(A.M. Secrest was creator of the journalism program at North Carolina Central University in the mid 1970s. He taught journalism at NCCU until he retired in 1985.)
I think very little of Glen Ford's article, "Obama's 'Race-Neutral Strategy Unravels of Its Own Contradictions" in BlackAgendaReport.com, though it is interesting and thought-provoking. (Hat tip to Jim Buie, "Obama, Caught Between White World and Black World," for the article).
I myself doubt that black Americans agree more with Rev. Wright than with Barack Obama, and I do not believe that Wright's church or its black liberation theology is typical of black churches nationally.
If black Americans set themselves against white Americans, they will lose -- economically, politically, and socially.
Ford ignores the rising black middle class, may of whom don't even go to church. If black nationalism (as articulated by Rev. Wright) is going to trump American nationalism and black leaders think they can forever get political mileage and economic gain by playing victim, hating whites,and playing upon white liberal guilt, they will lose -- first, sympathy, then good will, then political power, and then things could really go down hill fast.
I suspect that of those in the 12% minority, few are black separatists and nationalists like Rev. Wright and black separatists like Mr. Ford, and most of those who are pay a very heavy price and create a self-fulfilling prophecy of poverty and degradation through self-segregation.
Obama in my opinion stands to lose almost no votes from his falling out with Wright. Blacks will continue to support him. Real black leaders are those, or should be those, who emphasize to black parents, and black youths, the need for self improvement. To the extent that the Nation of Islam has done that, and even churches like Rev. Wright's that have done that, they deserve credit. Which is not to say they shouldn't be held accountable for illogical race-based statements.
If Glen Ford is right, there is no possible reconciliation between black nationalists and white Americans, and no possible political room for a candidate such as Obama, who Ford says comes down on the side of the white status quo. Then the alternative is racial strife, and perhaps racial warfare.
Black Americans were naturally slower to assimilate than European Americans did, because white people didn't ALLOW them to, due to the traditions of slavery and then segregation and all the social and cultural myths (and truths) that emerged from those original sins.
But black people and black churches seemed to rise above all this mistreatment and discrimination until black separatism and black nationalism emerged upon the scene. Part of that emergence can be blamed on the slowness of the nation to enforce the Brown v. Board of Education desegregation decision between 1954 and 1964, and the crimes committed in the name of the Deep South declaring "segregation forever," where de facto segregation was so entrenched for so long.
But white America has made changes, and often led changes in race relations for the better. Considering the course of history, changes in racial attitudes and patterns have changed remarkably over my lifetime.
Everything should no longer be viewed through the prism of race. In the long run who Barack Obama associated with shouldn't be the focus point of the campaign. It should be about the issues that people really care about--war, peace, economy, inflation, health care, etc. But right now, unfortunately, the campaign is all about race...Obsessions about race will not move this country forward.