Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Reverend Joseph Lowery and “Change”

Many point to President Obama's inauguration yesterday as a new point in race relations. If a Black man can achieve the most powerful position in the free world, then there is nothing a member of a minority group can't do if they are willing to work for it. This is what everyone wants, a day when people aren't judged by the color of their skin, but by their words and actions. I believe most Americans of all backgrounds are already like this. I believe most Americans want to send their kids to good schools, they want to work an honest job, and get paid a decent salary. Most Americans don't really care about the color of another person's skin.

Apparently that isn't the case in today's Democratic Party, and one has to question what President Obama's own beliefs are. Rev. Joseph Lowery ended his benediction at the Presidents inauguration with these words:

"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around…when yellow will be mellow…when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen. Say Amen"

That paragraph is full of racist remarks. If you think I have taken the comments out of context, here is a full transcript of his remarks. Rev. Lowery is asking "brown" people to stick around, "yellow" people to become mellow, and "white" people to embrace what is right. If similar remarks were said by a white minister (or a white Republican minister) and directed at minorities, it would be wrong and it would be racist. The media would crucify a white minister for saying that. Rev. Lowery should be ashamed of saying that yesterday, and President Obama should be offended that Rev. Lowery would pick the Presidential Inauguration to say these things.

I am also offended that the media has chosen not to cover this story. There are a few stories simply reporting what he said. There seems to be no criticism of his remarks in the mainstream media. Over the last 24 hours, the only comments I can find on the story are from Rush Limbaugh and Michelle Malkin.

If you think I am blowing this out of proportion, let me paint a different picture in your mind. Pastor Rick Warren gave opening remarks yesterday. What do you think would have happened if he ended his remarks by saying that the election of Barack Obama to President meant that it was finally time for "blacks to do the right thing"?


pack04 said...

I would like to think that it is not getting press because Rev. Lowery is irrelevant (not a good word but sort of) now that nobody paid him attention. Or that Tuesday was such a huge, pro-American, proud to be an American, kind of day that people are not wanting to ruin it with a controversy. I would like to think those things but I think it just goes to prove a double standard in this country. If Pastor Warren had said something all hell would have broken loose. Look what happened to Michael Richards or Mel Gibson, but look what Chris Rock gets away with.
If you ignore the white/black issue and just look at terms he uses. REDMAN to describe native americans!?!? there should at least be a demand for a bs apology. Hell we wanted FSU to change their mascot name and the word Seminole is not even a bad word, it was a group of people!
I think this just goes to show that most people in the country do not feel that a minority can be racist or derogatory.

I, however, do not agree with you assessment that today's Democratic Party, or even President Obama's beliefs are in question because of what Rev. Lowery said. If that is the case, how do you explain Pastor Warren part in the ceremony? Or even Justice Roberts. I know they did not say anything bad but just them being there gives some legitimacy to their points of view.

saint said...

In a way, I'm happy it's not getting covered. I too think Rick Warren would have be crucified. However, amaybe the only way for the country to truly move on is to ignore people like this. I would say call them out, but that would give them attention. Kind of like the boy who cried wolf.

pack - I would like to comment that Cheif Justice John Robets had to be there. My politics could be wrong, but I think he is required to do the swearing in.

BunGirl said...

Ah, good. So I wasn't the only one who *didn't* cheer at that particular part of his benediction. Amazing what you can get away with as long as you're not white.

Christina said...

Actually, I stopped by to see if there were any posts here about the Guantanamo Bay closing...but now that I'm reading this, I have to admit that when the Reverend first began speaking those rhyming words, I did feel a little shocked, but I pushed it down b/c, as pack04 said, it was such an all-American kind of day...and I think the rhyme effect made it seem light-hearted, hopeful, harmless.

Didn't seem worth dwelling on, to me...

Andy D said...

As far as Rick Warren, Obama, and Justice Roberts also being there, the news only reported that Lowery's comments got a laugh out of Obama, and not the others.

I think it is worth dwelling on because there are people like this that demand equal treatment by others, but aren't willing to give other people the same equality simply because of the color of their skin. If Rick Warren had said it, I would have criticized him. Lowery said it, so I am not going to let him get away without being called on it.

The media continues to ignore it...

pack04 said...

