Jan 20, 2009

Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, Reverse Racism?


Did anyone hear the benediction at the inauguration today--given by the famous civil rights activist Rev. Joseph Lowery? I loved most of it--especially when Rev. Lowery broke into verse here and there (which sometimes I think is inappropriate during prayer but then again, if he read a poem nobody would say squat. So I found it awesome that he took a piece from his own tradition's style and used it well.

But then he got to the last line:

Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.


OK...now I'm upset. So white people are the only ones called to the carpet here? White people are the only ones who deal out injustice?

Rev. Lowery is a civil rights activist and I'm sure for every white person that has been offended there are 25 black people who match them--but still...I thought this was an offensive statement that if he made it any other day of the year he'd be shouted down as being insensitive.

I'll backpedal a bit here and say that I'm sure the good Rev. Lowery meant no offense to white people--but I do think all Americans regardless of their color try to embrace what it right. By the way, CNN exit polls show that 43% of white people voted for President Obama. Are the other 57% racists? I think not.

Can I get an Amen?

It seems so...check out the comments here

9 comments:

D.Shawn Hussey said...

You've already bought into the lies, "Reverse Racism". How exactly does one be a "reverse racist" - by not being one?

Until the day comes when we realize that there are no "reverse racists", there are only racists(and I'm not picking on you because millions use this term for some reason) we'll be doomed to repeat this pattern.

Anonymous said...

Amen. When I heard it, I felt a tinge of anger - but quickly dismissed it & revelled in the purpose of the event. That man has so much anger towards whites. But, he'll be dead & gone soon.

joshua-generation said...

With Dr. King only there in spirit, no one was better suited than Rev. Lowery with the exact right message.

god googler said...

Commenting on the above.

Agree about the term "reverse racism". I only used it because people are familiar to the term and they would understand this in that context. But I agree racism is racism.

Secondly, I think it's a bit harsh to say that someone will be "dead and gone soon." Rev. Lowery has forgotten more moments of blatant racism than I can remember. His statement while it bothered me as a white person I can dismiss as a product of it's time. Perhaps President Obama had hime up there to remind us of what happened to the old school--which wasn't that long ago.

For me, it dampened the spirit of the Obama "new school" philosophy. Obama speaks to a new generation who have been able to bridge the gap beyond these former racist attitudes by people of all creeds and cultures.

As friends who were there said to me today, "We were able to look beyond Rev. Lowell's remarks because there was such a diversity all around us. That itself made those remarks irrelevant.

Anonymous said...

As a non-American "white" and someone who heard about Joseph Lowery with the inauguration speech, I cannot understand the accusations for his speech of being racist.

Only few decades passed from the times black people were seated in different compartments, only months passed from the days Obama was pointed out with his islam-sounding middle name, only weeks passed my middle-eastern friend was told that he was stinking for no apparent reason while he was drinking coffee alone outside of a shop, and only days passed I heard about a non-American friend's complaint that he is always the "randomly" chosen person to be searched on flights and other "random" chosen ones looking very similar, mostly speaking same language. It won't be far that U.S. will feel her superiority and teach human rights and democracy to another part of the world.

I read people complaining about black people harassing "whites" after Obama's election and racism is towards the white. Even giving such an example shows some people are far from understanding the limits of racism. First you cannot understand racism is towards who, until you are arrested by the police. Second, personal harassment can be the least annoying form of racism compared to institutional, sometimes hidden, sometimes obvious racism which effects your life way more than a street yelling.

The history and "ongoing" racism in U.S. and elsewhere in the world can not be dismissed after an election of a black president. It is not that easy to get rid of a disease that is buried deep under.

Even the racism is really over (although I believe the opposite), I think it is still more appropriate to assume it is still there and be cautious until there is nobody to remember how intense it was.

I understand that the speech hits a nerve: Why only whites? Why whites while reds go ahead, yellow more mellow etc? A good question but the answer is pretty easy. Look at the world, historically and today. Investigate the wars, the massacres over the world and make a list of the physically involved countries/nations, name the countries provoked or provided means (guns, supplies) for the tragedies to happen. You'll see the "white man" on the top of the list.

Last, but not the least: Strip the skin color from the meaning of white and think it as native Americans put it. "White man" does not contain every person with white skin. It is a view of the world rather than the color. It is a way of thinking. You can easily be "black" in a community with your white skin.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Lowery is racist. There's no doubt about it.

To the "non-American white person" who posted above. It is very well to think of whites in the United States as racist however I don't see a black person as an elected leader of a European or UK Country, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. etc.

I think we have gotten a bum rap and now publicly shamed at every opportunity for being white. I am not apologetic, no, I am proud to be a white man and an American.

Another pet peeve of mine is the "African-American" label. I'll not use it unless it is reciprocated with the equally dignified "European-American".

Racist is racist and American is American. All else is silliness.

Anonymous said...

Yep, Lowery is racist. There's no doubt about it.

To the "non-American white person" who posted above. It is very well to think of whites in the United States as racist however I don't see a black person as an elected leader of a European or UK Country, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc. etc.

I think we have gotten a bum rap and now publicly shamed at every opportunity for being white. I am not apologetic, no, I am proud to be a white man and an American.

Another pet peeve of mine is the "African-American" label. I'll not use it unless it is reciprocated with the equally dignified "European-American".

Racist is racist and American is American. All else is silliness.

god googler said...

Hey it's not exactly like white people in the USA have had a glowing record either. Let's at least be somewhat fair here.

I didn't like Lowery's comments either but I also don't think he's too far beyond the pale in some ways either--especially based on his experience of white people less than 30 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Non-American White speaking :)

First, I believe it is funny to be ashamed (and also proud) because of a skin color. You are just born with it without anybody asking your opinion about it, that's all. It carries no qualitative value.

"African American" is a terminology invented by U.S. officials (especially for Census). The terminology passed through stages of "negro", "colored", "black" and ended up as "African American". Just like "Hispanic". Nobody from Latin America call themselves Hispanic, that's what they are called in U.S. statistics. And no wonder, there is no terminology as "European American" since they are the "norm" and they classify the "others".

On the other hand, I don't remember anybody calling Europe, Canada or elsewhere is not racist but only U.S.

Racism lives everywhere in the world. The revolts in suburbs of Paris, the rise of racist parties in Europe are few quick examples. But still, having a black president do not bring sunshine immediately. It is symbolically very important, but there is a lot of way ahead of us (us, not U.S., all of us as humanity) against racism.

And, you cannot understand what racism really is, if you do not live in a place/country where you are the minority. Or you have to have an open mind to see what's happening to "others" in your community: their life standards, education levels, social standings etc. You may not have a president of the same skin color with you, but as long as you can live peacefully and in welfare without any barriers in your life (as I said, street yelling being the least annoying form) then we may say that racism is diminishing. Can anybody say so for U.S.?

Googling God

Googling God
Buy Your Copy Now!