The other day a friend asked me whether I thought that
issues of race and ethnicity need to be addressed in the church. I firmly answered yes. This is a legacy that is hard to see due to our own interests and
desires. To those who are affected the most by the issue of race it is very plain that race is still an issue. Some may think that since Obama’s election as President of the Unites States that we live in a post racial society but judging from recent headlines I seriously doubt that we are post racial. In fact, we are anything but post racial. This can be clearly seen in comments on Youtube that involve race. While our public face on race is very politically correct the internet gives us the ability to remain anonymous. This anonymity gives people the freedom to speak what is really on their minds and spit venom on the web that is aggressive, demeaning, and degrading. The issue of race during the 2008 campaign and after Obama was elected has been in the forefront of American public life.

From the whole incident with the Bostonpolice and Henry Louis Gates which resulted in the infamous Beer Gate To the shocking police brutality inflicted on Jordan Miles
of Pittsburgh.We have seen many incidents that show that race is still an issue in this country.

Just to show the pervasiveness of race as an issue in this country here are a few other news stories from this year which reveal the past is not far behind us.

Santa Monica student bullied with noose and chain Santa Monica Noose incident

Virginia Teacher holds mock slave auction where white children buy and sell black and mixed race children Virginia Teacher holds mock slave auction

Big controversy over the ESPN magazine article What if Michael Vick were white?

These are incidents that show me that race is still an issue in America. Why? Because contrary to what the Christian right will tell you America wasnot only built on “Christian” values but also on the concept of the supremacy of one race over another. This is the legacy of white supremacy and we cannot just shrug it aside. It is built into our culture and  our public institutions. It seeps into our private life and relational interactions. As much as the civil rights movement made tremendous strides there is an ominous racial legacy that guides and influences the media, policymakers, and whole communities. It is a racial legacy that even affects the victims of racism as they themselves become oppressors of each other and of others who are not in power. This can clearly be seen in the recent Katt Williams Anti-Mexican Rant. I believe the legacy of racism can force one black man to insult and demean another brown man not just because he is a messed up individual (which may be the case) but also because race and ethnicity has been set up to divide people in this country and is connected to socioeconomic and class/power issues.

So is racism still an issue? Does race still matter? I say yes. But not in the same way as it did in the sixties. I believe the civil rights movement of the sixties addressed many legal and political barriers that were set up by racism but there are still socioeconomic and cultural barriers that need to be addressed. And this issue will only get deeper as the Katt Williams episode shows us that the legacy of racism has not only set up a black/white divide but also division among various ethnic groups as they compete for and pursue human flourishing in a democracy.

What are your thoughts?

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Comments
  1. JasonsBlogg says:

    Race definitely still matters. It trips me out how people like to pretend that it doesnt exist. I have talked to people on my job and different places that dont even know about (or they act like they dont know) America’s early history. And even black people pretending like struggles of their forefathers shouldnt even be mentioned outside of Feb. This grieves me. I dont just pay attention to racism against blacks because the issues are bigger than that (Native Americans experienced the first ‘whip’ in the colonies). However, I am black so I’m kind of more privy to black struggles.

    Over all I truly believe that racism is another means of ‘mass distraction’ (I take that term from Dr Cornel west). I think at the core, white supremacy was motivated by power and greed more so than just a pure hate for those of color. If racist Europeans would have had a means to get more money and from another race besides Africans, I think they would have. Asians could have been the Africans of America’s early history, and Africans could have been the Europeans.

    But it didnt go down like that so we have to deal with reality. And reality says that those of color have been and have continued to (explicitly or implicitly) the lesser of society. This where I will resort to a theological view of mans depravity. Because how do we explain the existence of such hate and inequality except through the means of dysfunction in the human family wrought by rebellion against the Creator God. We are inclined to foolishness it seems…

    My question is, how do we address these issues in a society where poeple think that ‘moving past racism’ means not talking about it?

    Speaking of foolishness
    Here’s the video of Katt Williams: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lLPgn3JDSnA&feature=youtu.be

    • mayotron says:

      Well looking at the current situation I believe that there needs to be two things:

      1) Education and truthtelling. Many people do not realize the depths of how white supremacy seeped into philosophy, literature, anthropology, and pop culture since the enlightenment and the emergent rise of capitalism and how it is constantly being re-inforced.

      2) I think the second thing is a matter for the churches. I believe there needs to be an effective cross cultural pollenization in churches that introduces people to culture and also provides a way for white churches to be downwardly mobile in helping to correct inequality and injustice while at the same time allows them to be enriched by the perspective and minsitry of ethnic minority churches.

      3) I believe one of the biggest contributors to racism is not individuals but the mass media. There needs to be a comprehensive program to boycott and deter the media from producing racialized
      art forms that contribute to a racialized society. I am actually working on something like this on a small scale for my last class project.

      So those are my initial thoughts but I would definitely want to discuss these with other like minds and collaborate together with multiple ideas.

  2. I agree. Very well written.

  3. The Jordan Miles reference reminded me that I was with the Pitt team in Pittsburgh back in June, and Steven Leyva (one of our team who is Black/African American…and yes, all the men on our team are currently named Steven!, but it isn’t a requirement) and the Miles verdict had just come out and a reporter stopped us on the street to ask about it, and I didn’t know anything, but Leyva knew about it. I wondered about this: why didn’t I know about it? I think it comes down to the fact that while I’m not racist (in fact, I argue with some of my southern family members who tend to be surprisingly so), I’m not Black, and my “radar” isn’t tuned to those sorts ofissues, unless I force it to be.

    Thus, because I’m not Black, I don’t have a keen eye out for Black-related news stories, yet Leyva is and Black-related stories tend to either catch his eye or be brought to his attention by others. We all tend to pick and choose what we pay attention to based on the murky depths that cognitive science is just now exploring, connected to environmental factors in our lives.

    …and yet, there’s hope for me. In my theology reading I have purposely in the last five-or-so yeasr sought to and read non-white, non-American theologians…and it has enriched my understanding and knowledge of theoogy beyond white folks talking about a white-centric God. Thus, as in my theology and spirituality reading, I have noticed my eye catching news of the sort that possibly wouldn’t have caught my attention previously, and for that I am really grateful…

    all that said, yes, race is still an issue – although quite possibly a less-threatening one after these many years – and we must and should not only engage it, but celebrate it, integrate it into our lives and notice more of the world around us!

    peace

    • mayotron says:

      Steven,

      I appreciate your willingness to admit the lack of awareness and then to do something about it. I also believe that “race is still an issue-although quite possibly a less threatening one after these many years” but I think that if we ignore it then it can become more threatening and a greater more subtler evil.

  4. herald says:

    Good article, definitely agree that people show their true colors on anonymous message boards. Race is alive and well. It is fed by fear of the unknown and used as a tool to divide and conquer.

  5. StrngeFruit says:

    I like your words about the civil rights movement addressing legal/political barriers leaving socioeconomic/cultural barriers still of issue. Well said!

    This is a subject near and dear to my heart, so i want to pass along By Their Strange Fruit (http://bytheirstrangefruit.com), my blog that is totally dedicated to addressing issues of racial justice and Christianity.

    I’m not just trying to self-promote, but would very much be interested in working with you in this. Guest post?

  6. Amy says:

    Nice article, Ramon.

    Took us 300 yrs to get into this mess, hopefully it won’t take us 300 to get out of it.

    Amy

  7. JasonsBlogg says:

    Does race still matter?

    http://slaverythegame.com/home.php

    Does this answer the question? LOL

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