Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Source of Rev. Lowery's Obama Benediction Racist Rhyme

I was pretty shocked by Rev. Lowery's racist rhyme at the close of his Inaugural Benediction :
We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man, and when white will embrace what is right.

So, I searched the web and found that it is a poem that is often recited at African-American churches and that is is based on this song by Big Bill Broonzy:

Amsterdam Live Concerts 1953



This little song that I'm singin' about,
People, you all know that it's true,
If you're black and gotta work for livin',
Now, this is what they will say to you,
They says: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I was in a place one night,
They was all havin' fun,
They was all buyin' beer and wine,
But they would not sell me none.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

I went to an employment office,
I got a number and I got in line,
They called everybody's number,
But they never did call mine.
They said: "If you was white,
You's alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, hmm, hmm, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."

Me and a man was workin' side by side,
Now, this is what it meant:
They was payin' him a dollar an hour,
And they was payin' me fifty cent.
They said: "If you was white,
You'd be alright,
If you was brown,
You could stick around,
But as you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back."


I helped win sweet victories,
With my plow and hoe,
Now, I want you to tell me, brother,
What you gonna do 'bout the old Jim Crow?
Now, if you is white,
You's alright,
If you's brown,
Stick around,
But if you's black, oh, brother,
Get back, get back, get back.

I guess when you were the subject of racism during your formative years, it is hard to give it up and embrace a new era, even when it is staring you in the face.

60 comments:

Dr.D said...

Yes, racism is alive and well and growing. We are going to see much, much more of it under the new dispensation that is upon us now. Everything, and I do mean everything, will be race based.

BillyD said...

Sorry, I didn't see this as racist at all.

Perpetua said...

HI BillyD,
The references to colors refers to races. For example, yellow would refer to Asians and the statement "Yellow would be mellow" refers to a desired change in the attitudes and behaviors of people of Asian descent.

Resident said...

Dr. D,

there is a new dispensation? Since when?

Resident said...

After having a glimpse at your blog, Dr. D, I think I now understand better.

Yes, the irony.

The Underground Pewster said...

Imagine if Rick Warren had quoted that song! Mellow yellow indeed! (Remember the soda).

I just couldn't help but think of one of my old favorites "Black and Blue" as performed by Satchmo. Is there something wrong with me? As I cannot cast stones at Rev. Lowery, I will give him a pass, particularly in light of the reference that you provided.

Perpetua said...

Hi Pewster,

Thank you for that great link. Terrific music and very sad lyrics that are exactly on point.

Dr.D said...

This is called nursing a grievance. We could still be singing songs about bad old King George III, and how he has oppressed us as colonist and how we hate the English as a result. Do you think this would be useful? Do you see the Japanese singing about how they were oppressed by the Americans after WW II? Or perhaps the Germans? The only people who hold on to their grievances when they have been handed all manner of aid, assistance, advantage, etc. for many years, are those who prefer victim status. And why do they do it? Because it means that they do not have to accept responsibility for themselves. They can always blame "the man." It is always someone else fault, never their own. Well, enough of that! What we have here is just plain, ugly racism from the "victims."

Perpetua said...

Dear Dr. D,

Yes, I agree with you that it is racism. I wish he hadn't done it. But he was born in 1921 and really did live through many, many years of real segregation.

So, although I was truly shocked by this obnoxious off-note, I do understand that this reflects his lived history.

I would also note that this is the same guy who ruined the nonpartisan spirit of Coretta Scott King's funeral three years ago with his verbal jab at Bush.

viewfromhere said...

"The same guy who . . . "?

I would hope that people would take the time to acquaint themselves with the extraordinary life and accomplishments of Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, a leader of the Montgomery bus boycott beginning in 1955, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1957, and leader of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965.

No member of the King family and no ally of Dr. King's had any objection to Rev. Lowery's eulogy of Coretta Scott King. If he "ruined" things for anyone it was in the same way that he and other Christian leaders -- including both Dr. and Mrs. King -- have "ruined" things throughout history by speaking truth to power.

It is great that you have posted "Big Bill" Broonzy's classic "Black, Brown and White Blues (Get Back)." Broonzy (1898-1958) wrote this song and started performing it in 1949 as a critique of the American racism of his time and, in fact, due to that very racism could not get the song circulated or released in this country. It was released in France in 1951 and subsequently made its way back to the U.S. This recording was made later in the 1950s, toward the end of "Big Bill"'s life.

