In the latest issue of The Economist (May 3rd-9th, 2008), there is an article addressing the fallout of Rev. Jerermiah Wright’s recent public comments about Barack Obama, among other things, and Obama’s response to it etc.
For me the most poignant part of the article was the summation paragraph:
But there is also something deeper here: a generational struggle for control of black politics. Mr Wright belongs to a generation of activists—Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are other prominent members—who thrived in part by playing to the resentments of their black supporters. Mr Obama belongs to a much more pragmatic generation, people who want to get beyond racial polarisation and enter the political mainstream. Mr Wright’s generation is not about to leave the stage quietly. So much the worse for America.
The bullshit drama playing out is, at least in part, a battle between generations, between a black Boomer who not only refuses to give up the stage to his younger Gen X brother, but in fact resents it, so much so that he, Wright, would rather drag Obama down than help to prop him up. And that just plain sucks.
Wright’s pride has been wounded (aw, poor baby), because he was uninvited to the event at which Obama announced his candidacy and removed from Obama’s religious advisory board or whatever because of comments that he, Wright, said, and as a result he has allowed his ego to run amok. As the article contends, he could have handled things much better, he could have used this opportunity to say some things that needed to be said, as Obama did in his first, and no doubt historic speech, on race when this Wright bullshit first took hold. But Wright would rather pitch a fit, throw a public hissy, perform for the media. Hey! Look at me! The angry black minister! I gots shit to say, y’all! So listen up!
Because at some level Wright is just pissed that Barack is accomplishing more than he, Wright, could have ever hoped to. But it is more important for Wright to vent his bitterness than to do what he can to help Barack win the White House. And he the reason he is doing this has, at least in part, to do with the fact that he is a Boomer, as self-centered, self-aggrandizing, and solipsistic as his white generational compatriots.
In the end, Wright’s shenanigans are akin to Hilary’s scuzzball tactics to derail Obama.
Which of course brings me to the conspiracy theory of the moment, which suspects some clandestine agreement between Clinton and Wright in which he is purposely trying to scuttle Obama in exchange for unnamed rewards — $ or power or just plain attention. This is not my theory mind you. It was espoused by someone I know. When I first heard it, it seemed too ludicrous to even consider, but now I’m actually finding myself thinking about the possibility, if only vaguely. Not that you could get me to believe that Wright is remotely interested in Hilary’s campaign unless there something in it for him. Like, say, the limelight. And not to just any limelight either, a national, even world limelight. I mean, who the fuck knew this dude outside of Chicago before this went down? Not me. Never heard of him. And I’m as average schmuck as they come.
In any case, this whole pathetic episode (thanks so much to the drama-chasing-not-interested-in-real-issues-because-that-don’t-get-us-ratings media) is evidence that the battle between Generation X and Boomers exists in some form in the black community. Sure it isn’t the same as the gripes of privilegedd suburban white kids with their Boomer parents and bosses etc., but there are similarities.