Rev. Wright’s comments not in context

The media needs to contextualize the discussion of race in the United States.

Recently, Sen. Barack Obama became the presumptive presidential nominee for the Democratic Party and now has to focus on the challenges he will face in the general election. One of those challenges will be his affiliation with the Trinity United Church of Christ and its former pastor Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Wright created a firestorm that nearly derailed Obama’s bid for the Democratic nomination when video of one of his sermons surfaced on the Internet. In that sermon, Wright made several controversial comments that outraged many Americans. And in light of Obama’s 20-year relationship with Wright and the church, the media and many Americans began to question the authenticity of Obama´s message of unity.

While this may be a fair response considering the fact that Obama is vying for the highest office in the land, the media has failed to sufficiently analyze the comments of Wright and put them in their proper context, which is unfair and an extreme violation of journalistic standards and has hurt the national discourse on race in the United States.

During the sermon in question, Wright referred to the United States as the “USA of KKK.” But before chastising him for affiliating the United States with the Klu Klux Klan, one should examine where this rhetoric originates. Wright came of age in the 1960s, which was an era in which the Klu Klux Klan flourished in the United States. I can only speculate as to whether or not Wright personally felt the wrath of the Klu Klux Klan, but he certainly heard about its atrocious deeds.

While the impact of the Klu Klux Klan has dwindled, it still has a significant presence in the United States, thus Wright’s comment.

Of Wright’s comments that were plastered on headlines across the nation, none sparked more outrage than when he said “G-d damn America.” But this too must be put in its proper context. As I mentioned before, Wright grew up in an era in which schools, restaurants and busses were segregated. This was the law of the land. Laws that were created by an American Congress, signed into law by an American president and imposed by an American court system.

Considering this, I find it amazing that more of blacks who dealt with such degradation don’t say “G-d damn America.”

The media has an obligation to provide the public with credible information and put it in its proper context by revealing as many points of view as possible, but in this instance that obligation was not fulfilled. The media’s failure lie in its unwillingness to reveal the point of view of black men who have dealt with racism, which would have allowed the American public to see the real newsworthy information in this story, which was our need as a country to ask ourselves: Was Rev. Wright right?

Anthony Kiekow welcomes comments at [email protected]