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Black Family Reunion

September 13, 2009

Today, on the National Mall, African-Americans from across the country gathered to celebrate the continued viability of the black family. For this participant, the experience of being amongst the people’s of the African diaspora in America was beauty in action. An experience that my family has taken upon ourselves to participate in, for as long as my wife and I have been together. Now, some 13 years.

This year, however, the serenity of the celebration was marred by the presence of some conservative protesters brandishing signs that meant to marginalize President Barack Obama. A sad, and truly emblematic sign of the under-current racism of this so called acts of patriotism was observed by many in the form of  Dozens of signs mentioning Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.). The same Joe Wilson who so greatly diminished the institution of the House of Representatives, as he heckled President Obama during his Wednesday night address to a joint-session of Congress.

In an interview by the Washington Post, Dee Meredith, 62, of Callao, Va., said she had never heard of Wilson before he shouted at the president, “You lie!” At the rally, Meredith waved a placard: “Thank You Joe Wilson.”

“We’re the forgotten people,” she said, “and he’s given us a voice.”

The sad truth for Dee Meredith, and those dozens I saw carrying signs much like hers is that they live in a reality that is very much there own. She envisions herself as a member of some forgotten class of citizens, some wronged patriot whose pursuit of life has been stopped because Pres. Barack Obama is in the White House. She is falling into the ignoble predicament of those poor whites who Dr. Martin Luther King once said were:

“put into this position, where through blindness and prejudice, he is forced to support his oppressors. And the only thing he has going for him is the false feeling that he’s superior because his skin is white.”

I held back my indignation today, as I watched these closet racists saunter through the grounds assigned for the Black Family Reunion. I watched them walk proudly through the see of African-Americans, with their signs held high with hate…with the intent to marginalize the first black President, and my resolve to defeat their brand of ignorance was stirred further. For it is not enough to know that their protest were not just directed at the Capitol of this Nation, but consciously and unconsciously toward the conflagration of black peoples gathered at the Mall. No, we must do more than know. We must lend our hearts and our minds to the cause of justice born in our people throughout history. We must aide our President in standing against every intent to delay reform, diminish equality and stymie fairness.

That is the battle against racism in this country today. Yes, the klansmen still roam the United States, and neo-Nazis still remain an organization. But there numbers have been greatly diminished. It is the Dee Merediths of the world that hold the battle against racism and injustice today. It is the battle of ignorance, whether it be found in a battle for equal opportunity or equal access to health care – whether it be a rally in defense of a disrespectful heckler, or on the side of right. We must fight the fight  for justice until America and it’s citizen’s remember their higher angels and once again puts its hand down in service to all its citizens.

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