Tag Archives for " Racism "

following christ bearing fruit

Following Christ: Bearing Fruit

My pastor and his wife have been in Ireland for the past couple of Sundays and so, while I'm not usually the one delivering the message, I have been the last two weeks and will be again this coming Sunday. I love to preach and am so grateful to be in a church that welcomes different voices in the pulpit. But this week . . . With the incidents in the US this week, I felt overwhelmed by the prospect of proclaiming the Gospel in the midst of this national crisis.
Yet, I am glad to be fully aware of my inadequacy, to be reminded that Christ's strength is made perfect in my weakness. Thus, leaning into that promise, I approached the task of proclamation, beginning with the morning prayer (below). I preached from Colossians 1:1-14. You can find the audio of the message here, or you may download it using the link below.

imageLoving God, Holy Lord: you are our strength and our shield. You are the God of Mercy, the God of Peace.

We ask Lord that in this place and at this moment, Oh God, let your Kingdom come; let your will be done. So that right now on earth, we will experience blessed peace, divine mercy, and Kingdom justice.

Lord we ask that you will remind us from whom our help comes. Remind us that you are the source of all provision.

And forgive us.

  • Forgive us when we fail to recognize our own sins, so attentive are we to the sins of others.
  • Forgive us for failing to hide ourselves in you, so intent are we to step out with false pride in our own humanness.
  • Forgive us for relying only on ourselves: idolizing our own strengths and cursing our weaknesses.
  • Forgive us when we slip into these godless behaviors and forget that only you are holy.

We ask, Lord God, that you would guide us through the temptations of our lives.

  • The temptation of our chosen addictions: substances, attitudes, or actions.
  • The temptation to over-simplify complex issues.
  • The temptation to offer quick fixes and consider ourselves blameless.

Deliver us Lord, from our selfishness, from our knee-jerk reactions, from our mindless pursuits.

Remind us once again that we are called, through your infinite love and unyielding grace:

  • We are called to be your people.
  • We are called to be one people—one unified Body of Christ
  • We are called to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you.
  • We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.
  • We are called to love you with our whole hearts.

Bring us into this moment unfettered by our own egos.

  • Still the voices in our heads that cry out for attention.
  • Voices that say, “Make sure you do this, and don’t forget that.”
  • Voices that say, “What’s in this for me?” or “This is a waste of my time.”
  • Voices that say, “I’m not worthy,” or “I don’t belong.”

Instead,

Make us instruments of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let us sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console,
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
It is in dying to self that we are born to eternal life.*

Lord, in your Mercy, Hear our Prayer.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Below, find the audio of Following Christ: Bearing Fruit, delivered at First Baptist Church of Weaverville, NC, July 10, 2016.

*Prayer of St. Francis

Race in America: What is Race?

Please welcome back guest blogger, Trellace Lawrimore. In this piece, she reflects on a little something her mom taught her (and a few folks at Georgetown) about Race in America.

On April 9, 2015, Georgetown’s “Ignite the Dream: Race and Socioeconomic Class in America” series presented a panel conversation on privilege and oppression, “What is Race? What is Class?” The panel, moderated by Georgetown professor Marcia Chatelain, featured Vox.com journalist Jenée Desmond-Harris (biracial), the once undocumented immigrant and former VP at Goldman Sachs Julissa Arce (Mexican American), Senior Counsel of the Office of Civil Rights at the Department of Education Saba Bireda (black), and Georgetown Law student Ryan Wilson (black). Panelists reflected on the ways race and class have shaped their personal and professional lives, and how they have chosen to fight injustice. The ICC auditorium audience, about 1/3 white, challenged the speakers with questions on the media’s portrayal of black America and how to stay hopeful in the face of ever-present injustice.

When I was a child, my mom taught me the secret to spotting 21st century racists.

She had learned this herself working at a community college in an office in which she was the only white professional; her colleagues in the office were black. When white faculty or administrators had issues with black students in my mom’s department, they consulted her, rather than her black coworker across the desk.

