Continentism: Let’s stop talking about “AFRICA”

This is not meant to be directed at any particular blogger, writer, podcaster, or reader; It’s probably as much something I need to hear as anyone else.

I was listening to a podcast today and the people kept talking about “Africa.” They said things like, I have a heart for Africa, I’ve been really interested in Africa, I looked into going to Africa, and so on. Now, out of full disclosure, when I was in sixth grade and I did a family album and I wrote down the place I most wanted to visit, I wrote down Africa. So, here’s were I have a problem…

Africa is a BIG place. It’s not a people group, or a village, or a town, or state, or country, it’s a gigantic continent! The continent of Africa is nothing like the United States where you have 50 different states under one central government, and most people living there generally speak the same language but with different accents (broad generalization). Africa is 1/5 of the world’s total land area, and 12% of the world’s entire population. There are 61 territories, many different religions and thousands of languages.  Yet, us naive folk in the U.S. of A. keep on acting like Africa and African’s are a niche we’re interested in.

Before I go off in that direction too much more let me say, there are some collective elements of Africa. Being a connected land mass has it’s collective impacts. The AIDS pandemic knows no country borders as it spreads through Sub-sahara Africa. Imperialism and the wicked oppression of the land and the people through out the continent is another shared experience of many in the continent of Africa. There are collective elements, but I think it’s best for our own well being that we stop talking about are interest in such naive general terms.

And here’s where it get’s a little gritty… I think most of the reasons we talk in generalizations about “Africa” are inherently racist. You might have scene a infomercial about starving children, full of young dark skinned children longing for help, and you decide something must be done for those Africans (little did you know all those kids where from the Carribean). My point is that far too many of us and our ignorant generalizations on race see a dark skinned person and place them as being from (recently, or ancestorally) Africa.

In our ignorance African’s are in a terrible dilemma: They all have AIDS (thanks for letting us know Bono), they are starving (infomercials), they just got through a genocide (Hotel Rwanda) and now they’ve got another one going (Save Darfur). We think African’s live fairly unciviled lifestyles (National Geographic), they get their hands chopped off in the diamond trade, they still haven’t dealt with racism (Aparthied), They send their children into war with guns (Invisible Children), they are uneducated and need sponsorship (World Vision), and they are all “African.” Do you see the problem with lumping ever person and issue of an entire continent into one category?

Maybe, I’ll start doing a spotlight on Africa post highlighting a different country each week and what is unique about their people.  Anyone care to inform us of the uniqueness of a country they’ve been to?

Ahmadinejad’s Letter to Bush

I received this email a while ago about a letter from the President of Iran to President Bush. It was interesting, but I didn’t think much of it except that it was just a forward someone had written themselves, not a factual letter from the real Iran President.
Well, it turns out the Washington Post believes it’s real, so I’m going with them on this one. It’s a long, but easy to read letter and I would strongly encourage you to do so.

Read the Complete letter here.

Below are some excerpts:

After 9.11, instead of healing and tending to the emotional wounds of the survivors and the American people — who had been immensely traumatized by the attacks — some Western media only intensified the climate of fear and insecurity — some constantly talked about the possibility of new terror attacks and kept the people in fear. Is that service to the American people? Is it possible to calculate the damages incurred from fear and panic?

The question here is “what has the hundreds of billions of dollars, spent every year to pay for the Iraqi campaign, produced for the citizens?”

As Your Excellency is aware, in some states of your country, people are living in poverty. Many thousands are homeless and unemployment is a huge problem. Of course these problems exist — to a larger or lesser extent — in other countries as well. With these conditions in mind, can the gargantuan expenses of the campaign — paid from the public treasury — be explained and be consistent with the aforementioned principles?

Are you pleased with the current condition of the world?

Do you think present policies can continue?

If billions of dollars spent on security, military campaigns and troop movement were instead spent on investment and assistance for poor countries, promotion of health, combating different diseases, education and improvement of mental and physical fitness, assistance to the victims of natural disasters, creation of employment opportunities and production, development projects and poverty alleviation, establishment of peace, mediation between disputing states, and extinguishing the flames of racial, ethnic and other conflicts, were would the world be today? Would not your government and people be justifiably proud?

