Pax Pneuma Speaks to Guns, and Violence.

parkland“And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions.  And also on My menservants and on My maidservants, I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joe 2:28-29 NKJ)

American society is amazing.  Following the death of seventeen people, most of them teenagers, at Parkland High School, there was a remarkable silence from the adults, except those from the gun lobby. Fortunately, we were able to see prophecy in action, as these young people stood up and said, ‘never again.’

How can we claim to be pro-life, and yet ignore the loss of seventeen lives? How can we be peace-makers, and yet fight for the right to carry a weapon of warfare? We’re supposed to have a ministry of reconciliation, yet we thirst for blood and revenge.

The Second Amendment does give you the right to carry arms. However, the law is not so forgiving when you decide to discharge that weapon and possible wound or take the life of another person, even if you thought that person was a threat to you. Second, are you sure God understands when you take life from someone that you did not give in the first place?

Even if the Church refuses to speak out, some elements of corporate America sees the writing on the wall, and no longer backing the National Rifle Association

Social change is coming.  Those young people may not be able to vote yet, but when they do they may decide to no longer accept the values or lack of them, of the last generation. High school students are refusing to take the distractions, excuses, and inaction that has prevailed for so long.

Pax Pneuma, as a peace and justice organization, calls on the legislature to ban all assault rifles, and also ban the sale of bump-stops.

 

Pax Pneuma Speaks

Editorial

MLK-White-Silence-768x480Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said “Let us all hope that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and that in some not too distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.[1]”  One has to wonder if, a half-century later, whether or not Dr. King was something of a romantic idealist.

3 % Think Racism is Not a Problem

Torch-bearing white supremacists shouting racist and anti-Semitic slogans, clashing with counter-protesters, and a vehicle driven by a known Nazi sympathizer mowing down a crowd of activists, killing one person. Many Americans responded to this weekend’s violence in Charlottesville with disbelieving horror. How could this happen in America, in 2017?

 “This is not who we are,” said Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D).

3 percent of Americans think racism is ‘not a problem’ in the US today, down from a peak of 8 percent in 2011. Complaints about discrimination in housing are higher now than they have ever been.  More black and Latino males are incarcerated than whites. Unemployment amongst African Americas is higher than average, and the standards of education and healthcare are poor.  The Church is still segregated but Christians, for the majority, seem unwilling to act.  Racism does not become an issue unless it impacts your life.

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[1] Letters from a Birmingham Jail. http://abacus.bates.edu/admin/offices/dos/mlk/letter.html

The Abhorrent Lie of White Supremacy. Mark Charles.

To be clear, President Trump’s vulgar and racist comments on Thursday regarding immigrants from the continent of Africa were intended to appeal to his political base and rooted in the abhorrent lie of white supremacy.  After hearing reports of President Trumps remarks I asked my two oldest children to read the following excerpt of a speech by another US President who also held and articulated white supremacist views.  I did this because I wanted them to understand the pervasiveness of white supremacy and just how deeply it is rooted in American history.

“While I was at the hotel to-day, an elderly gentleman called upon me to know whether I was really in favor of producing a perfect equality between the negroes and white people. [Great Laughter.] While I had not proposed to myself on this occasion to say much on that subject, yet as the question was asked me I thought I would occupy perhaps five minutes in saying something in regard to it. I will say then that I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races, [applause]-that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.”
– Abraham Lincoln (Fourth Lincoln Douglas Debate – September 18, 1858 – Charleston, Illinois)

Now, I know what many may be thinking. This is unfair, you are taking an excerpt from a speech early in Lincoln’s political life, 5 years before he issued the emancipation proclamation and six years before he gave the Gettysburg address. Certainly, Abraham Lincoln’s beliefs in racial equality must have grown and changed over the course of his political career.

Did they?

In 1864, near the end of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln wrote what is probably the shortest and most famous political speech in American history, the Gettysburg Address. At 272 words, beginning with a reference to the Declaration of Independence and concluding with the often-quoted line “…that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Many believe this speech to be the perfect capstone to his life and political career.

But we must note that, like the inclusive language used by the authors of the Declaration of Independence (“All men”) and the US Constitution, (“We the people”), Lincoln does not in the immediate context of his words, define who he is including when he refers to “All men” and “people”. In the Declaration of Independence, 30 lines after the statement “All men are created equal”, the authors refer to native tribes as “merciless Indian savages.” Making it very clear that they had a very narrow definition of who was actually human. And Article I Section II of the US Constitution, the section that defines who is included in the designation “We the people”. Article I, Section II never mentions women, it specifically excludes Indians and it counts African slaves as 3/5th human. This leaves only white, land-owning men.