As a point for saint I believe there is no requirement that the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court do the oath of office. Any person that is legally able to accept an oath can give it. So a public notary could. As far as tradition, it is generally the Chief Justice. However, Coolidge had his father swear him in.

the anonymous guy said...

When an African-American pastor who

-has worked for civil rights for all people for his entire life
-was harassed by the KKK as a young man
-had his house and property illegally seized by the state of Alabama
-was beaten and imprisoned by white police officers multiple times for marching for civil rights

suggests in good (ok maybe awkward) humor that "white embrace what is right," then you pretty much know that he's just flat-out racist.

America has no place for that kind of hate speech. White should embrace *wrong* and be proud of it.

Andy D said...

So Anon, your thinking goes like this: Because Joseph Lowery was once the victim of racism, it is ok for him to now be a racist?

That doesn't sound like a good idea.

the anonymous guy said...

You're not reading my comments, bro.

I've seen nothing that suggests Lowery is a racist.

But we may be using different definitions of "racist":

The definitions for racism I work with come from people who work to protect the rights of those ethnic minorities who in general have relatively little political and economic power.

I wonder if you are using definitions developed by people who work to protect the rights of those ethnic majorities who have relatively greater political and economic power.

pack04 said...

No matter what definition of racist or racism you use is it NEVER okay to use terms such as red man or yellow.

Crack on whitey all you want, I hope it does something more than continue the hate and resentment between whites and blacks, because I understand what happened and in some instances still happens today. In his statement, by your explanation, he you used the actions of a few, the KKK or the State of Alabama, to pass judgment on a whole group of people. I have been told my whole life and firmly believe that that is wrong.

By your explanation it is okay for a white man who gets a crime committed against him by a black person to say "n word are all crooks!" I am sorry but I don't find that statement okay, nor do I find Rev. Lowery's statement okay.

2 final things:
1) can somebody please tell me how an Asian (yellow) has to mellow!?!?

2) When Rev. Lowery was 3 years old was he working "for civil rights for all people?" If not then you cannot say he did so "for his entire life." Perhaps most of his life would be a better choice.

the anonymous guy said...

pack04 writes: "it is NEVER okay to use terms such as red man or yellow."

"Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world."

Oh noooooooo!

My Sunday School teachers were all racists!

You guys are rocking my world!

pack04 said...

You are correct. I should not have used the word "never." Most of the time would have been more correct.
Of course from your explanation of Rev. Lowery's comments, he was a victim of racism so he can use those words, I assumed that he and you both meant them as racist terms and not in the sense that they were used in that children Christian song.

Andy D said...

So anon, in your view someone who is white can never be the victim of racism?

the anonymous guy said...

You know, Andy, if you want to publish a post about your definition of racism and how you'd like to see us as a nation address it, that might be an interesting discussion.

But you wrote this post because you wanted people to get outraged about the role of race in Obama's inauguration. I'm not going there. The inauguration was classy, diverse, patriotic, smart, and respectful. And, of course, imperfect.

I've already written comments here in a tone that's too caustic. I'm going to take our new prez's lead and put my energy into respectful discussions that go beyond old arguments. Others on here adopted that course faster than I did.

Ya dig?

Andy D said...

I really didn't write this post because I wanted people outraged at the role of race in Obama's inauguration. I wanted people to be upset with Lowery's comments specifically, and I wanted to point out that we should be critical of racism regardless of its source. I mentioned Obama's reaction in my original post because I didn't think he had the correct response for a "post-racial candidate". But my it was never my intention to make this post, or the discussion, primarily about him.

pack04 said...

I really could care less about race at the inauguration. I thought too much was made of it. He is just another guy. You probably don't believe that but it is true. I disagree with his theory on things but I could be for him if he can get people to believe in America again.

I think in a indirect way Andy was pointing out how our nation would address racism.

I would like to see our nation address all racist comments the same way regardless of the color of somebodies skin color. That was after all the Dream of MLK, that a person not be judged by the color of their skin. Andy was just pointing out that a man with a dark color skin can say whatever.

the anonymous guy said...

Pack says he wants to get beyond looking at the color of someone's skin and then reminds us that a man with a dark color skin can say whatever.

I agree. We need to stop judging people by skin color, and women with brown skin keep stealing stuff out of my hotel room.

C'mon Pack.