• I See Rich People. They Talk to Me. . .

    The mouse on my computer broke. So now I’m back to writing on my kindle. Which is a marvelous bit of technology, but it has all sorts of quirks which can easily double the time it takes for me to do a post. And the spacebar for the keyboard is gimpy. But since I don’t even have money to replace the mouse, I’ll just have to limp along the best I can.

    I’ve been thinking a lot lately that when I finally break free of all these obstacles, I’ll astound everyone. It’s like I’ve been trying to play the game wearing weights. If I could just get free and have a fully functioning computer, a good internet connection and a few hours a day without children, well, you just won’t believe what I can do.

    As I was contemplating the rather unpleasant task of writing on my kindle (something I did exclusively for at least six months), it occurred to me that this is why we hear so much more from rich people than anyone else. If you’re rich, you can grab a few hours which you would otherwise have spent playing Sugar Crush and write something thoughtful on your nice computer without any real delays or impediments. Or maybe you’re more of a take my Macbook to Starbucks to write sort of writer.

    But when you’re not rich, you have to type out the word six because the six key doesn’t work any more. And putting in a hyperlink requires the sort of planning skills normally reserved for major military operations. It’s like driving one of those cars that you have to roll down the window to open the door. Everything’s just much more work when you don’t have access to resources.

    And having crappy, unreliable technology is a first world problem. Imagine what it took for those women in Nigeria to get the world’s attention when their girls were taken! It’s really no mystery as to why people who are powerful and influential are usually white American men. It’s not that every white American man has resources. It’s just that nearly everyone who has resources is a white American man. Having resources removes so many obstacles that what is impossible for other people is possible for them. And that is a big part of our problem.

    Having resources doesn’t necessarily make the path to sucess a clear and easy one. You still have to work harder and be smarter and overcome more than everyone else in order to acheive great things. I mean, Paris Hilton’s family says she works very hard and I believe them. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she puts in sixty hour work weeks. The thing is that my husband has put in sixty hour work weeks pretty routinely for nearly 20 years. And we can’t even afford to buy a mouse.

    (The first person to ask why I don’t get a job wins the chance to find me a job with hours that work for our family, arrange the care of our kids by someone who is able to provide high caliber, on demand tutoring, counseling, and training in the ways of the world customized to each child’s needs, obtain transportation, clothing, housekeeping, cooking and taxi services to make that all happen. Good luck. Let me know when you get that all worked out.)

    Aside from being bullshit, the connection between who has the existing resources and who gets seen and heard and rewarded is more sinister than we realize. You know the proverbial “they” we always hear about? The ones who tell us what other people think of us and what’s normal and what’s a problem and what’s expected of us and what failure looks like? Sometimes people will joke and say, “who is this ‘they’ you keep talking about?” Well, the answer to that is simple. Continue reading

  • Christians and Interracial Marriage

    Guys, what is this world coming to? Aljezeera America recently used the parable of the talents to explain current events. Christianity Today, the flagship publication of conservative, Evangelical Christianity, is promoting interracial marriage. And discussing racism. And even relying on the voice of a black women to explain the theology of the whole thing. The world’s going all off kilter here. 

    I know the rest of the world (and many of us) find it ridiculous that the church still struggles with these things. But we are a people whose founder said he’d go back for the one sheep dumb enough to get left behind. So perhaps it’s part of being church in the world to be a sanctuary for those who just can’t keep up with the pace of change in the world. That doesn’t mean they need to become the sanctuary’s leaders and spokespeople, of course. It’s still a work in progress.

    But look at this fruit. Doesn’t it make your heart sing?

    God abhors racism. Miriam’s skin was turned “leprous, like snow.” Her punishment was directly related to her sinful prejudice against the dark skin of the Cushite people. I did a quick search to examine the effects of leprosy. (Not recommended.) Her punishment would change the way peopleviewed her. It would not affect the way they thought of her per se, but the way they looked at her. As Miriam once looked at the Cushite woman with distain, she would now know exactly what that was like.

    What Miriam forgot, and what so many others still forget, is that all people are made in the image of God, we are all from the same Adam, and now we are all redeemed equally through Christ. Interracial marriage isn’t merely acceptable; it reflects the beauty and glory of the gospel.

    Through the gospel, we are reconciled first to God, then to one another. We are made brothers and sisters in Christ. We are counted as righteous. The gospel breaks the barriers that once divided us.

    You can read the whole post by Trillia Newbell here. Her book Union can be purchased here.

