Posts tagged racism
The Only Logical Conclusion

I need to open by asking for grace for the words I am typing now. I need grace because I am not super human or super woman. On Wednesday night I was laying in bed, finally getting over a cold. I was about to turn on the Golden Girls as I fell asleep when I decided to check my phone one more time. When I opened it, I saw immediately Chris Hayes describe a shooting in a black church in 140 characters. I have been through a range of emotions since that moment- grief, rage, frustration, numbness. I have wept and pounded on tables. Much of my emotional journey is all over twitter where I generally don’t hold back my humanity. I say all this to drive home the point that I am human, with deep feelings and emotions over what has transpired. I do not feel “strong”. I don’t feel “passionate”. I feel grossly, overwhelmingly human. But I don’t know what else to do besides write. I hope that my words will be helpful to someone, but please know, they just might be more for me to make sense of the world, than to change it.

I’ll start with a confession. Last night when I went to bed, I just knew by the time I woke up we would know who the shooter was and that he would be apprehended. I couldn’t believe it when I discovered the shooter was still at large. However, within just a few minutes new reports started pouring in that the suspected shooter had been captured. As various officials were interviewed there was a resounding theme. “Safety has been restored.”

“Our community can now come together.”

“Now the healing process can begin.”

“The threat is now over.”

Though I understand what these officials meant. I want to say that safety has not been restored. I am glad the suspect is in custody. I really am. I am glad for the country, but I am mostly glad for the community of Charleston and anyone that was afraid their home, church, community center or neighborhood might be another target. But my gratefulness does not extend far enough to create any sense of safety. For the next few weeks, maybe even months, black churchgoers will not feel safe because we know the threat is not over.

There have been far too many mass shootings in America. I still remember watching columbine and Virginia Tech unfold on the news screen. More recently I remember crying over Sandyhook, shock over the movie theater shooting, fear that my own mentor could have been a victim of the shooting at Seattle Pacific University. Those were frightening, awful, gut wrenching moments in their own right. They and many more ripped our hearts out, created trauma for so many families. But this is different.

Though the weapon is the same, gun violence, this is different because the driving force was white supremacy, this act the epitome of racism, the goal to kill black people. The level of terror that black people feel in America at this moment cannot be underestimated. Because when the driving force of such a massacre is the very thing imbedded in the roots of America, thriving on the branches of generation after generation, sitting in the pews unchallenged every Sunday morning in white churches- there is no reason why black Americans should feel safe.

The sin of white supremacy is thriving in this country because white Christians refuse to name it and uproot it, refuse to confess it and dismantle it, refuse to acknowledge it and repent of it, refuse to say the words

“Its in my family”

“Its in my church”

“Its in my soul.”

Every time I write about race, someone white says “just know it isn’t all of us,” believing this will bring me comfort. It is offered as balm, but fails miserably. I would much rather people say, “I see this sin in my own heart, my own life, my own church and I am working to uproot it. I don’t want to be this way, and I will do the work to submit this ugliness before Christ.” That’s what I want to hear. Creating distance from it doesn’t serve me, doesn’t bring me comfort. Because it is in all of us. White supremacy has infected all of us who know America. If I have to deal with the white supremacist notions within myself, than I don’t want to hear about how “its not all of us”. It is. It is all of us who must learn to love blackness as an equal and authentic image of God. 

Some of us are doing that work. Naming that work. Wrestling through that work.

And others are content to let it grow. And I need you to know those are the only two choices. There is no such thing as neutrality. You are either nurturing love or hate. There is no middle ground, no third way, no alternative.

There is this pervasive belief that Christians can simply choose to be tolerant, or polite, or even kind. There is this sense that as long as certain lines aren’t crossed, that you’re okay. As long as you don’t tell the racist joke, as long as you had a really good reason for moving into an all white community, as long as you never say nigger, as long as you do charity work, as long as you go on the mission trip, as long as you never do anything mean- then you’re alright. Not so.

Jesus has two commandments. “...You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your mind and with all your soul. This is the first and greatest commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt 22:37-39). The second is like it. So loving your neighbor as yourself is like loving God with all your heart and all your mind and all our soul. Love. 1 John 4:20 says this, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” Cannot.

