Tag: race relations

Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship: A Review

I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.  John 15:15, NLT.

For white liberals of a certain generation, the Civil Rights Movement will always be front and center.  A struggle for racial equality made significant progress regarding relations between whites and blacks.  Though a success, though by no means was it a landslide victory.   Nonetheless, many apply a coat or two of heavy gloss, choosing to  remember the successes alone, while overlooking the multitude of eyesores that still tarnish our cultural landscape.  Every gathering and, indeed, every person must continually resist and overcome.  A  famous passage, also in the Gospel of John, proclaims that it is Truth that will set us free, not nostalgia.


Fighting Intolerance Requires Trusting Other People

An English professor at Auburn University Montgomery (Alabama) has recently sparked a firestorm of criticism for his decision to edit two Mark Twain classics.  Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, both read by generations of schoolchildren, contain frequent usage of racially insensitive language.  However, they are also products of their time.  The books were written by an author who used dialogue authentic to the period, as objectionable as it is to us in this day.  The controversy among Twain scholars and the general public has been substantial.  But until recently, the professor held a completely different attitude altogether.

New Media, Race Relations, and the Power of Storytelling

Originally posted by Will Urquhart at Sum of Change

There was a moment in Deanna Zandt’s speech at the Organizing 2.0 conference that I wanted to highlight:

Some thoughts on race

One weekend a month, I run a special educational program, in cooperation with the local public library, that helps low income high school students prepare for getting into college.  Some are white.  A few are black.  Most are Latino.

Two weekends ago, a student who happens to be Latino started acting out during a test.  Clearly frustrated by his inability to master the subject matter, and showing off to a couple of girls sitting next to him, the student began surreptitiously throwing pieces of broken pencil at me.    

I was not sure how to respond at first. I didn’t want to disrupt the class in the middle of the test, so I decided to wait until the break to talk to him.  Not happy with my seeming lack of interest in his antics, the student then started making funny noises that sounded amazingly like drops of water in a bucket.

It was then I noticed an earnest and extremely muscular student on the other side of the room staring daggers at the noise maker.  I knew I had to do something to quell the disturbance right there, not only for the sake of a class but also for the sake the disruptive student’s physical well being.

I asked the student pick up his belongings and follow me into the hall, where I told him that he was free to leave, but if he wanted to stay his misbehavior would have to stop.  

Then the student called me a racist. He claimed I was picking on him because he was Latino, and that I wouldn’t be pulling him out of the class if he were White.

I explained to the student that his race had nothing to do with my disciplining him, but that his behavior was simply unacceptable and disturbing to his classmates.

Of course, my protestations had no absolutely no effect on the student’s opinion that I was indeed a racist, an opinion which he continued to declare loudly and repeatedly as he confidently strutted out of the building.

Was the student race baiting? You bet he was. He was making specious and unsupported claims of racial victimization in order to distract from his own obnoxious behavior.

Was it extremely hurtful to me personally?  Right again.  Not to mention how I felt walking back into that classroom.

I tell this story not as an allegory for the unfortunate events of the other day, but to lend context to my argument that race baiting is a very real and insidious tactic used by opportunists of every color to cover for their alternate agendas.

Of course, that is NOT to deny that prevalent and often virulent racist attitudes do indeed exist practically everywhere humans with even slightly different skin pigments commingle, but when charges of racism are recklessly hurled without solid foundation and good faith belief, this ‘cry wolf’ behavior serves both to undermine the credibility of those with genuine claims and to alienate many who might otherwise be sympathetic to those claims.

Which brings me to my main point.