Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Racism at the Inauguration

The Reverend Joseph Lowery was the man who gave the Benediction at yesterday’s Inauguration. I haven’t seen his prayer get a lick of play in the various media outlets today, although I’m sure that the right wing talk shows will pick it up later today. His last comments in this prayer were – well – a tad racist in my opinion. I’m more than a little disturbed by this for a couple of reasons….first of all, President Obama’s people would have received an advanced copy of the text of Lowery’s prayer, yet they allowed it, and secondly, if a white minister had something half as divisive as Lowery at one of Bush’s inaugural ceremonies, the media outrage and the public outcry would have been incredible. Here’s the text of the last portion of Lowery’s prayer:

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 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.

“When white will embrace what is right”? Wow! The fact that the media is not addressing these comments; that the Obama handlers likely knew what was going to be said, and that the President himself hasn’t and won’t issue a statement on this is phenomenal to me. Frankly I view comments like this as the main reason that racism just won’t die in this country. Throughout the last several months we saw John McCain and his campaign bend over backwards to make sure that they didn’t attack Obama on anything that could be construed as being racially motivated…during the primary season, we saw the race card pulled out against (of all people) President Bill Clinton. And now, will all the warm fuzzies that the entire nation is supposed to be feeling about race….with all the high claims being made about the great gains we’ve made, the last thing we hear at President Obama’s Inauguration is comments that allude to how hard it is to be anything but white and how evil the white man is. Awesome.

The incredible part is that moments before the statements above, Lowery says the following:

We thank you for the empowering of thy servant, our 44th president, to inspire our nation to believe that, yes, we can work together to achieve a more perfect union. And while we have sown the seeds of greed -- the wind of greed and corruption, and even as we reap the whirlwind of social and economicdisruption, we seek forgiveness and we come in a spirit of unity and solidarity to commit our support to our president by our willingness to make sacrifices, to respect your creation, to turn to each other and not on each other.

And now, Lord, in the complex arena of human relations, help us to make choices on the side of love, not hate; on the side of inclusion, not exclusion; tolerance, not intolerance.

And as we leave this mountaintop, help us to hold on to the spirit of fellowship and the oneness of our family. Let us take that power back to our homes, our workplaces, our churches, our temples, our mosques, or wherever we seek your will.

“Unity”. “Fellowship”. “Oneness”. “Solidarity”. I interpret this as a prayer that we all come to see things his way….that the successful in society begin taking care of those who aren’t taking care of themselves…that no more racism is to exist – unless of course you happen to be a black preacher or some other oppressed minority….because then it’s not racism, it’s just “speaking the truth”.

As for the rest of Lowery’s prayer, it smacks of the expectations that many in this country have of a subtle socialistic policy coupled with expectations of some perfect utopia. For instance:

For we know that, Lord, you're able and you're willing to work through faithful leadership to restore stability, mend our brokenness, heal our wounds and deliver us from the exploitation of the poor or the leastof these and from favoritism toward the rich, the elite of these.
The emboldened line above isn’t all that surprising as Lowery is simply stating in his prayer what President Obama and Vice President Biden have stated publicly over the last couple of months.

I didn’t intend on critiquing Lowery’s entire prayer, so much as I simply wanted to discuss how he ended it. My take on this is that racism in this country won’t die until those who feel their race has been oppressed stop attempting to demonize everyone else. How can some claim that the black man is still being oppressed when we’ve seen black men and women in nearly every high office in this country? “Political correctness” and “tolerance” (in the connotative sense) have so enveloped our society that nobody even wants to have open dialogue about these sorts of things anymore… I have no doubt that some who read this article will come to the conclusion that I’m racist. The odd part is that not only am I not a racist, I’m simply attempting to point out the obvious and blatant racism of a black preacher.

Oh well…..that’s all I’ll say on this subject. It makes me uncomfortable and, at the same time, angry.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Interesting article. Well done. I didn't hear or read anything about the inauguration (yes, my head is buried in the sand), so thanks for the information.