26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,[k] heirs according to the promise.
9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Our film this week, Zootopia dealt with issues of racism. And because Juneteenth just happened, I wanted this to be our first film. If you haven’t seen Zootopia yet I encourage you to watch it all. Throughout Scripture, G-d brings different people together. A table of people from every country coming together and eating as one in peace. Being told in Christ there is no East or West, Jew or Gentile… Acts 10:34-35 tells us, 34 Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every people anyone who fears him and practices righteousness[d] is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.” But the truth is there are lots of things that G-d wants that haven’t come into fruition yet on this side of heaven. And we are called to be part of this work.
The truth is we live in a culture where “according to Louisiana’s Department of Health, “four black mothers die for every white mother” in the state. It outpaces a three-to-one ratio nationwide, which is already the worst in the developed world, Politico reported. And a senator defends this by stating that his state’s high maternal death rates are more standard if you “correct for race.” As if these women’s lives and death’s matter less than white Americans.
We live in a society where, During the 2015–2016 school year, Black students represented only 15% of total US student enrollment, but they made up 35% of students suspended once, 44% of students suspended more than once, and 36% of students expelled. The US Department of Education concluded that this disparity is “not explained by more frequent or more serious misbehavior by students of color.”
1. In New York City, 88% of police stops in 2018 involved Black and Latinx people, while 10% involved white people. (Of those stops, 70% were completely innocent.)
2. In one US survey, 15.8% of students reported experiencing race-based bullying or harassment. Research has found significant associations between racial bullying and negative mental and physical health in students.
3. From 2013 to 2017, white patients in the US received better quality health care than about 34% of Hispanic patients, 40% of Black patients, and 40% of Native American patients.
4. Black women are 3 to 4 times more likely to experience a pregnancy-related death than white women, even at similar levels of income and education.
5. Black Americans are more likely than white Americans to be arrested. Once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted, and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.
6. Black Americans and white Americans use drugs at similar rates, but Black Americans are 6 times more likely to be arrested for it.
7. On average, Black men in the US receive sentences that are 19.1% longer than those of white men convicted for the same crimes.
8. In the US, Black individuals are twice as likely to be unemployed than white individuals. Once employed, Black individuals earn nearly 25% less than their white counterparts.
9. One US study found that job resumes with traditionally white-sounding names received 50% more callbacks than those with traditionally Black names.
10. In the US, Black workers are less likely than white workers to be employed in a job that is consistent with their level of education.
11. US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights. “2015-16 Civil Rights Data Collection: School Climate and Safety.” https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/school-climate-and-safety.pdf. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
12. New York Civil Liberties Union. “Stop-and-Frisk Data.” https://www.nyclu.org/en/stop-and-frisk-data. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
13. Russell et al. “Adolescent Health and Harassment Based on Discriminatory Bias.” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3487669/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. Rosenthal et al. “Weight and Race Based Bullying: Health Associations Among Urban Adolescents.” http://www.uconnruddcenter.org/resources/upload/docs/what/communities/WeightRaceBullying_PhysicalHealth_JOHP_10.13.pdf. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
14. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. “National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report.” https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/research/findings/nhqrdr/2018qdr-final.pdf. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
15. National Partnership for Women and Families. “Black Women’s Maternal Health.” https://www.nationalpartnership.org/our-work/health/reports/black-womens-maternal-health.html. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
16. The Sentencing Project. “Report to the United Nations on Racial Disparities in the U.S. Criminal Justice System.” https://www.sentencingproject.org/publications/un-report-on-racial-disparities/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
17. NAACP. “Criminal Justice Fact Sheet.” https://www.naacp.org/criminal-justice-fact-sheet/. Accessed Feb. 4, 2020. ↩︎
18. US Sentencing Commision. “Demographic Differences in Sentencing.” https://www.ussc.gov/research/research-reports/demographic-differences-sentencing. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
19. Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. “Discrimination in the Job Market in the United States.” https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/discrimination-job-market-united-states. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
20. Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab. “Discrimination in the Job Market in the United States.” https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evaluation/discrimination-job-market-united-states. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
21. Economic Policy Institute. “Black Workers Endure Persistent Racial Disparities In Employment Outcomes.” https://www.epi.org/publication/labor-day-2019-racial-disparities-in-employment/. Accessed Feb. 5, 2020. ↩︎
But there have been Americans who saw this and fought for a better life for all of G-d’s children. Levi Coffin was born in October of 1798 in North Carolina. He is known as an American abolitionist, called “President of the Underground Railroad,” and assisted hundreds and hundreds of people who had runaway from slavery. Him and his wife are even believed to be the inspiration for the characters Simeon and Rachel Halliday in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Levi-Coffin) And he was my great, great, great, great uncle on my mother’s side. Something our family is very proud of. On my Father’s side, my Grandmother was German Jewish and fled to America safely but her Grandmother died in a concentration camp.
