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Making political sense of an "outraged sensibility": Whiteness, Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama

Some white people, including white queers, in this country (and still, far too few of us white people) have chosen to work for social justice, including racial justice. Some actively oppose the structures that prevent people from living life on their terms. Some come out of the privilege-closet for protecting voting rights, preventing discrimination, fighting for poor people's self-determination, and supporting political candidates that reflect their values.

Fewer white people enliven their commitment to freedom and fuller humanity by re-learning history. Re-learning the history of this country enhances attempts to show up and confront injustice alongside those who live it, inherit it and never forgot it the first time. Re-education puts our hope and individual actions into a movement-building context. Without this re-education, the recent conflict between Pastor Jeremiah Wright and Senator Barack Obama has the potential to confuse, alarm and upset white people--those who support Obama and those who don't.

In his article, "Of National Lies and Racial Amnesia: Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama, and the Audacity of Truth," one white guy, Tim Wise, a long-time and well-respected white antiracist writer-educator (, really helped me connect the historical struggles to the current political landscape embedded in this conflict and escape the vacuum of the monolithic media frenzy. He provides an opportunity for a piece of this re-education right here and now. So, if you're white like me and you like justice, read this article--it might be helpful in working for change with sincerity and simultaneously, continuing to question the pre-established ways of being American and white.

Here is the link to the article:

These are some questions that came up for me while reading: What happens when political leaders who offer up hope for the vision of justice suddenly say something I know isn't true? How can I be sincere in my commitment to anti-racist movement building when it doesn't make me feel "nice"? How do I both act in support of individual political leaders of color and also, refuse to again accept inaccurate retellings of the past and mis-representations of a minister of color's anger? How do I share both my outrage toward injustice and my hope for the future?

What came up for you?

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