June 1, 2008

Obama Outgrew Trinity

Obama and wife Michelle announced their decision today to leave Trinity United Church of Christ. I continue to be impressed by Obama's sense of political timing, timing the announcement so that it was partially overshadowed by the day long drama of the Rules & Bylaws Committee. Tomorrow the pundits and press will have to decide which story to give more time, the fact that Obama's ascendancy to the head of the democratic party is nearly complete, or he and Michelle's pragmatic shedding of the association with Trinity to stanch the political bleeding. Gina, WAOD's High Priestess said she didn't blame them.

"If I was held responsible for every word that came out of someone else's mouth and they continued to say stuff that kept me constantly embroiled in controversy"

My lovely Alaine makes the additional point that these pastor eruptions are out of order anyway, because what they ought to be talking about is Jesus and the Word of God. Had Pastor Pfleger been doing more teaching about the Savior and less opining about white supremacy, we wouldn't be having this conversation. I think I agree with Gina's point and Alaines as far as they go, but really there is more to this. Obama has been at Trinity 20 years and I for one don't believe he didn't know the nature of the political views of Trinity's congregation or its pastor. Of course he knew and my takeaway from that conclusion is that he probably identified with it at one time, but has outgrown it. There was a time I was a stalwart democrat, when I was very liberal in my social and political views. I've outgrown that and I think Obama has outgrown the political thinking of Trinity's leadership and most of its congregation, which lets face it, is politically positioned right in the middle of black American political sentiment. Tiffie30, a commenter on Monroe Anderson's blog, put it this way.

"As a black woman, I found myself disagreeing -- like the majority of his congregation and black Americans -- that white folks owe us stuff. What precisely are Father Pfleger and Rev. Wright advocating? Reparations? His bit on Hillary was hilarious, but his previous, angry racial comments blunted that humor. Trinity and Barack obviously don't see matters of race the same way(all one has to do is listen to his race speech). I mean, Barack is a guy who believes his daughters should not benefit from affirmative action at the expense of poor whites. That's the polar opposite of reparations. The truth is that the majority of black folks have moved on but Trinity leaders have not."

I totally agree with her point about Barack moving on, though I think she completely gets it wrong about Trinity's congregation or the majority of Black America. The truth is that Trinity's leadership and its congregates are stuck in an ineffective mobius loop of racial victimhood. That their political understanding has a basis and is rooted in a concrete reality and history doesn't change the fact that its ineffective and unproductive. It does not advance our interests to wallow in victimization and indeed in this instance, arguably does our group interests harm as their self righteous "afrocentric to the core" antics impede Obama's run, to no good purpose. They seem nearly powerless to help themselves in this regard.

The really problematic part of this though, is that at least 60% of Black America is politically standing shoulder to shoulder with Trinity and Plfeger and Wright. And this focus on victimization over accountability continues to be the stumbling block in the path of Black America.