I need you to know that these two verses fly in the face of the sin if white supremacy and racism. To not uproot white supremacy from the mind, heart and soul is to miss the mark on loving your neighbor as yourself and is hatred toward God. I repeat. The sin of racism is hatred toward God. Racism is hatred toward and denial of blackness as an equal and authentic image of God. Now you can let that live if you want to. You can try to wrap it up so tight that it never leaks out. You can try to bury it so far deep that no one ever knows. You can try to avoid contact so that you never say anything stupid. You can try to cover it up so that no one ever calls you out. You can try to fix on MLK day but let it linger every other day. You can talk about it once a year from the pulpit. You can remain silent and never speak of it at all. Those are all options. But it allows hate to live.

Those verses do not say:

Just tolerate one another.

Just be nice to each other.

Just don’t say anything stupid.

Just go volunteer.

Just take the mission trip.

Just don’t be rude.

Just give them some money.

Just build a center.

Just attend a multicultural church.

Just make sure you have one black friend,

Black family member

Black child

God demands love. Love toward God. Love toward humanity.

This love is a decision, and too many Christians have made their choice by simply refusing to acknowledge the power, the depths, the reality of white supremacy in America.

This shooter took white supremacy to its only logical conclusion- death. Now you might never shoot anyone, or plant bombs, or brutalize anyone. That’s entirely possible, but is that really your threshold, your standard for determining the health of your heart, mind and soul? My life might depend on whether or not you, your family, your church are willing to uproot racism and nurture love or instead continue to let the same evil that compelled this shooter to pull the trigger, to live on in your soul.

I hope you will choose love today and tomorrow and for the rest of your life.

I wrote on twitter that every church in America should be talking about this shooting on Sunday. But you know what? My real fear isn’t that churches will ignore the shooting. My fear is that churches will underestimate it. I fear that it will alter one Sunday’s plans and nothing else. I fear that the words will be reduced to one lone shooter, to one silent moment, to one prayer. I fear that it will change nothing about every Sunday thereafter, that it will inspire nothing of lasting significance, that no one will make a declaration to kick racism out of the pews. My real fear is that this moment will slip by just as so many others have, that white churches will refuse to see their own reflection. Or that they will and simply turn away.

That is the fear of black Americans because white supremacy is deadly. And people who look like me are its victims.

And despite this reality. We are still here. We still speak truth to power. We will mourn and cry and lament and wail. But we also fight. We resist. We refuse to be erased. My words here will be joined with hundreds maybe thousands of other black writers who will declare that we wont lay down, we wont hide, we wont go away quietly. You haven’t heard the last from us. We fight on. 

* this is unedited. and honestly i dont plan to edit it anytime soon. I'll do my best as i notice typos. I hope none are so egregious as to miss my meaning. If you want to tweet and know there is a mistake, feel free to fix it. Its all so raw right now. I need to take my time before re-feeling all these words. thanks to readers who have stuck with me through all of my demanding posts. welcome to new readers. get comfortable because demanding is my new norm.*



It happens every time there is an unjust and inhumane shooting of an unarmed black person. There are many posts, tweets, and status updates that are committed to giving a 'balanced view'. This usually means admitting the racial inequities in America's criminal justice system. Then to balance the other end of the teeter totter it becomes necessary to also admit that there are problems in the black community- black on black crime, fatherlessness, poverty, etc... This plank then rests on calls for love, forgiveness or peace. Done and done. 

While I understand the desire to be balanced, I need you to know that you won't get that here. This itty-bitty corner of the internet is going to be decidedly UNbalanced.  

Why? Because I believe it is fine to say, "This is wrong. Unarmed black people should not loose their lives" and leave it right there. That is enough. These complete sentences in all their unbalanced glory can stand alone. This is a singular thought. It is a thought worthy of being wrestled with all by itself. 

It is not that I am unwilling to talk about these other devastations that plague some communities of color. In fact, I welcome conversation about these realities. But you should know in advance that I don't relegate the conversation on race to shootings and incarceration rates. Racism is far to effective, conniving, and complete to define only these. So lets talk about poverty, but lets do so without forgetting about slavery, jim crow, redlining, white flight, contract sales, and the extraction of wealth from generations of hardworking people of color at the hands of government, courts, real estate agents and landlords. I'm willing to talk about fatherlessness, but not without also talking about joblessness, health disparities, incarceration rates, discriminatory sentencing, the effects of sentencing, the difficulties surrounding all things related to determining and jailing men for child support, and then I'd point to positive statistics on the presence of black men in their children's lives, despite all these difficulties. I won't go on here, but I hope I have made clear that these other issues dont magically fall outside the purview of racism, somehow pure and untouched- existing in some vacuum of black deficiency. No. They are all connected, reinforced time and again in a web of discriminatory practices that lead to hopelessness, fear, isolation and death. 

