Saturday, March 15, 2008


One seeming miracle in my lifetime is Bishop Desmond Tutu’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which attempted to deal with the classic question of how do we end the cycle of retaliation spawned by historic wrongs.

Tutu and Mandela understood that the task of rooting out and punishing all of the wrongdoers from the apartheid era would consume the new government and drown the country in blood.

Somehow former perps and former victims have to live side by side. Whatever the success of Tutu’s commission, the mere attempt is occasion for some deep hope.

Simply ignoring historic wrongs disses the most recently oppressed, like, someone has to eat it, and that someone is you.

[Click on the picture of Tempie Cummins to read some of her testimony.]

That’s the situation we have in the United States regarding slavery and its social aftermath.

It’s awkward.

There’s been some truth, but there’s been very little reconciliation in the United States, so it’s considered rude to talk about it.

Barack’s pastor talks about it, apparently, all the time.

An early question about Obama was, “Is he black enough.” [Not my question, I’m just reporting this shit.]

Now, with the preacher video clips the insinuation is that Obama is way too black.

Which raises an interesting question: can an African American national candidate these days be both black enough and not too black?

I’m thinking that “black enough for black voters” might still be a little “too black for white voters.”

BTW: Watching the clips of Barack’s pastor, I find myself agreeing with almost everything he says. Hold the 9-11 crap. Hold the goddamn America crap.

Parts of this clip have appeared on TV, with white commentators, and some new African American commentators clucking their disapproval. In this clip, at least, I think Reverend Wright it right-on.

Reverend Wright is definitely too black for white folk.

Obama’s response so far is that of a kid who’s been caught. “Not me,” he pleads. Poor baby!

With so much time before the national election Obama seems to be in a rope-a-dope mode. Barack should remember that toward the end of each rope-a-dope round Ali threw a flurry of punches that kept the scoring close.

Or maybe he’s just on the ropes.

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sfmike said...

I agreed with the black minister too. Why is there a Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. commemorating what is essentially a European story, while there is no Slavery Museum in the same city? The historical issues of slavery in America are, as you point out, somewhat recent, and in a city that has something like 80% black citizens, you'd think it might be somewhat relevant.

sfwillie said...

Dear Mike,

Excellent point! If we had a slavery museum we could look up how many American Jews owned African slaves.

Maryland Jesuits owned slaves. They considered abolitionism to be a Protestant plot against the Pope (actual paranoia).

When the Maryland Jesuits discovered that slavery was no longer economical, they SOLD their slaves to some Louisiana cracker.

The proceeds of the slave sale were used to finance Georgetown University.


janinsanfran said...

That's a wonderful picture of Tutu and Mandela.

What would it mean for a country to have two genuine "greats" at a time? And there is nothing easy or simple about South Africa -- but it is different.