Tag Archives: race relations

Blaming Race

Image result for it's all your fault imageI don’t like the social coloring of your skin.  I don’t like the way that it makes me feel.  Why are you not like me?

I don’t like your hair.  I don’t know what I would do with it.  I can’t put my finger on it.  Can I touch it?

I don’t like your eyes; the way that you are looking, the way that you look scares me.  What do you see with those things?

I don’t like your nose, too big, too small, too broad, too thin.  I could breathe easier if it didn’t look like that.  Would you pinch your nose?

I don’t like your mouth; the shape is problematic.  Your voice is troubling.  I don’t like it when you talk.  Can you keep it down?

If I am honest, I just don’t like you because you don’t look like me.  When I look at you, I feel that you are a work in progress or that some one messed up big time and that I am the finished product.  I could blame it on your features but your body has nothing to do with it.

I don’t like you because you are not me.  I just blame race for my god-like aspirations.  I really want you to be made in my image.

Remember to Dream

MLK-600More than remembering his name or his birthdate, each year I am challenged to remember the dream of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  To be sure, it is God’s dream for humanity (Second Corinthians 5.11-21). Prophet and pastor, Dr. King is unmatched in his challenge to America’s citizens to be reconciled to one another.  Echoing God, it is a call to sit down at a table, to look into each other’s eyes, to share in what sustains us.  A minister of reconciliation, it is a dream that must come to fruition or our daily living will remain a nightmare.

There is no end to the number of wounds that we inflict upon each other.  The nightly news is to be avoided if you want to have a good night’s rest as we would certainly toss and turn after reports of police brutality, community unrest, political bickering, acts of terrorism and hate speech after hate speech.

We need to dream for the days are dark and life has become antagonistic.  It is indeed a fight to believe in all that is good and pure and true.  It can prove difficult to think on things that are praiseworthy (Philippians 4.8).  But, remember to dream.

This is a call for eyes open, out of bed, no pajamas or pillow dreaming.  This is not to be confused with the recitation of King’s dream but it should come from our minds and our mouths. While we are watching and praying, we must remember to dream for to dream is to hope and to believe.

Change of Heart

ChangeOfHeart_340_180“I had a change of heart.”  We’ve all heard or said these words before.  It is a changing of our disposition, our perspective on a situation or person.  It has happened over time, a fews days, weeks, months or even years.  The changing of one’s heart does take time.

And a change of heart is the prescription for us if we are to relate to each other with mutual compassion, respect and understanding.  It is not enough tolerate persons, to put up with their presence while in a public setting or for a set amount of time.  Anyone can be polite for appearance sake.  No, this change will take us deeper into our selves.

Race is often in the news and now that it is apart of the national dialogue, it is in our faces at 6 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.  But, what do we see?  Do we hear a complaint?  Do we see people misunderstood?  Do we hear and see people at all?

We can change the channel to something less irritating or predictable.  We can change the laws and debate their impact.  But, unless we change our relationships with each other, unless the change is in our hearts, then there’s really been no change at all.

We can change buildings and move to different neighborhoods but unless we change our internal structure and check the foundation upon which we stand, we won’t be moved to love and culturally diverse relationships.  Until we view ourselves as stewards and not owners of the world and each other, our relationships will be dominated by the social construct of race.  This change is individual, personal and intricate to who we are as human beings.

It will not be solved with the click of a button.  We can not give this problem away or pay our way out of it.  That’s just change.  Don’t give what you can spare, won’t miss and can live without.

Instead, we need a change of heart, a change of rhythm.  May our hearts beat to the rhythm of God’s grace.  Amen.

 

Say Something New

case-for-talking-raceThe news reporting is the same.  Same angles, views and I suspect that is the same pencil used to sketch and draw the same conclusions.  The words used to describe race relations remains unchanged: allies and hate mongers, race cards and race baiting, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.  We reach conclusions that are the same as before.  And no matter what is said or how often we say it, we agree that we need to talk about race.