If you read the Emancipation Proclamation you will note that President Lincoln was incredibly specific as to exactly where he was freeing the slaves:

“Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.”

The Emancipation Proclamation did not apply to the slave owning border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. These states had not seceded from the Union and therefore were exempted from the Emancipation Proclamation.

Some will argue that because President Lincoln was using his wartime powers as commander-in-chief to make the proclamation, it was legally necessary to limit the proclamation to states and counties that were actively fighting against the Union.  However, President Lincoln himself provides detailed insight into his thinking regarding his reasoning for freeing the slaves just a few months prior.

On August 19, 1862, Horace Greeley, the Editor of the New York Tribune wrote a scathing Op-Ed calling for the immediate emancipation of the slaves. President Lincoln had already written the Emancipation Proclamation but was not yet ready to issue it. He first wanted to reassure the slave-owning states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware of his values, so he responded to Greeley’s Op-Ed with a letter which stated:

“If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

This quote is engraved on a marble plaque that hangs in the museum at the base of the Lincoln memorial. Boldly announcing to everyone who visits the museum that President Abraham Lincoln did not believe that black lives matter.

On top of that, just a few weeks before he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in the history of the United States.

In the fall of 1862, after the United States failed to meet its treaty obligations with the Dakota people, several Dakota warriors raided an American settlement, killed some of the settlers and stole some food. This began a period of bloody conflict between some of the Dakota people, the settlers, and the US Military. After more than a month, several hundred of the Dakota warriors surrendered and the rest fled north to what is now Canada. Those who surrendered were quickly tried in military tribunals, and 303 of them were condemned to death.

“The trials of the Dakota were conducted unfairly in a variety of ways. The evidence was sparse, the tribunal was biased, the defendants were unrepresented in unfamiliar proceedings conducted in a foreign language, and authority for convening the tribunal was lacking. More fundamentally, neither the Military Commission nor the reviewing authorities recognized that they were dealing with the aftermath of a war fought with a sovereign nation and that the men who surrendered were entitled to treatment in accordance with that status.” (Carol Chomsky)

Because these were military trials, the executions had to be ordered by President Abraham Lincoln.

Three hundred and three deaths seemed too genocidal for President Lincoln. But he didn’t order retrials, even though it has been argued that the trials which took place were a legal sham. Instead he simply modified the criteria of what charges warranted a death sentence. Under his new criteria, only two of the Dakota warriors were sentenced to die. That small number seemed too lenient, and President Lincoln was concerned about an uprising by his white American settlers in that area. So, for a second time, instead of ordering retrials, he changed the criteria of what warranted a death sentence.

Ultimately, 39 Dakota men were sentenced to die. And on December 26, 1862, by order of President Lincoln, and with nearly 4,000 white American settlers looking on, the largest mass execution in the history of the United States took place. The hanging of the Dakota 38.

Clearly, not only did President Lincoln not believe black lives mattered, but he also did not believe native lives mattered.

So how about his inauguration? The election of Abraham Lincoln as President, and his inauguration into office was what spurred several of the southern states to secede from the Union. Surely, he must have stated something in his address that made clear his belief in the value of “all men” and his inclusion of people of color in his definition of humanity.

“Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that–I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.” (1861 – Inaugural Address)

And, President Lincoln’s direct quote of a previous speech brings us back to yet another example of what is obviously a deeply held, and life long, belief in the lie of white supremacy:

“Now, gentlemen, I don’t want to read at any greater length, but this is the true complexion of all I have ever said in regard to the institution of slavery and the black race. This is the whole of it, and anything that argues me into his idea of perfect social and political equality with the negro, is but a specious and fantastic arrangement of words, by which a man can prove a horse-chestnut to be a chestnut horse. [Laughter.] I will say here, while upon this subject, that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. I have no purpose to introduce political and social equality between the white and the black races. There is a physical difference between the two, which, in my judgment, will probably forever forbid their living together upon the footing of perfect equality, and inasmuch as it becomes a necessity that there must be a difference, I, as well as Judge Douglas, am in favor of the race to which I belong having the superior position.”
– Abraham Lincoln (First Lincoln Douglas Debate – August 21, 1858 – Ottawa, Illinois)

After President Trump made his vulgar and racist statement regarding immigrants from Africa, a statement that was rooted in his belief in the abhorrent lie of white supremacy, I had my two oldest children read the above speech by another US Politician who deeply believed the same abhorrent lie. Throughout his political career, President Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist. I asked my children read his speech because I did not want them to believe that Donald Trump is the sole root of the problem. President Trump is obviously the most explicit and recent manifestation of the problem. But the abhorrent lie of white supremacy runs much deeper and is far more pervasive than most anyone is willing to admit.