My family has been committed to overcoming prejudice as long as I can remember. My mom talks about how they were one of the only families that didn’t give into fear and “white flight” and kept their home in Inglewood when most of their neighbors moved out. And how she went to an almost all black high school. How she had a prom date, and he was nervous to meet my grandfather because my grandfather is white, so my mom lied and said he was in a wheelchair so that her date would come to the house. But then my Grandfather stood up to shake his hand, the young man’s eyes got so big. Both my Grandparents worked tirelessly in Inglewood to help their neighbors. My Grandfather did community organizing and education opportunities as a YMCA Director and my Grandmother was an Executive Presbytery during the Rodney King Riots and Her Presbytery, the Presbytery of the Pacific had lots of Korean, Black and White Churches and she did a lot of bring people together.
In high school, my school offered a class entitled, “The Nature of Prejudice,” and we studied how prejudice grew and developed. How the Nazi’s came to power, the work the KKK did in America to recruit people (like free online racist video games)…In college, I ended up taking a lot of classes from Professor Akudinaobi one of the professors in the Black Studies Department, because he is a brilliant professor. In Seminary, I took the class, “The Black Church” and was one of the few white students. And all of this brought me a lot of pride.
But if I were honest something that we didn’t talk about in the class I took in High School, or the ones in college, the ones in Seminary. We never talked about microaggressions or assumptions or white arrogance and pride…or if we did, I don’t remember because those things certainly, certainly couldn’t apply to me. Not with my family history, not with my choices in life. But as I prepared over this sermon for the last several weeks, I am realizing how deep the sins of racism are present in this nation and how it seeps into our lives even if we think we are above it.
I realized that some of the sins I committed, even if my intentions were good. For example, in seminary when I worked with street kids a lot of them were black, and I secretly wondered if there was just something innately wrong with black culture, not that their parents had been unjustly and systematically treated by the system. I thought, how great was I that I would be there to help them and lift them out of poverty and save them. When I was just a pathetic little bandaid with a hot meal over a huge gapping wound that my denial and white entitlement was actually contributing to. Or when I dated a black man in Seminary and his name was Kelvin and I called him Calvin, like John Calvin for the first week we dated until he politely corrected me. Or when he shared some of his culture with me, I fained interest but truly didn’t give it the full respect it deserved. How in college I wanted a Black Dorm mate so I put down stereotypical things on my preference list like that I liked Reggie and Rap, which got me an American student with Japanese heritage.
How when I took classes in the Black Studies department I would pat myself on the back, when black students are forced to be in “History Classes” which are truly mostly European Historical Classes, and not an elective they can take if they feel like it. Or I used to go out of my way to compliment black people’s hair because I know it doesn’t get the respect it deserves but that was inappropriate. So, I stand before you today and confess just a few of my sins.
To help me understand some of my sins, I’ve been reading the book, Waking Up White; And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving. And I want to share with you a segment from the Book’s Introduction, “Not long ago if someone had called me a racist, I would have kicked and screamed in protest. “But I’m a good person!” I would have insisted, “I don’t see color! I don’t have a racist bone in my body!” I would have felt insulted and misunderstood and stomped off to lick my wounds. That’s because I thought being a racist meant not liking people of color or being a name calling bigot.
For years I struggled silently to understand race and racism. I had no way to make sense of debates in the media about whether the white guy was “being a racist” or the black guy was “playing the race card.” I wanted close friends of color but kept ending up with white people as my closest friends when I was with a person of color I felt an inexplicable tension and a fear that I might say or do something offensive or embarrassing. When white people made blatantly racist jokes or remarks I felt upset but I had no idea what to do or say. I didn’t understand why, if laws supporting slavery segregation and discrimination had been abolished, lifestyle still looked so different across color lines. Most confusing were unwanted racist thoughts that made me feel like a jerk. I felt too embarrassed to admit any of this, which prevented me from going in search of answers.
