In part I, I described an unfortunate - make that ugly - email I received from a former student. I'm still seething, but thanks to the gracious help of a number of commenters, I was able to craft a response, which I share with you here. If I've missed anything, help me out, please. The comments yesterday were great, and I truly appreciated people's willingness to look at the problem with an eye toward opening minds and hearts. So in that spirit, I offer my reply below the jump:
The frequency of this stuff has increased dramatically over the last 6 months. And it's Sunday, so you're going to get a sermon. And the reason that it's important to me to give this sermon, is because you have expressed an interest in the ministry. Which means having a pulpit, and the ability to influence others. So let's explore this piece and see if you can reconcile it with the Gospels, in particular, Matthew 25: 31-46, and Luke 10: 25-37, and Paul's letter to the Galatians. Does this piece treat it's target in a manner consistent with scripture? And finally the highest commandment, as expressed in Matthew 22:39, that we should love our neighbor as ourself. Note that the commandment is unconditional - it requires nothing on the part of the neighbor to "earn" or "deserve" that love. Now, let's take a look.
Someone finally said it.Yes they did, but it wasn't Michael Richards... How many are actually paying attention to this? I am. I bothered to read it and take a look at the "facts." There are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, Arab Americans, etc. And then here are just Americans. Because the presumption is that "just Americans" are white. When you think of a fourth of July celebration, do you envision people of color? When you look at Norman Rockwell's paintings of Americana, do you see people of color?
You pass me on the street and sneer in my direction. You call me 'White boy,' 'Cracker,' 'Honkey,' 'Whitey,' 'Caveman' ... And that's OK
Really? How often has this happened to you? It's never happened to me, and I'm three times your age.
But when I cal l you, N_____, Kike, Towel head, Sand-n_____, Camel Jockey, Beaner, Gook, or Chink ... You call me a racist. You say that Whites commit a lot of violence against you See yahoo link I sent. Go to Memphis to the Civil rights museum. You don't think there's a long history of violence against minorities? Here's one from last week. Before this goes any further, do you not know American history? Particularly Southern American History? This for example.Read the story of Emmett Till or the Tulsa race riot of 1921for example, and I certainly should not have to tell you about the the Klan.
... So why are the ghettos the most dangerous places to live?
Well that's a question that's worth a doctoral dissertation. But I'll pare it down to one word: Poverty. The more poverty crammed into a small space, the worse it will be. Twas ever thus. Did you see Gangs of New York? The movie overexaggerated, but ghettoes have always been dangerous places, regardless of which group lives in them. Do you know what a paddywagon is? And why it's called that? Because during the wave of Irish immigration in the 19th century, the Irish, often referred to as "paddys" were frequent criminals, and also just frequent targets of police action. If you need more information to understand the nexus between poverty and crime, I'll be happy to put together a reading list. Best way to solve crime? Education and jobs. Period. Oh - and a history of breaking up the family unit, first by slavery, and later by policies that mandated that AFDC (and early version of welfare) recipients not have a father in the house. See the work of Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
You have the United Negro College Fund. You have Martin Luther King Day. You have Black History Month. You have Cesar Chavez Day. I'm sorry, did someone cancel Columbus day, St. Patrick's day, Pulaski day etc. ? You have Yom Hashoah. Stop right there. The overwhelming majority of Jews are white, or didn't anyone notice? And don't even start me on this, buddy, I grew up on the same block with Holocaust survivors - tattooed wrists and all. I'm grateful not to have a family genocide to remember. You have Ma'uled Al-Nabi. You have the NAACP. An organization which arose to respond to the efforts of southern legislatures to keep voting restricted to whites. You have BET... If we had WET (White Entertainment Television), we'd be racists. Do you know the story behind BET? That when MTV first began broadcasting they weren't showing the Black artists, and BET was developed in order to provide a venue in that medium to show their work? MTV was ALL "WET".
If we had a White Pride Day, you would call us racists. Whoever wrote this is a racist. Period. If we Had White History Month, we'd be racists. Every month is white history month. I don't know about you, but other than a cursory mention of slavery as a precursor to the civil war, and Native Americans at Thanksgiving I virtually never heard mention of anyone who wasn't white in history class - until high school, where I took a class taught by a Holocaust survivor who had us read The Strange Career of Jim Crow. I recommend you read it.
