Many White people thought we had racism almost licked in America. We would all at the least, like to believe racism has become more subtle than it was in former days. I don’t see it. It was shameful to hear how the entire stock of “Trayvon Martin Targets” sold out in just two days. The targets did not have Trayvon’s face but were of a young man in a hoodie holding Skittles and an Arizona Ice Tea. The target was on the heart, where Trayvon was shot. What is especially frightening about this is imagining those many thousands of targets and what the people who are shooting at them are thinking as they pull the trigger.
I do see stronger laws in place like the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2009. (Robert Byrd, Jr. was a 49-year-old black man who was dragged behind a pick-up truck by three white male members of a white supremacist group in Jasper, Texas and Matthew Shepard, a young man who was gay who was who kidnapped, beaten, and tied to a fence near Laramie, Wyoming). I see a move in society to speak of such things now in code, but they still mean the same things they always have.
Unfortunately, many hate crimes go unreported for many reasons. Sometimes they are not reported because the perpetrators are the ones who keep the records. Hate groups are still on the rise. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center there has been an increase every year for the past 11 years (see graph).
Hate crimes, as reported by the FBI, also continue to be disproportionately committed by Whites against Blacks. In 2010, 58.6% of all hate crime offenders were White and only 18.4% were Black.* Among single bias incidents (the cause being race alone) 70.0 percent were victims of an offender’s anti-black bias but just 17.7 percent were victims of an anti-white bias.* This tells me that educating what has in the past been the White dominant culture, concerning racism, is paramount to the success of our society becoming civil and just. On that note, I’d like to personalize things just a bit.
We rarely hear how people’s lives are changed from hate crime encounters. I recently came across a newsletter from our ministry that reminded me of our encounter with some haters back in 2006. We had begun a fifty-acre, self-sustaining ministry school and farm (L’Abri style) for training Native American leaders and those ministering among us. Our run-in changed the lives of our whole family. Here is the newsletter in part:
Dear Friends of Eagle’s Wings Ministry,
We want to keep you informed of the progress of our situation. This is a brief report and a special thanks to so many of you who have sent us emails or letters of encouragement. These letters have really been helping us get through these hard times!
The immanent danger in the neighborhood appears to be over. As soon as the “For Sale” sign went up on the property, all the 50 caliber machine-gun fire stopped. The racists think they have won and are likely now gloating…please pray for them because we know these evil actions will come back around on them. We want them to experience Creator’s shalom—not judgment.
We are still looking for a place to relocate our home, farm and school. Things looked promising in Montana but now seem to be falling apart. We asked the Chief of the host tribe to extend some small form of welcome to us-and after a month-this has still not happened. This has become a major red flag to us, especially since our offer on the place we hoped for (contingent on the sale of our house) was also ignored. The door has closed on several other locations we thought might be the right place as well. We have received several interesting offers from supporters in Lawrence Kansas to relocate there. We are still waiting for more confirmation but at this point—we must wait on the sale of our home before we can do anything. If you think you may know of a special place to relocate Eloheh Village for Leadership & Ministry Development we are open to pray about it. Please join us in our efforts to sell the property in Kentucky.
Some disappointments recently were the cancellations of four out of the five scheduled summer work groups intended to finish the staff cabin. This means we must now hire local trades people and pay for the labor. Needless to say—the money to finish the cabin is going fast and we don’t have enough to finish it. We lack the funds to complete work on the well pump, septic/drain field, finished plumbing and finished carpentry. But—for every disappointment, there is also a joy…
There have been several new births among our goats and a beautiful baby bull calf this year we are calling “Paint Boy.” Strangely, this year we lost several lambs at birth and are still trying to understand why. Also, our grown Piney Woods bull came up missing yesterday. Neighbors have seen him but like a phantom-he continues to allude us… Life on the farm is never dull but the animals invigorate us all with life lessons, godly pleasure and fresh organic eggs, milk and meat!
We also have been granted an incredible opportunity to establish our own herd of Choctaw/Cherokee Mustangs. We have been offered to board a stallion and six mares for several years and we would get to keep all the foals. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We believe this gift is from the Creator and that God will supply just the right place so this can happen. Friends, our deepest hope is to sell the place soon, get our children and livestock to safety and settled in before fall. Then we can start hosting schools once again in the late fall. We need your prayers to make this happen…please remember us whenever you can.
I won’t go into all the unpleasant details that occurred as a result of this incident, but you should know, we were never able to begin our school again. We lost our livelihood, our home, livestock and most of our possessions. And, without getting too personal, life has been very difficult for almost every member of our family—but following Jesus, and forgiving our enemies, we go on. More often than not, when people hear our story they say they “can’t believe these things still happen in America!” Believe it, they happen every day. Once we all believe, perhaps we can do something more about it.