By having Rev. Lowery deliver his wonderful, moving, warm, and humorous eulogy, and by Rev. Lowery's including a coda based on Broonzy's iconic song, President Obama introduced more important Black American culture and history to a much wider world.

Perpetua said...

Hi viewfromhere,

Thank you for your comment sharing with us a little about Rev. Lowery's background and the history of Big Bill Boozy.

I think that problem with people who define their role as "speaking truth to power" is that they can't adjust when they are put in the role of power.

Rev. Lowery was given the "power" when he was giving the Benediction for our new President. His job was to unite us all in prayer for our new leader. Instead he chose to emphasize racial difference and insult those of some races. It was the action of a powerless outsider "speaking truth to power", not a spiritual leader of all the people.

Dr.D said...

Blacks in power have no clue how to be uniters, leaders of the whole. They think only in te4rms of black power. While there will be a few individual exceptions to this statement, this is true of the vast majority, and we are going to see a lot of vengeful blacks in office in the Obama administration. For this reason, they are unfit to have the power.

You spoke of, "President Obama introduced more important Black American culture and history to a much wider world." That is a value judgment that many of us do not share. For my money, black culture is mostly simply degenerate and backward, and hardly anything that needs exposure in the wider world.

Perpetua said...

Dear Dr. D,

You are giving voice to the secret fears of many white people which were exacerbated by Rev. Lowery's recitation of this rhyme in his Benediction. What many white people would want to hear from African-Americans is that the rhyme is an artifact of history made moot by the election of Obama and the graceful transfer of power by Republican leaders. Unfortunately, the enthusiastic response to the use of the rhyme and the denial of its offensive nature at this time serves to further ignite concerns.

Regarding Black American culture, it would be best for us to identify and affirm those aspects of the culture that are worthy rather than disparaging the whole. The non-violent protests against segregation led by Martin Luther King, jr, (and with the help of Rev. Lowery) are an example for the world. Perhaps we can see the rhyme within that context. Perhaps crystallizing the problem in those few rhyming words was part of what helped African-Americans to stay focused.

Dr.D said...

It certainly gives me focus! I know exactly what I am expecting from these black folks, and it is not gong to be nice.

I grew up with lots of black folks around me. My family had a black maid, and she told me of her own volition one day when I was a child, "Black folks are different from white folks." She went on to tell me quite a bit about the differences, and she was right. I have never forgotten what she said, and I have seen it validated over and over again. And she included herself in what she said. She had a child out of wedlock; she beat her son with a light cord for punishment; her daughter got pregnant at 13; her husband was a drunkard and a womanizer; she came to work with a black eye and many bruises at times. "Black folks are different from white folks," is what Thelma said, and she spoke the truth.

I know that all of these things happen in white families as well, but they were routine in black families in the late 1940s, long before they ever began to be common in white families. Unfortunately, white people have adopted black ways, along with black music and language.

We are going to see white people run all over by black people who are going to think that they are in charge now. They are going to be out to "get justice" which is no justice at all but revenge. Watch your back!

BillyD said...

Perpetua, you seem to be laboring under the delusion that any mention of race is racism. It is not. Instead, for a textbook case of racism, you really need look no further than Dr. D's comments on this page.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,

The reason I think Rev Lowery's rhyme is racist is that it expresses the desire that some races change their behavior:
yellow should change to be mellow, and
white should change to embrace what is right
while other races are portrayed as only victims with no need to change:
black should not be asked to get back,
brown should be allowed to stick around, and
red should be allowed to get ahead.

I would like all races to embrace what is right and do not see an unwillingness to embrace what is right as a unique feature of whites. In fact, a strong argument could be made that the current problems in the African-American community are primarily due to the unwillingness of many African-Americans to embrace what is right with regard to sexual morality and marriage (as well as other moral issues). 70% of African-American children are born out of wedlock.

BillyD said...

No, Perpetua, I honestly think you're overanalyzing this rhyme - certainly as far the Asian part is concerned. I think most people would be hard pressed to see a criticism of Asians in it. Have you heard of any outcry from the Asian American community? I have not.

As far as whites needing to change, many absolutely do. Racism is by no means dead. Statements about "vengeful blacks" "running over" white people are prime examples.