I understand why so many white politicians hold up Abraham Lincoln as their political hero regarding matters of race. President Lincoln built and left a legacy that is the envy of many politicians. He won the support and admiration of generations of people of color, all the while blatantly, and repeatedly, reassuring his white base of the abhorrent lie that they were indeed the superior race.

Whether it comes from the vulgar mouth of Donald J. Trump or through the eloquent articulation of Abraham Lincoln, I lament, I weep, I decry, I denounce the pervasive and abhorrent lie of white supremacy.

mark_charlesMark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant who recently moved to Washington DC from the Navajo Reservation. The son of an American woman of Dutch heritage and a Navajo man, Mark seeks to understand the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. He partners with numerous organizations to assist them in respectfully approaching, including, and working with native communities.
Follow Mark on Facebook or on his blog at https://wirelesshogan.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-abhorrent-lie-of-white-supremacy.html

Azusa Street from a Black Perspective

 

kenneth

Kenneth L. Harrell. Jr. Is part of the Oneness Pentecostal Movement.

Early Pentecostal pioneer Frank Bartleman wrote that at the famed Azusa Street Mission that “race was washed away by the blood.” Despite the strong interracial fellowship that characterized the Asuza Street revival, like everything else in American society, once Pentecostalism began to spread, and Pentecostal organizations penetrated more diverse strata of American society, Pentecostalism quickly succumbed to the racial views of that day and became segregated by race. While that was rather unfortunate and needs rectifying today, we need to understand the variables at work within the movement and without that caused Pentecostal revival to eventually succumb to the racist beliefs of that day so we won’t repeat that history. I firmly believe that the body of Christ has been given the message of reconciliation and that just as Jews and Gentiles had to become reconciled in their day, people of different races and ethnicities, especially Blacks and Whites need the middle wall or partition torn down so that we can have permanent fellowship in the body of Christ.

 

It has been said that the reason why interracial fellowship and unity fell apart in the early Pentecostal movement was the result of racism on the part of early White Pentecostal leaders. While I am sure that there was any number of White Pentecostal leaders who were, in fact, racist, I do not think that the motives of racist individuals alone explains the breakdown of interracial cooperation in the movement. Racism like all sins is more complicated than the standard definitions given in dictionaries and even in the social sciences. And people are very complex creatures and just why they do things is often difficult to understand.

That being said I think part of the problem for the downfall of interracial fellowship in early Pentecostalism is theological. While many early Black leaders, of which William J Seymour is  a prime example, saw racial equality as central to the God’s purpose for sending the Pentecostal outpouring, very few White leaders saw it that way. They agreed with Black leaders that the coming of the Lord was imminent and that the Pentecostal outpouring was one of the signs that Jesus was soon to come. But very few of them saw the breakdown of social barriers as an integral part of that outpouring. Whereas Black leaders saw the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the Asuza Street Mission as evidence that God was permanently reorienting society, most White leaders saw this shift as temporary. My point is that Black leaders in the movement and White leaders in the movement were never on the same page, to begin with.

A part of that different social vision was sociological in nature which of course directly affected eschatological expectations. It must be remembered that Black Christianity and its particular spirituality was forged under the crucible of American slavery. As a result, Black Christians read history differently and interpreted contemporary events through a fundamentally different lens. For instance, White Christians often interpreted the Civil War as a theological crisis whereas Black Christians saw the Civil War as part of God’s redemptive plan. Although early Black Pentecostal leaders  believed along with their White contemporaries in the imminent return of Christ, they were less affected by the eschatological pessimism of dispensationalism than White Pentecostals. Whereas White Pentecostals, like their Fundamentalist contemporaries believed that the world as they knew it was falling apart and that that reality was not a good thing. Black Pentecostals with their background in the slavery and oppression looked to the future and the radical reorientation of society as the hand of God. My point here is that Blacks and Whites in the Pentecostal movement brought significantly different interpretive lenses to the events they were witnessing in and participating in.

Because most early White Pentecostals did not share the optimism that most early Black Pentecostal leaders had about change in the church and society, interracial fellowship was never central to their message. As a result, as Pentecostalism began spreading and leaders ran into racially hierarchical structures, rather than challenging them, they just acquiesced to them. I must point out here that they weren’t necessarily consciously racist, at least not in terms of personal animosity towards Black people but because they had more faith in America than Black Pentecostals did they accepted the racist structures of American society as normal and ordained by God. While it is true that there were some leaders who were truly racist in every sense of the word, many leaders simply believed that America was specially ordained by God and that its social structures were also part of God’s plan.