Would not your administration’s political and economic standing have been stronger?

And I am most sorry to say, would there have been an ever increasing global hatred of the American government?

A reading review

By way of the suggestions of Lynette, I thought it wise to take a concious look at my blog reader, and see what ethnicity and sex the authors of the blogs I subscribe to are.
I figured I would be sadly disappointed to find it dominated by white males, but it’s actually 50-50 in both sex and white/not-white.

That didn’t include my friends blogs (people I know personally) but after further research, those are split about 50-50 too.

I think it would be wise to lean a little more heavily away from white male dominated influences, so I’m going to try and still think through that a little.

I think I’m going to take a few picks from Lynette’s great list of female bloggers

Testing out the Evoca Browser Mic

The evoca mic is the funky little box on the side bar with the bright red REC button on it. Andrew wants my to try it out and see what my readers think.

Basically all you have to do is plug a microphone into your computer, hit the record button, hit the allow button, and then talk. Not too entirely complicated. It’s sort of for the more techie folks, but it’s really easy to use.

What are you supposed to say once it starts recording? I don’t know, tell me a joke.

A Girl Like Me: Famous Doll Test revisited

I find this video fascinating. Kiri Davis is a high school student who put together a fascinating video and revisited a famous experiment that was used to support the desegregation of schools in Brown vs. Board of Education.
The video is sad and telling of how little we’ve come in helping raise our children without inherent notions of racism. At the same time I find it wonderful that a high school student like Kiri has taken the initiative to learn and speak out about this. Her film was featured in the Media that Matters Film Festival.

Bad Boys, Bad Boys: an that’s just the “G” movies

Geena Davis, best known for her role in A League of Their Own, has started a very cool foundation worth checking out, See Jane.
See Jane mission statement on their website is, “Improving Gender Portrayal’s in Children’s Media” and they have some pretty ambitious, but realistic goals:

  • On average, half of all characters (both major and minor) in the most viewed media made for young children (0-11 years old) will be female.
  • Both female and male characters will display a range of attributes/qualities and will not be limited by traditional gender stereotypes.
  • Entertainment creators will make these goals integral to the projects they choose to produce.
  • Parents and educators will actively demand and selectively purchase media products that meet the first two goals.

Lately, See Jane, has been doing some fascinating research on ‘G’ Rated movies that I would highly encourage you to check out (pdf links):

Here are a few charts to get you interested:

Check out the Research today, it’s easy to read and well worth considering.

Maybe we are just pleasing ourselves…

I’ve been really bothered about something for the past week or so. The genocide in Darfur has been on my mind a bit lately, ever since the rally that happened last Sunday in New York. I’ve been thinking about the fact that for the last two years, I along with thousands of others have been “taking action” against the Genocide. We’ve blogged, written letters, rallied, met with congress people, bought wristbands, sent money, and a whole bunch of other things, from the comfort of our desk chair, coffee shop or school library.
We’ve declared, “Not on Our Watch,” and yet three years have gone by, hundreds of thousands have died, millions have been displaced, and I still sit in my comfy living room choosing which news article to link to or picture to post in my latest advocacy.

I think all our words are empty, because they are not stopping this horrible evil we seem to say we want stopped. I’m beginning to think maybe we are just interested in causes to the degree that they benefit us, usually through intrinsic, ‘I feel good about myself’ kind of ways.

I say this with the acknowledgement that I am far from willing to take this step…
We need to go to Darfur and stand in those places. We need to stop blogging and rallying and asking a government that isn’t listening to us, and we need to go take action into our own hands. I’m not talking about fighting, I’m talking about going and stopping it.

Imagine hundreds of planes full of people that decided to put their money were their mouth is, flying to Sudan, walking into the borders and declaring that they have come to spread peace, and that they could not stand idly by and let injustice come, that they would stand in the place, and if necessary take the beating, punishment, death upon themselves, rather then see others die.
There is an army of people who say they want to help stop the genocide. When will we decide we aren’t stopping it and that we need to find another course of action? When will we be willing to stand in and go to stop it ourselves, not through violence, but through creative non-violence.

Who shall go?

