Category Archives: Black and White

Black History Moments

Since February is Black History month, and since most of us know so little of our shared history I thought I’d do a weekly spot highlighting a important but little known factoid…so here’s on one Percy Julian… Continue reading


Filed under Black and White, Black History, Civil Rights

Science Monday honors MLK

You’ve got to be dead if you aren’t moved by King’s I have a dream speech:

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today!
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today!

In honoring King’s dream, I bring a tidbit from the latest issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2007, 92:1). Continue reading

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Filed under Black and White, Civil Rights, counseling science

The (not so) hidden cost of racism

Got my issue of the Journal of Counseling Psychology today. Had an article in it on the psychosocial cost of racism on White folk. Reminded me of some good work by Michael Emerson and his colleagues (click this link for more on him and his important work: He has detailed the hidden costs on minorities who choose to participate in multiracial churches. Definitely an eye-opener. But this work details the costs to white folk. We know that racism brings white folk benefits of white privilege but does it have a hidden cost? This work looks at how racism increases fear, guilt, shame, loss of connectivity, etc. What the work doesn’t detail (and I wouldn’t expect it to) is the cost to our sense and understanding of the Gospel. When a any group is mono-cultural, it loses its sense of need of other voices from other sectors of life who have rich understanding of how the Gospel has facets not often seen by that particular group. In the case of most white folk, we do not fear attack, rejection, suffering just because of their ethnicity or skin color. When the church faced these features, whether in the early church or in Jim Crow USA, how did the theologians and pastors express the character of the Gospel to their people? Do we White Americans care? 

I happen to be a Presbyterian, but Reformed theology from Europeans often lacks the focus on how God’s kingdom principles address community and corporate life (i.e., corporate sin, corporate justice). If we hope to spread the Gospel to a disenfranchised population, then we’d better find out what we have been missing all these years.

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Filed under Black and White, Racial Reconciliation

Our history of racism

Watched a segment of Eyes on the Prize on PBS last night. Shouldn’t have stayed up but couldn’t stop watching either. They were telling the stories of 1961-63 civil rights movement events in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. The freedom riders, those at Albany, Georgia, and those in Birmingham were telling their stories of nonviolent protest and the violent reactions (and non-responses) by local, city, state and federal officials. No matter how many times I’ve seen clips of Bull Conner or the governors of those states, it still sends chills up my spine to hear them spit such vitriol about Black folk. Sad too was the response of the white pastors who criticized King. If you haven’t read King’s response (letter from a Birmingham jail), you should.

We like to think we Americans are defenders of justice and democracy. But just 40 some years ago, my boys wouldn’t have been able to ride the bus to another state without being segregated. They wouldn’t have been able to sit at an integrated lunch counter. They couldn’t go to an integrated school. Frankly, we couldn’t be a family.

I’m thankful that they have not endured these things. I’m thankful that we can live in an integrated neighborhood and that they do not have visual reminders that their kind is not welcome. And yet, I worry about two things. First, I worry about the lax attitudes we now have about racial divides that still exist. Nobody is getting hit with a fire-hose on national TV, but have we really become integrated and willing to allow our churches, communities, and country to be led by Black leaders? On Sunday, my 6 year old asked, Why do so many brown people (like him) play football? Then he asked, Why aren’t brown people coaches? Only whites do that, right? Breaks my heart. Though I told him no, and rattled off some Black coaches, I also had to say some folk aren’t willing to tolerate a Black leader. Why Daddy? All I can say is I don’t know and it isn’t right.

Second worry. We think racism is just what happened in the south and that it isn’t a northern problem. While I love (love? That sounds weird) seeing these shows telling this important part of our country’s history, I think it takes our eyes off the prejudices that we have here in the North. Here’s one little example. When people ask me where my adopted kids are from (and only White people do this), they often show surprise when they learn they came from Chicago. My assumption is that they imagine the romantic idea that we saved them from some poor corner of Africa and brought them to the land of plenty. But, from Chicago? I suspect the idea hasn’t crossed their minds because dominant culture folk tend to not see what’s right under their nose and so Black folk remain invisible for the most part.

Needless to say, I couldn’t sleep last night–and I don’t think it was the coffee. 


Filed under Black and White, Racial Reconciliation