But, we do talk about race and we do hear more about prejudice and racism.  Now apart of the twenty- four hour news cycle, unsolicited and unfiltered YouTube commentary, hash tags and trending topics, there are many conversations being had.  Consequently, the news about (suspected) race- related incidents is spreading and spreading quickly.

Because there is a smart phone in the room, persons may not tell racist jokes– even when behind closed doors.  Dashboard cameras and private citizens videotaping police interactions also limit what is hidden behind the badge.  We are seeing more of the personal, social and systemic works of race.  Yet, we are not able to talk ourselves of it.  Why is this?

I think that I have an idea.  Now, this is just a theory.  I don’t wear a lab coat and I have no experiments or lab rats, dead or alive, to support my findings.  But, I believe we have created a prejudice about conversations about race and that once we hear the word race, we already hear what we have come to expect or experience.

What do we do about it?  Stop making assumptions as to how the conversation will go.  We cannot begin a conversations with conclusions as to how this is going to end.

Instead, start from beginning.  Begin with introductions not assumptions.  Learn their name and their story.  Race is not personal and will not tell you about them.

We must also be aware of the prejudices that we bring to conversations about race.  We must ask ourselves if we want to have a friendship or a fight.  Be sure that the other person agrees to this end before you engage them.

Question yourself and your intentions.  Have you worked through your issues with race in order to be ready for a cross- cultural conversation and relationship?  Do you want a conversation or a verbal wrestling match?  Do you want this interaction to win- lose or win- win?  What is your goal, your aim for talking about race?

And begin to listen and hear what is being said in order to say something new.  Conversations about race are defensive in nature.  Removing the assumptions will allow us to lower our guard and allow a new perspective to enter.  We not only need to stop and listen but we need to slow down and think.

Think our responses through and let them be for this moment and in this instance.  We cannot tackle and should not take on hundred of years of history and millions of hurts in one sitting.  Instead, let’s do something new.  Let’s take it one day at time and one person at a time.

 

We made the rules

images“History is made by those who break the rules.”

~ An author unknown

If you want to get me fired up, just start talking about how helpless we are in terms of race. If you want to get me energized, just start telling me what I can’t do because of racism, prejudice and stereotypes.  Start spouting off experiences and examples, facts, quotes and statistics that seek to attack my humanity, to limit the possibility of me, to prove that I don’t have a chance if race has a say and position me as an eternal victim of race.

If you are trying to give me a “reality check,” to put me in my social place, I assure you that it will have the opposite effect. Instead of cowering, bowing my head and surrendering to the oppressive reality of race, my chest will poke out.  Uh, uh.  Not here.  Not me.  Not ever.

While I agree that the social construct of race has power, that its presence is systemic, I do not believe that I, or any other human being, is powerless to change it.  I believe that we can change the system, destroy the system even because the operators are human.  And it just takes one person to not put on the uniform, to call in sick, to not stand in place, to not report for duty, to break the habit of prejudicial relationships, to challenge and question the authority of stereotypes, to take a stand and talk back to this history of hatred.

Our belief in race and participation in this social faith is mass- produced.  When we submit to race, we place our lives on a conveyor belt and our lives are boxed up according to its stereotypes.  But, this conveyor belt of uniformity can be stopped.  You and I can turn away from race and run in the opposite direction.  Our lives can cause a jam that will allow others to fall off and have a chance at authenticity and individuality.

We need only speak the truth and in so doing assert our position as a child of God: The only all- powerful being is God. Race is not all- powerful.  The only all- knowing being is God. Race cannot, does not and will never every know me deeply, fully or truly.  The only always present being is God.  We can rid ourselves of race.

We can stop.  We can say stop.  We can tell race, “You cannot go any further.  You do not run my life.”

The fact is this is our game.  We made the race cards.  We pass them out.  We play them.

We made the rules of race so we can break the rules of race, abolish them even.  We don’t have to hate or prejudge.  We don’t have to segregate ourselves.  We can love across cultures.

We can cross “the color line.”  We can erase it if we really wanted to.  It’s written in self- regulating pencil not stone.

We can share our power and resources.  We can stop cheating and stealing.  We can stop manipulating and dominating.  We can change the game.  It just takes one to say, “Let’s play something else.”