Time Machine: Wheaton College article about the FMA

(In the fall of 2004 at Wheaton College, where I was a senior, a couple of students from the Student Government were trying to approve an official statement from the Wheaton College Student Body declearing a stance in support of the Federal Marriage Amendment that would outlaw homosexual marriage. A number of students rose up in opposition to the attempt to approve the statement. I’m ever grateful to Lola, the Student body president at the time, for if she had not vetoed the initial vote on the statement it would have been sent out and made regardless of others input. Anyways, here is my article for the Wheaton College school newspaper concerning the topic)

How do we truly love our neighbor? If I may contextualize a bit: Jesus says do as the homosexual prostitute did when he, not judging or condemning, had compassion and cared for the needs of the Wheaton student who had been left for dead in the alley outside of the ministry she worked at, even after another Wheaton student and a pastor drove by. (LUKE 10:30-37).
Some in our community feel that loving your neighbor is best done by supporting the Federal Marriage Amendment, I’m fearful of that action. I am neither the person, nor a Record article the place to sway your decision on the Federal Marriage Amendment. I will say that we must be very clear that the FMA is NOT a stand against homosexuality as sin, but a political statement concerning the rights of those already practicing homosexuality. My words here are only to voice a concern over the message that Student Government and the Wheaton College student body will send to the world if we COLLECTIVELY support this amendment. This is not a definitive statement, only a few thoughts.
Jesus’ public condemnations where almost always directed to the Religious authorities within the religious community that he was a part of. In the early church we see most rebuking and moral standards being dealt with within the church, not to non-Christians. Paul even says, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (I Cor. 5:12)
This FMA Statement will define our community for years to come, especially if the news world catches wind of it. When we go to do ministries the question will not be about whether we are allowed to dance, but why do we dislike homosexuals so much?
How did Jesus address the idea of using physical punishment to uphold morality? He said, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone.” (Jn. 8:7) We are not to use the law as a means to force adherence to our moral standards. You want to love your neighbor who is a homosexual? Go hang out with them, be with them. Work with Emmaus ministries on CSC (Christian Service Council), sit at the bedside of someone dying of AIDs whose family has disowned him or her. That is where you can share Christ love.
Before we try and take the speck out of others eyes (and I think by “brothers” Jesus meant other believers), have we made sure there is not a plank in our own? I’m not sure exactly how we go about doing that but I have some ideas of statements that we could make to the greater community that would at least be a step in that direction.
I have two suggestions for possible proposals and resolutions that I think we can as a college campus collectively pass and send to every major organization that is fighting for gay rights. First as it relates to the support of marriage. I think we can be humble and admit that Christians have not been a very good example of the sanctity of marriage. We can let the world know that we know that we too are sinners and fail to live up to God’s ideals. We can explain to others that God is and will forever be the one who has defined marriage, and no matter what we the church or the rest of the world does we cannot change that. And we can commit to being an example in years to come of what true marriage is, as a union before God.
The second statement I think we can make, relates to the homosexual people who this impacts. We, the church, have been a horrible example of Christ love to the homosexual community for years. Christ would have sat by the bedside of dying homosexuals in the height of AIDs in this country, yet we stood outside with signs saying they would burn in hell (or we passively stood by while those statements where made). We can beg forgiveness from the homosexual community for the hurt and hatred that has been dealt to them by members of the Christian community. We can commit to spending much more time personally showing and spreading the love of Christ in genuine ways to people who practice homosexuality.
Unity in the body of Christ is an absolute priority in scripture and should be on this campus. How do we bring that unity amidst such differences on an issue like the FMA, which is not a simple Biblical issue? Shall we divide our community by making collective statements that misrepresent those in our community? I pray not. Let us dialogue together and pray together. “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.” (Phil 3:15-16)
If you believe it is best and most loving to support the FMA, then I pray you are doing equally as much to assure the that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons know the love of Christ. Please don’t make a statement supporting the FMA on my behalf. To those who support the FMA, please feel free to collect 1800 signatures of students who support the FMA, but please don’t outcast me from the community by making collective statements. How will I remain in this community? How will I tell my homosexual friend that I chose to remain a part of a community that was making collective statements that to her carry such hate? Lord help me.