    For the last several decades we’ve heard that we ought to accept interracial relationships for two reasons. One is that we can’t tell other people what to do or who to love. The other is that all races are equal. And those are fine things. Except “everyone should be able to do what they want to do” is something a 7 year old would say. And equal does not mean the same. We still have to figure out how to deal with those differences.

    On the other hand, Newbell’s vision of interracial marriage is built around reconciliation and our true identity. She challenges us to see interracial marriage not only as an acceptable thing, but a good thing. A reflection of God’s Kingdom, in fact.

    Perhaps this is why research has found that among people who attend highly segregated churches (read: among people who attend church), those who report praying and reading their bible frequently are more likely to date outside their race. Wouldn’t it be funny if being in an interracial relationship started being on of those easily recognized markers for being Christian? I mean, we can be induced to wear cheesy and often offensive T-shirts as a way to show what super, duper, committed Christians we are. Picking a dating/marriage partner from another race in order to look like a good Christian could become a thing in our hypercompetitive church culture.

    Of course, wearing a t-shirt doesn’t grow or change you. Interracial marriage most certainly will. So maybe we should start spreading the word that interracial marriage is a thing that super committed Christians do. It’s got to be a better plan/witness than a “God’s Gym” t-shirt!

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    Stuff I Appreciate About Black Folks

    Hey – want to watch me stick a fork in an electric outlet? ‘Cuz that’s pretty much the same thing as being a white person who talks about black folks, right? Or at least some would have you think so. But I’m going to do it, because African Americans are forever getting dumped on in our society and are rarely called out for all the things that are great about them.

    Now, before I get started, allow me to provide proper cover for myself. For those not in the know, I’m married to a black man. I have 5 mixed race kids and two African American stepsons. So if nothing else, my “I have black friends” creds are actually solid. (I’ve written more about my experience with race here and you can learn more about my $.99 ebook on race in American here.) Of course, there is as much variety among black folks as among any other group of people. I’ve known sweet, shy, reserved black women and loud, sassy, confrontational black women. Macho black men and nerdy black men. And the things I’m going to list here aren’t universal. There are always people who go against the grain. But as a general rule, these are things which I have observed to be common among black folk I have known that are not nearly as prevalent among the white folks I have known.

    Of course, every positive trait has a dark side when pushed to far. My goal isn’t to idealize African Americans, but like I said, we continually dump on black folks and discuss problems in the black community. For this post, I’m just focusing on things which I personally appreciate about black folks I have known. So having properly covered my ass, here goes:

    1. They respond to your problems with grace and understanding.

    Probably because black folks have had to deal with so many really serious, awful problems for so long, they aren’t particularly phased by your problems. Usually they’ve heard or seen it all before – and worse. And if your life is going to hell because you did something wrong, well, the black folks I’ve known probably disapprove of your dumb choices as much as anyone else. But they also know that you’re the one who is going to have to live with the consequences of your dumb choices, so there’s really no point in piling on. Better to help you move forward than waste time berating you much less exacerbate the problem by turning you out. In my experience, if your life goes all to shit, you’re much better off going to your black friends or a black church for support than to your average middle class white person or church. Continue reading

  • What a white girl knows about race

    Maybe they were right!

    I am the whitest of the white girls.  I just am.  I’m cool with that.  One of my black girlfriends told me that when she had moved to the Chicago area back in the 80′s my hometown was one of two places she was told by her mother to avoid ever being in.  Before going to high school, the only african american I had ever spoken to was working at a store.  But, one of the first people I met at the Catholic high school I attended was Elaine, an African American from Joliet, a small industrial city about 30 minutes from my home.  We were both in the honors program, so we had most of our classes together and we hit it off.  We shared a wicked sense of humor and spent inordinate amounts of class time writing long notes whose main purpose was to get the other person to laugh out loud while reading it.  I can’t believe we never got caught! 

    We never really talked about it, but there were differences.  We were BBFs (Best Buddies Forever), not BFFs.  Mostly she ate lunch with the other black kids and it never occurred to me that she would do otherwise.  It’s got to be hard spending all day surrounded by people who can’t really “get” you and may not even like you no matter how good or nice or cool or talented you are.  I’d want a break too. 

