It’s my extreme pleasure to be joined this week with my hilarious and always impeccably dressed dear friend, Mike Goodwin! Mike’s comedy style is like no other. As Mike puts it, he provides quite a surprise to his audiences. People don’t expect comedy from a guy in a suit and bow tie. He looks more like an African American Studies Professor than Stand-Up Comic.
In fact, while it’s not his main focus, Mike does often bring up race relations from the stage. He “enlightens” his audiences with the fact that there is, in fact, no newsletter or conference call that goes out each week to American Blacks listing what they are angry about each week. It doesn’t happen! No single person has ever been elected to speak on behalf of all African Americans, nor are there lists of talking points that gets disseminated to all of the Black Community.
In other words, Mike simply speaks for himself.
Hailing from South Carolina, Mike actually grew up in a neighborhood where race relations were a dominating factor. This has given him interesting perspectives on everything from how black people in America interact with law enforcement to “dressing for success”… which, for some reason seems to have turned into “dressing with an agenda”. But, as Mike says, the way that he dresses works as a “Police Repellant”, because he never fits the description of someone they may be after. When even the most suspicious of police officers see him in his plaid sports coat and bowtie, all they can do is muster up a warning to obey the speed limit.
It’s like a video game – Don’t Get Pulled Over – and Mike’s got the special power suit to win the game!
Now, for myself, as a whiter-than-white guy in America, I feel so helpless when it comes to racial tension and groups like Black Lives Matter. But, as Mike puts it, that same sense of helplessness that I feel is similar to what many African Americans feel whenever it is brought up that “black-on-black crime is higher than ever”. As a black man in America, Mike and many people like him, recognize that YES… black-on-black violence is a real issue, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with him. He is raising his son to be a respectable young man. He is mentoring other people to be positive role models. So, what can he do, or why should he feel responsible for the nation’s black-on-black crime? All he can do is to continue to positively affect the lives that he comes into contact with… just like all of us, no matter what color of skin we have.
And, if all heck does break loose, and our society really does lose control, Mike wants to be firmly planted on the side of the social equation that tried to keep things calm and peacefully held together.
If only everyone had the heartfelt desire to stay on the side of goodness instead of violence.
One of the main problems we face today is that there is very little dialogue taking place. Overall, people are just yelling at each other across the aisle. Oh, sure… there may be talking going on. But, not true dialogue where people are LISTENING to one another or seeking an understanding.
And it’s painful to get to the reason why this is the case.
Ideally, when we begin to have real dialogue and then real relationships with one another and see each other as individuals instead of stereotypes, THAT is when we can finally move our country forward.From what I have seen, when we have friends with different racial backgrounds and we get along, then even the people surrounding you are affected by your friendship. They, themselves, may not have any friends of different ethnicities, but they can see your friendship in action and relate to it, thus breaking down some of the stereotypical walls that might exist.
For example, there have been times when Mike and I have been together, laughing so hard that we can’t contain ourselves, and the people around us are almost always affected by the mutual love and admiration we have for one another. Some may think that we’re obnoxious, but we still serve as at least one example that black people and white people can love one another and enjoy being with each other.
Secondly, it seems like when we can talk about race relations in a comedic way, healing can begin to take place. Now, I’m not talking about people who take a stage and seem to vomit racial vitriol into the microphone. This only prompts people to leave with an even more hateful and divided attitude toward each other.
And, from a spiritual perspective, whenever we discuss race, we have to realize that all of us are created in God’s image, no matter what side of town we are raised in or what color of skin we may have.
But, this can have some unintended consequences.
Some Christians hold so dearly to “We are ALL God’s children” that they don’t acknowledge racial differences at all. This is just not founded in societal reality.
As Mike says, most often when people say, “I don’t see race”, what they mean is that they don’t ascribe to the negative stereotypes that are too often attributed to people. But, he’s seen similar but opposite reactions as well. Mike has been in Black Church Services where the African American preacher says something like, “I am not a black man… I am a man of God!” Now, this statement is understandable, and we all should identify with our heavenly lineage much more so than our cultural heritage. But, the hard truth is that Mike has a five-year-old son at home who he is teaching how to navigate through the world around him.
The key – especially as Christians – is to live according to the purposes that God has given each one of us to live out. We may not be able to wish away or ignore the differences that exist between people of different cultures, but we should approach them in a Godly manner!
For instance, Mike was raised in a home where his parents taught him to work hard, keep out of trouble and do the best that he can do in all things. Race wasn’t part of the equation.
The next generation of parents, however, seem to be very eager to discuss the proverbial elephant in the room that is racial tensions in America.
The trick is to have healthy dialogue that is neither born out of or results in hurtful and spiteful rhetoric.
That is how we can harmoniously move closer toward the ideal of America – when we break free of the violent and hateful distractions that keep us from that ideal!
Check out more thoughts… and hilarious comedy… from Mike at ComedianMikeGoodwin.com!
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