Friday, November 7, 2008

Race, Hope and Obama

What I'm about to post may seem a little contradictory in some minds to what I have been saying about Obama so far. Especially if your thinking is primarily non-urban conservative, White and Evangelical in nature.

While I have stated my disappointment with Obama the man in no uncertain terms, I know that his victory has a great deal of good attached to it, and is very meaningful for minorities. It is particularly meaningful for African Americans - even ones who passionately voted for McCain and who oppose the political philosophy of Obama. It should be meaningful to anyone who cares about people or race or the work of Jesus in this world.

This creates a tension that those of us who are conservative must all live in, if we are to be responsible: We celebrate the accomplishment but not the man who accomplished it. We celebrate the historical moment even if the politics involved are abhorrent to us. A personal tension for me is that I really believe it was morally wrong to vote for Obama. I think that such a vote amounts to sanctioning his outspoken advocacy of abortion rights. Yet I feel compelled to stick up for Christians of color who voted for him.

But there is something else we must understand: What this means to those who have historically been disenfranchised. It is simply huge.

The post is from my friend and fellow blogger Shlomo, who is an African-American Jewish Christian. While I may not see things exactly the way he does, he has profound points, and he articulates the heart of so many African-Americans. Something it would pay all of us White Evangelicals to strive to understand.

Shlomo on Race, Hope and Obama

Wednesday, November 05, 2008
We Have Been Slightly Healed

Even though I don't hold to the notion that President-elect Obama will solve all of our racial ills, I do believe that merely by becoming our nation's next President he has already set in motion a course of events that will aid in our healing. The first level of healing that I believe we will experience is a restoration of hope.

Prior to this election, I don't think that most Afro-Americans actually believed they had a real stake in the American Dream. Surely there was real and sustained progress today in comparison to the horrors of the Jim Crow Era and legalized segregation and social exclusion. Surely there were examples of numerous Blacks who were now rich and famous, but this was not by any means the same Dream which most Americans aspired towards. Only one in ten thousand of the youth on the local basketball courts will make it to the NBA, and even fewer still will land a recording contract and earn fame and riches as a rap artist or a music legend. The American Dream that says, if you work hard and remain dedicated to the principles of self-sacrifice and deferred gratification, then no opportunity or goal shall long remain beyond your grasp. "You can do and be anything you want," is the standard refrain which usually fell on deaf ears.

With Barack Obama's success I believe that the Afro-American imagination has been slightly healed and started back on the path towards restoration and healthy hopefulness. There is a lot more work that remains yet undone. Past hurts and injuries will not simply go away by ignoring them. The prior policy of benign neglect has not been helpful, but rather has strengthened our sense of wounded self esteem and fortified our identity as perpetual victims. When we were faced with not only individual personal attacks, but also a systemic, and therefore institutional, assault via a string of legal decrees, we began to lose hope and our individual and collective psyche was damaged. The most potent aspect of this psychological wounding is known as internalized oppression (the situation where a victim agrees with his/her oppressor and sees himself as of lesser worth or value as a person).

Merely by acknowledging our former state of injury we are affirmed as real persons and thusly a slight healing can begin. In order to progress further we will need to find a means of remedy for the harm inflicted, but our proper starting place lies in facing the past honestly. Barack Obama has repeatedly stated that our national legacy of racial exclusion must be addressed and thus he speaks words of hope to the masses of black and other minorities. The hope is first hinted at by the clear statement that our Nation’s past actions were wrong and therefore need to be acknowledged as such. Such an acknowledgment would give a sense of dignity and worth to black people who were previously regarded as either 3/5 of a person or else mere candidates for chattel slavery (see the US Constitution Article One Section 2 and The Supreme Court Decision in the Dred Scott Case).

