his words come to mind. Atty. Spence said, some blacks do not have the same perception of the 1st President as his fellow whites had.
I smiled when I read Jerry’s comments in his book, given that my perceptionof the 1st President from that day until now is that he was nothng more than ‘a pimp’!
Every single person that I shared my perception with, white or black was shocked by my adroitness. I asked, what would you call a black person who exploited 350 people in order to get everything that he wanted, tailor-made clothing from England, food, shelter…?
Frankly, I am very aware that white leaders, from presidents, supreme court justices, governors, sheriffs, attorneys, pastors, teachers…, were in fact land-grabbers (native American land), rapists (of black women and girls), murderers, home-wreckers…!
Some blacks responded to me, well, that was the way it was back then. My answer was no it was not, the majority of white people with consciences believed that the institution of slavery, and the mistreatment of blacks was wrong. Had George Washington been alive, contemporary with Abraham Lincoln, George Washington would have been the commander, move over Robert E. Lee, of the south!
To their point, that it was the way that things were then - it stayed that way as long as it did because not enough people stood up to fight for the strength of their convictions. In summary: Obama is not showing the strength to stand up and fight for justice, he continues to capitulate each time that he has had the opportunity to show his mettle, or strength of conviction.
His heart may be in the right place, however, the jury is still out with respect to whether he has the wisdom or strength that is sufficient to stand up to white backlash, or the result of 400 years of white supremacy!
# 23 Common Sense Says: May 7th, 2008 at 6:43 pm
@ Rev Solomon,
Once again your long posts seem to be devoted to the glory and goodness of whites and all that they have done to allow you to be able to breathe. I do not(and if you go back to the begining of this thread) overall take offense with white people. My offense was with your position, constantly, subliminaly praising whites. Thank god for John Brown, Colonel Sanders and all of the good white folk who vote for Obama. Half of them have a soul and know what their forefathers did was satanic.
Obama will not let a prideful retired minister define him. Point blank. End of story. The Right Rev. has done a lot of good, is very, very truthful, and has served his country. The best he can do now is sit down and shut up. He has done his job as a highly placed operative of the white supremacy movement(or Operation Stop That Nig At All Costs). He will be compensated for his valiant efforts.
I know last night did not give you the closure that you hoped for with Obama holding serve and picking up more delegates. Miss Ann(Hillary) can certainly use your tenacity down on her farm when she loses. Feel free to use me as a reference because it seems that nobody has a lower opinion of black people than you do.
# 24 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 8th, 2008 at 12:22 pm
Common sense:
As I recall, Emily made a comment about the benefit of having black role models for our young people, and I responded. Your comment, that followed mine was, Your love of the white man shines brightly through in your posts.
One would not have to be Sherlock Holmes to recognize that you have an issue with white people (the whites who vote for Obama being a temporary exception). My comments have always been on point with respect to the point that Emily made. They were never about a referendum on white or black; to synopsize, my comments simply put were that we were not to repeat the mistakes of the past, and vote based on gender or skin color.You must learn that the world is neither white nor black, that is what the Civil Rights struggle was all about - no such thing as race - rather, it is all about humane humanity.
There are as many whites fighting to free Mumia, as there are blacks fighting to secure justice for him. You have obviously taken a position and you’re stuck there.
If the world was to listen and to buy into your animus or your truculent repartee, the world would likely remain divided along racial lines forever. Just because a black American scrutinizes the ability of a black man, does not mean that he hates blacks and has accepted, wholesale, what happens to be white.
I assure you that the Senator would expect that anyone voting for him (a bi-racial man) would be a critical thinker, and would have examined his qualifications and abilities, not just the color of his skin or the ethnic group(s) group from which he derived. Most of us blacks have white in us anyway!
You are voting for Obama, and clearly it could not have been lost on you or our audience that he is the product of a bi-racial marriage. He is part white common sense, that did not proclude you from voting for him. Which one was it that you preferred, his white side or his black side?
How come its okay for you to like both white and black in a voting context, yet you keep trying to insult me because I can accept white and black in every social context! So I ask again, where is your ‘common’ sense?
With regard to the Senator, I will scrutinize a black candidate with the same fervor and intensity that I will scrutinize a white, native American, Latino, Inuit, Polynesian or other candidates. I am a registered Independent Voter, having said that, Senator McCain seems to be a fairly nice man, and he has made some points that I agree with, however, I cannot think of any circumstances that I would vote for him, and in case you haven’t noticed, he’s white!
Of all of the Democrats who ran in the primaries, Senator Obama came in second on my list, not Richardson (Latino), Edwards of Kucinich (both white). You need to go and work on your own fixation and antipathy towards white people - you clearly have a very serious issue.
Your personal reductionism of whatever is filtered through your repository of white hatred, undoubtedly, ‘colors’ or ‘uncolors’ most subjects that you encounter. There are billions of whites on this planet who have not done a thing to black Americans, they don’t have issues with us. Many of them would not be able to understand why an angry Elder, lumps them in the pot with white racists past and present. And just as you would ask whites who have issues with black, why, some would in turn ask you the same question, why do you have issues with me?