    Looking back, I realize that I was white-girl clueless in a way that a less tolerant and kind person might have been unwilling to deal with.  Continue reading

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    A Letter to a Young Black Man

    I hope he doesn’t mind me doing this, but I have a stepson who is going through some stuff right now.  And while on my walk yesterday, I felt God put this message on my heart for him.  I’d like to post it here as well because I know that there are so many young men who need to hear it.  I realize that young black men aren’t exactly my target demographic, so anyone who wants to should feel free to pass it on as they see fit.  I just ask that my name be included.

    Andrew, I saw your post from earlier and wanted to check and see if you are OK.  I have been meaning to write you anyways because yesterday when I was out walking, God put a message on my heart that I think he wanted me to pass on to you.  It’s about how important you are.  I’m sure you’ve been told before that you are important, but I’m also sure that you don’t actually believe it or have any idea how true it is.  You can’t.  Because no matter how often you may have been told that you are important, so much of what you have seen in real life has told you that men, black men in particular, are only problems.  You’ve never consistently seen men be important and good.  You’ve seen women raise their kids without fathers and carry the majority – if not all – of the financial load for their families.  And this isn’t to rip on your mom, but her choosing to keep your dad from playing a meaningful role in your life must have screamed to you that fathers were optional.  And if your own father is optional, then how could you not be as well?  But nothing could be further from the truth.  Not only are you not optional, you are absolutely essential.

    We talked earlier in the week about trashy girls trying to find love in ways that will only leave them angry and bitter and alone and probably with a kid or two in tow to boot.  But even with young women you know who aren’t trashy, how many of them know what it’s like to be loved properly by their fathers?  They may know that they don’t want to go the way of the bootie girls, but if they’ve never seen a man really love a woman (ideally their mothers), they don’t really know what to look for either.  They are just smart enough to recognize a particularly ridiculous losing strategy.  Even your own mother or other older women you know.  How would they be different if they knew they were loved by a man who was good and who they could depend on?  Would they be softer?  More free?  Strong without so many hard edges?  Less defensive?  Better mothers?  None of the women you know can do for themselves or their children what you can do for them as a man.  (And to be clear, this is hardly a black problem.  Whites and Hispanics and Asians and purple people are all suffering from the same problem.  Its just particularly acute in the black community.  Which simply means that the black community is more ripe and ready for young men like yourself to bring change.)

    Now, it’s not right or fair that you are coming onto the scene so late in the game that its been generations since it was common for families to work the way they need to work.  And you have no one to show you the way.  But when it’s most dark and its most desperate, that’s when the heroes start to show up.  And that’s what you are called to be: a hero.  Which probably sounds overwrought and ridiculous.  But its not.  Just by committing to being a good. loving man, you will change the world in ways that will reverberate through communities and generations and heaven itself.  Your children and the woman you commit to will depend on it.  And there will be girls who see you and know what they should be looking for when they seek a loving man.  And there will be boys who see you and know that they too can be better and do better and that they really are important.  There will be other men who are ready to quit who will see you and get the shot of courage they need to try and stay the course.  And in time, as others in this generation take up the work of being good. loving men, the rest of the world will see those with no role models and no reward doing things differently and maybe the rest of us won’t have to go as deeply down the hole of family destruction and expendable men as what has been pretty normal for you and your peers.  This is really important work that only young men like yourself like you can do.  You’re like Frodo with the ring or Luke Skywalker facing Darth Vadar; only you can do what needs to be done to set things right.

    And its not going to be easy.  Most of us have this fantasy that if we are doing the right things, the people around us will see it and applaud it and God will give us favor.  In reality, the opposite is true.  If people see what you are trying to do, they will be suspicious.  They will insist that they don’t need or want what you are trying to offer because they don’t trust it or think that they’ve been getting along just fine without you or any other man.  Some guys who don’t want to have to work that hard or be that serious and deny themselves easy pleasures will be unhappy that you’re, as they say, “raising the price of pussy”.  And you have to be really, really strong to do great things in hard times so the enemy will be allowed to interfere so that you can get strong enough fighting him off to persevere and finish the race.  It’s hard.  But we need you.  Life cannot continue as it has been.  You have suffered enough and seen enough people around you suffer to know that for life to continue as it has been is completely unacceptable.  It cannot be allowed to continue to be this way!

