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Reflections on Reverend Lowery and embracing what is right…

On inauguration day, I happened to be off work, and I decided to live blog. I created a dozen or so posts on everything from political fashion (a new interest of mine), to a tree on the white house lawn, to the speeches and prayers being said.

I was shocked when one of my short posts and spur-of-the moment observations became our highest hit-getter in 30 days! My post about Reverend Lowery’s ending prayer/benediction received over 7,000 hits so far (that’s in 5 days), and over 300 comments. The dialogue has quieted down somewhat, and that thread has gotten long. I wanted to add one profound thought from a wise woman as a possible ending or closure to the topic.

Comments from Colia Clark

I have had the pleasure of working with Colia Clark on the Cynthia McKinney campaign for Green Party President. Colia Clark is a civil rights veteran. She worked with several prominent rights organizations, including the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Ms. Clark was a special assistant to Medgar Evers, and worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., and with Coretta Scott King in the civil rights movement. She has a Master’s degree from Albany State University in Georgia and was the founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People Youth Council in North Jackson, Miss.

Here are Colia Clark’s reflections (a private e-mail I asked her if I could share) on Reverend Joseph Lowery‘s Inauguration Benediction:

Rev. Lowery’s poem is a reworking of a kids taunt characterizing the way in which racism worked for Africans in USA internally and externally and its internal impact on Africans: ” If you are Black get back, If you are Red you dead, If you are Brown stick around, If you are Yellow you are mellow and if you are White you are alright. His was a unique rendering of the taunt games of my youth and yes they were not only then and now an accurate depiction but also a warning for the throw down. Draw the line the colors are being exposed as they operate in the good ole home of democracy. Please have all Black and Red children to turn off the idiot box cause there is little of them shining there.

Also, if you would like to continue to study this topic… – what is racism? how much of racism is left in our culture? how do we dismantle racism? – or, if you have a group that would enjoy a facilitated conversation on the topic, I have two suggestions of places to turn.  Erase Racism is a Long Island based group which does research about institutional and structural racism. These structural vestiges of racism are part of what some white people don’t seem to understand when they feel that if they are not racists, black people are not oppressed. The oppression is built in. And, we must all struggle against it together. “Opening Hearts and Minds” is a small business that offers various kinds of workshops in diversity appreciation, dismantling racism, etc. I took a week long Dismantling Racism workshop with them as part of a Green Party meeting, and I learned a lot about myself, my colleagues, our organization and the world.

Bonus video: If you got this far, we would love to share with you a brief glimpse of Colia Clark’s wisdom and energy. Colia has a long history of activism and scholarship, and the Green Party has been pleased to recently enjoy a taste of it:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ESZIlOkhIR8]

One Response

  1. KW writes:Gerry Vazquez is a respected colleague of mine here in Long Island. Gerry posted this over at the other Reverend Lowery post, and I thought it was useful to have it here as well:

    from Gerry Vazquez:

    Submitted on 2009/01/26 at 12:27am

    Folks following this thread may be interested in Hua Hsu’s “The End of White America?” (The Atlantic, Jan/Feb/2009). http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200901/end-of-whiteness

    “The Election of Barack Obama is just the most startling manifestation of a larger trend: the gradual erosion of “whiteness” as the touchstone of what it means to be American. If the end of white America is a cultural and demographic inevitability, what will the new mainstream look like—and how will white Americans fit into it? What will it mean to be white when whiteness is no longer the norm? And will a post-white America be less racially divided—or more so?”

    The following Q and A is from the Race Traitor Journal mentioned mentioned by HSU:

    Q: Why do you hate me simply because I have white skin?

    A: You have misunderstood our meaning. We do not hate you or anyone else for the color of her skin. What we hate is a system that confers privileges (and burdens) on people because of their color. It is not fair skin that makes people white; it is fair skin in a certain kind of society, one that attaches social importance to skin color. When we say we want to abolish the white race, we do not mean we want to exterminate people with fair skin. We mean that we want to do away with the social meaning of skin color, thereby abolishing the white race as a social category. Consider this parallel: To be against royalty does not mean wanting to kill the king. It means wanting to do away with crowns, thrones, titles, and the privileges attached to them. In our view, whiteness has a lot in common with royalty: they are both social formations that carry unearned advantages.

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