Not to lecture you, but remember Christ’s ministry? Christ’s ministry had both a spiritual and a social dimension to it!
I’ve spent the majority of my adult life in the San Francisco Bay Area, outside of a 1-year stint in Chicago and 6-years in the District. In the multicultural and accepting of all ethnics in the Bay Area, in addition to learning how to live among pluralistic and disparate people, I also observed, anecdotally, why many of the communities of our counterparts, who have been here for a shorter period of time, Asian, Chicano, Latino, Portuguese, Russian… are so successful.
It just so happens that they pursue substance over superficiality, and that is what Mumia was speaking about during his radio broadcast. Placing an ethnic over a entrenched white supremacist system won’t matter a bit, it is the system that needs to be reconstructed, obviated or burned down as Minister Farrakahn said years ago. This nation almost made the shift from its current permutation, during the pre-Reagan Great Society period!
Ever read Jeremiah 1st chapter where God told him that he was being sent to root up, pluck, tear down, destroy and then build it all over again. I offended a group of religious folks, when I rehearsed this scripture with them down on ‘F’ Street in DC, at a Sunday morning meeting a few years ago.
If you would have visited San Jose California 20 years ago, the downtown area was falling apart. Southeast Asian refugees and boat people who, without any capital, settled in San Jose, and within a matter of years, turned the whole downtown into a bustling enterprise zone that it is today! You might not be able to read the marquees on the stores, however, those folks took care of business!
I met with many individuals who were neither white nor black in the Bay Area to determine how come they were successful, while many of our people kept plodding along, only to a part of America’s permanent underclass. You know what I learned and passed on to my people, they simply understood that politics were local. One of my African-Americans stopped speaking to me for 6-points, simply for pointing out how other ethnics had achieved where many of our people have failed.
From Japantown, to Korean Town to Southeast Asian and Cambodian town, these folks do not focus on state or national politics, they take care of business on a local level. Common sense, you must stop the blame game and realize that where we have failed to overcome is not because of the white man, we have failed because our politics are too narrowly focused, nationally! We must take care of business at home and in the neighborhood! We have the potential to solve our own problems regardless of who gets to go to Washington DC, white or black. As Chas Barkely once said, in fact we are the kid’s most important role-model!
As I explained to the brotha’s at SU, we are failing our own youngsters, and that the blame the white man game will not work with our savvy and keenly aware youngsters and grandchildren, they are already asking, but what did you do for us daddy, and why not? They will not want to hear about the blame game!
Did you happen to see the exchange between the young Yale Professor and (forgot her name) the CEO from Radio 1, and the three civil rights leaders at Tavis’, contract with America meeting a year ago! The young folks position, similar to Obama’s was, we’ve planted businesses, we’ve put people to work, and we’re marrying who we want regardless of color, and all that you keep doing is repeating your history, and after criticizing us you turn around and ask us for donations from the organizations that we have built, and that you are criticizing.
Their question was, what is it exactly that you people want (The Civil Rights Workers on stage had become ‘you people’?
And I spent all of this time with you and would like to ask the same question, what is that you really want? You need to figure that out! Jesus loved his Samaritans, you will have to learn to love yours and to get those demons out of your head!
P.S.Before your time, Sidney Poitier’s “Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner’, movie. Sidney, who was enaged to a white woman blasted his dad with respect to getting the weight of his dad’s, postal carrying -blue collar working father, generation off of his back. Sidney’s character had moved on, his father’s generation was stuck in the past. Ironically, the setting of that movie was in San Francisco! I’m older than you and I’ve moved on…, you’re younger than me and you are stuck in the past - how did that happen?
# 25 Rev. C. Solomon Says: May 8th, 2008 at 12:40 pm
Common Sense,
Ever hear of COINTELPRO…, many individuals believed that MLK, Shabazz, Toure, Rap Brown, Newton and others should have simply shut up. I’m so glad that they did not. Again I remind you, the man that Americans wanted to shut up, like Al Gore today, has won a Nobel Peace Prize. And, Dr. MLK has been honored nationally with a place on the national mall and a national holiday. Why? Both black and white Americans evolved!
And with respect to Ms. Ann’s loss (are you sure you’re a minister?), nothing has been lost, my default candidate if he were to prevail will fight with all of the ability that he has, not quite as much as she has right now, for the cause of social justice.
And if neither candidate prevails in the election cycle, it won’t matter, the rest of all will keep fighting at the grass roots level - all politics and social change occur at the local level.
You will be one of the ones that we will strive to convert from a narrowly focused racial dimension, to a much broader inclusive perspective, i.e., the cause of human freedom and justice within a just world, not just the USA!
And keep praying for our brotha’s and sistah’s in South Africa, having two black Presidents sofar has not benefitted the black majority, because the defacto Apartheid System has never been replaced!
For me, this discussion has been worth all of the time spent!
All credit goes to Reverend Heber Brown for initiating this discussion on this blog. He is , an excellent role model, minister, social activist, radio personality and social justice vicar, thank you for starting this dialogue. All Americans should get in on the discussion, and hopefully subscribe to the Faith In Action blog!!

Peace & Grace
Rev. C. Solomon

Addenda:: It does not matter who begins or controls the narrative, what matters is that we all engage in sound discourse and reasoning!

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