Thursday, April 10, 2008

My name is Todd and I'm a white male.

We observed MLK day last week. Has this made everyone racial sensitive?

This is what I saw first thing this morning as I went through my morning hot sheets:

United Methodist News Service:
Commentary: An invitation to evangelical white males

A UMNS Commentary
By Bill Mefford*
April 9, 2008

Bill Mefford
A few months ago, I attended a conference in Memphis, Tenn., where a Texas judge, who identified himself as a white, evangelical male, made a remarkable statement. He called himself "the most discriminated-against person on the face of this earth!"

United Methodist video examines ‘white privilege’

A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
April 9, 2008

In a church fellowship hall, a long line of people are beginning to realize that many of them live with "an invisible, unearned advantage" based on the color of their skin.

They listen and respond as the Rev. Marion Miller, pastor at St. Luke's United Methodist Church in Indianapolis, reads a list of commands in an exercise on “white privilege” in the United States.

"If you should need to move," she asks, "can you be pretty sure of renting or purchasing housing in an area you can afford and in which you would want to live? If this is true, take one step forward."

"If you can go shopping alone most of the time pretty well assured you will not be followed or harassed, take another step forward."

"If you can go into a music shop and count on finding the music of your race represented, into a supermarket and find the staple foods which fit with your cultural traditions, into a hairdresser's shop and find someone who can cut your hair, take three steps forward."

By the end of the exercise, all of the white participants are steps ahead of the people of color in the line.

"Sensitizing white people to an invisible system of advantage is a healthy beginning in the journey," said Blenda Smith, conference lay leader of the Wyoming Annual (regional) Conference and a white board member of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns.

Glenn Beck show highlights from yesterday:

Glenn Beck: Obama's spiritual woes continue

Obama Delegate Resigns After Remark

Apr 8, 3:14 PM (ET)

CARPENTERSVILLE, Ill. (AP) - An Illinois delegate for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama resigned after using the word "monkeys" to describe black children playing in a tree, the Obama campaign said Tuesday.

Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, a trustee in the Chicago suburb of Carpentersville, was issued a $75 ticket for disorderly conduct after neighbors complained to police. She says the word wasn't meant racially and she will fight the ticket.

"Given the incident, Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski is stepping down as a delegate and will be replaced," said Obama spokeswoman Amy Brundage.

The incident occurred Saturday, when two children were playing in a tree next door to Ramirez-Sliwinski's house.

She said the parents were outside supervising the children, but she went over and told them to get out of the tree because she was concerned about the boys' safety and because the small magnolia tree was being damaged.

The father of one of the boys told her it was none of her business, she told the Chicago Tribune, and "I calmly said the tree is not there for them to be climbing in there like monkeys."

The mother of one boy called police.

Cmdr. Michael Kilbourne said Tuesday a ticket was issued because the ordinance bans conduct that disturbs or alarms people. One of the boys told police he was scared by her comment and a mother said she was disturbed, he said.

Ramirez-Sliwinski does not have a listed telephone number. She did not respond immediately to an e-mail.

Ramirez-Sliwinski says she doesn't plan to run for another term on the village board. "In the eyes of the public, this is wrong," she told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

I am the first to admit that I grew up in an area where it was not just predominantly white, it was well known for racist history (and rumored racist present). But my mother made it very clear that people were people. Black, Asian, Hispanic, it didn't matter what their skin color, they were people deserving of respect. Unless they were chronically stupid. But skin color doesn't predetermine chronically stupid. So maybe I'm not racially sensitive enough.

But I am tired of being told I'm not sensitive or that I'm ignorant of people who are different. I am tired of being held to account for something that I have never stood for in my life and have spoken against from the depths of my being. I am tired of differences forcing people to choose sides and allow those differences to keep people from finding the common ground of fellowship.

I'm not stupid. I know that there are biases written into the code of culture. I know that communities and neighborhoods of color are not treated equally. I just rode along with my friend who is a Tulsa police officer. We got into a conversation about the difference in the culture we had been raised in and the vast disparity of the neighborhoods he has to patrol. And, yes, some of those neighborhoods are communities of color.

We responded to a call to an apartment complex. It was a low-rent area. It wasn't mostly any one color. It was a mixture of people who were at what can be considered the bottom end of the economic spectrum. And just 2 blocks away was one of the wealthiest private colleges west of the Mississippi. That is disparity. And the people who lived in those apartments and somewhat rundown houses are not treated equally as those college students with their indoor tennis courts and the college basketball tournament.

But we are not moving this nation forward. WE, as a nation, are sitting in a stewing pot of division and judgmentalism. We bunker down with our own kind and point to the differences of the people around us. We point at the political opponents and claim it is their fault we are in the global situation we are in. We look at those of different ideologies and blame them for the degradation of society. We strike out to make our point and defend our position. We rally ourselves to do battle in a cultural war without every really discovering who our enemy is. Sun Tzu, the great military tactician said:
Know the enemy and know yourself;
And fear not the result of a hundred battles.
If you know but one or the other,
For every victory you will suffer a defeat.
If you know neither,
You will succumb in every battle.
But we would rather remain ignorant and strike out in emotion and righteous opinion.

What would it hurt to live one day in this nation without supposing that someone was your enemy? What would it hurt to assume for one minute that people are people and just alike? That we all hurt and rejoice? That we all have weaknesses and failure, but that we also have strengths and victories? Would it do so much harm to our way of life if we could consider for one day that all people were created equal in the sight of God?