Was Clinton Behind Jeremiah Wright’s Resurface?

I knew something about this didn’t smell right. Initially, watching Reverend Jeremiah Wright on PBS was really useful and informative, and then seeing him in front of the National Press Club was, well, interesting.

I actually very much appreciated his opening (and scripted) remarks. But as the Q&A went on, I had to wonder, WHAT THE FUCK IS HE DOING? AND WHY NOW?

I know it must have been hard for Wright, or anyone, to be publicly thrashed the way he was in the media over the last month or so. I understand it must have been hard to listen to someone you helped acclimate himself to Chicago, baptized their children and preside over their wedding, to distance themselves from you in order to appeal to white voters. I also agree with Wright’s notion that the media attack on him was less about him per se, or Obama really, but was really about white America’s continued fear and anxiety that Black people really can’t stand them–and that the Black church, even after the Civil Rights Movement was long destroyed, still can be a place to radicalize Black people! And they really ain’t tryin to have no President who has anything to do with Black “radical-ism”.

In any case, Wright really seemed to be doing more than responding to his critics yesterday. He seemed to be both mocking the “press” and all its fakery of objectivity and fairness, and by extension, mocking the people who have tried to paint him into the box of the angry (and foolish) black preacher. But his mockery, in many ways, seemed to re-inscribe himself into that very box he seemed to want to move out of. He seemed to be caught up in the celebrity that the moment has given him, and less like someone who was really trying to redeem his reputation or that of his church, or the Black Church as a whole.

I am not arguing for a bourgie politics of respectability. I am not saying he should back away from his statements about the US, 9-11, HIV or anything of the sort (though in some places I wish he had more factual information and data to back up or re-frame his messaging in these issues). I am saying he has to know that the way he came off was cocky and at moments buffoonish– and really did very little to salvage his reputation of that of the Black church.

What’s interesting though, whether you believe he was trying to protect himself and the Black church, or that he was caught up in the moment or the idea of his own bravado and celebrity, he might have been a pawn in a political game, and did not see it coming.

Daily News columnist Errol Louis seems to suggest that Wright may have been set up by a Clinton supporter, who was the person who asked him to speak at this press conference. Errol writes:

Shortly before he rose to deliver his rambling, angry, sarcastic remarks at the National Press Club Monday, Wright sat next to, and chatted with, Barbara Reynolds.

A former editorial board member at USA Today, she runs something called Reynolds News Services and teaches ministry at the Howard University School of Divinity. (She is an ordained minister).

It also turns out that Reynolds – introduced Monday as a member of the National Press Club “who organized” the event – is an enthusiastic Hillary Clinton supporter.

On a blog linked to her Web site- www.reynoldsnews.com– Reynolds said in a February post: “My vote for Hillary in the Maryland primary was my way of saying thank you” to Clinton and her husband for the successes of Bill Clinton‘s presidency.

If it turns out that Wright was set up, and this was a ploy to cost Obama the nomination, I wonder how Wright will reconcile this with himself.

Or worse even, as NYTimes columnist Bob Herbert expresses, was this Wright’s way to get back at Obama?

The Politics of Racial Uplift: Friday at Temple University

I will be presenting at this symposium in Philly on Friday and I think it’ll be really interesting. If you’re in Philly or can get there, it should be hot!

Stand Up! The New Politics of Racial Uplift
A Public Philosophy Symposium

Temple University

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

9am to 5pm

Kiva Auditorium and Tuttleman Learning Center, Room 101

For information about participants, schedule, and work by participants and material relevant to symposium themes, go to our website:

http://www.temple.edu/philosophy/standup/


Purpose of Symposium:

The Millions More Movement, Cosby’s ‘call-outs,’ and other recent trends renew an old approach to black political thought and practice. The racial uplift tradition tries to improve the conditions of black life by insisting on moral refinement and race-based organization. Uplift ideology and practice have a long and storied past, but critics of the tradition worry over its limitations. Some express concern that it is anti-democratic, intolerant, elitist, sexist, and heterosexist. Others think it focuses too much on personal morality and cultural pathology and not enough on social justice and political economy.

The participants in the ‘Stand Up!’ symposium will think through the risks and rewards of this new racial uplift politics. This interdisciplinary exercise in public philosophy will explore the implications of a social phenomenon with broad ethical significance. The new politics of racial uplift emerges from a widely shared conviction that something is deeply wrong in American society. Our public philosophy conference will take this judgment seriously, and subject this politics to searching and critical scrutiny.