Really, I find it bizarre that you are capable of reading racism into the Rev. Mr. Lowery's benediction, and incapable (or unwilling) to address baldfaced bigotry on your comments page.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,

Actually I do see a symmetry in Dr.D's expression of fear of vengeful blacks and Rev. Lowery's rhyme claiming that whites don't do what is right and blacks are told to "get back".

In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that Dr. D's fears are due to the refusal of people like Rev. Lowery to see and acknowledge the tremendous changes whites have made or to see and acknowledge what changes might need to be made within the black community. It is much easier to keep blaming others than to make changes oneself.

BillyD said...

A. You have misquoted the poem. Blacks are not told to "get back." Read the original, which you have in your post.

B. You do realize that you're doing what you claim the Rev. Mr. Lowery et al. do, right? You're blaming Dr. D's unmitigatedly racist comments on black people.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,

Are you making the distinction between "asked" and "told"? How is that different in your thinking? One is a request and the other is a command, I'm thinking. Rev. Lowery used "asked". What is the significance of that in your thinking?

Yes, I realize that fears between the races are a mutually reinforcing spiral down.

BillyD said...

The original quote (emphasis mine):

"We ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back..."

Your latest rendition:

"Actually I do see a symmetry in Dr.D's expression of fear of vengeful blacks and Rev. Lowery's rhyme claiming that whites don't do what is right and blacks are told to "get back."

The original addresses the history of racism in this country. Your latest version about "vengeful" blacks being told "to get back" seems to be suggesting that blacks are told to be vengeful.

And through this, you still cannot find the ability to call Dr. D's frankly hateful and bigoted comments what they are, but disguise them under language about fears. Amazing.

Dr.D said...

BillyD calls me a racist, which is not true, but I am in fact an elderly white man with many years experience of living and working with people, black, brown, and white.

Do we have an organization called the National Organization for the Advancement of White People? Why not? Why, that would be racist, wouldn't it? Why isn't the NAACP racist? Why isn't La Raza racist? Black people and brown people think very much of "their people," their race, their group, and they act in a united manner for the advancement of that group. White people have not done this, and have not permitted themselves to do so. That is racism.

You may not be old enough to remember it, but Zimbabwe and South Africa were once both flourishing, modern economies with good infrastructure, laws, and stable societies. This was when they were ruled by white people. As those countries have come under black government, they have been systematically destroyed. If you doubt this, please do some research. This is beginning to happen in this country already today. There have been reports of blacks attacking white people, telling them, "This is not your country anymore."

Coming closer to home, we have a number of major cities in the US that have black city government such as Chicago, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC. Everyone of them are shot through with crime and corruption. Big cities have always been difficult to govern, but putting blacks in power has made things much, much worse. Mayor Street of Philadelphia said at one point, "And why wouldn't I give city contracts to those who contribute to my campaign?" He saw no conflict of interest there! These cities are disasters!

I have spent most of my career in academia and in private engineering research organization. I have encountered a modest number of black PhD engineers. Every one of them, without exception, were examples of Affirmative Action in action. Not a one of them was comparable to a good white MS graduate. The most recent one I knew was a black woman, a PhD from Univ. of Maryland, with undergraduate and MS from Penn, and Ivy League school. You might think she would be pretty bright. She was a nice woman, somewhat scheming and very skilled at using Affirmative Action to her own advantage, but as an engineer she was an utter incompetent. She was not above sophomore level.

So, BillyD, you call me a racist if you like; I'm sure it makes you feel good. You have blinders on to the future, and you will live to regret it. In truth, I am much more aware than you are, and I am a realist. The future of American is dim at this point.

BillyD said...

Dr D, if you are not a racist, you have certainly missed your calling.

Perpetua said...

Hi BillyD,
Please help me understand your point. I am thinking that if we are praying for a day in the future when these will be true:
"black will not be asked to get back"
and
"white will embrace what is right"
then the implications is that these are not now true, ie, that now:
black is asked to get back, and
white is not embracing what is right.

OH, I think I just got what your were thinking. No, I wasn't using "get back" as in get revenge.

I just meant that Rev. Lowery was telling blacks that they were still being kept back by racism from whites and in that way Rev. Lowery was feeding a desire for revenge under the name of "justice".

Dr.D said...

Why, BillyD, I thought surely you would cite all sorts of examples of good government under black rule. Mugabe for instance? Or black mathematicians and engineers (not on TV) who have led us in the space program? Perhaps blacks who have ended corruption in our cities?