    I know you were brought up in the church, but I don’t have any real idea what, if any, relationship you have with God.  But I do know that God specifically offers the things that you need.  He is father to the fatherless.  In Isaiah he says, “Can a mother forget the baby she has nursed at her breast? Even if a mother forgets her own child, I will not forget you.  See, I have carved your name in the palm of my hand.”  And he’s the role model you don’t have but need.  Let me show you how this works in a way that may be helpful to you where you are at right now.  From what I have seen, you seem to be someone who feels emotions very intensely.  I do as well.  There are moments when I feel like my pain is going to destroy me.  God is the same way.  There is a passage in one of the epistles where it says that Jesus prayed with loud cries and shouts.  This is not the way that a happy, serene, untroubled man prays.  Jesus went off to pray by himself regularly (a good example) and he would be so upset that his disciples sitting off at a distance could hear him crying and yelling at God.  So, I follow Jesus’ example and bring my pain to God.  Over and over and as dramatically as I need to.  Its also helpful for me to realize that Jesus wasn’t too keen on being here sometimes.  Because sometimes, I just don’t want to be here anymore either.  It’s too hard and painful and unfair and the rewards are too meager compared to the suffering.  Remember when Jesus asked how long he would have to put up with the fools he was surrounded with after one of the disciples said something particularly stupid?  He knew what it was like to think that being here just wasn’t worth it.  God doesn’t just know what you’re going through because he sees you going through it.  He knows because he’s experienced it as well.  And you can look to see how he handled things to figure out what you can do to overcome.

    One last secret I’m going to pass on to you.  Learn to pray for the right things.  So often we are discouraged and lose faith because we are in dire need and we pray and nothing happens.  Or we are doing the right things and find ourselves in a gutter instead of at the mountain top.  I’m struggling with this right now and its heartbreaking and frustrating and I have no answers for it.  But what I do know is that every spiritual blessing or gift I have ever asked for has been given to me.  And when I needed to change some part of my character or heart, if I just kept bringing my failures to God and asking for his help to do differently, He changed me.  Which is going to be vital for you.  Because if love is what we do rather than who we are learning to be, it won’t last.  Love has to come out of who you are learning to be or it will be crushed when its rejected or too hard or you fail again.  But if its part of who you are, it will just keep coming up out of you until it has worked its magic.

    So that’s the message I have for you.  You can take it, leave it or run screaming from the crazy white lady who’s trying to tell you what to do!  It’s up to you.  But I have one last warning before I leave you alone.  A hero doesn’t do things the way that everyone else does.  So, please don’t think that what I’m telling you is the same old “men need to take up their leadership position” bullshit that people spout and humanity’s been trying for millennia.  It doesn’t work.  Your mission is to love.  Pure and simple.  And not the kind of love that says “this hurts me more than it hurts you” or “I did this because I love you.  Now be grateful” or any of the other crap you’ve seen passed off as love.  Love is patient, kind, forgiving, tolerant and rarely pushed to anger.  It is not bossy or demanding or proud of itself.  It doesn’t point out other’s mistakes, but notices what is good about them and builds people up for those good things.  And it doesn’t quit.  Which is why it always wins in the end.  Because you don’t lose until you quit the game.  And even if you quit the game, you can always go back in.  Which is why I know that even someone like you who has already made mistakes and has no role model and has been told his whole life that people like you are more trouble than they are worth can do what God has given you to do.

    Hang in there, Andrew!

    -Rebecca

    PS I would highly recommend that you head over to my blog and take a look at a post I recently wrote called “Godly Submission”.  What the church has taught about men and women and submission has done much more harm than good and I think you might find it helpful in finding a different way of understanding how to relate with women in this regard.  Here’s the link: http://wp.me/pa4Ae-93

  • Check Yourself

    I have written before about issues of race, especially as pertains to conservative’s perceptions about race before.  My basic premise is that I do not think that conservatives have an accurate or often even rational view of race in America.  Now, mind you, I’m not some goofy lefty here to incite white guilt and pander for more government programs.  I am coming at this from a conservative perspective myself.  For me this is both a moral issue and a practical imperative.  I say a practical imperative because if we think that we can keep the problems which arise in impoverished, minority communities isolated, we’re not paying attention.   Over and over, we can see that things from social breakdown to styles of music and dress spread outwards from our cities into the lives of middle class white suburbanites.  So my point is, it matters.  If you are a conservative who cares about the breakdown of the family or porn posing as music, then you need to care as much about issues of race as you do about what goes on in leafy suburban neighborhoods.

    As I have argued before, one of the main barriers to dealing realistically with matters of race and the ongoing fall-out of the history of race relations in this country, is an almost complete denial of race as a real issue worth dealing with.  What is crazy, and what I did not realize was that this is not at all a new phenomena.  We like to think that race is not an issue anymore because we have made so much progress.  Anyone claiming that race is an obstacle for them must be trying to “play the race card” and “make themselves the victim”.  However, it turns out that even back when we would all agree that the state of affairs for African Americans was horrid, unequal and morally indefensible, white Americans thought pretty much exactly the same thing!

