Glaude Addresses the Challenges of Racism

Eddie Glaude

CHICAGO, IL (February 9, 2008) - The candidacy of Barack Obama is evidence of how far the nation has come in dealing with racism, but citizens must realize a long journey still lies ahead, professor and author Eddie Glaude, Jr., told a gathering at North Park University on Thursday.

Glaude is associate professor of religion and African-American studies at Princeton University and is widely considered to be one of the leading African-American intellectuals in the country. He addressed the issue of "Our Faith and the Challenge of Racism" in Anderson Chapel as part of the University's campus theme program.

"How do we talk about the challenges of racism when we witness what we thought we would never see in our lifetime?" Glaude asked. As exciting as the candidacy may be, it also presents a threat to dealing with deeper issues by giving a false sense of victory achieved and wrongly easing the public's conscience on issues of race.

"Perhaps our excitement about Obama is because he's easy," said Glaude. "We can vote for Obama and not have to deal with the ghetto on the south side."

If the country is to advance in eliminating racism and resulting injustice, it must deal with the contradictions of slavery and conditions that counter a "utopian imagining of America." That imagining was formed even as the Puritans envisioned their voyage as an exodus to a Promised Land, and the Declaration of Independence declared that all men are created equal.

The challenge of religious life and faith is to remember the past honestly in order to move forward. "We are always mindful of the dead that make up this place," Glaude said.

"For those of us who confess the cross, what will you do?" Glaude asked. "How will you witness his power in this moment of storm and stress? Will you be more content to be a court prophet? Will you be more content to be a Constantinian christian? Will you be more content to be a spiritual peacock, strutting your feathers . . . ? Where are the prophetic voices in this hour? Who speaks for the least in this hour?"

Speaking and remembering will need to be accompanied with love, which is no easy task, Glaude said. "Something in you has to die in order for you to love something outside of you. It's the most powerful force in the universe and it's the most powerful force to embrace."