You think it is racist for me to point out the facts of the matter. You would also think it wrong for me to point out that queer sex is against nature and prohibited in the Bible. But these are just the facts. Neither you nor I can change them. It is better to have your eyes open and see what is coming than to have your head in the sand.

Perpetua said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr.D said...

Perpetua, where is this blog? I have thought about starting a blog, but I have not done so. So I am indeed puzzled as to what you and someone else have found. Please give me the URL for "my blog." Thanks.

Perpetua said...

Hi Dr.D,
I made a mistake. I will delete that comment.

Dr.D said...

Seriously Perpetua, someone else made reference to it also. If there is such a blog, I would like to know where it is so that I can check into it. Please let me know where it is.

Perpetua said...

Hi Dr.D,
When I clicked on your name above your comment, it went to your Blogger page. Then I clicked on the blog listed, thinking it was your blog. But now I realize the heading is "blogs I follow". Hey, what about listing my blog there, too, and then people won't get confused?

BillyD said...

Ah, I see, Perpetua. Yes, I misinterpreted your quotation.

BillyD said...

You think it is racist for me to point out the facts of the matter.

No, I think you're a racist because you believe that blacks are inferior to whites.

You would also think it wrong for me to point out that queer sex is against nature and prohibited in the Bible.

Not at all. You are correct that it is prohibited in the Bible. I think you are incorrect in asserting that it is "against nature," since nature provides ample examples of the behavior in question. And I think you're a bigot for calling me a queer.

Resident said...

I did the same thing as Perpetua, sorry for the confusion.

As for the dispute here:

I disagree with Dr. D. when he is denigrating blacks - remember that the victims of misrule in Zimbabwe are also blacks and that Rhodesia and South Africa were horrendous system of oppression.

Then again, there is all too often a shirking of responsibility for such things among blacks, laying the blame at the white man's door, even decades after racial oppression ended.

And Lowery's words clearly where racist, emphasizing division between races and casting blacks (and reds) only as victims and whites as evil-doers. Not sure what he meant by "yellow mellow" though, if he meant anything at all and wasn't just rhyming.

Resident said...

Billy D,

you obviously have no idea what "against nature" and "natural law" means!

BillyD said...

you obviously have no idea what "against nature" and "natural law" means!

As far as I can tell, it pretty much means whatever the speaker wants it to mean.

Resident said...

"As far as I can tell, it pretty much means whatever the speaker wants it to mean."

As with any other word, that is certainly not true.

Would you accept being called a racist because it means whatever the speaker wants it to mean?

"against nature" does not mean "never occurs anywhere in nature", a statement that would be pretty ridiculous and superfluous.

It means "going against the proper usage as shown by an understand of natural law".

BillyD said...

Huh. Still don't care.

Resident said...

And you should stop insulting other people when they haven't insulted you.

Nobody here called YOU a "queer".

Resident said...

If you don't care then don't spit out nonsensical arguments like "it happens in nature".

BillyD said...

Nobody here called YOU a "queer".

Using the word "queer" when referring to homosexuality in a comment to a gay person is close enough for jazz.

And yes, by all means, let's sidetrack the comments into a discussion of natural law and homosexuality, instead of dealing with the racist comments here.

Resident said...

Strange idea, you claim to be addressed when you were not (and I neither know nor care whether you are homosexual) but when Lowery engages in racism you say there it was not racist.

And I have already stated what I thought of some comments by Dr. D.

Perpetua said...

We need to lower the temperature on this thread. There have been a lot of good, interesting comments, but now it has become too personal. Let's cut out the personal comments and stick with the topic of the thread.

It occurred to me this afternoon that the problem I have with the rhyme is that it takes a swipe at white people just when we did think we had gotten something right. Most of the whites I know who didn't vote for Obama are saying we are going to support him as president.

So the rhyme came across sort of like a parent berating a child for past academic failures when the child has just brought home an all A report card.

Resident said...

I agree. It is the rhyme which is the topic and nothing else.

BillyD said...

It occurred to me this afternoon that the problem I have with the rhyme is that it takes a swipe at white people just when we did think we had gotten something right. Most of the whites I know who didn't vote for Obama are saying we are going to support him as president.

