Most of the discussion and commentary about Dr. Wright's sermons have come from a predominantly white media. The points of discussion have centered on what they consider to be the "vile, racist and un-American things" said by Dr. Wright. Very few, if any, of the discussions have focused on the historical basis and accuracy of what Dr. Wright actually said.
The major problem with the discussions is they have been largely one-sided. The media have used the imagery of Dr. Wright, clad in African garb, shouting in the cadence of an old-time fire and brimstone minister and playing to the camera as a scare tactic. Has this become the "Willie Hortonization" of Senator Barack Obama? The reporting and commentary on Dr. Wright's words have been presented from the perspective of people who either have no appreciation for the African-American historical experience or a personal agenda when it comes to presenting these issues.
When people read the Constitution, the supreme law of the United States, they see the oldest governing constitution in the world. They see a great document that has articulated the precepts of life, liberty and happiness that all in this country try to follow. What is often overlooked are the parts of the Constitution that laid the foundation for hundreds of years of slavery and oppression for African-Americans; the constitutional framework for human beings to be treated as less than human. It's these sections of the Constitution that America has never truly atoned for and still refuses to make right.
The Three Fifths Compromise and the Fugitive Slave provisions were superseded by constitutional amendments only after their damage to African-Americans had been done and the benefit to America had been served.
It is very easy to wrap oneself in the history and glory that is America and forget that from 1619 to 1868 (249 years) African-Americans suffered under the brutality and oppression of government-supported chattel slavery. In 1857, as Dred Scott, a slave, petitioned the US Supreme Court for his freedom, Chief Justice Roger Taney wrote, "beings of an inferior order (African-Americans), and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations, and so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect."
Regarding Dr. Wright's comments about drugs and AIDS, let's not forget the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments. From 1932 to 1972, the US Public Health Service (PHS) conducted an experiment on 399 black men in the late stages of syphilis. These men, for the most part illiterate sharecroppers from one of the poorest counties in Alabama, were never told what disease they were suffering from or of its seriousness. In his May 16, 1997, apology, President Bill Clinton said:
"The United States government did something that was wrong - deeply, profoundly, morally wrong. It was an outrage to our commitment to integrity and equality for all our citizens ... clearly racist."
With this historical understanding, it is not too far-fetched to think that the US government could be involved in similar activity as it relates to AIDS.
Some may take issue with the earlier statement, "... the government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three strikes law, ..." by asking, "is Rev. Wright accusing the US government of supplying drugs to the black community?" This story has been well-documented in the 1996 San Jose Mercury News expose entitled "Dark Alliance: The CIA Complicity in the Crack Epidemic."
I can understand people being uncomfortable with the comments made by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright. White Americans have also been lied to, miseducated and desensitized about the plight of African-Americans. With the help of the social conservative agenda, many have developed a "deaf ear" when it comes to issues regarding race. The truth, especially an ugly truth that forces Americans to examine the precepts of America, "with liberty and justice for all," and compare them with the hypocrisy of the American reality can be troubling. For far too long, Americans have been lulled into a false sense of security. Americans have believed history as told by the oppressor and failed to understand the reality of the oppressed.
Dr. Wright is not un-American. He embodies what America was founded upon, the free exchange of ideas in the public space, speaking truth to power, challenging America to be the best that it can be. The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright's views might not reconcile with many Americans' perceptions of America, but they must not be discarded as the ranting of an angry man. His statements were founded in the historical truths that African-Americans have and continue to live through.
Please read the rest.