Of course, the early Black Pentecostal leaders didn’t see it that way. Because of their connection to  the experience of  Slavery, the Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow, Black leaders had a vested interest in radical changes in American society and saw those changes, for the most part, as the hand of God in human history which was a fundamentally different reading of contemporary events.  It must be admitted here that as Pentecostalism spread within the Black community, there were more and more Black Pentecostal leaders who didn’t share the interracial vision of men like William J Seymour, Charles Harrison Mason, and Garfield Thomas Haywood. And these leaders often resisted the efforts of the earliest Black leaders to cooperate with White Pentecostals. Unfortunately, that is a history that is rarely admitted. My point is that as the Pentecostal movement grew and became more and more organized, there were more and more Blacks who had no desire to have fellowship with White people. Did that make them racist? I doubt it, but it does mean that as Pentecostalism began penetrating deeper into the Black community, there were more and more people drawn into it who did not see interracial fellowship as central to the ethos of the movement.

Anyone who has studied religion in America, or for that matter anywhere actually, will readily admit that religion often follows the values of a particular society and only makes fundamental changes when that society changes. So in terms of interracial fellowship; the attempts to have fellowship soon became a dead issue once Pentecostalism began to penetrate deeper into a segregated society. Only after society began to shift from segregation and discrimination during the 1960’s did White Pentecostals begin to make interracial fellowship a priority again. But there were some problems that made this fellowship very difficult to accomplish. One the one hand Black Pentecostalism had developed and significantly changed from the early movement in relative isolation from the overall movement. As a result, certain features of Black Pentecostalism had more in common with the Black Church in general than with features dominant in White Pentecostalism. Another difficulty was that Black Pentecostalism, for the most part, developed into Episcopal structures whereas White Pentecostalism tended to be Congregational in the polity. And those Black bishops weren’t about to participate in any fellowship that threatened their power. Just as important, or perhaps most important is the fact that White Pentecostals identified with a view of America as special to God that Black Pentecostals didn’t share which included an eschatological vision that was significantly different from that of Black Pentecostals.

So where do we go from here? My contention is that in order for there to be a real interracial fellowship in the American Pentecostal movement everything has to be on the table. Both Black Pentecostals and White Pentecostals have to be candid about their particular aversions to true interracial fellowship, and they have to be honest about why they are more comfortable with things as they are instead of embracing and practicing the spirit of the Asuza revival. Black Pentecostals have to be open about their mistrust of the motives of White Pentecostals who desire fellowship, but they also have to be frank of their fear of losing power in their communities. White Pentecostals, on the other hand, have to admit that their allegiance to America and the particular kinds of social vision that they espouse derives more from sociology than theology and that their brand of patriotism is a rock of offense for Black Pentecostals. I suppose before there can be any real reconciliation there must be truth and confession and then prayer that God will give us the strength and the will to do whatever necessary to embody true reconciliation.

 

 

 

 

Racism Today—Five Socioeconomic Indicators

There are five key socioeconomic indicators that show the disparity that exists between the white community and those of color (Black, mainly African American and Latino) and questions the assumption that racism is declining.

Racism in Housing

The National Fair Housing Alliance, in a recent report, records 30,758 cases of discrimination in all the combined sectors of housing, a 10% increase on 2007 and almost a 100% increase on 1999.  Mortgage and insurance discrimination is also an issue as agents, and financial professionals refused to sell to African Americans, making stereotypical assumptions.  It seems unbelievable that cases of segregation still exist as realtors attempt to keep people of color out of certain areas or only recommend certain areas to those wishing to purchase a home.[i]

Legal system

An ACLU lawsuit uncovered police data indicating that while 73 percent of suspects pulled over on I-95 between 1995 and 1997 were black; black suspects were no more likely to actually have drugs or illegal weapons in their cars than white suspects.[ii]

According to the Public Health Service, approximately 70% of drug users are white, 15% are black, and 8% are Latino. But the Department of Justice reports that among those imprisoned on drug charges, 26% are white, 45% are black, and 21% are Latino. A 2005 report by the Missouri Attorney General on racial profiling[iii] showed that white drivers, pulled over and searched on the basis of suspicious behavior, were found to have drugs or other illegal material 24% of the time. Black drivers pulled over or searched in a manner that reflected a pattern of racial profiling, were found to have drugs or other illegal material 19% of the time.

Almost all large counties in the United States showed sharp disparities along racial lines in the sentencing of drug offenders, the study by the Washington-based Justice Policy Institute[iv] showed there were fewer white offenders incarcerated than black even though white represent the larger percentile of the overall population.  The Federal sentencing recommendations are the same for 5 grams of Crack (the Black drug of choice) as they are for 500 grams of powdered cocaine (the white drug of choice).