Perpetua, this is a guess, but I dare say that the majority of people in your circle did not vote for President Obama. Why should you feel that you "have gotten something right" simply by agreeing to support the elected President of the United States? Supporting and respecting the President - certainly, giving him the benefit of the doubt at the start of his term - isn't doing anybody a favor. It's a civic duty.

The fact that the country elected an African American president by no means indicates that racism is a dead issue. It does not erase the horrible racial history of this country. Certainly, when you have white people in the United States pining for the good old days of apartheid-era Rhodesia and South Africa is but one example.

but when Lowery engages in racism you say there it was not racist.

Again, Resident, not every mention of race is an example of racism. Pointing out the continuing problems of racism is not in itself racism.

I have no doubt that you will remain unconvinced, and I'm sure that the next four years will present a steady stream of bitter and disappointed conservatives parsing every word of anyone remotely connected with President Obama for perceived racist slights. Which, in and of itself, is ample proof of the truth of the Rev. Mr. Lowery's benediction.

Patrick Jones said...

There was NOTHING racist at ALL about Rev. Lowrey's comments. The opposite, in fact. This is a man of deep faith who has been a part of the struggle for racial justice his whole life.

Dude, get a friggin' clue and stop being so defensive and reactionary.

Perpetua said...

Hi Patrick Jones,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. I assume everyone commenting here has read the post and recognizes that Rev. Lowery lived through a time of racial injustice and that he played an important role in the civil rights movement.

It would have been a beautiful ending to a beautiful ceremony if Rev. Lowery had been able to give a Benediction for all Americans rejoicing in the Inauguration of our first African-American President.

Rev. Lowery was not able to do that and instead seems to have felt compelled to close by taking a "dig" at white people. It is sad that the elderly gentleman chose to end the Benediction by passing on old racial hurts to a new generation.

It is deeply concerning that so many younger African-Americans are unable to see the problem with the closing rhyme of his Benediction.

Perhaps you can help us by explaining what you meant by substituting the phrase "racial justice" for "civil rights" in your comment?

I think we can understand the goal of judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. But when the goal is shifted to "racial justice", isn't that taking us in the opposite direction, maintaining distinctions by color of skin and promoting a tribalism based on skin color that will be destructive the unity of the country?

Bryan Owen said...

Personally, I think that the negative response to Lowery's "poem" is much ado about very little. It would be a shame if we got so fixated on that one part that we overlook the extraordinary character of the rest of his benediction. Or forget his personal sacrifices and his legacy, as viewfromhere rightly calls to our attention.

On other fronts, I hadn't thought about this song by Big Bill Broonzy in ages. I used to be the deejay for the Sunday night blues show on 91.1 FM, WRVU in Nashville when I was a graduate student at Vanderbilt back in the mid-90s. The lyrics to the Broonzy tune bring back some good memories. Thanks for bringing that back for me, Perpetua.

Admin said...

Rev. Lowery is the exact cause for continued hatred, segregation, and oppression. Rev. Lowery should be sued by every other “race” of American out there. I too will never vote for a “black” person again as they deem the benediction acceptable.

Perpetua said...

Dear Bryan Owen and Admin,

Thank you both for your comments, and together they provide an interesting juxtaposition.

Fr. Bryan places Rev. Lowery Benediction in the context of Rev. Lowery's life work and the rhyme within the context of the life and work of Bill Broonzy. From that perspective, he doesn't see a problem.

Then Admin follows, extrapolating from Rev. Lowery's Benediction itself and the way African-Americans are blinded to the offense it gives and suggests a "self-protective" stance of viewing all future African-American candidates as a threat.

Right now I am thinking the code word to look out for is "racial justice". I think it has taken on a new meaning.

In MLK's famous speech he associated it with the end of segregation:
"Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

I undertood MLK to be saying ending racial segregation and discrimination would provide racial justice. But I think "racial justice" has taken on new meaning as a code-word for some sort of retributive justice.

Calls for racial retribution actually exacerbate tensions between the races.

Bryan Owen said...

I just don't hear a call for racial retribution in anything said by Lowery. On the contrary, I heard the end of his benediction as a playful call for us to get over all the racial hangups that for too long have divided us so that we can move forward together as ONE nation. I am absolutely floored by the ways in which that is being interpreted (mostly by white folks) as racist.

In stark contrast, I do hear plenty of racially charged and even racist ideas and accusations put forth by some of the folks who are commenting on this post.

Perpetua said...