So I will not be giving any balanced views over here. I believe firmly that to practice love is to disrupt the status quo which is masquerading as peace; and not only that, I will continue to call for repentance from this injustice, leaving forgiveness between the grieved and God. 

I will continue to be UNbalanced until systemic racial disparities are no more. For as long as the system is unbalanced, I will be too.   

A Thanksgiving Powerpoint for Family

So yesterday, I posted a little Facebook status update very concerned for some of my white friends who would be with extended family for the holiday. Just by looking at the comment section of their own pages, it was clear there might be some contention over recent events in the news. After posting the following update, my own comment section brought me great joy! Check it out! 

Austin: Ooowwweee. Some of you are going to have some interesting conversations at the dinner table tomorrow. And by interesting I mean *terrible*. Christ be with you. (And maybe you should bring some books and powerpoint presentation on systemic injustice).

  • Abi: Someone needs to create a Systemic Injustice for Relatives slideshow, quick.

  • Austin What should it include, Abi? Oh, this could be fun...

  • Austin: Slide 1: slavery and capitalism

  • Abby: I have one on my teacher computer that is like "power who has it" that I use. .. should have brought it! (Who has the power is a question we ask fit lots of books

  • Abi: Slide 2: Slavery and Evangelicalism

  • Austin: Slide 3: Jim Crow and how you grandparents *really* gained wealth

  • Abi: Slide 4: History of the Police Force

  • Austin:  Slide 5: The fallacy of "black on black" crime

  • Austin: Abi, I think we may be on to something lol

  • Abi: Seriously, if someone makes this I will start bringing an overhead projector everywhere I go

  • Austin: Ha! I love it.

  • Abi: Slides 6-22: White Privilege

  • Jason: I like your Pedagogy for the Christmas Sweaters, y'all

  • Austin: Slides 23-25: defining whiteness, white superiority and anti blackness edited for more space 

  • Abi: Slide 24: "Post-Racial" America, or, How Can There Still Be Racism If We Have a Black President?

  • Jessica: Slide 25: "Dominant culture narratives"

  • Austin: Slide 26: No more monoliths- not all black people are the same. Plus another slide on the difference between loving black culture and loving black people

  • Abi: Slide 27: But I Don't Hate Black People! Racism as practice, not emotion

  • Austin: *slow clap*

  • Austin:  Slide 28: looking beyond your one black friend

  • Justin: slide 29: How Progressive Christianity is often still racist, and what it means to be Intersectional

  • Austin: oh, no you didn't add intersectionality at the family dinner! lol

  • Justin: yeah that might be asking too much of people that are still understanding systemic racism

  • Jessica: I think we need to revisit slides 6-22 and name each subcategory

  • Austin: Hmmm. Yes. You are right. Lets do it.

  • Austin: Slide 6: White privilege and education

  • Austin: Slide 7: white privilege and rioting

  • Austin: Slide 8: White privilege and stop/frisk

  • Jessica: Slide 9: White privilege and career choices/ job interviews

  • Austin: Slide 10: white privilege and names

  • Abi: Slide 11: White Privilege and "Neutrality"

  • Jessica: Slide 5.5: White privilege and you. "Who, me?!" Yes, you.

  • Austin: Slide 12: White privilege and 'objectivity"

  • Austin: Yes! Jessica, Yes!

  • Abi: Slide 13: White Privilege and Media Representation

  • Timothy: Slide 30: MLK was peaceful, and they still killed him... In a suit.

  • Austin: We might give that 2 slides, Timothy

  • Jessica: Slide 14: Privilege and the politics of respectability

  • Timothy: Slide 31: Reverse Racism... Nah.

  • Abi: Slide 32: Not All White People... Nah

  • Timothy: Slide 32: MLK was not the only black leader...

  • Timothy: Slide 33:... He was the only black leader that made white people feel comfortable.

  • Marcus: Slide 34: Malcolm X wasn't the devil and Rosa Parks wasn't the first to sit on the bus

  • Marcus: Slide 35: why facts are never neutral

  • Austin: you all are brilliant and wonderful

  • Brandy: These are brilliant! Each time I thought of a new one, someone had already included it.

  • Timothy: Slide 36: If Mike Brown had shot up a school, he'd be alive. Examples provided.

  • Marcus: Slide 37: why nothing is as bad as slavery and jim crow except actual slavery and jim crow.

  • Marcus: Slide 38: why you need more black friends

  • Timothy: Slide 39: How to separate thug black from regular black at a quick glance.

  • Marcus: Slide 40: the differences between racism and anti-blackness

  • Austin: Sigh. You all make me so happy.