Education

In 1954, the Supreme Court ruled in the case of Brown Vs. Board of Education that segregation in schools was unconstitutional[v].  Sixty years later and segregation still exists, not on racial lines as such but socioeconomically, which tends to break down along the lines of race.

Ty’Sheoma Bethea is an eighth-grader at JV Martin Junior High in Dillon, South Carolina, wrote to lawmakers asking them to do something about her school that was falling down[vi].  Located in a poor neighborhood called the ‘Corridor of Shame,’ the ethnicity of the school is predominantly African American.  The documentary done by CNN showed a school that was falling down, temporary classrooms besides the railroad track where the teacher had to stop every time a train came by. The roof in the gym leaked every time it rained, and the auditorium was condemned.  She was told that the school would receive some of the $14 million from the government economic stimulus package; however, the then Governor Mark Sanford refused to allocate any of the money to the school.  Why was the school allowed to get into such a poor condition?  Why did it not bother the governor that a school exists in South Carolina in that condition?  Would he have made the same decision had the school been in a white neighborhood? The school was closed in 2013.

The “school-to-prison pipeline,” is a disturbing national trend wherein children are funneled out of public schools and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems. A disproportionate number these children have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse, or neglect, and the system unfairly targets children from the black and Latino communities. Instead of providing the extra resources to keep these children in school, they are isolated, punished, and pushed out. The presence of “Zero-tolerance” policies and law enforcement in school means that minor infractions that should be dealt with in school end up being criminalized in the court system. These children are marked as troublemakers before they even finish their high school education.

Racism is school, like so many of our institutions, is systemic. Emboldened by Trump rhetoric, too many educators have taken the opportunity to promote their racist agenda or use curriculum that is embedded with racist, outdated beliefs. The New York Times recently reported that a South Carolina teacher recently asked a class of 10-year-olds the following question on a homework assignment: “You are a member of the K.K.K. Why do you think your treatment of African Americans is justified?”[vii]

Health Care

Despite the fact that African-Americans are at a greater risk of hypertension[viii] and diabetes[ix]; many African Americans cannot access effective medical care. This inaccessibility is due to a variety of factors, including a lack of health insurance, inability to pay for a health plan or they are ineligibility for Medicare, and yet 20% of the non-white population lives below the poverty level.[x] With the poverty level so high preventative medicine and treatment is not an option and the government food programs, though they are helpful in counteracting hunger, often compound the health issues with high levels of sodium or sugar.  The situation is made even worse by an inadequate number of healthcare facilities, with private hospitals limiting the numbers of uninsured patients they accept or moving to white neighborhoods. Recent changes such as the Affordable Care Act do not go far enough. North Carolina’s refusal to expand Medicare means that there are still some that do not qualify for a full subsidy.

Studies pertaining to cardiac treatment reveal that only 50% of African-American men will receive coronary angiography and 33% coronary artery bypass surgery compared to an average white male.  This fact is even more troubling when you consider the fact that African American’s have an increased likelihood of suffering heart disease.  The statistics for females is even more disturbing.

Employment

Surely in the United States, with all its employment laws, that the workplace is an equal playing field, and that employment is based solely on qualifications, skills, and compatibility. Not so! A study by J-PAL showed that resumes with white-sounding names received fifty-percent more call-backs than those with African American sounding names.  Discrimination was also shown against applicants living in know black neighborhoods. Federal contractors and employers who list “Equal Opportunity Employer” in their ad discriminated as much as other employers.

Conclusion

 

Dr Threadwell

Dr. Terry Threadwell. Executive Director Pax Pneuma.

Frederick Douglas, a leading abolitionist, once said in an 1889 address, “While we have no longer to contend with the physical wrongs of slavery…We have to contend with a foe, which though less palpable, is still a fierce and formidable foe.  It is the ghost of a bye-gone dead and buried institution.  Justice William O. Douglas spoke of discrimination as “slavery unwilling to die.”  Today many whites reject slavery, yet they are reluctant to give up the power of white privilege.

 

We must take responsibility for addressing racism and white privilege in America today.  The racial issues we face today are the result of slavery, social injustice and social codes that have been enacted over the years and challenge the American creed that all men are equal.

[i] http://www.nationalfairhousing.org

[ii] Tom Head. Civil Liberties a Beginners Guide.

[iii] http://ago.mo.gov/racialprofiling/2005/racialprofiling2005.htm

[iv] http://www.justicepolicy.org/content-hmID=1810.htm

[v] The 1954 United States Supreme Court decision in Oliver L. Brown et al v. the Board of Education of Topeka (KS) et al. is among the most significant judicial turning points in the development of our country.

