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 “Check Yourself”

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 “The Context of Jeremiah Wright”

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 “Transcending Race and Delusional Conservatives”

African American Homeschoolers

Joanne Jacobs points us to a story in The Village Voice about the growing number of African American homeschoolers.  If you can get past the first paragraph which is as bad a display of provincial ignorance as one is likely to ever encounter, it’s an interesting, in depth story.  Given the abysmal job the public school system is doing of educating African American boys in … Continue reading African American Homeschoolers