The major racial and ethnic communities in American life don’t talk much. The dialogue vacuum makes it easy to assume that a generic or default American sensibility exists. You notice the great gulf fixed between black and white America when a morally ambiguous story like Jena emerges. Its a Rorschach test–you see what you want to see. And white people and black people don’t see the same thing.
The Rev. Joseph Lowery’s benediction at President Obama’s inaugural ceremony offers another example of this phenomenon.
White people are outraged. Garments are being rent in twain. Lowery is being denounced as a racist and a race baiter.
Here’s the offending statement:
“… help us work for that day when black will not be asked to give 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.”
White people take pride in the fact that America has elected a black president. Doesn’t this suggest that we have quit our lowdown ways? Aren’t we already embracing the right? Isn’t there some kind of statute of limitations on black outrage?
The Rev. Gerald Britt helps place the issue in historical context. As is often the case, the comments section is almost as enlightening as Rev. Britt’s post.