[vi] http://www.cnn.com/2009/politics/03/13/school.stimulus/index.html

[vii] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/us/south-carolina-teacher-kkk.html

[viii] Approximatley 40 percent of African Americans have hypertension—the highest rate of any racial or ethnic group.

[ix] Over 2.2 million African Amerians have diabeties. Dlife.com

[x] Census Bureau.

White Privilege–Tim Wise

… I would like to address some of the more glaring, and yet reasonable, misunderstandings that many seem to have about the subject of white privilege. That many white folks don’t take well to the term is an understatement, and quite understandable. For those of us in the dominant group, the notion that we may receive certain advantages generally not received by others is a jarring, sometimes maddening concept. And if we don’t understand what the term means, and what those who use it mean as they deploy it, our misunderstandings can generate anger and heat, where really, none is called for. So let me take this opportunity to explain what I mean by white privilege…

Though we are used to thinking of privilege as a mere monetary issue, it is more than that. Yes, there are rich black and brown folks, but even they are subject to racial profiling and stereotyping (especially because those who encounter them often don’t know they’re rich and so view them as decidedly not), as well as bias in mortgage lending, and unequal treatment in schools. So, for instance, even the children of well-off black families are more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than the children of poor whites, and this is true despite the fact that there is no statistically significant difference in the rates of serious school rule infractions between white kids or black kids that could justify the disparity (according to fourteen different studies examined by Russ Skiba at Indiana University).

As for poor whites, though they certainly are suffering economically, this doesn’t mean they lack racial privilege. I grew up in a very modest apartment, and economically was far from privileged. Yet I received better treatment in school (placement in advanced track classes even when I wasn’t a good student), better treatment by law enforcement officers, and indeed more job opportunities because of connections I was able to take advantage of, that were pretty much unavailable to the folks of color I knew growing up. Likewise, low income whites everywhere are able to clean up, go to a job interview and be seen as just another white person, whereas a person of color, even who isn’t low-income, has to wonder whether or not they might trip some negative stereotype about their group when they go for an interview or sit in the classroom answering questions from the teacher. Oh, and not to put too fine a point on it, but even low-income whites are more likely to own their own home than middle income black families, thanks to past advantages in housing and asset accumulation, which has allowed those whites to receive a small piece of property from their families.

The point is, privilege is as much a psychological matter as a material one. Whites have the luxury of not having to worry that our race is going to mark us negatively when looking for work, going to school, shopping, looking for a place to live, or driving for that matter: things that folks of color can’t take for granted.

Let me share an analogy to make the point.

Taking things out of the racial context for a minute: imagine persons who are able bodied, as opposed to those with disabilities. If I were to say that able-bodied persons have certain advantages, certain privileges if you will, which disabled persons do not, who would argue the point? I imagine that no one would. It’s too obvious, right? To be disabled is to face numerous obstacles. And although many persons with disabilities overcome those obstacles, this fact doesn’t take away from the fact that they exist. Likewise, that persons with disabilities can and do overcome obstacles every day, doesn’t deny that those of us who are able-bodied have an edge. We have one less thing to think and worry about as we enter a building, go to a workplace, or just try and navigate the contours of daily life. The fact that there are lots of able-bodied people who are poor, and some disabled folks who are rich, doesn’t alter the general rule: on balance, it pays to be able-bodied.

That’s all I’m saying about white privilege: on balance, it pays to be a member of the dominant racial group. It doesn’t mean that a white person will get everything they want in life, or win every competition, but it does mean that there are general advantages that we receive.

So, for instance, studies have found that job applicants with white sounding names are 50% more likely to receive a call-back for a job interview than applicants with black-sounding names, even when all job-related qualifications and credentials are the same.

Other studies have found that white men with a criminal record are more likely to get a call-back for an interview than black male job applicants who don’t have one, even when all requisite qualifications, demeanor and communication styles are the same.

Others have found that white women are far more likely than black women to be hired for work through temporary agencies, even when the black women have more experience and are more qualified.

Evidence from housing markets has found that there are about two million cases of race-based discrimination against people of color every year in the United States. That’s not just bad for folks of color; the flipside is that there are, as a result, millions more places I can live as a white person.

Or consider criminal justice. Although data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration indicates that whites are equally or more likely than blacks or Latinos to use drugs, it is people of color (blacks and Latinos mostly) who comprise about 90 percent of the persons incarcerated for a drug possession offense. Despite the fact that white men are more likely to be caught with drugs in our car (on those occasions when we are searched), black men remain about four times more likely than white men to be searched in the first place, according to Justice Department findings. That’s privilege for the dominant group.

