Ignorance stalks us wherever we go. Stupidity too—it’s easy to lash out in anger or dismissiveness. And maybe arrogance as well, to think that none of these apply to us. To me. We—I—live a great contradiction.
It’s so prominent in the political debate in this country right now—filibusters and sit-ins over gun rights, refusing to consider Supreme Court nominees, etc.. One side decries the other side’s actions, even though the first side has used the exact same tactic in the past. Both sides do it.
And so it goes. And that’s just in politics.
I read a lot. Some might say too much. In that reading I come across portrayals of overwhelming ignorance. Just this morning, in a matter of pages I read about The Colored Motorist’s Guide that told black people in the first half of the twentieth century “where they could and could not sleep, in what towns the citizens would shoot them if they stayed after dark,” and then that “deaf schools banished sign language, declared it backward and a threat to the wholesome spoken word, subscribed to the theory that sign language would encourage the deaf to marry only each other and create a perpetuating race of non-hearers, and swaddled the hands of their most defiant students in thick cotton mittens.” Continue reading How Do We Overcome Our Bi-Partisan Ignorance?
In the past year racism has been in the spotlight more than any time I remember in my life. From Ferguson to Cleveland to Baltimore to McKinney to Charleston, from police brutality to a white supremacist terrorist. It’s prompting some honest and difficult conversations. I hope you’re joining them.
These events and conversations are important to me. The fact is systemic racism continues to be a problem in America today. It’s not overt like it was during Jim Crow. It’s often subconscious. It’s often systemic. It’s often something we (I) don’t even realize we’re doing. But it’s there.
What’s so amazing about this moment right now is that we’re actually having those conversations. I’m completely shocked that the Charleston shooting has turned into a reexamination of the Confederate flag. In some ways that’s getting lost in the weeds, and if we think removing one symbol is going to change much we’d be mistaken. But it’s a small step of progress to recognize the oppression of our past.
People much smarter than I are weighing in on this issue and saying much smarter things than I ever could. So rather than ramble on, I’m going to link to them.
I’ll just close by saying I think we’re watching history happen. Something is changing in America right now. Let’s be a part of making that a change for the good of all people.
I doubt I’ve lived this out very well this past week (or even months as this conversation has gone on), but it’s a powerful prayer to live up to:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.
Last week I attended the White Privilege Conference in Louisville, Ky. The name of the conference always raises eyebrows, especially when people don’t understand the concept of white privilege.
The conference gets criticism on both sides. It also gets the attention of the KKK, which tells me they must be doing something right.
So is it a bunch of white people sitting around in a guilt trip? No. It’s not the Privileged White People Conference. It’s about realizing the various kinds of bias we have in our lives—racial and otherwise—how it often leads to oppression of various forms, and what we can do to stop it.
The fact that I’m a white, anglo-saxon male with a college degree gives me certain privileges and biases that color how I see the world. It doesn’t mean I’m a racist, but it does mean I’m immersed in a society built on discrimination. Many of those biases have unknowingly become a part of who I am. It comes up in everything from the color of bandages (why does the “flesh color” match my skin but not my son’s?) to how we related to the police.
For example, Franklin Graham seems to have a different relationship to the police than the black citizens of Minneapolis.
“Most police shootings can be avoided. It comes down to respect for authority and obedience.” -Franklin Graham
“People just feel alienated from the police, or don’t trust the police, or don’t think maybe that the kid is going to be treated fairly, or don’t think that calling the police makes a difference, or don’t feel empowered to engage the police.” -School Board Member Don Samuels, who lives in predominately black North Minneapolis (in a report on the racial bias in Minneapolis policing)
Continue reading White Privilege & the Ferguson Report
Facts like this make white privilege real for me:
African American males have a higher chance of being incarcerated than they do of earning a college degree. (TakePart)
Talking about privilege is difficult. People get defensive. When you talk about inherent advantages it implies to some people that their hard work doesn’t matter. See? Difficult.
But that doesn’t change the fact that privilege is real. Lots of ways to get your head around it. If you’re not there yet, keep trying.
But don’t tell me that race is not still a problem in this world, or worse, that racism against whites is a bigger problem.
That’s right: White people believe they’re being discriminated against more than black people. (How’s that for playing the victim, which I believe is what this mindset likes to accuse black people of doing.)
Reverse discrimination is such a hardship for us whites. Meanwhile black men are more likely to go to jail than earn a college degree.
Let’s open our eyes.