Thursday, March 20, 2008

Is there power in optimism?

There are times when I very much want to give up on the world. I watched I am Legend (awesome, scary movie) on the plane ride home from Birmingham, AL and wanted to be depressed that an actor who I have enjoyed and respected as much as Will Smith is apparently getting sucked up into Scientology, but then I re-read the speech from Barack Obama and decided I would at least wait until the Democratic convention before I give up all hope on humanity.

And this helps explain, perhaps, my relationship with Reverend Wright. As imperfect as he may be, he has been like family to me. He strengthened my faith, officiated my wedding, and baptized my children. Not once in my conversations with him have I heard him talk about any ethnic group in derogatory terms, or treat whites with whom he interacted with anything but courtesy and respect. He contains within him the contradictions - the good and the bad - of the community that he has served diligently for so many years.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother - a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

These people are a part of me. And they are a part of America, this country that I love.

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