Sunday, March 30, 2008

a less circulated response to Obama's Speech

as far as im concerned, Mumia Abu-Jamal is one of the most articulate and knowledgeable people in this country. his imprisonment represents the intense fear in this country of people who seek the truth, and wish to expose it.

here is his response to Obama's speech....

The Politician and the Preacher

by Mumia Abu-Jamal [written 3/15/08]

The recent quasi-controversy over the comments made by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, retired pastor of the United Church of Christ, to which Sen. Barack Obama (D.IL), both belongs and attends, has shown us how limited, and how narrow, is this new politics peddled by the freshman Senator from Chicago.

Although first popularized via the web, the Reverend’s comments caused Sen. Obama to say he was “appalled” by them, and he has repudiated such remarks as “offensive.”

Just what were these comments? As far as I’ve heard, they were that Sen. Hilary Clinton (D.NY) has had a political advantage because she’s white; that she was raised in a family of means (especially when contrasted with Obama’s upbringing); and she was never called a n*gger.

Sounds objectively true to me.

Rev. Wright’s other remarks were that the country was built on racism, is run by rich white people, and that the events of 9/11 was a direct reaction to US foreign policy.

Again — true enough.

And while we can see how such truths might cause discomfort to American nationalists, can we not also agree that they are truths? Consider, would Sen. Clinton be where she is if she were born in a Black female body? Or if she were born to a single mother in the projects? As for the nation, it may be too simplistic to say it was built on racism, but was surely built on racial slavery, from which its wealth was built. And who runs America, if not the super rich white elites? Who doesn’t know that politicians are puppets of corporate and inherited wealth?

And while Blacks of wealth and means certainly are able to exercise unprecedented influence, we would be insane to believe that they ‘run’ this country. Oprah, Bob Johnson and Bill Cosby are indeed wealthy; but they have influence, not power. The limits of Cosby’s power was shown when he tried to purchase the TV network, NBC, years ago. His offer received a corporate smirk. And Oprah’s wealth, while remarkable, pales in comparison to the holdings of men like Bill Gates, or Warren Buffet.

Would George W. Bush be president today if he were named Jorje Guillermo Arbusto, and Mexican-American? (Not unless Jorje, Sr. was a multimillionaire!)

In his ambition to become America’s first Black president, Obama is in a race to prove how Black he isn’t; even to denouncing a man he has considered his mentor.

As one who has experienced the Black church from the inside, politics and social commentary are rarely far from the pulpit. The Rev. Dr. Martin L. King spoke of politics, war, racism, economics, and social justice all across America. His fair-weather friends betrayed him, and the press condemned his remarks as “inappropriate”, “unpatriotic”, and “controversial.”

Rev. Dr. King said the US was “the greatest purveyor of violence” on earth, and that the Vietnam War was illegitimate and unjust. Would Sen. Obama be denouncing these words, as the white press, and many civil rights figures did, in 1967? Are they “inflammatory?”

Only to politics based on white, corporate comfort uber alles (above all)” only to a politics that ignores Black pain, and distorts Black history; only to a politics pitched more to the status quo, than to real change. Politics is ultimately about more than winning elections; it’s about principles; it’s about being true to one’s self, and honoring one’s ancestors; it’s about speaking truth to power. It can’t just be about change, because every change ain’t for the better! –(c) -08 maj

[Thanks to Prison Radio for making this available. Mumia Abu-Jamal’s Radio Broadcasts, Higher Quality Audio files available, copyright 2008 Mumia Abu-Jamal/Prison Radio recorded 3/16/08, 1) 3:01 Radio Essay - short - Mp3 2) 3:36 Radio Essay - long - Mp3 Mr. Jamal’s recent book features a chapter on the remarkable women who helped build and defend the Black Panther Party: *WE WANT FREEDOM: A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South End Press (; Ph. #1-800-533-8478.]


goc said...

THANK YOU! I thought I was going crazy b/c everyone else was goin gaga over Obama's "race speech". An added thought: this speech also goes to show that Obama is really not above succumbing to special interest groups pressure. A lot of people have excused his comments about the Palestinian struggle against Israel as something he had to do. Well, isn't that the very SI group pressure he's been railing against ... it starts with a speech and goes onto massive amounts of monetary funding.

goc said...

Obviously I have been holding in my response to the speech ... but I do believe Obama's characterization of slavery as the sin of the founding of America (insert exact quote here) fails to take into account the sin of GENOCIDE and OCCUPATION. I guess I am unpatriotic, but thats cool cause im not American.

kg said...

well, i definitely agree with you. however, i think there's a difference between being excited over obama's speech because he talked about institutionalized racism during a presidential campaign AND thinking that hes a savior for black and brown people all over the map.

his speech was important to me because he did mention things that many major politicians haven't said since the 60's. however, it is our responsibility, not his, to continue these discussions in our workplaces, school, and friends. because one man isnt gonna do anything for us. liberation must be from the bottom up.

Grace said...

Thank you for posting this!! It was a breath of fresh air to read Mumia's response. I enjoyed the second half of Obama's speech but I felt in the first half he distanced himself too much from Rev. Wright.

I really love your posts!

kg said...

yea, the first half was capital g.

the second half seemed real, less political, and more heartfelt.

Rev. C. Solomon said...

What we are witnessing is a throwback to a time, just over 100 years ago, when white administrators were appointed to oversee black churches.

Those white administrators, often sat in the pulpits of the black church, to ensure that blacks were not organizing a black insurrection.

For the first time, since the civil rights movement (and the bombing of a black church), white ire has been stirred.

We should reopen the investigations and consider again why so many black churches were burned to the ground a decade ago.

All black ministers should be more cognizant, not paranoid, with respect to the visitors who come to your church in the near future!