Black community must fully embrace its own diversity...


September 30, 1999

Black community must fully embrace its own diversity

I write this letter as someone who is, at this moment, very disappointed in my people. I thought that we had come a long way in our thinking. However, in the area of politics, I see I was sadly mistaken.

My first disappointment came when I read that the Rev. Frank M. Reid III was "uninvited" to a revival because he made public his support for Martin O'Malley for mayor ("Ministers withdraw invitation to Reid," Sept. 21).

To the Reverend Reid, I say congratulations for showing the courage of the conviction that just because someone "looks like you" does not mean that he or she is the best person for the job.

To the Baptist ministers conference, I say embrace the diversity within our community. It is the only way we will truly make progress.

My second disappointment came when I read Orisha Kammefa's letter arguing that we somehow subvert our political influence by voting for white people ("Voting for whites subverts blacks' political influence," Sept. 22).

On the contrary, we wield our political influence by voting for those we believe will do the best job. When a black person runs against a white one, the black candidate (or the Democrat, for that matter) is not always better for us.

It is only when we vote for the right person that we truly become powerful.

Harmon Adams III, Baltimore

`Every voice deserves the freedom to sing'

The Rev. Frank M. Reid III has entered my collection of "profiles in courage." The Reverend's rejection as preacher for the annual Baptist revival is the price he paid for acting upon that "still small voice within."

The Reverend Reid's statement, "They stood by their principles, and I stood by mine," reveals, in its total absence of bitterness, a man standing very tall indeed in the fullness of his humanity.

That African-Americans have relied, and must continue to rely, on the strength of community to achieve justice is certain. The capacity to stand together, to sacrifice for the sake of brothers and sisters, has been crucial in struggles to right unbearable wrongs.

But won't the war be lost, despite the battles won, by failing to keep our eyes on the prize of inner freedom?

Every voice deserves the freedom to sing.

Elizabeth K. Perry, Baltimore

The Baptist Ministers Conference's decision to withdraw their invitation to the Rev. Frank M. Reid III to address their annual revival next month brings one thought to my mind: Just what kind of an example of Christian behavior does that represent?

The conference needs to rethink the message it is sending to its communities and its youth.

Tom Landerkin, Parkville

I was taken aback reading that Rev. Frank M. Reid III was asked not to speak by the Baptist Ministers Conference.

I find it deplorable that the ministers would retract an invitation solely because of a difference of political views.

I thought the purpose of a revival was to enhance spiritual growth and development. I'm naive enough to believe that a minister's primary role is saving souls, not focusing on political views.

Perhaps if ministers would put God first, our communities would be better off.

Wanda Binns, Baltimore

Race was crucial for white voters

The Sun's article "O'Malley tone set stage for crossover," (Sept. 19) about the "maturing Baltimore voter" was 66 percent correct.

The two-thirds of voting Baltimore that is African-American found three roughly equal candidates and were divided as to who would be the best mayor. Race seemed to be of secondary importance for them -- unlike in the mayor's race four years ago.

Whites saw the same three candidates and voted almost as a bloc for the white candidate. On some level, for white voters, the color of Mr. O'Malley's skin was of primary importance -- which is racism. Is there any other way to explain this voting pattern?

If whites hope to reach the level of maturity of African-American Baltimoreans, they would do well to ponder how so many individually good white liberals could collectively commit an act of racism.

Kevin O'Reilly, Baltimore

Praying for conversion is offensive, arrogant

To the horribly misguided folks who think that Baptists' prayers for Jews are a sign of "love" and "inclusion," I say, save your prayers for someone who wants them.

Praying for the conversion of others is both offensive and arrogant.

To suggest that only Christians are in the family of God is to forget that Christianity is rooted in Judaism.

It would be just as easy for Jews, who have been worshiping in their way for 4,000 years, to suggest to others that their ways of worship are wrong.

But Jews do not. That is because we understand that the failure to accept a person as he or she is amounts to prejudice, whatever it is labeled.

I have nothing but sympathy for the Baptists shot in a Texas church Sept. 15 and for their families. One would hope that this incident would give Baptists some sense of how it feels to be attacked or not accepted because of their religious beliefs.

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