Post 1 of 2
Greetings Mr. Shore,
This post of Martin L. King’s picture sans article reminds me of the adage “Actions are louder than words.” It always surprised me when I came to America how hush hush individuals who claim to love God (and those who don’t believe in God) are when it comes to the topic of prejudice, self-segregation, relationships (dating and marriage) amongst dark-hued and non-dark-hued individuals, etc. So many are quick to get into debates on abortion, gay rights, poverty, women’s’ rights, immigration rights, the Shoah (aka the holocaust), etc. In reference to the latter, which did not occur on U.S. soil as did slavery and colonization, many are quick to deliver sympathy for the Jews (as someone whose family is comprised of Jews I know this), yet are quick to deny the past of Africans (by the past I’m referencing the 17th – 20th c.) and have no sympathy for the government-sanctioned atrocities that occurred on U.S. soil. Many do not want to think about the internationally sponsored demonizing, lynching, shipping, selling, and murdering of millions upon millions of dark-skinned persons throughout the world, which had undoubtedly led to the Civil Rights Movement and which have how we view (or value) each other today. Although “change” is quite apparent, discrimination and prejudice (amongst the entire color spectrum) still exist and will always exist as long as there are humans.
I know ivory-skinned individuals who despise dark-skinned individuals and I know dark-skinned individuals who despise ivory-skinned individuals, and I can say the same for the brown-skinned and almond-eyed individuals. I did not grow up in America as mentioned in another post, and I did not grow up with the notion of “race” imbibed to me as most Americans I’ve met have. The primary reason for this was being raised for several years by my mother, a sociologist, and the second being my faith in God. I once asked someone, “Since you call yourself a Christian, do you believe that when you die, God is going to separate myself from you because our pigmentations are severely different? Do you believe God will roll out a red carpet for those who are ivory-skinned and roll out nothing for those who are brown-skinned? Is this the God you truly believe in? One who intentionally created a variety of shades amongst humans for whatever insane reason?” You see at the end of the day, I sincerely don’t believe that God wanted us humans to reduce ourselves to something as silly as melanin. But, that’s what we’ve done for centuries because we are “civilized” people.
Post 2 of 2
I hope I will not be the only one to comment on this subject but if I am, thank you very much Mr. Shore for this opportunity. In my immediate and extended family, we literally have the world – Jews, Africans, Asians, Latin Americans, Americans, and Caribbean individuals. This makes for colorful photos during the holidays to say the least I am reminded of a line from one of my favorite films in which a character jubilantly states, “This is what it’s going to be like in heaven, and I’m so glad we’re having a rehearsal on it now!”
I hope that some of us in this country are not afraid to rehearse the final play of our lives entitled, On Earth as it is in the Kingdom. I hope some of us (godly) parents do not train our children to view humans (aka God’s children) as a color or a “race” with pre-conditioned stereotypes. I hope that some of us (godly) parents do not train our children not to date those who are darker or lighter than them. I hope some of us (godly) parents can learn to appreciate what the Artist has created in the universe and train their children to appreciate those very things be they animals, landscapes or people. I hope some of us (godly) parents train our children not to be afraid of those who don’t resemble them and to remember that intelligent people won’t hold differences against them. And finally, I hope that some of us (godly) parents remember that life is truly much too short (especially compared to E t e r n i t y) to harbor prejudices, discomfort, or fear towards an individual or individuals as a whole, especially when it comes to individuals who are labeled or associated with an array of dehumanizing stereotypes. If God can love us, then the least we can do is try to love the skeletons God created and stop reducing ourselves to pigment politics in our daily lives.
Fishes, loaves and peace,
“To continually claim membership to a so-called “race” is to build one’s ego through an imagined rational, and it is to reduce one’s self to an inanimate object. It is to submissively adhere to a systematically ingrained idea, which justified atrocities of the past and present. It is to subconsciously conduct the intellectual exercise of applying pre-manufactured values to an individual; it is to vehemently refuse to see your human reflection in the face of another human whom you reason to be “different” on the basis of a carefully engineered abstraction…
To subscribe to the notion of race is to excuse critical thinking in order to comfortably justify assumptions and negations based on pigmentation, differential treatment, self-segregation, inequality and inequity, righteousness and arrogance, violence, and hatred. One might dare say that Race is Evil incarnate.” – The Logic of an Irrational Human Invention
OK, sorry to throw this in but this is an insightful article in reference to Dr. King’s following statement – “We must face the sad fact that at the eleven o’ clock hour on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, we stand in the most segregated hour in America.”
Article posted by CNN a few years ago entitled, “Why Many Americans Prefer their Sundays Segregated.”
Responses? Constructive criticisms? Disagreements? Agreements? Refreshing thoughts?
Is the lack of comments because we have no prejudice…or because we do?
In my opinion, there are few comments because the subject, as unstated, may feel to many like walking through a minefield. Is the subject race? Is the subject justice? Assassinations? Anti-war sentiments? John is an artist who deals in images, usually just sketches. And that is what we like!
Then you should have loved my comment. It was really just a musing, an “image”, a “sketch” really. A pondering question meant to be introspective…not a condemnation. As you said…it may feel to many like walking through a minefield. I see great value in simply asking the question why.
I cannot begin to speak directly on the topic of voluntary segregation through church membership, other than to say I know it is reality. But I understand why it happens. I get it, for an entirely different reason.
My 16 yr. old atheist daughter, who is beginning to show interest in God, if not religion, wants to go to a black church with one of her black friends because the music is so wonderful. When she told me that recently, I remembered that a long time, I did that, for the same reason. But not long into the service, I felt, decidedly, that I did not deserve to be there. That I, having lived a life of white privilege, did not have a deep enough understanding of living as a minority, the descendants of slaves, to participate. No one made me feel unwelcome, by any means – I just felt it. In my bones.