Hi Fr. Bryan,

Thank you for this response. I am interested in how you understood the rhyme at the end of the Benediction as a call to get over our racial hang ups, because I thought it was perpetuating them. Could you help us a little more to understand your way of hearing the rhyme?

1) Do you think the rhyme is claiming that blacks are currently told to "get back"? If so, do you agree with this claim? If not, what does that first phrase mean?

2) Do you think the rhyme is claiming that white people are less likely than other races to embrace what is right? If so, do you agree with this claim? If not, what does that last phrase mean?

Bryan Owen said...

I'm not sure exactly how to show what I'm saying, Perpetua. It's just how I heard that part of the benediction, and how I continue to hear it. In fact, when I first him say those words, I laughed. According to some of the commentators on this post, that makes me a racist.

We could spend lots of time filtering every single word and phrase through a hermeneutic of suspicion to try and figure out "what Lowery really meant." I think that's not a very good use of time because, as I've already indicated, I just didn't hear anything sinister or racially divisive in this. Clearly, others disagree.

We could do the same thing with the words to a lot of blues songs. I've known some feminists, for instance, who hate the blues because they say that the lyrics objectify women and glorify male dominance and violence. I hear these same words sung by a Muddy Waters or a B.B. King, and it's quite playful. The performance of the words somehow changes what might otherwise fall into exactly what the feminist critics are objecting to. Perhaps that's part of where I'm coming from in how I heard/hear Lowery's words at the close of his benediction.

It would be interesting to see if most of the people who so strongly object to this part of Lowery's benediction also (a) did not vote for Obama, and/or (b) don't like Obama.

Resident said...

Patrick,
do you get the irony in your comments.
You tell others not to be "defensive" while you defend the Reverend.
You tell others not be "reactionary" while Lowery is quoting rhymes from way way back.
And it's the same with Lowery - he decries racism (and no doubt he's honest about that) but engages in racism at the same time.
Wasn't there something about logs and splinters and eyes?

Resident said...

"In fact, when I first him say those words, I laughed. According to some of the commentators on this post, that makes me a racist."

Well, I laughed too and many people in Washington laughed. It was the laughter of those that got the reference to the "Black ... get back" song. At least it was in my case.

But that laughter already shows that Lowery's words weren't right. Benedictions are not supposed to arouse laughter.

And while one can justify the "black" and "red" lines (and I still don't get the "yellow"), the "white" line drips of anti-white hatred. And all in all, listing all these races (BTW, there actually are no red and yellow people) is surely steeped in racial thinking at least, if not in racism.

Finally, the advice not to get fixated on one part doesn't convince me. Sure we shouldn't but in the recent past all too often have been condemned to hell and back for merely one word in otherwise unproblematic comments. And we don't even have to get niggardly about that.

James said...

In contrast if a white preacher had made the comment that "black will finally go back" or "black will be sent back" there would be cries from every corner and depth of the black community.

It is common sense and a well-known fact in political science that the majority (race, religion, political party in power) tends to take the most flak. In some cases it is deserved and in some cases not. That is not the case here. The case is that, on the steps of Capitol Hill, at a time when the nation watched unified, Rev. Lowery's comments did the opposite.

In my opinion it is akin to being accused of stealing when you have done nothing of the sort. Lowery's presumption that "white" has not yet embraced what is right is a painful jabbing reminder of the past wrongs exchanged between races. Furthermore, it was a painful jab to "white" that was unexpected, unprovoked (in this particular instance), and at a time when, honestly, most people are tired of hearing about how Obama is the first African-American president (thanks, we know already).


Furthering that train of thought, the majority of people watching the benediction did so in the spirit of good will and admiration of an amazing speaker who has been able to reach out and find common ground with so many. Rev. Lowery's comments did nothing but divide. To this date, I have not heard one white, black, hispanic, or asian individual proclaim that racism is over. Neither have I heard this on TV, in the newspaper, or in the radio. Racism is far from over and I think that many more people acknowledge this than given credit. That being said, Rev. Lowery's comments are nothing but "salt in the wound."

The best way I can explain my reaction to his comment would be to compare it to the following scenario:

I am walking through the door of a business or office and I see a woman following close behind me. I open the door and let her proceed first only to have her verbally scold me for assuming that because she was a woman that she would need my assistance in opening the door.

That is how taken aback I was at this unanticipated stab at a time when we should have been coming closer together.