  • Timothy: Slide 41: The duality of being the villain and the victim.

  • Marcus: slide 42: the cultural-theological-physical and sexual obsessions with blackness.

  • Austin:  Marcus, please make this slide for us.

  • Abi: Slide 15: White Privilege and Housing/Districting

  • Abi: Slide 16: White Privilege and Voting

  • Abi: or whatever number we were on up there, heh

  • Austin: Abi, we have a lot of slide left for white privilege. Fill em up!

  • Timothy: Slide 43: Affirmative Action balanced out white privilege. Thank you.

  • Abi: 17: White Privilege and Theology

  • Abi: 18: White Privilege and the War on Drugs

  • Marcus: Slide 44: Almost no one mentioned in the bible, including God and Jesus, are white.

  • Marcus: Slide 45: Mythbusters: The actual decedents of the Neanderthals....

  • Abby: Standardized tests and the school to prison pipe line.

  • Austin: Love our list. But I think no one would stay for the turkey. lol

  • Amber: I'm so sad I can't share this 

  • Shara: I'm so mad I missed all this but can I squeeze one or two in the middle?

  • Shara:  Slide 46: Why people who claim to be "colorblind" are lying

  • Shara: Slide 47: Why it's ridiculous to want to be "colorblind"... Accepting that different does not equal bad

  • Jewel: Slide 48: Why buildings will never be worth more than black lives or nah

  • Jewel: Slide 49: Have you thought about having a conversation with your one black friend or nah

  • Shara: Slide 50: Why society values animals more than black men

  • Jewel: Slide 50: How not to put your one black friend in the magical negro category or nah

  • Kathi: I need one to explain why there are so few poc in Oregon. Answer number 1: they were written out of the constitution until almost 1930

  • Jewel: Slide 51: The history of biased media toward people of color

  • Jewel: Slide 52: How to have empathy and compassion for populations that have no privilege because you took it.

  • Jewel: Slide 53: How to see people of color as equally human as you see yourself

  • Jewel: Slide 54: How to not share racist sentiment in social media if you don't want to be called racist

  • Austin: You all are on a roll! I LIKE it. I like all of it!

  • Jewel: Slide 55: How you would feel if someone told you to just get over the unjustified killing of your child

  • Jewel: Austin, I think I can go all night lol

  • Jewel: Slide 56: How it is not endearing to tell someone of another race just how much you fetishize them.

  • Velynn: Girrrllllll for real!!! Lol!!!

  • Jewel: Slide 57: How Jesus never taught you to be racist

  • Jewel: Slide 58: It is never okay to touch a POC's hair, skin, any body part without permission

  • Austin:  Slide 57 made me laugh for real tho, Jewel

  • Jewel: Slide 59: How your all white congregation will never be what heaven looks like

  • Jewel: Slide 60: How holding contempt in your heart for poc while adopting poc children won't get you extra crowns in glory

  • Jewel: Slide 61: You just might be racist if you forbid your children to date or marry interracially

  • Jewel: Slide 62: How going on a short term mission trip does not mean you aren't racist

  • Jewel Slide 63: How the very same people you view as animals could be angels in disguise

  • Jewel: Slide 64: This is probably why you don't want to have me over for Thanksgiving

  • Shara: Lol umm this is no longer a slideshow over holiday dinner this is at least a semester long course for undergraduate students lol

  • Jewel: Undergraduate, Graduate, Doctoral everyone can get educated 

  • Amber: This is amazing. Omg

  • Amber: Slide 65 - Black Culture: Was it Appropriated or Nah? 

  • Jenny: Austin, this is making me so happy. Slide 66 - Why it's not reverse racism for white people to not say the N word.

  • Jenny: Slide 67 - see previous slide about reverse racism not being real.

  • Jewel: Jenny, amen to all of that!

  • Jenny: Slide 68 - if you are tired of talking about race/racism, that is your privilege oozing out.

  • Jenny: Slide 69 - movie ratings and the absence of complex poc roles. And why that matters immensely.

  • Austin: Slide 70- TED Talk: Danger of a single story

  • Jewel: Slide 71: How not to speak for people of color

  • Jewel: Slide 72: Why slaves were not happy on your family's plantation

  • Jenny: Slide 73 - how not to ask poc to speak for all poc

*As you can see I removed pictures, hyperlinks, and last names. I also removed any personal comments. This list brought me great joy. It was oddly cathartic to see a list of everything we wish we could address in this moment in time.  

Do you have more to add? Place them in the comments section!