    I came across some statistics today which I think we all need to remember the next time we are tempted to write off race as an actual issue today: Continue reading

  • The Context of Jeremiah Wright

    Over at Christianity Today there’s an article titled “Black Power from the Pulpit” about Jeremiah Wright which places him and black liberation theology in the context of the black church and the message of Christianity. It is actually an interview with Thabiti Anyabwile who wrote the book: The Decline of African American Theology. Mr. Anyabwile is a critic of both black liberation theology and the state of many black churches, without being one of the many jingoists we’ve heard from lately who think saying, “they’re racist” constitutes a legitimate critique. He is speaking from a position of understanding and respecting the history and tradition of the black church as well as the struggles of African Americans. Wouldn’t it have been nice if more people who were disturbed by Rev. Wright’s ranting would have turned to someone with this perspective for their critiques rather than the craptastic nonsense we’ve been subjected to?

    At any rate, I recommend reading the article, but here are some of my favorite take-away points:

    On the way the controversy played out in the media:

    Q: Has anything surprised you about the wave of indignation that has followed news of these sermons?

    A: I’ve been surprised that so much effort has been made to saddle Obama with the views of his pastor . . . I’ve also been surprised at how deep the ignorance of the African American church and its preaching tradition goes.

    It is interesting that some of those who were particularly upset over Wright’s remarks didn’t initially see them as being racial. They seemed to them to simply be anti-American. Continue reading

  • Conservative Delusions About Race, Part II

    Last week I wrote a post titled “Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives” outlining several ways that mainstream conservative thinking about race is wrong. (And I am coming at this as a conservative myself, mind you.) Today, in the Washington Post, Gary MacDougal wrote a column titled “Jeremiah Wright’s Wider Toll” which is one of the worst examples another conservative misconception about race that I have seen: the “if they would just get over it, they would be successful” meme. The premise of the column is that Jeremiah Wright’s worst offense is preaching a message of racial grievance which leads to a lack of personal responsibility and effort by those stuck in inner city communities.

    Now, there is a grain of truth behind the idea that an emphasis on racial barriers can create the perception that it is not worth trying because failure is inevitable. It can also contribute to an inability to overcome normal setbacks and obstacles, since their presence may well be seen as evidence of the futility of trying to attain success as an African American. However, in the hands of many conservatives this relatively small factor in the disparity of outcomes between whites and blacks becomes the entire explanation for problems in black America. The thinking is that if African Americans would just let go of their anger and resentment, stop seeing themselves as victims and take responsibility for their own actions, African Americans would experience as much success as any other group in America.

    There are many problems, fallacies and illogical assumptions with this line of thinking. I’ll start with the most obvious one as demonstrated by Mr. MacDougal’s column:

    Imagine getting up each morning to go to work in a society that doesn’t want you, doesn’t respect you and seeks to hold you back. Your spiritual leader has told you this, after all. . . If this is the message you got from your mentor, would you expect that you could succeed? Would you try very hard, if at all?” [emphasis mine] Continue reading

  • Separated by a Common Language

    Richard Cohen at the Washington Post wrote an interesting column today titled “Words Heard Differently”. He starts by riffing off George Bernard Shaw’s observation that The USA and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language. Today, it’s white Americans and African Americans who are suffering that fate. How true that is.

    A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a story coming out of Chicago about a woman who had gotten in trouble for saying that her next door neighbor kids were “climbing in a tree like monkeys”. The problem is that her neighbor kids are black. Their father had a fit and called the police. I expected my husband to roll his eyes at the father’s ridiculous reaction to this woman’s comment. Instead a rather nasty argument ensued. Where I heard an innocuous figure of speech that I’ve used about my own kids, my husband heard an ugly reference to the old characterization of African Americans as some sort of primate. My darling husband has been rather ornery lately and I figured that accounted for his response. So we called a couple of African American friends including one who is one of the most mild mannered men I know to ask their opinion. All of them, including my exceptionally mild mannered friend said that they too would throw a fit if someone referred to their kids as monkeys. I realized that although I thought (and still kind of think) that this is ridiculous, my opinion wasn’t really the one that mattered on this point.

