Thursday, June 19, 2008

Take a Look in the Mirror America

Here are some observations that are troubling me this Juneteenth. I heard on the radio that a pet store in Dallas was selling all BLACK cats and dogs at half-price today! At last weekend's Texas state Republican convention, buttons were being sold that said, "If Obama is President ... will we still call it the White House?" The same group also sold buttons with Hillary Clinton's picture that said, "Life's a bitch. Don't vote for one." Exit polls in southern states have many white voters admitting that they did not vote for Obama because he is black. At a recent Obama rally a Muslim woman was removed because she was wearing a headscarf, and that wouldn't look good on TV. And let's not forget New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin's "chocolate city" remarks from a few years ago.

This election is going to show America and the world what we are, and what we are NOT in terms of racial, ethnic, and religious tolerance. And so far . . . it does not look good for us!!!


jenn said...

Most Americans would say they are not racists, then they go and make stupid remarks like those mentioned in your post. Hypocracy is all around us!
Americans are good at making themselves look like fools to the rest of the world!

Mark said...

Hey look, it's a bunch of white folk taklin' about race...

Seriously, America still has a ways to go when it comes to race, but we're not alone. Most countries in the EU still deal with ethnic, racial, and religious intolerance.

Need we talk about South Africa?

In fact, I would venture a guess that there are very few countries that do not have problems with racism.

In many countries, violence against other ethnic, racial, and religious groups is even condoned or encouraged... don't bash America too much!

America never claims to be perfect, but at least the policy and laws exist that provide some protection to minorities. At least entire groups of people are not denied the opportunity to participate in society.

Charles North said...

I guess the reason why I am so critical is because of the high standard we have set for ourselves and refuse to live up to. Since 1776 we've had "All men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights . . ." as a statement of our identity. When I was a kid growing up in racist South Africa I looked to America as an example of what life should be like, and I walked away from South Africa to embrace America. The protesters in Tiananmen Square in China made a paper mache Statue of Liberty to lead their protest. People all around the world still look to us as a "shining city on a hill;" "mankind's last best hope." I just want Americans to grasp this hefty responsibility that history has placed on us, and I want leaders (a President) who will inspire us to believe this about ourselves!

Ryan said...

Every word in your post is that of a typical head in the sand response, including your attempt at humor. It follows the typical formula of denial. We're not that bad, where you are from is worse, we're pretty good. Spare me.

Any comment made about race in this country by Charles, or myself for that matter, is because we have lived in the USA for 14 years. You on the other hand have not spent 14 minutes in South Africa so please don't comment on what you think you might know.

I have seen more racism in 14 years in America than in 18 years in South Africa. The difference being that there were laws separating races in South Africa which were ignored by large percentages of the population. In America there are laws creating equality that are ignored by large percentages of the population.

The point of the post, which I agree with, is that this election will expose a problem that most people think no longer exists. Actually, the only people who think that racism is dead is white people.

A.H. Jordan said...

If we need an election to "expose" the fact that racial and ethnic tensions still exist in the U.S., and all over the world, then there are way more stupid people out there than I had originally counted on.

Still, I'm with Mark on this one. Give me a country that falls short of a high standard over one who easily vaults a painfully low one. I've never lived in South Africa, but I did grow up in East Texas which, even in the eighties was a throwback to the thirties, and I've seen massive progress in race relations. We'll never be perfect, but I reject the notion that anyone is burying their head in the sand by pointing out that our situation is much less dire than some others around the world.

P.S. I was at the convention in Houston and, sadly, the Obama pin was not the most offensive item at that booth.

Charles North said...

It's the hypocrisy I don't like. Forget other countries. This is not an exercise in comparison, this is an exercise in unmasking self-deception. Laws promoting equality is not evidence of enlightenment, it's evidence that the people are, by nature, not capable of treating others with respect on their own. I crave a libertarian utopia, but since human beings are screwed up (in every country), we'll have laws preventing us from hurting one another. For example, if people weren't so stupid as to light up in cigarette in a restaurant, Dallas would never have passed a smoking ban.

Mark said...

Ryan (and everyone else),

I think you brought some luggage along when you read my comments. You attached a lot of meaning to my comments that really wasn't there. I apologize for my lack of clarity.

My only attempt at humor (Hey look, it's a bunch of white folk tackling' about race...) was more of an acknowledgment that each of us has grown up with many opportunities that are not open to many people in the US (Even white, english speaking immigrants have more opportunities than other immigrants.)

I do not deny the racism that exists in America. You'd have to be blind not to see that.

The state and federal government has set the high standards for us. That is one step in the right direction. But there are other steps that have to be taken to move away from the racism that exists.

1. We (the church) needs to embrace ethnically and economic diversity.

One thing my wife and I have always looked for in a local congregation is the diversity of the congregation. Not just the ethnically diversity, but the economic diversity.

2. We need to make a stand against the race language that has been attached to this election and today's news.

I AM NOT an Obama supporter... but it is ONLY because of his policies and beliefs. However, it really bothers me when people throw out the "Muslim" tag with Obama. It especially bothers me when the comments come from supposed Christians. I think it is our role to say "no more!"

When was the last time you heard/gave a sermon on racial and economic discrimination in the church?

As always, just some thoughts...

Charles North said...

Mark - those are good thoughts. I like for our conversations to always come around to asking, "What is the church's responsibility?" We ought to be ahead of society/culture, but very often the church finds itself lagging the culture in these issues. It's hard to believe that ACU did not admit black students until 1968! What about equality for women? Are we leading society or lagging way behind?

David said...

Mark (and others) are right that things have gotten better to a certain extent. Nevertheless, religious, ethnic, and economic intolerance still abounds. I honestly think that economic intolerance is higher than racial (at least from what I have seen in my limited experience). I had this discussion with my friend Kendall the other day, who is black, and he agreed that because of his dress, manners, education, and at least appearance of some means, he has made it further than some of his family who either refuses to adapt themselves to his mold or does not have the same education and economic standards. I even, unfortunately, find myself more excepting of Latinos, Asians, Blacks, or whoever, in America that act more conducive to my lifestyle than others who do not. That is why I think the issue is bigger than just bigotry over skin color. It is skin color, religious affiliation, economics, education, and culture differences that all need to be addressed to solve this issue.

Also, whoever said that it is only whites who think this problem is solved is right on. Another anecdote from my own life is telling. The other day I called a black minister/missionary friend of mine who serves as reliable insight for me into black America. He recalled to me that the reason why he left the church he had been working with for ages was because they finally admitted to him that the reason why he was never asked to lead singing, teach, or preach on special events and holidays was because it looked bad for the image of the church, i.e., he was black! Now, even though this church was in Arkansas, it was not a church of "hillbillies." This is a large church of well-to-do, educated, people who should know better. (Ironically, it was the "redneck" church in town that asked him to be their featured speaker in a lectureship!) If this is how far we have come as a church then the answer is not very far indeed.