1AmericanPatriot said...

I know I am jumping in this conversation late and all, but did want to share a few of my thoughts. I don't believe the references to brown, red, and yellow have anything to do with Latins, Native-Americans, nor Asians. In 1930's Harlem as well as blues songs, these terms were used to reference the different levels of pigment in African-Americans. Obviously black and brown should be easily understood. As far as red it referred to African-Americans with light skin tone and red hair. Where as yellow referred to very light skinned African-Americans. Take a look at a wikipedia article entitled "Color Terminology For Race" under the subcategory "Tone Gradations" for further explanation.
Also, I believe this rhyme was more designed to show how African-Americans as a whole were typically treated by Whites at the time. The rhyme itself takes each skin tone of the African-Americans and talks of their troubles as a whole. Typically they were asked to get back, not stick around, not get ahead, and weren't too mellow about having to do so. Rightfully so, in my opinion. At THAT time. Hope this clears that issue up.

Perpetua said...

Hi 1AmericanPatriot,
Thank you very much for that insight.

1AmericanPatriot said...

BillyD-
First and foremost, yes I agree some of the comments made by DrD were in fact racist. No other way to see comments such as,

"For my money, black culture is mostly simply degenerate and backward, and hardly anything that needs exposure in the wider world."

As well as,

"I have encountered a modest number of black PhD engineers. Every one of them, without exception, were examples of Affirmative Action in action. Not a one of them was comparable to a good white MS graduate."

But, just because there are still racist people in this Country does not mean that the Country as a whole is still racist. As long as we as a People continue to look at an entire group of people as a whole instead of the individuals who make up said group, we can never expect to get past anything. Just like your comment,

"I have no doubt that you will remain unconvinced, and I'm sure that the next four years will present a steady stream of bitter and disappointed conservatives parsing every word of anyone remotely connected with President Obama for perceived racist slights. Which, in and of itself, is ample proof of the truth of the Rev. Mr. Lowery's benediction."

In this statement you refer to all conservatives as being racists. When in reality it was conservatives who freed the slaves. Abraham Lincoln was one of the founding members of the Republican Party. Dwight D. Eisenhower was the President who as desegregation began in public schools sent the National Guard into Little Rock, Arkansas, to assure compliance with the orders of a Federal court; he also ordered the complete desegregation of the Armed Forces. "There must be no second class citizens in this country," he wrote. JFK, a Democrat, voted against the Civil Rights Act of 1957. It took a Republican to get it passed. Also the Republican's were the ones who stopped the Democrats from defeating the bill in Congress. You might want to do a little research on conservatives and the Civil Rights movement before you label them all as racists. Also your theory of what MIGHT happen in the next four years most certainly can't be offered as ample proof of anything since it hasn't happened and is nothing more than your thought of what might happen.

1AmericanPatriot said...

Now as far as the comments made by Rev Lowery and if I feel they were racist, yes I do. Also I can't see how anyone could argue otherwise. This was a prayer asking for something to happen in the future. Not something that is currently here. Whereas I would argue that Obama being elected to the highest office of the land, clearly shows that the majority of whites do not look at the color of a person's skin, but rather the content of their character. If you look at the demographics of this past election this is clearly shown. Of the 131,237,603 votes cast 74% were by Whites, 13% by Blacks, 9% Hispanic, 2% Asian, and 2% Other. Of the Black vote, 95% went for Obama, 4% for McCain, and 1% for Other. Of the White vote, 55% were for McCain, 43% for Obama, and 2% for Other. When you run the math on these numbers we see that 16,207,843 Black people voted for Obama whereas 41,759,805 White people voted for Obama. Of the popular vote Obama won the election by a total of 9,522,083 votes. Yet 25,551,962 MORE White people voted for Obama than Black people did. That equates to about every vote Obama got from the Blacks he got over 2.5 from the Whites. If supporting President Obama was embracing what is right, White America did that 2.5 times better than Black America.

One could infer that the Blacks were more racist in their voting than any other group of citizens represented by ethnicity. There is no way that 95% of any group would agree on a certain person's policies. The math simply doesn't support that. You can't get 95% of a family to agree on most things, much less 95% of an entire race to agree on politics.

Perpetua said...

Hi 1AmericanPatriot,
I'd love to see what you think of my more recent post on Charles Blow's op ed in Saturday's New York Times.