    One of the comments made by our mild mannered friend which kind of caught me off guard in regards to the monkey comment was, “it’s not like this (an African American being upset over being referred to as a monkey) is the first time this has happened. Of course people would know that we’d find that offensive. It’s not like they don’t know.”

    The thing is that the white people I know are largely ignorant of exactly these sorts of things. Heck, I’ve been married to a black man for years and the fact that referring to kids climbing in a tree as acting like monkeys would be offensive if they are black had never even occurred to me. But there is a real sense among many African Americans that white people know these things and that their claims to the contrary are disingenuous. Or at least a sign of inexcusable ignorance.

    I guess that from the perspective of an African American this makes some sense. I have never literally compared a black person to a monkey. I have never heard another white person do so. I am aware that this imagery was used in the past, but honestly, the fact that people used to use corn cobs for toilet paper in the past has more resonance with me than comparisons of black people to apes. It just hasn’t been on my radar.

    However, my husband has been called a gorilla in a way which was clearly meant to be a racial insult. He grew up seeing those insulting images of black people as apes and could identify with them and wonder if that was how white people would see him. In his neighborhood, it was common knowledge saying someone looked like an ape was worse than insulting his mother or his manhood. He is well aware of the power of this language. His assumption is that I would be as well.

    All of this makes me think of a conversation I had with my oldest son yesterday about the book To Kill A Mockingbird. We were discussing the importance of the character Boo Radley to the story. You probably recall that at the beginning of the story Scout (the main character) and her brother are obsessed with getting a look at their reclusive neighbor and make elaborate plans to get him to come out. The adults around them all tell the children to leave him alone. If he wanted to come out he would and it was rude and unkind to try and harass him into coming out. The kids simply couldn’t comprehend how what they were doing was wrong. Wanting to stay inside all the time was wrong; wanting to get a glimpse of a neighbor was perfectly normal.

    It was a measure of the maturity which Scout gains over the course of the book that at the end, after Boo Radley has saved her and her brother from a murderous attack, she sees things differently. In the end, a more mature Scout understands just what the adults had tried to tell her at the beginning of the book: that exposing Mr. Radley to unwanted attention is unkind and potentially cruel. The fact that Mr. Radley’s lifestyle was unfathomable and alien to her and her sensibilities didn’t give her license to insist that he be made to change to suit her needs and desires.

    I think that often when whites and African Americans are dealing with each other, we behave like immature Scouts. We want to be able to tell the other what is reasonable and right without regard for the other’s perspective. Because I think that the other’s reaction, thinking or way of dealing with life is ridiculous, my job is to convince you of this truth and expect you to adjust yourself accordingly. However, a much more productive and probably mature way of dealing with our differences would be to simply accept them as reality and respect that. African Americans often see our country differently than white Americans do. They sometimes hear words spoken differently than many white people do. White people often really are clueless about the differences in our perceptions of the same things. Rather than insisting that the differences are the problem and insisting that the other side MUST see the error of their ways and change, we probably just need to understand that the differences just are. They are a reality we need to deal with and make some accommodation for. I still think it’s silly, but I will never say that black kids climbing trees are “acting like monkeys”. It’s a matter of respect and maturity, IMO. Two things which are sorely lacking between white and black Americans.

    For my previous take on the dynamic of “white person inadvertently messes up, black person goes ballistic”, see here.

  • Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives

    The candidacy of Barak Obama has inspired a great deal of talk, some of it self-inflicted by Sen. Obama, about the idea of transcending race. However, as the campaign as worn on, it has become apparent that “transcend race” is one of those phrases which means different things to different people. It seems to be a Rorschach test of wishful thinking in which people see it as meaning what they want it to mean.

    I want to address how this issue plays out on the conservative side. The conservative perspective is the one which is closer to what I identify with and I think we have suffered as a nation because of conservatives’ refusal to look at and think reasonably about issues of race.

    In regards to transcending race, on the conservative side, I have heard a fair amount of talk which indicates a wish for “transcending race” to mean eliminating race as an issue to which we need to pay attention to or offer consideration for. Because of this, conservatives have often reacted to things like the fact that Obama attends an Afrocentric church as a betrayal of his claim to be someone who can help us move past race. However, this perspective is based on a host of completely erroneous ideas.

    The first problem with this perspective is that it presumes that in order to “get past race”, we must embrace a sort of “color-blind” nirvana and assiduously pretend that we have already reached such a place. In large part, this seems to mean that we ought to reject anything which conflicts with the idea that we are and should be completely unaware of race. Continue reading