The second step on the path to a state of National Health and Wholeness is the forming of new partnerships, not built on the partisan divisions of the past, but rather on the realities of the present. E pluribus Unum – out of many, one (people). Our National unity is presumed as the backbone and foundation of our ideals. Although there are many different ethnic groups represented in our country, we must no longer see ourselves as Red States and Blue States, as White Americans and Black Americans, as Latino, Asian or Native Americans. Instead we must recognize that we are the United States of America. I believe that Barack’s success gives hope and substance to this new/renewed vision of modern America. It’s not the America that has been, but rather the America that should be. I feel that President-elect Obama has created the possibility for our country to have a new and honest conversation about race, and other such divisive issues, and to therefore move forward into the future together, as partners rather than as partisans.


Labels: ,


Blogger JP Paulus said...

What you wrote is "contradictory" to the non believer.

But to me, it's living out Romans 14, in a sense. The Scripture how on some issues, believers can be passionate about yet fall on different sides.

Do you think we can have these discussions just before the next elections start stirring that believers can prepare, and not attack each other (which usually happens to emotions and no plan to address those emotions when the hit hard)?

Steve, i'd like to nominate you to be president of Focus on the Family!

November 9, 2008 at 6:40 AM  
Blogger Steve said...


November 9, 2008 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Shlomo said...


Hey Pastor Steve,

Thanks for reposting my thoughts, both here as well as on your Xanga site. I kind of hoped there would be some greater response, but I have learned a while back not to expect too much here in cyberspace. My basic feeling, and hope, is that some seeds are being planted which will sprout forth at a later time.



November 11, 2008 at 10:26 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Something is emerging, brother.

I beleive it will transcend the historical political divide among Christians.

We'll see...

November 12, 2008 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Eliot said...

What do you mean "outspoken advocacy of abortion rights" and "disappointment with Obama the man"?

November 12, 2008 at 9:02 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

I can tell you don't blog much, Eliot...

The tone of our discussions is usually a bit more civil ;0)

I watched his speech at Planned Parenthood. He tipped his hand regarding abortion there. In fact, he tipped his hand just by being there before he even said a word, but his words revealed his heart, nonetheless.

This is from his website: "REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE
Supports a Woman's Right to Choose:
Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women's rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's decision in that case.

I'm not sure how many ways you can interpret that.

As for my disappointment with Obama himself - I think I explained that, but I'll say it again in brief: He claims on one hand to care about justice for the oppressed and minorities, but supports the right to have an abortion, which denies justice to the most defenseless of all people. That is profoundly disappointing.

His stunt with Rahm Emanuel was disappointing.

His stand on gay rights is disappointing. While he seems to oppose gay marriage, he voted against the Defense of Marriage act, which is a bit contradictory.

Otherwise, he got a very high grade from Human Rights Campaign. Here's the site:

So, yeah, I'm disappointed.

I know those are the "typical" issues for many conservatives, but they are significant concerns for a reason. A person's stands on these issues does tell you a lot about the person, generally.

November 12, 2008 at 12:30 PM  
Blogger Eliot said...

I can't remember which post it was, but you mentioned Glenn Poshard.

Let's go back to that situation. At the time, who would most Christians have voted for? I'm sure the majority of Evangelicals put George Ryan in office. Even though Poshard was a social conservative and a populist (both of which I support), most Evangelicals would automatically vote for George Ryan because he was a Republican.

I'm mentioning this because of the idea that Republican=good seems to be rampant among Evangelicals. Democrats are all bad, and Republicans are good. I mean, I've heard of Christians registering as Democrats just to vote against them. And that is what I have a problem with.

If George Ryan ran again, against let's say a moderate/left Democrat, with all the issues of corruption we no know (some of which came up in the election and he STILL won), what's the Christian to do?

I wish a Glenn Poshard would run again.

November 18, 2008 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

No argument there, bro.

Glenn Poshard was the better choice, and Evangelicals largely defaulted Republican on that one. To our shame.

Thus the need to transcend political partisanship and vote Kingdom values whenever and to whatever extent possible.

November 19, 2008 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger 香魚烘蛋Tata said...


June 3, 2010 at 5:14 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home