Tag Archives: Race

Kids and political ads


Here in PA we’ve been under a barrage of political ads for some time now. The kids hear or see them quite regularly. When my now 10 year old was 4, he wanted to know why a certain candidate was so angry. He was seeing ads by the candidate’s opponent with less than flattering photos. He proclaimed that he would vote for the one candidate because he smiled more than another.

I suspect we adults choose using similar decision-making skills. Voting may be less intellectual than we would like to admit.

Now we come down to the wire and here are snippets of conversations with my kids

8 year old: Dad, who are you going to vote for? I hope it is Obama?
Me: Why?
8 year old: Well, he’s black.
Me: Why do you want a black president?
8 year old: White people are always being president and leaders and its about time a black person gets to be president.
Me: Yeah, I agree with you, its about time.
8 year old: Why do they have to be so mean to each other?

Conversation with my 10 year old this am:

Me: So, who would you like to vote for
10 year old: Obama
Me: Why?
10 year old: [after saying I don’t know]. I guess because he seems to have more ideas.
Me: Does his being black have anything to do with it?
10 year old: Yeah, about 50% of my reason.

FYI, my kids are black. It is clear that without any real influence one way or the other by their parents, they both really identify with Obama based on color. And I’m pretty sure that my youngest will be very crushed if Obama isn’t elected. He takes these things very personally when things don’t go the way he hopes.

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Filed under cultural apologetics, News and politics, parenting, Race, Racial Reconciliation

Race and Culture in America at the turn of the Century


My wife is working through her 3rd book on Teddy Roosevelt. This one (Theodore Rex) is about his presidency. Teddy was a many of many firsts. First president on a submarine; first on a airplane. But he was also first to dine with a black man at the White House (there had been plenty of servants in it, but not as invited guests to dinner).

Any guesses on who he had?

Booker T. Washington.

The reaction was pretty horrendous from some sectors in the South. He was called all sorts of names. The papers had headlines such as, “President has darkie to dinner” and much worse. A senator from the good ole state of SC stated that they would have to kill 1,000 Black men in order to put Blacks back in their place (the Black presses had the audacity of seeing this one event as a sign of hope). Another suggested he should invite Booker T’s son for Christmas so he could have him marry his daughter because he so much wanted the races to mingle or mongrelize.

But before we put Teddy on a pedestal. He also believed in the common view of the day that Blacks were behind whites by several hundred thousand years in the evolutionary process. While some like Booker T could ascend, most were only good for service roles. Throughout his presidency, he didn’t change this view. While he did see the need to stop lynching he didn’t think they should vote.

If it helps, he also thought the Irish were also a bit behind in the evolutionary process.

It doesn’t. While we’ve come far from the public and shameless racism and prejudice, we’ve got many miles to traverse in dealing with the subtle and pernicious forms of prejudice still active. I’m sure we’ll continue to see these come to the surface as Obama is the presumed Democratic nominee. 

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Filed under Black and White, Civil Rights, News and politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation

Barriers to race and gender reconciliation


From our faculty retreat, I was left thinking about some of our own barriers to reconciliation. Here is a few that I was thinking about:

1. Limited perseverance. I think we have a sense that it shouldn’t be so hard to do. We see the length of the journey and find ourselves giving up.

2. Me centered living. We shouldn’t have to work so hard because of other people’s sins against others in the past. People should honor my good intentions and when they are suspicious, I feel wronged.

3. Stories. I believe that stories are what we commonly use to keep people in boxes. Tell an anecdote about a person of particular hue and it becomes true of all. We know that isn’t true, but we do it just the same.

4. Individual rights. I have the right to be given all my rights. I shouldn’t have to give mine up so that you can have yours. Not fair! I deserve to be treated well.

I’m sure there are better ways to categorize these barriers but these are how I thought about them. The solution to all of these means that I see myself as in Christ and not protector of myself.

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Filed under Race

Overheard at Sandy Cove


In our discussion about race and implicit oppression:

If you manipulate history, you manipulate consciousness. If you manipulate consciousness, you manipulate possibilities. If you manipulate possibilities, you manipulate power.

Seems about right. When we tell a history in a particular way, we can change how we think about ourselves (we’re pretty good, right?) and change how what possibilities we consider and ultimately the power. We talked about this especially when white folk ignore or deny the Blackness of biblical figures.

Also overheard here at our faculty retreat: “That’s going to hurt. Us 40-50 somethings have played basketball both nights. We’re not a particularly in shape group and so we can feel the creaks and the pains a comin.

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Race matters: Obama’s speech in Philadephia


MSNBC provides this transcript of Obama’s speech today. As you likely know he is under fire for comments his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, made in sermons over the years. This speech is quite masterful as it rejects Wright’s characterizations but recognizes the reality that is behind his angry judgments about American politics, racism, injustice, and place in the world. He shows the parallel with white anger for being held accountable for the sins of our early fathers. In both cases, impolite speech is understandable but not helpful. He says,

Just as black anger often proved counterproductive, so have these white resentments distracted attention from the real culprits of the middle class squeeze

What should we do? He tells us to take responsibility for our lives, reject victim mentalities, insisting on justice for all, acknowledging the legacy of discrimination, rejecting cynicism, working together as opposed to for our own good alone. 

He’s right.  When we see hyperbole, we must acknowledge the truth at the center. Fact: we have been arrogant snobs in dealings with other countries. It shouldn’t surprise us that if we kick the dog, the dog bites back. Fact: The country wants equality as long as it doesn’t cost anything. We keep complaining, but until we all agree that my neighbor’s struggle is my own, we won’t see much change. 

He’s wrong.  Trying harder and being truthful about racial reconciliation progress is good, but it is not enough. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, the breaking of our pride, the demand that our individual identities take precedence over that of God’s humble servants, we’re not likely to make much more progress. Legislation helps curb our sin, but it does not stop the seed of racialization. Only the Cross does that. Isaiah’s prophecy is that God is going to discipline his people so that cannot put their trust in man–whether he is bad (e.g., Ahaz) or good (Hezekiah). He lays us bare then He brings us into Zion so that we know that it is His power and holiness that makes us his people.

One final note from his speech. See how he explains why he doesn’t reject a friend who has said stupid things. In my mind this is how we ought to talk about each other instead of throwing them under the bus in order to get what we want:

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother – a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

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Filed under anger, church and culture, Civil Rights, Cultural Anthropology, Great Quotes, news, News and politics, Race, Racial Reconciliation