Wrong on Wright?

Letters to the Boston editor, April 25, 2008
By BOSTON PHOENIX LETTERS  |  April 23, 2008

I’m so sick of people in general, and reporters in particular, who make assumptions about something based on hearsay.

Everybody who has seen the clips of Reverend Wright has assumed that his words were purely condemnations of the United States, and no one has stopped to consider that perhaps those clips were taken out of context. Such an oversight in regard to Reverend Wright is particularly foolish because it was Fox News that dug up the clips. So-called liberals are unquestioningly taking the word of the most radically right-wing news agency in the country! No wonder Democrats have failed to win the White House for so many sorry years.

Perhaps Steven Stark should view the sermons in their entirety before making judgments about what Wright meant. When Wright said, in reference to 9/11, that “America’s chickens are coming home to roost,” for instance, he was quoting a (white) American ambassador who was also speaking of 9/11.

Wright did not at any time suggest that the people who died on 9/11 somehow deserved their fiery deaths as just retribution for the sins of America. Rather, he was exhorting his congregation, and by implication the American public and our duly elected government, not to attack innocents out of hatred for the perpetrators of that act.

As for Wright’s statement “God damn America,” the reverend was referring angrily to institutionalized racism in the United States. Any reasonably intelligent person should be able to see that present-day America is not color blind. One need only look at criminal-justice statistics for proof (though racism is not restricted to arrests, conviction rates, and jail time). Just because the situation today is better for minorities than it was before the Civil War and before the civil-rights movement doesn’t mean that the current system is fair and just, or even legal.

The anger of minorities is valid and justified. To be honest, I’m surprised that they’re not angrier than they are. We deserve worse for resting on the accomplishments of generations past, and not doing more to make our country what it claims to be: a place of “liberty and justice for all.”

Nikki Jordan
Cambridge

Mr. Stark is incapable of understanding the answer to the question he poses. Obama was told by America that he was black. He didn’t get to make that choice. America made it for him.

While I have no doubt that Obama’s white family members loved him very much, they were incapable of teaching him what it meant to be black in America. Think about it. Where did he go as soon as he graduated from Columbia? Straight to the south side of Chicago to work as a community organizer, where he worked with large numbers of African-Americans who also saw him as an outsider. While we pigeonhole Reverend Wright into some crazed caricature — which of course, we’d never do to the likes of Jerry Falwell, because, well, he’s white — Obama saw through the resentment and suspicion that Wright still holds.

As historically illiterate as we are, perhaps now would be a good time to remember that Wright served his nation as a Marine, attended seminary, and returned to a Chicago, where black leaders like Fred Hampton were assassinated in their beds by COINTELPRO and the Chicago Police Department.

Vivek Jha
Shrewsbury

Editor’s note
In our piece on the Independent Film Festival of Boston, we misidentified the actress in the role of Marilyn Monroe in the Harmony Korine film Mister Lonely. The part is played by Samantha Morton, not Emily Mortimer. Also in that issue, we garbled the name of the winner of our Reader’ Picks poll for Best Place for Yoga. We correctly identified Newton’s Power Prana Yoga in our index, but muffed the name in our special supplement. We regret the errors.

  Topics: Letters , Special Interest Groups, African-American Issues, Racial Issues,  More more >
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