I posted Rev. Lowery’s benediction the day of Obama’s inauguration. I liked his ending and thought that it followed the style of many of the black preachers I have heard. Plus it added humor to a day of heavy emotions. I am always a fan of laughter.
A anonymous commenter though found it to be extremely racist towards white people. Here is the commenter’s quote:
That benediction was so unbelievably racist towards white people. Rick Warren thanked God that our country has elected an African American to the presidency, while Dr. Lowery separated blacks and whites once again. On the day of the Inauguration of a BLACK president, he prayed that one day blacks will not be asked to step back. And do only whites need to embrace what’s right? I’m pretty sure everyone is equal in sin and should embrace what’s right. Who’s racist now? Can we PLEASE try equality and not self-pity, self-righteousness and reverse discrimination?
My mind went on the defensive because I have heard this argument before, many times from white people who think racism is dead but in reality they are still perpetuating it. As whites we have not done what is right MANY times in history. I came to this conversation thinking that the anonymous person was another white male (or at least that is what popped into my head). Come to find out I was wrong. Leonessa, the commenter’s, is a black woman who is raising a son. She is teaching her son that he is not to see himself as a victim. To quote her:
In all of history, including the white persons history, there has been slavery of one type or another. It is not only black people that have suffered. It isn’t only a black persons history that has injustice in it…it is unfortunately a human trait not a white persons trait alone.
This got me thinking. Was my initial reaction because of white male guilt? As a white male in our society (I am the majority, or at least the one represented by power, until now) I feel horrible about the way other white males have treated others in the history of nation, denomination, and really the Western World in general. I agree with Leonessa that all races are guilty of injustices, and all of us fall short of the glory of God.
Looking back at Rev. Lowery’s benediction he ends his prayer by saying,
Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around, when yellow will be mellow, when the red man can get ahead, man and when white will embrace what is right.
Leonessa is right, as I look at it again, closer. Rev. Lowery’s ending is positive to all the races except for whites. He grants all of them a positive light, a sense of redemption and affirmation, except for whites. I wonder how he could have changed it to not be this way? I wonder if a better ending would have been one where all races were holding hands and see through the eyes of God, as all God’s children. For the picture of the Kingdom of God is one of a rainbow, not one particular color.