Then I became the mother of a child, then children, who don’t look like me. They are Asian, quite obviously not born to me. I instantly joined a minority – and the general public, especially when my girls were little, apparently had a whole separate set of rules about what was OK to say to me, vs. what they might say to a new mom whose child was most likely born to them. We were public fodder. It was OK to ask “where I got them,” and “how much they cost.” It was OK to make stereotypical assumptions about them, “Oh, they’ll be so good at math!” and think nothing of it because it was positive. It was OK to ask where their “real” parents are, if they are “really” sisters, why did I go to China, why didn’t I adopt a foster kid here in the US? – and to a few people, it was OK to say nasty things about their birthculture right in front of them. None of these are questions I mind answering to friends or in an adoption-related conversation. But in the checkout line, at Target? Trying to buy tickets to get into the Botanical Garden? In a parking lot, with a sleepy toddler?
I learned what it felt like to see a kid pulling their eyes back to make fun of someone and have my heart break in my chest. I learned, just the other day, how angry I could get when someone made my 16 yr. old child take the ESL version of a community college assessment test because she was not born in the US. Never mind that she’s lived here since she was 5 months old. Never mind that she’s a citizen of this country. She has an Asian face. So they wouldn’t listen, they wouldn’t use common sense.
I also learned what it is like to be a new mom, sitting around with a group of other young moms at a picnic, and listen to an endless conversation about labor and delivery and dilation and effacing and epidurals and sore nipples, and wonder if they ever actually talk about their kids. My labor and delivery involved tons of paperwork, several airplanes and young women who couldn’t understand me handing me my precious infant as if she were produce. In front of twenty-some other people, who were also receiving their most amazing daughters in the same room at the same time. I mentioned something along those lines, and the only response I got was a nervous giggle and a group of new moms all avoiding eye contact with me.
Put me at a reunion of adoptive parents, though, and they get it. We laugh about the plane rides, we commiserate over attachment and bonding and how to facilitate it and how much of China we can reasonably pull into our lives to keep our children connected, and what to do when they reject it entirely. I can tell the story of that group of new moms and be met with knowing empathy. I can tell the stories of the ignoramuses who say things they would never say to another parent, and be assured that others in the room have experienced something similar. And I am comforted.
I began my journey as one of the majority, and then learned what living in the minority is like. Of course it is different, depending upon why you are part of a minority. I can’t fathom having ancestors who were slaves. I don’t know what it is like to speak one language at home but another in public. But I know what it feels like to be scrutinized by the majority, as if they have some God-given right to know the details of my private life, simply because my daughters and I don’t look alike. (And, mind you, I know that the vast majority who ask me questions are well-meaning people who are simply curious or interested – but some are not. And it still boggles the mind at some of the information they believe they have the right to know about a complete stranger!) If there was a church for adoptive families, I’d gravitate toward it. I might not stay, of course, if the theology didn’t fit, but I’d sure try it. Even as diverse as adoptive families are, there is a core commonality that links us all, and we are pulled to each other because of it.
I imagine that is the way it is with the voluntary segregation in churches. If a church is your spiritual home, it should be a place in which you feel 100% comforted and accepted. Being surrounded by those who share a deep commonality makes that possible. It’s not so much about what race you are, but about what life hands you because of that race. I had a black friend explain to me how it felt when her son got his driver’s license, and the particular conversation his father had to have with him about law enforcement and the concept of “driving while black” – because black teen males are the most likely drivers to be pulled over. Knowing that all the other parents in your church have to deal with the same troublesome issues as you – well, it helps.
So even as I hope for all of us to do our best to understand everyone else, I also know exactly why the safe haven of commonality remains important.
Martin Luther King Jr. was not a perfect man, but, he was a near perfect leader. He was lucky enough to have a first rate theological education and he led people to see each other as God’s children. He was a black preacher who could speak the white man’s language. God put him in the right place at the right time. He called whites to honor their own American heritage and he called blacks to stand up in spite of their fear and turn the other cheek to their abusers, so as to heap coals of fire on their heads. I suspect he was as surprised as anyone, when God sent his fire.
He was not a lone wolf acting alone. World War 2 showed us the inhumanity of unabated prejudice. There were messages from the Rape of Nanking. the Final Solution to the Jewish Problem, firebombing of Dresden and Tokyo. Harry Truman integrated the military of the U, S. and so afterwards an all white regiment could never again look American. Eisenhower integrated an Arkansas high school. I began teaching math and physics in the only peaceful integrated public high school in the city of Chicago, a city where segregation was de facto, not legal. I had been a member of the NAACP for only a few months when the bomb exploded in the Birmingham Sunday School. The victims would have looked and sounded exactly like a certain subset of my students. I had been taught to hate Jerrys and Japs, but now a new enemy emerged in my mind. MLK taught us all how to fight this enemy. Atom bombs were useless against this enemy, although some, like myself, would have been happy to find a way to use them. Only later would I come to appreciate the words of the Pogo, “We have found the enemy and he is us!”
All these years later, 41 years into my own life, I’m still waiting for Dr. King’s Dream to come true. For all people to judge each other on the content of their character not the color of their skin (or any other trait we as humans use to separate ourselves). To be willing to look past their prejudices and see what our Creator placed in each and every being, a little of Himself that wants to connect with some more of Himself.
Mandy’s comment hit entirely too close to home for me. I understand the need to be around people who understand and get you and your experience, I have lived it. Sometimes I wonder though, is this constant segregation into safe places of commonality, especially Sunday mornings, the reason we are still waiting to see, on a broad scale, people connect with other people just because they share the common trait of being, people?
Mindy, I apologize for referencing your name as Mandy in my comment. I thought I corrected it before I hit submit.