Follow by Email

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Black America

"Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight..."

You know the song.

Most of us who are white don't understand black America very well. We say we aren't racist, because we don't feel anything negative toward blacks, but we still tend to stereotype them according to some broad commonly held categories. Ask a white Christian about blacks and get him or her talking and you'll hear pretty much the same simplistic talking points repeated over and over as if that's all there is to be said or thought about the matter.

Who is my neighbor? You don't mean even the Samaritans, do you, Jesus?! If we are serious about loving our neighbors as we love ourselves, the first step is to be serious about understanding our neighbor. I may not agree with everything in the article linked below, but I wasn't really reading it to agree or disagree, I was reading it to understand.

So I offer you, my fellow persons of pallor, this link (by a black man) if you'd like to expand your thinking a little bit. Of course reading is no substitute for incarnational learning, but here in Redding it isn't all that easy to even meet black people, much less develop a relationship that goes past the point where they are just saying the things they know they are supposed to say when they are with white people (it just isn't worth the hassle to be more honest).

This excerpt isn't exactly typical of the article, but it upended a couple of my stereotypes:
Part of what drives Cosby’s activism, and reinforces his message, is the rage that lives in all African Americans, a collective feeling of disgrace that borders on self-hatred. As the comedian Chris Rock put it in one of his infamous routines, “Everything white people don’t like about black people, black people really don’t like about black people … It’s like a civil war going on with black people, and it’s two sides—there’s black people and there’s niggas, and niggas have got to go … Boy, I wish they’d let me join the Ku Klux Klan. S--t, I’d do a drive-by from here to Brooklyn.” (Rock stopped performing the routine when he noticed that his white fans were laughing a little too hard.) Liberalism, with its pat logic and focus on structural inequities, offers no balm for this sort of raw pain. Like the people he preaches to, Cosby has grown tired of hanging his head.

This disquiet spans generations, but it is most acute among those of the civil-rights era. “I don’t know a better term than angst,” says Johnnetta Cole.

No comments: