Category Archives: Race and Immigration

Acceptance

See the source image“Accept one another, then, just as Christ has accepted you.”

| Romans 15.7, NIV

Spawned by reports of the current American president’s remarks on immigration, which included speaking of Haiti and the entire continent of Africa (i.e. some 54 countries and two de facto territories) in terms unbecoming of a human being– much less a president, the national dialogue has returned to an old argument of race theory.  Race says where we are born determines our social value, that persons are inherently worthy or worthless based on their appearance.  It is a simplistic claim: goodness on location.  Acceptance based on appearance, this is as superficially good as it gets.

Incompatible with the unconditional love of God, “who so loved the world” and inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ, still persons claim that the kingdom of God is “white” and is a single country- the United States.   Today, there are those who continue to believe that God sees the world through blue eyes.  They honestly think that God has goldilocks and only spends time with those people who are “just right.”  Clearly, they have their stories mixed up, adding in a bit of fairy tale into sacred writ.  It is obviously self- serving since only those socially colored white have the right to live happily ever after.

So proud is whiteness that it claims that God desires it, needs it, that God’s power is determined by it.  God must be white if God is to be accepted as all- powerful.

Made of earth, it has always struck me as odd that some dirt, some flesh, some people are perceived as inherently better.  “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…”  Made by the same God, some persons are thought to be created “a little lower than” others.  Not surprisingly, the purpose aligns itself quite neatly with persons who espouse these views and their capitalist goals.  It also matches their will and supports the idea that they are God’s gift to the world.  Thanks but no thanks, Jesus.  What religion is this exactly?

Because the gospel of Jesus Christ will not be racialized. The kingdom of God is not segregated, color- coded, divided up into people groups.  And God is not a Person of color, the trinket of culture, to be accepted if the divine image matches our own.  God is good if God is with us– and not them.  No, God is Spirit and those who worship must worship spiritually and truthfully (John 4.24).  And the truth is, we are not accepted conditionally but gracefully.  “Accept one another, then, just as Christ has accepted you.”

A 3- Minute Lesson on Race

You’ve got time for this class and it is brought to you by Jenée Desmond Harris.  It is a lesson that must be learned and that bears repeating.  Harris starts from the beginning of race and no, she does not begin in the book of Genesis.  Lie #1 struck down.  Race is not that old.

Race is a lot of things but biological, biblical or original to our being are not to be included.  Still, the misrepresentation of who we are continues and so does the cycle of hatred.  Race wars are plotted against places of worship for African Americans and Jews.  Protests seem unending, CNN describing last year as “a year of outrage.”  The hashtag Black Lives Matter has become a movement.  Right now, the University of Missouri has been added to the list and to the ongoing conversation on race after accusations of racism on campus. Consequently, this class is always in session.

And while it won’t lead to an advanced degree, these truths concerning race as a social construct are certain to advance our understandings of self and our neighbor.  I’ve devoted my life to teaching about race and to the eradication of the racial category for human identity.  Week after week, I look for ways to say this because it is so much easier and less painful to accept this superficial existence.  I want us to go deeper and pray that this video and my words would peel away another layer of race’s deceptions.

Jumping Out Of The Melting Pot

Acccept it: racial supremacy. Blend it: melting pot. Ignore it: color blind. Deny it: white privilege. We have come up with many potential solutions to the presence of race in American society. None of which have rid us of the tension of this socially constructed human difference. When I was in elementary school, the image of the melting pot was presented as a means of explaining how the different cultures of American society come together.The textbook went on to discuss the many dangers of mixing: American slavery, The Trail of Tears, Japanese internment camps, Jim Crow segregation and the like.  Still, in the pot, no one stands out but all are gathered to make one grand cultural dish wherein all of the cultures and their traditions are evident, named, seen, experienced and equally represented. But, we all know that this was not true in the 1990s and is certainly not true now. I did not know at the time but the term was made popular by a play performed in 1908 (A copy of the playbill is pictured on the left.). The image has since been challenged and today, America is described as both a “salad bowl,” wherein each of the ingredients remain distinct.

But, while many might agree that the idea of the melting pot is problematic, it is still viewed by many as the American way. Wait. I’ll prove it to you. The melting pot is about acculturation, assimilation and more importantly, identification as persons are melted down to an homogenized image of what it means to be an American, which is raised as the standard and in turn, becomes our golden calf. It is the image that we bow down to; this image of whiteness that was presented to the Italians, Jews, and those from Poland who first immigrated to the United States. The Chinese immigrants faired worse as they were often ostracized and forced to form their own communities of support, referred to as “Chinatown.” Today, we hear the same arguments that were presented beginning in the 1890s when there is discussion of immigration laws, America’s borders and the “browning of America.”  The mixture of equal parts or at least the illusion of such must be maintained. We are deciding who gets to be in the pot.

And the melting pot begs the question, “What are we attempting to make?” And since we’re on the subject: Whose recipe are we using? Who decides which cultural groups get to go in? Who is adjusting the heat? Who is responsible for the mixing? How will we know when the melting is complete? What is the desired appearance of the mixture, the end result, the desired outcome? And are we mixing and melting in order to form an image?  And if so, of who or what? At least for me, it would call for one who is not able to be mixed in, who must remain pure and whose presence is not a requirement. Who is removing the dross and what classifies as such? Who is standing over the melting pot? Finally, “Is God calling us to jump into a melting pot?” I don’t think so and I’m jumping out.

Additional Readings

The Changing Face of America, The Daily Mail Reporter, May 27, 2011.
Making America Home: Racial Masquerade and Ethnic Assimilation in the Transition to Taking Pictures
Roediger, D, Working Toward Whiteness: How America’s Immigrants Became White
Roediger, D, The Wages of Whiteness: Race and the Making of the American Working Class
Roediger, D, Toward the Abolition of Whiteness: Essays on Race, Politics and the Working Class
Roediger, D, Gook: the short history of an Americanism. Monthly Review, March 1992.