Confirmed Participants:

Angela D. Dillard, Afroamerican and African Studies and Residential College, LSA, at the University of Michigan

Kenyon Farrow, essayist, organizer, media and communications specialist, and board co-chair for Queers for Economic Justice

Kevin Gaines, Afroamerican and African Studies and History at the University of Michigan

Kathryn T. Gines, African American and Diaspora Studies and Philosophy at Vanderbilt University

Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Religion and African American Studies at Princeton University and the Jamestown Project

Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Women’s Research and Resource Center and the Women’s Studies at Spelman College

Joy James, Humanities and Political Science at Williams College and Senior Research Fellow in the Center for African and African American Studies at the University of Texas-Austin

Adolph Reed, Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania

Jared Sexton, African American Studies and Film & Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, AfroLez® Productions and award-winning African-American feminist lesbian documentary filmmaker, international lecturer, writer, activist, and producer, writer, and director of the internationally acclaimed documentary NO!

Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr., Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard University Law School and the Jamestown Project

Paul C. Taylor, Philosophy at Temple University and the Jamestown Project

Sponsors:

Temple University Department of Philosophy, the Office of the Provost, the College of Liberal Arts, the Center for Humanities at Temple, the Ira Lawrence Family Fund, and the Jamestown Project

The symposium is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact Tamara K. Nopper, assistant organizer, at tnopper (at) temple.edu

White Catholic Priest Gets Fox News Together

I enjoy nothing more than when I can step out of the way, and let the whites get other white people together. Case in point: A Fox News reporter thought they were going to sneak attack Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago-based Catholic priest, about his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Well, that reporter  was shut down. I have to say it is quite enjoyable when I don’t have to intervene, and I can put my feet up and let’s the white duke it out.  (If you missed Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s interview with Bill Moyers, it is definitely worth watching.) Enjoy!

Shock of the Week: Wesley Snipes Gets 3 Years for No Tax Pay?

I don’t know why I’m shocked–this is America and Wesley Snipes is Black. But the actor got 3 years for non-payment of taxes–which is a misdemeanor crime???? One year for each year he didn’t pay?

It’s not about how I feel or don’t feel about Wesley Snipes, but this is fuckin ridiculous. Willie Nelson (who I like, so I ain’t frontin on Willie!) owed the IRS $16million dollars for the same shit, and did not do one day in prison. Snipes owed $2.7million. AP has the full story.

Non-Shock of the Week: Star Jones Divorces Husband

In the most underwhelming news of the week, lawyer/TV personality/journalist/beard Star Jones announced in a statement to Entertainment Tonight that she fild for divorce from Al Reynolds a month ago. She said “Several years ago I made an error in judgment by inviting the media into the most intimate area of my life. A month ago I filed for divorce.

“The dissolution of a marriage is a difficult time in anyone’s life that requires privacy with one’s thoughts. I have committed myself to handling this situation with dignity and grace and look forward to emerging from this period as a stronger and wiser woman.”

I’m not one of those gays that thinks that everyone’s gay. But…

No shade, but tell me, ARE YOU SHOCKED???

Media Analysis of Obama/Clinton PA Primary

This morning I woke up to check in on the PA primary, to see if Clinton was still leading by 10 points. She was. But when I was watching CNN, their morning anchors bantered on and on, segment after segment, over and over again about Obama’s “white problem,” to explain why Obama struggles to get votes in the primary from white working class America. I was so disgusted by this framework because it presumes that the problem is Obama’s, as opposed to AMERICA’s race problem. The fact of the matter is, Obama has done everything but get a chemical peel (and be a Republican) to appeal to white voters, what else do they want? Some of these people will never vote for him, simply because he is black.

The other problem, as so eloquently put by The Root.com columnist Melissa Harris Lacewell, who spoke to “the Blacks are Men, and the Whites are Women” narrative put forth by CNN and the rest of the press:

“A lot of people have tried to gently explain the divide, so I’m just going to put this out there: Sister voters have a beef with white women like Clinton that is both racial and gendered. It is not about choosing race; it is about rejecting Hillary’s Scarlett O’Hara act…Black women voters are rejecting Hillary Clinton because her ascendance is not a liberating symbol. Her tears are not moving. Her voice does not resonate. Throughout history, privileged white women, attached at the hip to their husband’s power and influence, have been complicit in black women’s oppression. Many African American women are simply refusing to play Mammy to Hillary.”

Amen. Similarly, Black Commentator asks the Clintons to account for their longstanding relationship to the descendants of Scarlet O’Hara, The Daughters of the Confederacy.

And race/gender issues aside (sort of), Talking Points Memo TV did a great analysis of the delegate battle, which helps to sort through all the rhetoric about Clinton’s “being able to win the “must-win” states for Democrats. Definitely worth watching.

Nice White Lady

Given Hillary Clinton’s primary win last night in Pennsylvania, I thought this MAD TV sketch was appropriate. I think, just like all those Hollywood movies where the nice white teachers tame the savage students of color, Hillary Clinton sees herself as a “nice white lady.”