It turns out stumbling block number one was that I didn’t think I had a race, so I never thought to look within myself for answers. The way I understood it, race was from other people brown and black skinned people. Don’t get me wrong if you put a census form in my hand I would know to check white or Caucasian.” It’s more that, I thought all those other categories, like Asian, African American, American Indian and Latino where the real races. I thought white was the race list race– just plain, normal, the one against which all others were measured.
What I’ve learned is that thinking myself raceless allowed for a distorted frame of reference built on faulty beliefs. For instance,
I used to believe race is all about biological differences
I can help people of color by teaching them to be more like me.
Racism is about bigots who make snarky comments and commit intentionally cruel acts against people of color.
Culture and ethnicity are only for people of other races and from other countries.
If the cause of racial inequity were understood, it would be solved by now.
If these beliefs sound familiar to you you’re not alone. I’ve met hundreds of white people across America who share not only these beliefs but the same feelings of race related confusion and anxiety I experience. This widespread phenomenon of white people wanting to guard themselves against appearing stupid, racist, or radical has resulted in an epidemic of silence from people who care deeply about justice and love for their fellow human beings. I believe most white people would take a stand against racism if only they knew how, or even imagined they had a role.
In the state that is somewhere between fear and indifference lies an opportunity to awaken to the intuitive voice that says, “Something’s not right.” “What’s going on here?” “I wish I could make a difference.” In my experience learning to listen to that voice is slowly but surely rewiring my intuition, breaking down walls that kept me from parts of myself, and expanding my capacity to seek truth no matter how painful they maybe. “Learning about racism has settled inner conflicts and is allowing me to step out of my comfort zone with both strength and vulnerability in all parts of my life. Racism holds all of us captive and ways white people rarely imagine.
As my white husband said to me recently, “It couldn’t have happened to a whiter person.” And if I a middle aged white woman raised in the suburbs, can wake up to my whiteness, any white person can. Waking up has been An Unexpected Journey that’s required me to dig back into childhood memories to recall when, how, and why, I developed such distorted ideas about race racism and the dominant culture in which I soaked.”
It’s a really great book, which talks about issues that we don’t want to admit our society still struggles with. It covers things like the GI Bill, which prohibited Black Military members from having the same opportunities their white military members…
Sometimes it’s hard to see how hard our way that the white narrative is just assumed to be reality. And so there is this amazing women on TikTok, who creates videos exploring what if we flipped it on it’s head and talked about white culture the way we talk about other cultures. It’s a series entitled, “If European Americans were the cultural Other.” Let’s watch two of her videos real quick:
This one is about if we talked about European American Art and History like we did other cultures.
Reply to @chingona.solo More European Art theory from my thesis.
“I was surprised you I wanted to learn more about European art, honestly there isn’t much of it and it’s a pretty niche topic. But I was able to find one more painting although the artist is unknown we do know that this painting depicts a gang of illegal immigrants and human traffickers from Europe. The artist makes expert use of color here from the bright white exotic hairstyles to the pops of white in the otherwise pure dark colored outfits. You can see these men are coming undone and falling deeper and deeper into a life of crime. Historians now believe that this man is the leader of this European gang. He’s believed to have said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” A statement that stumped historians for decades. Many of these men spoke about liberty and freedom for themselves while simultaneously running violent forced labor camps ,engaging heavily in human trafficking and refusing to free the people they had imprisoned on their land. This has led most historians and linguists to believe that words like freedom, liberty, honor, and patriotism, means something different in euro bonics
Reply to @patch_for_nothing I made the necessary corrections!
And a Newscaster Apologizes:
“It was brought to my attention that I made an insensitive remark regarding the upcoming ethnic movie titled Barbie. After quiet reflection and prayer I now understand that Margaret Robinson and SideKnights whiny are somehow two different people. Now I I think that’s still wrong. Actually after listening and learning I now understand that Margot GrowBay is not sydnei swine…I understand that individuality is important to you people. After the insensitive remarks I made yesterday I now know the role of Barbie will actually be played by European American actress Margot robot I think her name is Margot Robbie. To show my unwavering support to the European American community I would like to offer this first look at the new movie Barbie the ethnic doll will be portrayed by European American actress Kristen Stewart.”
So, what do we do with this? Well first we admit there is problem. A problem and sin that is keeping us from the world that G-d calls us to. We educate and humble ourselves. We listen to voices of color and don’t try to discredit their experiences and truth. And we also admit, that this sermon barely covered anything because there is so much work to be done. Work we need to do so that we can “truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every people anyone who fears him and practices righteousness[d] is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.