A couple of years ago, I contacted my old parish on the South Side of Chicago. I needed my baptism certificate. A couple of weeks later, it arrived in the mail, with a picture of a black Jesus. Now, the chances that the historical Jesus was black are just about nil. But, for Father Flegler and the folks at St. Sabina, the black Jesus is everywhere, posted on the parish website and now on my baptism certificate.

Things have changed since we moved out of our home in Calumet Park on the South Side of Chicago in the early 1970s. We moved for a variety of reasons. My parents wanted a bigger house, better schools and better opportunities for their kids. But make no mistake. We were also part of the migration out of the city that has been called “white flight.”

The tales of “white flight” are legendary in my family. How folks all agreed that they would stay in the neighborhood and how Mrs. O’Grady sold her house and moved out in the middle of the night. How my grandfather was the last white person on his block and sold his house for far below the market value.

“White flight” happened because of two fears: fear of economic catastrophe (the loss of the value of the home) and fear for physical safety. After the riots of 1968, there was ample reason for both.

Because Mayor Daley demanded that city employees had to live in the city, most firemen and cops stayed in Mount Greenwood and the Beverly areas, but our neighborhood, which was mostly white, became mostly black in the matter of a few short years.

My father, two of my uncles and my grandfather all went to Leo High School, an Irish Christian Brothers school. We sang the Leo fight song at my brother’s wedding. Leo is now pretty much all black, though my uncle still sends it money every once in a while. You couldn’t go to Leo after dark these days. Too dangerous.

For those who stayed behind, it hasn’t been easy. Crime is a constant concern. There is no way you would send your kids to public schools. My two aunts taught at the public schools, but there was no way they would send their kids to those schools. But for some folks, there is no substitute for living in the city.

There is no great love between the Irish Catholics on the South Side of Chicago and the folks who attend Sen. Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe 'Palmetto Promise': South Carolina will decide the race Obama remembers Kobe Bryant in speech to NBA All-Stars: 'Nothing is more heartbreaking' Warren highlights work with Obama, Harry Reid in new Nevada ad MORE’s (D-Ill.) church, where the Rev. Jeremiah Wright would blame white people for the all troubles that ail the black community.

The newest trend in Chicago these days is gentrification. Tired of a long commute and bad traffic, more “white” folks are coming back into the city. I think it is a good sign about the easing of racial tension. But black activists don’t like gentrification. It raises property values and rents. And to some, it destroys the black character of their neighborhoods, neighborhoods that used to be Irish or Polish.

I have moved away from Chicago, but my extended family is still there. My mother’s congressman is Jesse Jackson Jr. (D). He does a pretty good job of constituent service and sits on the Appropriations Committee. But he hasn’t done too much for the southern suburbs, which are now really hurting. My high school, which used to be one of the top schools in Illinois, is struggling. It used to be about 25 percent black. Now it is approaching 50 percent. It has problems with gangs. We never had gangs when I was there.

The Obama speech mentioned the resentments that some in my family feel every day. But he didn’t really get at the frustrations that so many feel on the Irish South Side of Chicago.

My family had nothing to do with slavery. We had nothing to do with Jim Crow. It is not our fault that the black community is suffering. It is not our fault that gang violence kills more people every year in America than the war in Iraq. We didn’t bring crack cocaine into the inner city (and no, the CIA didn’t do it either).

I have cousins who are cops. They are trying to prevent crime in the city. But many black people see the cops as the enemy. They don’t want to be snitches, so they won’t help the cops solve any crimes. It always amuses me when you have black activists calling black cops racist. Black cops are not racist towards black people. They are trying to clean up the streets.

Obama would sit and listen to those “controversial” sermons of Pastor Wright, nod his head in agreement and buy into the idea that “white folks” were the reason that black communities were a complete mess. Sorry. I just don’t buy that line of reasoning.

In explaining away his membership in the church, Obama said, “Did I strongly disagree with many of [Wright’s] political views? Absolutely — just as I’m sure many of you heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.” Hmm. Well, before I was married, I did disagree with my priest about the issue of premarital sex, but that’s a little different than what Wright was saying. No pastor I ever heard played on racial resentments the way Wright did. Sorry, Senator. Wright’s comments are absurd.

St. Augustine — who actually may have been black, as he was from Hippo in Algeria — wrote, “Sinners are convicted when attempting to excuse themselves by blaming God, because they have free will.” In the same vein, the black community does itself no good when it attempts to blame “white” people for their ills, because they have free will. They can change their communities, clean up the gangs, root out the corruption, stop the drugs and stop the killing.

Bill Cosby has made this point over and over again. Obama would have done himself great credit had he mentioned Cosby’s crusade. Cosby, in his famous pound cake speech, said this: “I’m telling you Christians, what’s wrong with you? Why can’t you hit the streets? Why can’t you clean it out yourselves? It’s our time now, ladies and gentlemen. It is our time. And I’ve got good news for you. It’s not about money. It’s about you doing something ordinarily that we do — get in somebody else’s business. It’s time for you to not accept the language that these people are speaking, which will take them nowhere. What the hell good is Brown v. the Board of Education if nobody wants it?”

But Obama didn’t mention this topic in his speech on race. Perhaps it is too “controversial’ in his church.

This is not to say there is no racism in this world. Of course there is racism. Probably the best example of racism is the stunning lack of news coverage when one black person kills another black person. Black-on-black crime is an epidemic that gets no news coverage. Black person kills a white person? That will make the front page on the paper. White person kills a black person? That will dominate the cable networks for a week. But a black person killing a black person? No news in that.

I think most Americans want real leadership on the problems that face America. They want better schools. They want a reduction in crime. They want better healthcare. They want our streets cleaned up and gangs eliminated.

But to confront these problems, our leaders need to face the truth.

The truth is that Jesus was not black, although St. Augustine may have been.

The truth is that there is still racism in this society, but that the “white devil” is not the reason that certain black communities are a complete mess.

And the truth is that the hate-mongering of Pastor Wright or any man of God is simply not acceptable. Ever. No matter how Sen. Obama might want to excuse it.