Tag Archives: racism

Flash Back: Sharing Our Feelings On Race

When I first started it, IFeelWhenYou, was going to be this great, thought-provoking website that opened up the conversation on race nation-wide and was a useful tool in our dialog in classes and churches all over. Well, it didn’t really happen. But it is fun to browse through once in a while, and moderate the new statements that had been posted. Here’s what I wrote about it when I first started:

Something that troubles me in dicussing race and racism is that we are often (like in many other areas) poor listeners. We tend to have a lot to say regardless of how important it really is or how much it affects us. Like you learn in any basic communication class sharing your feelings is perfectly okay and important. It’s also important to listen to one another. The typical statement you’ll here suggested is the famous, “I Feel…When You…” It allows you to share what your feeling based on the others action and focuses on your feeling rather then just yelling or pointing out their action (the “You ALWAYS do this…” types of statements). Martin Luther King day is just around the corner and I thought it would be neat to have a site dedicated to sharing our feelings about Race and Racism in a constructive way.

Browse around and see if it’s informative or interesting to you.


Jena Six: Racism Still Exist In The South

UPDATE (7/28/09): Two years later, here is the results of the Jena Six trial. Mostly a victory.

Updated:  New post on the Jena Six

We’ve talked about stories of racism and police abuse in the past, so this shouldn’t be a revelation for any of the regular readers around here. However, stories like this, when they are specific, need to be noted, brought up, spoken out against, and made aware to a larger community.

In Jena, Louisiana, a town of 3,000, 85% white, 12% black, the disgusting injustice of a still racially charged society is receiving some attention from the national and international community. Six black youth from Jena are facing attempted second-degree murder charges from a fight with a white student from their school who himself is being charged with possession of a firearm in a ‘firearm-free zone.’ In a city were racism clearly still exist, a school yard fight turned into murder charges seems like the troubling injustice many in this country have worked hard to overcome.

Megaphonic, who pointed out this story to me, writes:

someone is teaching these kids that this type of behaviour is acceptable. either directly or by their inaction, the adults in this community are giving them the go ahead to hang nooses in trees and beat the s*** out of kids because they are of a different race. the school board should have expelled the kids who hung the nooses… that’s a hate crime. federal offense. the principal was fully correct to call for their expulsion.

How does this continue to happen, and how can communities fight it? how can we, as nashvillians, keep this from happening? how can we as southerners (even nominal ones like me) fight the stereotypes that history has left us?

My suggestion was that churches need to be gathering together and discussing how to address the injustice of racism, and not pretend it disappeared along with MLK. My other thought, maybe a dumb one, was to start a facebook group. update: looks like someone already beat me to it, join this Facebook Group, Jena Six: The World is Now Watching. Any other ideas?

UPDATE: Just wanted to add some links from the blogosphere to help you stay on top of things that are happening with the Jena Six…

Race Report Card 2006: D- (Maybe)

Well it’s officially the end of Black History Month, a contrived attempt at helping white folk realize that the world doesn’t revolve around them. I doubt we were any more successful at it this past year than when they got rid of slavery.
I’m a fan of Black History Month, because I’m a fan of being intentional. I say this a lot in the community we live in, that we need to intentionally carve out time and space for things to occur, until they become a natural part of what we do. Until the integration and celebration of Black History is as much a part of the education of every student as any sort of euro-centric history, until that is true, there will be a need for Black History Month.
It was suggested on a podcast I was listening to recently that Black History Month should serve as an assessment time, as a chance to give our society a report card on how we’ve done in the past year as it relates to racial integration and race relations, in our current and historical context.
So, on this years annual report card (for the year 2006), I’m giving our society a big fat D-. If you want more of the details, the best place to get them would be Racalicious’ great posts on Race and Pop Culture Trends of 2006: (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

Let’s see if we can do better next year people.

Already Forgotten?

note: originally posted in January 2005 in the student newspaper at Wheaton College

Already Forgotten

It’s Friday now, five days after the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday, and like many of us, besides rejoicing that it’s only a four day week, you have not given his legacy a second thought. If upon reflecting on King and his legacy, you only naively rejoiced that his “dream” has been accomplished, but did not weep at the complacency of, We, the Church in carrying out the work that Dr. King, in Christ, called us to; to bring Justice for the poor and oppressed, you are deceived.
The more I have learned about Dr. King the more I am shocked and disappointed at the lack of attention we give to this great hero of the Christian faith. Wheaton College, a school founded by abolitionists should know well the importance of standing up against injustice and for freedom. Dr. King stood bold as a Christian against the injustice of his day and we need to be challenged by this modern prophet of Christ to do the same.
It’s a wonderful thing to see that every year hundreds of students at Wheaton participate in ministries through CSC and their churches. Many of the ministries involve working with youth anywhere from near by Carol Stream to the city of Chicago. These sorts of ministries are tangible ways many students find to share the love of Christ with others. But this alone is inefficient and insufficient. We must not forget King’s example and stand against the systems that are persisting
You might have heard this story before. There was a community that built a school on the edge of a cliff. Upon discovering that a number of students where injured seriously from falling off the cliff, the community decided to build a emergency room at the bottom of the cliff. Though this did help care for the situation, it was reactive toward the outcome of the problem and did not deal with the root. Why did they not build a fence?!

