Welcome. Let me introduce myself. My name is George Yancey. I am a sociology professor at the University of North Texas and this is my inaugural entry for Shattering Paradigms. Allow me to take this opportunity to let you know more about me and how I think. Then perhaps you can decide if you want to take the journey with me as I explore the issues of the day.
My blogging history began in 2010 with an unknown blog called “Outside the Box.” I found it a good way to get my feet wet away from any real resistance, but I knew that ultimately I would have to find a better outlet for myself. So in 2012 I joined an ongoing Patheos blog of sociologists called “Black, White and Gray.” It was a vibrant place of discussion and I was so happy I could contribute to it. Then in late 2015 I started to blog for The Stream. That has been a great experience but now I feel ready to go out on my own and join the Patheos team as a solo blogger.
To understand where I come from, let me tell you a bit about my academic career. I started my research looking at issues of race and ethnicity. In particular, I was interested in multiracial institutions – most notably interracial romantic relationships and multiracial churches. I wanted to know how we could rebuild our damaged race relations after centuries of racial abuse. Over time I became a race scholar as I expanded my interest into looking at racial identity and interracial contact.
Over the past several years I shifted my academic interest away from racial issues. I first studied academic bias and then began looking at anti-Christian bias. I eventually wrote an academic and Christian book on Christianophobia while also studying atheists and cultural progressive activists. Today I am furthering my research on Christianophobia in its many modern forms.
So I can confidently talk about issues of race and anti-Christian bigotry. That is quite a combination of interests, and I hope it makes for interesting reading. It also makes me a fairly unique political animal. My work on racial issues has made me wary of the colorblind narrative spun by so many conservatives. I believe that we have to be very conscious of racial issues, if we are going to overcome the dysfunctional effects of racism in our society. On the other hand, my work on anti-Christian bias has made me more aware of the neglect of political progressives concerning issues of religious liberty. The bigotry my work has picked up among progressives warns me that theologically conservative Christians, like myself, should not trust them to keep our religious liberty secure. As such I am neither conservative nor liberal, rather I am a critic of both political parties.
It is relatively easy for me to take such a stance. I see political ideologies as socially constructed. Both the left and the right have powerful inconsistencies in their value system. My take on political activism is that it is done more to accrue power for certain social groups than to do what is right. My answer to that is to take each political question and look for what I see as right. If that lands me on the conservative side of things, then that is great. If it puts me in the progressive column, then that is fantastic. I am beholden to neither political party nor do I want to be. If you are consistently conservative and you read me long enough then please know that I will eventually write something that will piss you off. I will also write something that will piss you off if you are a consistent progressive. I am an equal opportunity offender, and I will not cater my writing to protect the sacred cows for either political party. What you will get from me is my honest assessment of any given situation regardless of how the political chips may fall.
It would profit me more to choose a side and demonize the other side. That is how you get a large following and those high number of page views. That is how you land the big radio interviews and get a book contract. But I cannot go that route. And I think there is an audience of folks who also do not want to walk lockstep with either political side. People who will disagree with me on specific issues (because I agree with no one 100 percent of the time) but appreciate independent thinking. Indeed, I am gambling that there is such an audience, and I will be able to attract many of them. That is one of the reasons why I am going solo at this time.
As to subjects, I like to stick to what I know best, but I suspect that I will go into subjects outside of my area of expertise more than I should. So as they come up, you can expect me to comment on topics of religious freedom, race relations and political issues when they are connected to Christianity. However, I tend to shy away from controversial issues to which I do not have the scholarly tools to add something new. So you will not hear me make an argument about the science behind global warming, although I may make a sociological observation about the argument on it. Also I will often bring my published research here to talk about it. I usually will wait until it is available to the public before doing this so that those so inclined can go read the work for themselves.
Finally rules of décor. I will allow comments on this blog because that is often how we learn. I have evolved from needing to correct every misperception of my work to only commenting a few times when I think it is necessary. It goes without saying that I expect disagreeing comments. But a quality discussion requires some degree of honest dialog. Go ad holmium, gratuitous insulting, go off on a topic unrelated to that blog and I will remove your comments. Repeat offenders can be permanently blocked. I hate being a policeman on this as it takes time and energy that I’d rather focus elsewhere. But I have come to realize the importance of quality control so that the comment section does not become a mess.
One last comment on the format. After this week, I plan on doing a relatively short article and a longer essay each week. I see the shorter article as a hot opinion of a contemporary issue while the longer essay allows me to discuss important, not necessarily timely issues. For example, I am working on a series on privilege that will be longer essays (Although the essays will be on a stand-alone topic). I hope that this provides the best of worlds in being timely but still talking about transcendent issues. However, this week I am only doing two short articles so that I can introduce myself to you. Please do not hold me to having the short or long every week. But that is my goal.
I hope that is a sufficient introduction to what I bring to the table. If this intrigues you then please come back and check me out. You may even want to follow my blog on Twitter or like my facebook author’s page to make sure you see the latest nonsense I have written. God bless.
Update: I have just learned that I have to preapprove all comments ahead of time to stop spam. Not crazy about that as it will eat some of my time. But it does mean that insults and ad hominems will never see the light of day.