Archive for the ‘Racism’ Category

On Kissing the Chicken or How Lumping Coals Dealt Rightly with Racism

Posted in 'Racism', Cultural, Evangelism on September 1, 2009 by ostrakinos

kiss the chickenEthnic tensions are common in our fallen metropolitan worlds as various people groups find themselves living in close proximity.  No where in America has this ‘racial’ tension been more evident or more infamous than with the Klu Klux Klan’s presence.

Rev. Wade Watts was a civil rights activist from Oklahoma who served as the state president of the NAACP for sixteen years.  Watts was friends with Thurgood Marshall, Martin Luther King and is the former congressman J.C. Watts’ uncle.

The late Rev. Watts left a legacy that was testified to by a former Klan leader Johnny Lee Clary while being interviewed on a show called, oddly enough “Enough Rope”.  This testimony by Clary is a wonderful example of obedience to God’s Proverbial-Romans command to overcome evil with good.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation.
Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men.If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.
Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.”Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. – Romans 8:15-21


Reflection on Four Years After Katrina

Posted in 'Racism', Rebuilding, Urban Missionaries on August 29, 2009 by ostrakinos

katrina radarShe was supposed to hit Florida. Instead, hurricane Katrina slid through the Gulf like a crafty curve ball tossed into home plate. That home plate turned out to be ours. In the early morning hours of August 29th, four years ago, she made landfall causing billions of dollars of damage with winds over 150 mph and flood waters crashing over and through both levees and hearts. Cities were leveled, homes were flooded and lives were changed forever. For those of us living here, it was surreal and maddening as rumors spread like a bad rash and information was sketchy, inaccurate and politically-driven. Incompetence pervaded overly-complicated turf wars with government agencies while locals scrambled to help their neighbors in self-motored flatboats. No one was prepared for the devastating magnitude. Divine sobriety came at the hands of our benevolent God who reminded us once again that Providence reigns. Though judgment, trials and suffering poured out from the skies so, too, did His grace. Through curfews, mayoral racism, bombastic officials, outrage, despair, lies, looting, civic breakdown and media buffoonery emerged light. God’s grace was seen in those who put themselves last and others first. Christ was indeed the first responder.

Churches began to flood in van by van with volunteers loaded with supplies  and love. Workers showed up from every state and many foreign countries to aid us in recovering and responding. The light of His undeserved favor was carried in as a torch of mercy so that we would learn to trust in the only One who can be trusted. Civic, military and faith-based hands worked together to help heal what was lanced.

Four years later, we reflect upon the media’s favoritism as many think that New Orleans was street house NOthe hardest hit metro-area when in truth, St. Bernard Parish was completely destroyed and virtually ignored and parts of the Mississippi Gulf Coast were taken to sea.  On our recent visit to New Orleans east we witnessed ghost-land neighbors peppered in between rebuilt homes and areas of many locales that still sit deserted. There is much to do.

We are thankful for the reminder of community. We got to meet thousands of neighbors. We are thankful for the reminder of love. We got to love many needy people. We are thankful for the reminder of grace. We got to meet our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ before eternity. We are thankful for grace. We got to understand the gospel of the Cross more deeply.

Join us in prayer for our region as we move on in continued urban relief.  Help us to help those who still need it as the poor and disadvantaged will be with us always. (Matthew 26:11) Ignore the glamor hounds and celebrities and biased reporters who know nothing about what has happened here and instead feed upon the truth given by those who have labored for years in the stench and debris of this great catastrophe.

May God be with us as we continue to fight the good fight for His glory.

Cultural Racism

Posted in 'Racism' on March 23, 2009 by ostrakinos

chicken-coopIf you are a chicken in a coop and every time you see a fellow egg layer hauled off and plucked it’s by the hands of a wolf,  soon enough,  you begin to distrust anything wolfish.  Over time, you register certain profiles dangerous and untrustworthy and make adjustments.   That is exactly what happens in urban contexts where certain concentrated ethnicities commit crimes.

If you live in a predominantly black city and each evening’s news broadcast is filled with yet another black youth being charged with murder and theft, you get a little cautious. Most of the violent crime in New Orleans fits this description. It is mostly black on black drug-related offenses and progressively the white population begins to mistrust anyone who is black. If most of the criminals in the city were Hispanic or Asian there would be the same bias. But is the chicken somehow wrong for learning that wolves will eat him? And how is he suppose to know that the current wolf at his door is really a vegetarian?

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Now let’s be clear about a vital point –  I am not a racist.  In fact, I can’t even be one at all since I don’t believe in races to begin with. There is only one human race – mankind.  We were created in God’s image from one blood and we exist as people groups in differing geographical regions with various physical traits.  Our differences as people create varied cultures and subcultures and those pockets of variance and difference become shaping influences.  Those influences along with our genetic predispositions, parenting, personalities and choices mold us into who we become. We are not born prejudiced; we learn it.  However, not all prejudices are wrong as any chicken can tell you.

What virtually gets ignored in the  ‘race’ discussion is the fact that stereotypes come from truth not fiction. It is not an invention that certain ethnicities like certain foods and that certain people groups prefer certain colors and types of automobiles.  Do all of them? Of course not. But to recognize major trends and truths as being correct does not make one a bigot. And what about those who live under negative stereotypes such as criminal labels?  Take a look at this video report about an experiment done by a high school film maker.

Can it be that the children pick white baby dolls as the safe doll cause most of what they see in crash-movietheir own communities shows them ‘darker skinned people’ as thugs and ‘ganstas’? Perhaps a high percentage of negative and poor examples in their lives are from the black side? It seems that everyone assumes racism here but if a ‘race’ reinforces the stereotype by promoting it and in many cases (as in rap music and hip-hop) glorifying it, why are we shocked? Bill Cosby makes similar arguments as have many others when speaking about the double-standard in using the “N” word.

Here are a few Cosby quotes from a Washington Post article about his appearance at a Constitution Hall event in Washington years ago commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Brown vs. Board of Education decision that paved the way for integrated schools

“Ladies and gentlemen, the lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids – $500 sneakers for what? And won’t spend $200 for ‘Hooked on Phonics.’

“They’re standing on the corner and they can’t speak English. I can’t even talk the way these people talk: ‘Why you ain’t,’ ‘Where you is’ … And I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. … Everybody knows it’s important to speak English except these knuckleheads. … You can’t be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth!”

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On imprisoned blacks:

“These are not political criminals…these are people going around stealing Coca-Cola. People getting shot in the back of the head over a piece of pound cake and then we run out and we are outraged, [saying] ‘The cops shouldn’t have shot him.’ What the hell was he doing with the pound cake in his hand?”

Straight talk with sensibility. Too bad some choose to either ignore real hate disguised as ethno-prejudice or play a minority victim with two-faced requirements and special pleadings.  But thankfully we have not been called to dwell too heavily on this asphalt playground.  While we are to bring a taste of redemptive renewal and glory to the streets where we live, we are commanded to look beyond the neon sky’s ‘race’ baiting and inconsistent mantras to the new heaven where we shall see a multiethnic multitude so vast we cannot even count them. There, every nation and every tribe and every tongue and every people will be united with their God for all eternity drinking from the water of life.

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