Local Vocal: Lessons learned in the continuing discussion on race relations

by Derrick Motley

First let me commend you on your well-written, balanced and informative article [“The speech Obama couldn’t give”; March 26, 2008; by Jordan Green] on the current “controversy” concerning Senator Obama and Rev. Wright. As an African-American man, it was refreshing to see journalism that spoke in the interest of truth and understanding as it relates to race relations in America.

Your article touched on difficult racial, political and historical realities that are rarely dealt with beyond the surface without the requisite fear mongering and hysteria. I have white friends and colleagues that scoff at the notion that they have it “easy” in life just because they are white. They are working two jobs and continue to live paycheck to paycheck; some are unemployed; they are baffled and insulted when they hear black people say that they have it easier because of white skin privilege. This is not their reality.

It is acknowledged that blacks have been the recipients of ill treatment, but many whites often fail to see that white supremacy is still alive and has taken on a more subtle, refined form. This is not playing the race card; this is a reality that black people live out day to day.

Many blacks fail to acknowledge, or are even aware of the number of poor whites who are living below the poverty level in this country. Many of my black friends are amazed when they are informed as to the number of whites who are struggling to maintain a decent quality of life in this country, albeit without the burden of color prejudice.

I have heard the sermon in question by the Rev. Wright, and I don’t see where his information is incorrect. You can debate whether AIDS is man-made genocide perpetrated by the US government; that is up for scrutiny. What is not debatable is the long history of the US government’s use of covert and overt tactics to destroy and neutralize populations it has classified as an enemy, whether they be black, white or other.

As you mentioned in your article, the fiery nature and legacy of some black preachers can be misconstrued by those unfamiliar with the history and traditions of the black church.

The issue of US imperialism is definitely a complex matter that I won’t touch on. I read between the lines in your article; hence the title. Without accessing alternative forms of media and information with minimal distortion, the propaganda machine will continue to play games with the minds and lives of the masses of people, many whom are college educated and sincerely believe that they are well read and informed about the truth.

As a college graduate myself, I’ve spent over 13 years working with youth in my native state of New York, and I can say my true educational journey began when I completed my formal schooling. I have had to unlearn a lot of untruths, lies and distortions from my previous education/training. I will continue to read YES! Weekly, as well as The Rhinoceros Times, although I disagree with their positions on many issues. I wish you continued success on your journey to inform the community and inspire your readers to peel back the layers of an issue and analyze it thoroughly before making an uniformed, hasty judgment.

Derrick Motley lives in Thomasville