That’s the point: privilege is the flipside of discrimination. If people of color face discrimination, in housing, employment and elsewhere, then the rest of us are receiving a de facto subsidy, a privilege, an advantage in those realms of daily life. There can be no down without an up, in other words.

None of this means that white folks don’t face challenges. Of course we do, and some of them (based on class, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, or other factors) are systemic and institutionalized. But on balance, we can take for granted that we will receive a leg-up on those persons of color with whom we share a nation.

And no, affirmative action doesn’t change any of this.

…Even with affirmative action in place (which, contrary to popular belief does not allow quotas or formal set-asides except in those rare cases where blatant discrimination has been proven) whites hold about ninety percent of all the management level jobs in this country, receive about ninety-four percent of government contract dollars, and hold ninety percent of tenured faculty positions on college campuses. And in spite of affirmative action programs, whites are more likely than members of any other racial group to be admitted to their college of first choice.* And according to a study released last year, for every student of color who received even the slightest consideration from an affirmative action program in college, there are two whites who failed to meet normal qualification requirements at the same school, but who got in anyway because of parental influence, alumni status or because other favors were done…

In other words, despite the notion that somehow we have attained an equal opportunity, or color-blind society, the fact is, we are far from an equitable nation. People of color continue to face obstacles based solely on color, and whites continue to reap benefits from the same. None of this makes whites bad people, and none of it means we should feel guilty or beat ourselves up. But it does mean we need to figure out how we’re going to be accountable for our unearned advantages. One way is by fighting for a society in which those privileges will no longer exist, and in which we will be able to stand on our own two feet, without the artificial crutch of racial advantage to prop us up. We need to commit to fighting for racial equity and challenging injustice at every turn, not only because it harms others, but because it diminishes us as well (even as it pays dividends), and because it squanders the promise of fairness and equity to which we claim to adhere as Americans.

It’s about responsibility, not guilt. And if one can’t see the difference between those two things, there is little that this or any other article can probably do. Perhaps starting with a dictionary would be better.

tim wiseTim Wise is an American anti-racism activist and writer.  Since 1995, he has given speeches at over 600 college campuses across the U.S.  He has trained teachers, corporate employees, non-profit organizations and law enforcement officers in methods for addressing and dismantling racism in their institutions. Tim has authored several book and produces a weekly podcast.

Confessions of a Biblical Womanist

womanistI appreciate most in my life, the people who encourage me to be me, and who like, in me, the things I like most about myself.  They don’t expect me to dumb myself down or over spiritualize myself to fit into my Pentecostal moorings and who take my passion for what it is rather than redefining it as anger.

I have wrestled for some time about how to publicly position myself, but several recent conversations, both with supporters and detractors, have pushed me to the point of coming out of my closet of silence.

For I have come realize that the label “radical” that has been used by some to disqualify from participating in their sphere of influence me is really a most appropriate handle.  For I am radically committed to a passionate, prophetic witness to possibility of change in those issues which continue to plague the various arenas of our culture in which I am situated.

So here I stand.  Committed to the high authority of Scripture and, at the same time, committed to the need to work toward social justice for people of color, women and other marginalized groups. Committed to the wholeness and flourishing of every member of the African American Community, while at the same time, committed to racial reconciliation within our nation, beginning with the body of Christ.  Committed to the full empowerment of women at every level of the church and society, while simultaneously, committed to strengthening the institution of marriage. At once, committed to a biblical standard of sexual morality, and, committed to embracing the full dignity of every person, regardless of their gender identity.  Committed to loyally affirming and promoting my Pentecostal spiritual heritage, while embracing an ecumenical vision of a unified Body of Christ, working together to usher in the already, but not yet, justice that is part of the Kingdom of God.   

No matter where I stand, however, I realize some people will be offended, and some will count me out as a heretic, or sell-out.  Womanist will say I cannot be one of them because I refuse to affirm that homosexuality is a biblically supported lifestyle. And though I have always shown respect to members of the LBGT community, some within that community have labeled me “homophobic” because I do not fully embrace their agenda – and for them, nothing short of that is enough. Pentecostals discount me because, in their estimation, I am not Pentecostal enough. I have been almost roundly locked out of my own denomination, for example, because I received my theological training and dare to preach, teach and fellowship among other faith communities. And while I am theologically conservative, I am socially and politically moderate – and that for many Pentecostals, means liberal.  Some African American brothers and sisters find that I have too many friends who stand outside our community, but have made themselves brothers and sisters to me in the Spirit. Yes, some of my closest friends are white, but some are also Latino, some are Asian-American, and several – including some in my own family have a blended racial heritage.

