Rev. Jeremiah Wright & Sen. Barack Obama: The Failure of “Colorblindness” and the Ignored Reality of White Social Power in the US

Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright has my admiration and respect. Unfortunately, citizens had to witness the media gauntlet formed in the last week of April 2008 and its fallout.

What the media circus showed is that the United States is still mired in race yet does not want anyone to point out that fact or the United States’ failed foreign policy adventures. Moreover, Senator Barack Obama unjustly condemned Rev. Wright’s statements as “not only divisive and destructive, but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate.”

The Black Agenda Report’s Executive Editor Glen Ford has written an excellent column analyzing the collapse of Sen. Obama’s color neutral world view.

The world views of Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Sen. Barack Obama were incompatible from the start, just as the mythical American Manifest Destiny world view is directly at odds with the facts as perceived by Blacks in the United States. Wright finally forced Obama to choose sides in the conflict of racial/historical visions, and in doing so, performed a service on behalf of clarity. Obama lashed out in a startlingly personal manner, calling Wright a “caricature” of himself and linking the minister to forces that give “comfort to those who prey on hate.” Rev. Wright exposed the flimsy tissues of so-called “race neutrality” in a nation founded on racial oppression.

This whole event between Rev. Wright and Sen. Obama leaves unanswered the question of what happens to current issues of concern of the Black community (which Sen. Obama essentially downplays as relics of older Black people in his heralded speech on race). I assert that the issues Rev. Wright speaks about, still are relevant (and essentially unaddressed) today.

Some of these issues I have attempted to address on this blog in tracking Ward Connerly’s ballot initiative in four states (click on the affirmative action tag in the right column for my previous posts on this subject).

One is the facile (and untrue) implication that Blacks and Whites have equal social power in the United States. Sen. Obama alludes to this view in his speech on race.

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze – a corporate culture rife with inside dealing, questionable accounting practices, and short-term greed; a Washington dominated by lobbyists and special interests; economic policies that favor the few over the many. And yet, to wish away the resentments of white Americans, to label them as misguided or even racist, without recognizing they are grounded in legitimate concerns – this too widens the racial divide, and blocks the path to understanding.

The fact is that the White population has the sole social power in the United States. First, the travails of White Americans were not caused by Black people but rather the economic policy of the United States, which happens to be dominated by White people. In addition, Black people have similar problems on top of institutional anti-Black discrimination.

Second, Sen. Obama fails to acknowledge that Whites have a much bigger population size than Blacks in the United States. The White side alone (75.1 % of the United States population) controls governmental power. The 2000 Census makes this clear.

United States (population: 281,421,906 (2000 Census)

Race Percentage of population Number
White 75.1% 211,460,626
Black 12.3 34,658,190
Native American 0.9 2,475,956
Asian 3.6 10,242,998

Thus, it is not fair simply to compare the groups strictly as equals, as Sen. Obama did in his April 2008 speech.

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2 thoughts on “Rev. Jeremiah Wright & Sen. Barack Obama: The Failure of “Colorblindness” and the Ignored Reality of White Social Power in the US

  1. Bronzeville Metropolis-

    Thanks for your comment. Thanks also for your article about the atmosphere surrounding Rev. Wright at the National Press Club. Your linked article is very interesting.

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