Dr. King stood against the injustice of the Jim Crow laws and the segregated education system because he was compelled by the love of Christ. We too must stand against those structural sins in our society. I challenge every student involved in ministries to youth to become aware of the structural evils that we are a part of in our society. When a child receives an unequal education simply due to their location in an impoverished neighborhood, this is a structural evil. When your attempt to explain to that child the victories of Brown vs. Board in desegregation are in vain because every child in his classroom is of similar complexion, this is a structural evil. King once said, “Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” Please deepen your understanding and act.
We are called to love our neighbor as ourself. This command requires far more then the few hours or minutes we tend to give it each day, indeed, in the words of King, “The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.”

Free The Slaves: Today, Not History

Slavery is not legal anywhere but happens Everywhere. Today, there are nearly 27 million slaves in the world, more then at any other time in history.

Months ago I read a National Geographic magazine that had a large article, complete with photographs, about modern day slavery that exist in our world. 27 million people in slavery and this article wasn’t even the cover feature, that was reserved for the Zebras.
Mindy had the foresight to cut the pictures out of the magazine and post them on the walls of our bathroom where we would see them often and not be able to put out of our mind the reality of injustice our neighbors face.

Even in the United States, there are an estimated 10,000 enslaved workers here. If you have five minutes, watch this short video from Dr. Kevin Bales about Slavery in the United States

The ending as you can see has an important lesson on the role of each of us in knowing and loving our neighbors. Responding to the injustices that we see right around us, and intentionally placing ourselves in a way that we will know and be aware of those injustices when they occur.

Check out Free The Slaves and Get Involved.

Hoping Hmong History Brings Understanding

Being from Wisconsin and Minnesota (Mindy) the Hmong people are familiar to us. I know a number of students who attended my high school and Mindy recalls many even in rural Minnesota.

From The Capital Times:

Wisconsin, Minnesota and California are home to the largest populations of Hmong, an ethnic minority from Southeast Asia. Many Hmong, including Za Blong Vang, fought alongside the U.S. in a so-called secret war against communists in Laos during the Vietnam War and later fled to avoid government persecution. Lawmakers said 50,000 Hmong live in Wisconsin.

The body of Cha Vang was found Jan. 6 in a wildlife refuge near Green Bay. A white hunter was charged last week in Vang’s death.

Vang is a common last name for Hmong and the homicide victim is not related to Za Blong Vang.

Two years ago, a Hmong deer hunter shot six white hunters to death after being accused of trespassing in the Wisconsin woods. He said the whites shouted racial epithets at him and opened fire first. He is serving life sentences. Some Hmong residents fear the latest killing was revenge.

“We felt this issue now has some urgency,” said Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee. “The fear and apprehension felt by our fellow Hmong citizens makes it important that we retell the important role they played in the Vietnam War.”

Is understanding a people’s history and culture a step towards removing prejudice? It does seem that we fear what we don’t know. And this could be a wonderful step to truly embracing the Hmong community in the Midwest. Now if we can start changing our history books to embrace all people, we’d be in good shape.

Be Anti-Racist with Your Purchasing Power

I’ve posted here and there about racism in the past on this blog, venturing the thought that we need to be intentionally anti-racist if we are to keep from supporting the racist structures that exist within our society. Zach and I went to an MLK Rally last Monday and heard a speech from the new TN NAACP President. Her brief speech was about a Report Card the NAACP put together on a number of companies consumers frequent.

After a decade of tracking and observing how some of the nation’s largest companies and industries treat consumers of color, the NAACP reports that while positive change is occurring, companies across all industries need to commit to continuous improvements in order to break through to the next level of performance.

“African Americans pump roughly $650 billion into the American economy annually,” said NAACP President & CEO Bruce S. Gordon. “We should spend wisely and have readily available information to be assured that those we do business with are reinvesting in our community, employing a diverse work force, utilizing minority vendors and supporting our causes. Those not practicing such measures should not benefit from the economic power we provide. There continues to be opportunities for major corporations to improve their performance.”

I definitly think this report should have authority and validity beyond the African American community. In order to move from our racist structures, people of all races need to be concerned about the well-being of others. Therefore, this report should influence my purchasing power as well as yours. Here’s a glimpse at the section on lodging:

Download the PDF of the Report Card Here.

Who does this guy think he is?

I’m still a little confused how folks like this get to have any position of authority at all. From the Associated Press:

A state legislator said black people “should get over” slavery and questioned whether Jews should apologize “for killing Christ,” drawing denunciations Tuesday from stunned colleagues.

Delegate Frank D. Hargrove, who is white and Christian, made his remarks in opposition to a measure that would apologize on the state’s behalf to the descendants of slaves.

In an interview published Tuesday in The Daily Progress of Charlottesville, Hargrove, 79, said slavery ended nearly 140 years ago with the Civil War and added that “our black citizens should get over it.”

-St. Louis Today article

Thought’s on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

UPDATE: This is from 2006, but I figure it would be worth reposting.

It’s a few weeks after MLK Day, but Zach and I took a little time last weekend to respond to some of the things we heard from others in response to MLK Day.
We’d love to hear your reaction to our thoughts and the things we’ve heard from others. Be sure to email us.

Thoughts on MLK