Tuesday, March 25, 2008

He's All Wright With Me

An Open Letter from Rev. Jeremiah Wright to the New York Times

March 11, 2007
Jodi Kantor
The New York Times
9 West 43rd Street
New York, New York

Dear Jodi:

Thank you for engaging in one of the biggest misrepresentations of the truth I have ever seen in sixty-five years. You sat and shared with me for two hours. You told me you were doing a “Spiritual Biography” of Senator Barack Obama. For two hours, I shared with you how I thought he was the most principled individual in public service that I have ever met. For two hours, I talked with you about how idealistic he was. For two hours I shared with you what a genuine human being he was. I told you how incredible he was as a man who was an African American in public service, and as a man who refused to announce his candidacy for President until Carol Moseley Braun indicated one way or the other whether or not she was going to run.

I told you what a dreamer he was. I told you how idealistic he was. We talked about how refreshing it would be for someone who knew about Islam to be in the Oval Office. Your own question to me was, Didn’t I think it would be incredible to have somebody in the Oval Office who not only knew about Muslims, but had living and breathing Muslims in his own family? I told you how important it would be to have a man who not only knew the difference between Shiites and Sunnis prior to 9/11/01 in the Oval Office, but also how important it would be to have a man who knew what Sufism was; a man who understood that there were different branches of Judaism; a man who knew the difference between Hasidic Jews, Orthodox Jews, Conservative Jews and Reformed Jews; and a man who was a devout Christian, but who did not prejudge others because they believed something other than what he believed. I talked about how rare it was to meet a man whose Christianity was not just “in word only.”

I talked about Barack being a person who lived his faith and did not argue his faith. I talked about Barack as a person who did not draw doctrinal lines in the sand nor consign other people to hell if they did not believe what he believed. Out of a two-hour conversation with you about Barack’s spiritual journey and my protesting to you that I had not shaped him nor formed him, that I had not mentored him or made him the man he was, even though I would love to take that credit, you did not print any of that. When I told you, using one of your own Jewish stories from the Hebrew Bible as to how God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?,” that Barack was like that when I met him. Barack had it “in his hand.” Barack had in his grasp a uniqueness in terms of his spiritual development that one is hard put to find in the 21st century, and you did not print that.

As I was just starting to say a moment ago, Jodi, out of two hours of conversation I spent approximately five to seven minutes on Barack’s taking advice from one of his trusted campaign people and deeming it unwise to make me the media spotlight on the day of his announcing his candidacy for the Presidency and what do you print? You and your editor proceeded to present to the general public a snippet, a printed “sound byte” and a titillating and tantalizing article about his disinviting me to the Invocation on the day of his announcing his candidacy. I have never been exposed to that kind of duplicitous behavior before, and I want to write you publicly to let you know that I do not approve of it and will not be party to any further smearing of the name, the reputation, the integrity or the character of perhaps this nation’s first (and maybe even only) honest candidate offering himself for public service as the person to occupy the Oval Office.

Your editor is a sensationalist. For you to even mention that makes me doubt your credibility, and I am looking forward to see how you are going to butcher what else I had to say concerning Senator Obama’s “Spiritual Biography.” Our Conference Minister, the Reverend Jane Fisler Hoffman, a white woman who belongs to a Black church that Hannity of “Hannity and Colmes” is trying to trash, set the record straight for you in terms of who I am and in terms of who we are as the church to which Barack has belonged for over twenty years. The president of our denomination, the Reverend John Thomas, has offered to try to help you clarify in your confused head what Trinity Church is even though you spent the entire weekend with us setting me up to interview me for what turned out to be a smear of the Senator; and yet The New York Times continues to roll on making the truth what it wants to be the truth. I do not remember reading in your article that Barack had apologized for listening to that bad information and bad advice. Did I miss it? Or did your editor cut it out? Either way, you do not have to worry about hearing anything else from me for you to edit or “spin” because you are more interested in journalism than in truth.

Forgive me for having a momentary lapse. I forgot that The New York Times was leading the bandwagon in trumpeting why it is we should have gone into an illegal war. The New York Times became George Bush and the Republican Party’s national “blog.” The New York Times played a role in the outing of Valerie Plame. I do not know why I thought The New York Times had actually repented and was going to exhibit a different kind of behavior. Maybe it was my faith in the Jewish Holy Day of Roshashana. Maybe it was my being caught up in the euphoria of the Season of Lent; but whatever it is or was, I was sadly mistaken. There is no repentance on the part of The New York Times. There is no integrity when it comes to The Times. You should do well with that paper, Jodi. You looked me straight in my face and told me a lie!

