“This most recent attack on the black church is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church, ” Rev. Jeremiah Wright said at the National Press Club in Washington on Monday. Senator Barack Obama responded to the remarks rejecting them as divisive and not accurately reflective of the black church. The Real News Network’s Matt Palevsky spoke to students at Howard University about Wright’s comments and Obama’s response.
MATTHEW PALEVSKY, JOURNALIST, TRNN: Jeremiah Wright has claimed that his recent television appearances have been in the defense of the Black church. But Senator Obama has come out saying that his appearances have been divisive and that he does not accurately represent the views of the Black church. I’m at Howard University to see if students here can parse out any truth from the recent firestorm of rhetoric.
RESPONDENT 1: I am Black. I’ve been Black for about 21 years now, and I’ve gone to a lot of Black churches. And a lot of black churches aren’t going to talk on, like, political issues like he was talking about.
RESPONDENT 2: I think that the media has taken it out of context, in that they felt that his comments were meant to incite people to look negatively on Caucasians, and that’s not the truth. That’s not what they do in Black churches.
RESPONDENT 1: I go to Howard University, and the churches on this campus are different from the churches off this campus. They’re more conservative here. You would never get that type of talk from the reverends that work at the chapel.
RESPONDENT 3: We haven’t really had a really frank discussion about race in this country. We started one back in the ’60s. That got truncated because it was uncomfortable.
RESPONDENT 1: I don’t want a bullshit president. Like, I don’t want somebody that’s just, like, “Yeah, America’s perfect,” because if America’s perfect, why are you running for it? He might actually believe a lot of what Rev. Wright was saying, but he’s got to [inaudible] and be, like, “Oh, no, I’m separating myself from that.” And he shouldn’t have to.
RESPONDENT 4: It’s only that way because he’s Black. If the same things happen with John McCain, if his pastor was saying all these things, it would not be put all over CNN. So I think it needs to be, but it’s not going to be.
RESPONDENT 1: Rev. Wright addressed problems inside of his own frank way. If Obama could kind of coincide with some of those issues and maybe do it a little more tactfully, then I think that he would be on the right track and he would be better for it. I don’t know if that would win in the candidacy, but he’d be more true to himself.
RESPONDENT 3: —Obama, the Black folks who saw that broadcast, that the response was virtually nil. It didn’t make a ripple. It was kind of old news. It was made large because it was connected to this Black candidate.
RESPONDENT 4: But he is not Barack Obama. That’s a place where Barack Obama chooses to worship. And he spreads his form of belief, so that, you know, nobody has highlighted how Rev. Wright feels about, you know, God or those spiritual—. They’re just talking about how he feels about America. Just because my pastor hates carrots doesn’t mean that I hate carrots too.
RESPONDENT 3: The content may be the same, the meaning may be the same, but the delivery is generally less acidic.
RESPONDENT 1: Racism and our view in America is not going to be lifted strictly from Barack Obama being in office. It’s not like, “Oh, we all good now! We’re going to be winning Oscars every year.” Like, no, none of that is going to happen. So for him not to win and then people to blame it on Rev. Wright does not mean that Black people are even lower now.
RESPONDENT 3: To condemn him I would have to deny the reality of his experience. That’s nonsense. I’ve had that same kind of experience.
RESPONDENT 1: Clearly our beliefs, our true beliefs, are more important than a front of “We’re all good because there’s a Black person in office.” I’d rather stick with our beliefs and not have the front of Barack Obama inside [inaudible].
Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.