If we had any organization for only whites to 'advance' OUR Lives we'd be racists. We have a Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Black Chamber of Commerce, and then we just have the plain Chamber of Commerce. Wonder who pays for that?? Chambers of Commerce are private organizations funded by their members. If these minority chambers exist, look to the fact that these businesses were not welcomed into the Chambers organized by their local white business establishment. So what this writer has tried to do is to make you think that you are paying for these organizations. You're not and never were.
A white woman could not be in the Miss Black American pageant, But any color can be in the Miss America pageant. First Miss America Contest - 1921. First Miss Black America pageant - 1968; Rules changed to admit non-whites to the pageant - 1970. Sounds like a thousand years ago to you, but it's all been during my lifetime. And has anyone pointed to a case in which a white woman has tried to enter Miss Black America and been turned away?
If we had a college fund that only gave white students scholarships. You know we'd be racists. Don't kid yourself about this. There were, for many years. The fact is that for most of American history, most scholarship funds would not consider minority students. It is only relatively recently that that has changed, and that change began sloooowwwwllly.
There are over 60 openly proclaimed Black Colleges in the US.. Yet if there were 'White colleges' They would be racist colleges.. First of all the Historically Black Colleges and Universities came into existence because the "just American" schools did not admit non-white students. I mean c'mon! If you had to suffer so terribly through Black History Month didn't you ever learn about James Meredith and his efforts to attend Ole Miss? And the reason that there are state sponsored HBCUs is because the state legislatures chose, after Plessy v. Ferguson to set up separate schools rather than admit students of color to their lily-white colleges and universities. But today, if you wish to attend TSU, or Spellman, or Grambling, etc. your application will not be denied because you are white.
In the Million Man March, you believed that you were marching For your race and rights. Did you know that one of the results of the march was a big increase in adoptions applications? Can we say that about any marches by white organizations?If we marched for our race and rights, you would call us Racists. Perhaps you are unaware of the American Nazi Party's marches, for instance, or the Klan marches, etc. etc.
You are proud to be black, brown, yellow and orange, and you're Not afraid to announce it. Read the history of Brown vs. Board of Education In particular, read about the doll experiments. And would you be proud if you had only been counted as 3/5 of a man.? But when we announce our white pride, you call us racist!
You rob us, carjack us, and shoot at us. Really? Has this happened to you? And who is the "you" the writer is talking to? I'm not denying the existence of crime by any means, but the stats show that the greatest number of crime victims at the hands of black criminals are themselves black.
But, when a white Police officer shoots a black gang member or beats up a black drug-dealer running from the law and posing a threat to society, you call him a racist. When a white police officer takes appropriate action against a black suspect, within the requirements of the law, he's doing his job. When he targets an individual for suspicion on the basis of race, or treats a suspect differently on that basis, he's acting in a racist manner, yes. Perhaps, for example, you are unaware of this case.You never heard of a DWB?
I am proud... But you call me a racist. Why is it that only whites can be racists? Who said that? Source? Anybody can be a racist. In a majority white country, however, the majority of the racists are white. That's just how it goes.
There is nothing improper about this e-mail. I beg to differ. It's just ugly. It intends to make the reader feel victimized, thereby stirring up resentment, which plays out all kinds of ways, including the incitement of violence. Let's see which of you are proud enough to send it on. I sadly don't think many will. Note how the author challenges you, wants you to feel as though you are less of a man if you don't spread his screed.
That's why we have lost most of OUR RIGHTS in this Country. What rights have you lost because others have gained some of theirs? Name two. The only rights I'm aware of losing are the privacy rights taken away by the Bush administration, but that's not what this guy's complaining about. He's lost the "right" to put others down in employment, housing, education, voting. My heart breaks for him. Not. We won't stand up for ourselves!
BE PROUD TO BE WHITE! If being white means acting or sounding like this jackass, I'm embarassed.
It's not a crime yet ... But getting real close! Other than this anonymous author and the fools who promulgate this filth, says who?
Finally, I hope you looked at the youtube of Richard Trumka's talk, and there's one more thing I think you - and every American citizen - should take a look at. It's a documentary about Lee Atwater, and it will tell you all about the politics of victimization, which is what this piece relies upon - that you, having read it, will feel victimized and harbor resentment against others. Is that what the Gospels call us to do?
I know this sounds like I'm chewing you out. I'm not. (well, ok, maybe a little.) But to accept what this writer - who didn't have the courage to put his name on the piece, and sought to attribute it to someone else has said without testing his assertions is sloppy scholarship and crappy Christianity. The scholarship is what I hope to work on, the Christianity, of course, is between you and the Almighty. Because at the end of the day, it will be a whole lot more important to have gotten this right than to have been white.