Sincerely and respectfully yours,
Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.
Senior Pastor
Trinity United Church of Christ

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Fox News Has No Shame Miseducating the Public

I always love it when The Simpsons, produced at Fox Studios, makes fun of Fox News. They can't help themselves. And with this type of shoddy reporting---purposefully misquoting people, taking things out of context---they deserve it.

Meet the (White) Man Who Inspired Rev. Wright’s Controversial Sermon

Long story short, Rev. Wright was quoting Ed Peck, a (30 year career veteran) US Ambassador to Iraq who had long ago warned against the war in Iraq and also highlighted that there was no relationship between Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. Fox News interviewed him and, of course, he’s apparently not ever been invited back.

Hence, one of Fox News' most egregious examples of purposeful misrepresentation is this one, over Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity Church, of whom I've grown quite fond during these last few days since I've been back home. So, thank you, Fox News, for introducing me to a pastor of the old school. I love the Black Liberation Theologians and Preachers. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was one. Min. Malcolm X was one. Rev. Joseph Lowery is one. And there are so many others, including those who stood up in the Historic Hill District to prevent a casino from being placed in our neighborhood and who demand proper and full reinvestment to our community via a Community Benefits Agreement.

See for yourself and be healed from right wing race-mongering:

And THANK YOU to the Trinity Church member who provided a competing and clarifying narrative for us. Please share with everyone at Trinity that we are rooting for you over here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania!

This Wednesday, March 26, 2008, hear Rev. Jeremiah Wright's speech that is now known as the "God-damned America" speech. The accurate title is "Confusing God and Government" but who cares about the facts, right?:

Ebony Spectrum- Black Talk Radio-WRCT FM 88.3 (<-- click for webcast)
Host: Rick Adams, Co-Host Producer: Kevin Amos
Every Wednesday 6-7 PM EST/DST

"God Bless America . . . and nobody else!" (Chris Rock, "Head of State")

Friday, March 21, 2008

Coming Back to America's B.S.

I just want to say, when I was in Dubai, I was constantly surrounded by human beings from:

the Philippines
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
and the United States

and while there, met people from all of the aforementioned places plus:


and the list can go on.

Then, of course, I have to come back to the United States that STILL cannot get over Black and White and has yet to accept that reality for African Americans is different than reality for persons who classify themselves as White Americans.

They love Barack Obama in multicultural Dubai. And I love Barack Obama in supposedly multicultural America. Now, I've not seen all of Rev. Wright's commentary but I am already angry about the coverage. So, I was very happy to receive this information in an email---Trinity Church defending itself and providing necessary competing narratives on what it's like to be Black in the USA:

Click here to see all videos IN CONTEXT.

New column coming . . .

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Goodbai, Pittsburgh!

So, I'm on my way to Dubai. See ya in a few. I'll try to blog or something while I'm gone.
For the dude who wrote all of those anonymous responses to my post: You're welcome to post here and I probably won't censor you; but don't be comin' up in my blog cursing everybody out. In fact, don't curse at all or I will reject your postings from now on. And, don't try to spam the blog to make yourself sound like you're more than one person. I let all of your posts go through this time. Next time, they won't. For the record, no matter what you think of anyone else, I would vote for Carl Redwood for City Council as well, especially over Tonya Payne.

Now, Goodbai!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

From Da Burgh to Dubai!


I've been very busy and don't always have time to update my blog. I'm also headed to Dubai for a conference on Women as Global Leaders, so please don't be astonished when I return even more determined and pointed in my criticism than before. Here's an update before I leave and it's a bit of a scathing one at that:

Let's see, we had a very good public hearing at City Council on Monday regarding the Community Benefits Agreement. The Pittsburgh Comet gave a quick update and shared links. I had to give a ten minute presentation on the historical context of "how we got here" and what I choose to call the "tale of two cities" (with an obvious Dickens reference). I hope it went well, folks seemed to appreciate it. But more importantly (and sadly), there was a woman there who was 98 years old and another one at 81 years old who was listing all the properties he'd owned in the past (and some in the present). Endearing and lovely, yes. But it's always so easy to smile at beautiful, elderly people. However, I didn't find it all that endearing because I, for one, do not want to be 98 years old and having to come down to a community meeting over something that should be so basic. This isn't 1958, this is 2008. And I find it rather disgusting, it's not cute at all. They should be sitting around telling us stories about how to better our lives, not having to hustle down to City Council to give testimony to how grand the city's failures have been.