The world is too complicated and the issues we face are too serious for reductionist politics that require a person to declare themselves a loyal member of one narrow camp or another. Further, I am determined that no one person or group, will have enough power over me to determine who or what I am. 

For in the end, I only answer to one – God!  And I desire God’s affirmation more than anything else I can be offered!

ester

Dr, Estrelda Alexander

President William Seymour College

Board Member Pax Pneuma

 

Jesus Feminists and the Women of the Holiness-Pentecostal Movement–Dr. Dale M. Coulter.

Sarah_Bessey A vocal charismatic from western Canada, Sarah Bessey has just come out with her first book, (2013)   Jesus Feminist . It’s a highly relational and popular account of how Bessey’s love for Jesus flows into her approach to female flourishing. As part of the launch for the book, she’s been giving interviews, including one at Christianity Today . While I have not read all of her book, the bits I have suggest that Bessey wants to reclaim the nineteenth-century heritage that has shaped many women in the Holiness-Pentecostal movement.

Phoebe Palmer

Phoebe Palmer

In certain respects the “mother” of these women is the Methodist Phoebe Palmer , while their midwife is Harriet Beecher Stowe . From her home in Manhattan, Palmer represented the center of the holiness movement at least through 1870. The daughter of Lyman Beecher , Stowe encountered the holiness movement through her associations with Palmer and the college professor turned holiness advocate, Thomas Upham .

After his experience of sanctification, Upham mined the spiritual tradition for insights, writing on the Spanish and French Quietists, Catherine of Genoa, and others. In fact, it was most likely a dinner discussion between the Stowes and the Uphams about the new Fugitive Slave Law passed by Congress in 1850 that became a catalyst for Uncle Tom’s Cabin . Upham defied the law in harboring a run-away slave the very next evening.

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Confessions of a Biblical Womanist

womanistI appreciate most in my life, the people who encourage me to be me, and who like, in me, the things I like most about myself.  They don’t expect me to dumb myself down or over spiritualize myself to fit into my Pentecostal moorings and who take my passion for what it is rather than redefining it as anger.

I have wrestled for some time about how to publicly position myself, but several recent conversations, both with supporters and detractors, have pushed me to the point of coming out of my closet of silence.

For I have come realize that the label “radical” that has been used by some to disqualify from participating in their sphere of influence me is really a most appropriate handle.  For I am radically committed to a passionate, prophetic witness to possibility of change in those issues which continue to plague the various arenas of our culture in which I am situated.

So here I stand.  Committed to the high authority of Scripture and, at the same time, committed to the need to work toward social justice for people of color, women and other marginalized groups. Committed to the wholeness and flourishing of every member of the African American Community, while at the same time, committed to racial reconciliation within our nation, beginning with the body of Christ.  Committed to the full empowerment of women at every level of the church and society, while simultaneously, committed to strengthening the institution of marriage. At once, committed to a biblical standard of sexual morality, and, committed to embracing the full dignity of every person, regardless of their gender identity.  Committed to loyally affirming and promoting my Pentecostal spiritual heritage, while embracing an ecumenical vision of a unified Body of Christ, working together to usher in the already, but not yet, justice that is part of the Kingdom of God.   

No matter where I stand, however, I realize some people will be offended, and some will count me out as a heretic, or sell-out.  Womanist will say I cannot be one of them because I refuse to affirm that homosexuality is a biblically supported lifestyle. And though I have always shown respect to members of the LBGT community, some within that community have labeled me “homophobic” because I do not fully embrace their agenda – and for them, nothing short of that is enough. Pentecostals discount me because, in their estimation, I am not Pentecostal enough. I have been almost roundly locked out of my own denomination, for example, because I received my theological training and dare to preach, teach and fellowship among other faith communities. And while I am theologically conservative, I am socially and politically moderate – and that for many Pentecostals, means liberal.  Some African American brothers and sisters find that I have too many friends who stand outside our community, but have made themselves brothers and sisters to me in the Spirit. Yes, some of my closest friends are white, but some are also Latino, some are Asian-American, and several – including some in my own family have a blended racial heritage.

The world is too complicated and the issues we face are too serious for reductionist politics that require a person to declare themselves a loyal member of one narrow camp or another. Further, I am determined that no one person or group, will have enough power over me to determine who or what I am. 

For in the end, I only answer to one – God!  And I desire God’s affirmation more than anything else I can be offered!

esterDr. Estrelda Alexander.

President William Seymour College. Board Member of Pax Pneuma