In addition, I am so sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, I wish it were 2009 already so we could vote her up and OUT. It's not about what she did to my brother regarding the Wilson home. And it's not even about anything personal. And Sala Udin has nothing to do with this as far as *I* am concerned. Folks forget a very basic and simple idea --- I DID NOT and DO NOT know Tonya Payne before this whole thing started. And by whole thing I mean a rich, white corporation attempting to put a casino in my poor, black neighborhood and a rich, white corporation taking money from the taxpayers in this blue-collar city and then trying not to reinvest with anything substantial in my poor, black neighborhood and/or to dictate how their "reinvestment" will be spent, when the neighbors have come together over the last TWO years to *further* determine what we need and want in the here and now.

It's not a grocery store, goddammit! Our children are DYING. Get it? Dying!

I told Pgh United this from the very beginning. We shared this within One Hill. We told them not to let anyone market this bullcrap to us from the start. Of course a grocery store is an easy win and another way to GET MONEY from people in the neighborhood.

And so, I am sick of everybody at this point. And I am most sick of my City Council representative, Tonya Payne, because she has wasted our entire community's time for the last two years. If we had someone really fighting for us, really going to bat for us AND (this is key, so pay attention) in the positions that she has been in (Planning and Zoning, the URA, close association with Mayor Ravenstahl and David Morehouse of the Penguins), we would not have to waste one moment of our time having to protest. We would be able to simply shake hands with the Mayor, shake hands with the Pens, shake hands with Dan Onorato and applaud our collective vision and masterplan for reinvestment.

But no. We are people who have the least amount of time to be dealing with this foolishness, we have the least amount of resources to do it and the most amount to lose. We should be focused on the positive energy of development and not have to run and protest and put out fires and stop the steamroll at every term. And to know there is someone in place who could really be an asset to our neighborhood and not just an ass, is incredibly disheartening, annoying and disappointing. THAT is why I am angry and I have every right to be. And you should be too!

And not only that, I am upset because I consider it entirely disrespectful to have the majority of speakers at a public hearing reflective of YOUR district and when it is time to say anything (I mean, anything) to them, you shake your head and purse your lips into a 'no comment' and then the moment Council President Doug Shields says "move to adjourn", you yell out "SECOND!"

I then walk outside (I'm kinda rushing now because I've been there since 10:00am, it's 12:30pm and I have a class at 1:00pm) and the moment I walk out of the chamber doors, I hear Tonya Payne talking to Jeremy Boren of the Trib saying, "I don't know why people are saying the Pens aren't at the table. If you asked them, they would say they never left the table." Now, I heard this with my own ears. Why this didn't make it in the papers is beyond me.

But I find it sickening that you have nothing to say to someone who is 98 years old. I find it repulsive that you can't even muster up a "thank you all for coming to speak out", especially when no one said anything negative about her (and I had ten minutes to do so if I had wanted to) or anything of the sort. This is why I made a comment to Jeremy and then Tonya interrupted me saying I don't know what she does. Precisely, Tonya. Precisely.

And I know this is bigger than someone the likes of Tonya Payne. And I am not blaming her for coming up with these rude and callous ideas regarding our neighborhood. There is no doubt that we will be having a different kind of convo with David Morehouse, Ron Burkle and some others. And, certainly, I haven't forgotten about Ron Porter's shady behind, talking about "the mentality of entitlement is a tough one to crack." Negro, are you crazy? I mean, really, ARE. YOU. CRAZY??? He should be asked to permanently leave the Hill House Association Board immediately. And I am 100% serious about that. From betraying the community on the Pittsburgh Gaming Task Force to this---enough is enough!

But for now, for Tonya Payne, who was elected by the people and on a platform of change, I am saying that she has a part to play, she is in a prime position to play it well (not bent over) and I do not feel she is even remotely protecting us and is only protecting her next election interests. But that is already a wrap, so she might as well do what she must to leave an important legacy and contribute something tangible during this one-time-only period as our rep.

Shame on you, Tonya Payne. Just shame on you for everything you have done and NOT done. People elected you because they believed you might make a difference. And all you have done was to make things worse.

Tonya Payne does not deserve to be our representative. And I am calling on all of the people who remotely thought putting her in office was a good idea to please get your ballots ready to put her OUT.

As for all of the rest of you that are too afraid to say anything to or about Tonya (or the Mayor or County Exec or the Pens or anyone else), please remember that "fear and God do not occupy th same space". If you care so much and claim to be working on our behalf, when the hell are you going to say something publicly and do something about it?

When will it be convenient for you to do ANYTHING at all?

Be happy I'm going to Dubai.

But I'll be back!