“Aileen,” the speaker would start out in audible tones. “I’m having trouble with a student. She’s,” pausing to look around for listening ears and dropping her voice to a whisper, “blehck.” The single syllable adjective would be drawn out such that it sounded more like an expression of disgust than a descriptor.

At this point, mom would interrupt to say, “You can say the word aloud. It won’t come as a surprise to my student that she is a person of color.”

Blehck. Try sounding it out for yourself. Then start to notice how often people are uncomfortable using “black” or “white.” Sure, this habit may be easier to spot south of the Virginia border, but it’s not uncommon elsewhere. Of course, many college-educated liberals like to think that they understand the complexities of the race problem in America. But we’re often hesitant to talk about the daily realities of racial injustice with simple and accurate descriptors like “black” and “white.”

At the “What is Race? What is Class?” panel on April 9, 2015, journalist Jenée Desmond-Harris responded to the first question about race by reflecting on her experience with the anxieties surrounding race conversations. She said that although she grew up in a progressive community, she also “grew up thinking that mentioning race was a bad thing, that it was taboo. I found that one of my biggest challenges is that I still bump up against it with readers. Every time I write something I find myself anticipating the comments I’ll get, even if the piece isn’t polarizing.”* Her peers on the panel echoed this sentiment.

Without invoking the term, Desmond-Harris intimated the pervasiveness of “white fragility” in our country. Robin DiAngelo describes “white fragility” as the anxiety white people experience when approached with the reality of racial injustice. White fragility sustains itself through white privilege, as white people can opt when to engage with social ills and when to pretend like they don’t exist. In contrast, people of color don’t get to elect when to acknowledge injustice—they live it everyday. Oppressive institutions are perpetuated by this disconnect between the amount of race dialogue white people tolerate and the amount necessary to change the system.

Julissa Arce, former undocumented immigrant and VP at Goldman Sachs, affirmed the importance of white people overcoming this fragility and taking prominent roles in social justice efforts. She remarked that the audiences in these conversations are often people of color—the people who are already well acquainted with the struggles of non-white status in America. “We’re never going to get anywhere just complaining to ourselves,” she said. In response to a student’s question, “What gives you hope?”, Arce said that it was the number of white students in the audience.

Now, I’m not one to pet the egos of privileged white students (I being one of them, of course.) for their social justice efforts, but I agree with Arce. America’s minorities are not going to be able to overhaul oppressive institutions without help from the majority. So white leaders need to habituate themselves in the mechanisms of racial prejudice. That challenge begins with disregarding political correctness, manifested in our widespread sense that “mentioning race [is] a bad thing.” And the white population isn’t going to make any progress until it addresses how white fragility colors their language. White Americans must shake off their fear of the word “black” before the country can move in a more just direction. We need to get comfortable with the realities of the black—not “blehck” or African American—experience in America.

*This quote is not verbatim as I do not have a recording of the event. I did my best to maintain the integrity of her comments.

Me and my daughtersTrellace Lawrimore is a junior at Georgetown University in the School of Foreign Service, majoring in International Political Economy. She has an extraordinary mother. (Pictured here on the left with mom and younger sister.)

 

 

 

 

You might also enjoy these pieces on Race in America:

Race in America Series: Getting Stopped by Cops

diversityhands

Race in America Series: A Quest for Hope

race-in-America

And Justice for All

have-mercy (1)

Race in America: Personal Responsibility

on-teaching-responsibility“What in this is my responsibility?”

I ask myself this question whenever I am faced with difficulty or conflict. The answer I give points to where my control lies.

Here lately, I’ve been asking myself the question, “What part of eliminating racism is my responsibility?” As a result of this self-evaluation, I am developing the following habits.

  1. I actively pursue friendships with people outside my ethnic group. I do this in a number of ways, including
    1. Purposefully sitting with people of color at meetings, in classes, or in workshops.
    2. Seeking out and attending events attended by people of color.
  2. I actively work to project confidence in African American people in the workplace. Some ways I attempt to accomplish this are
    1. If I am in a place of business and have a question for an authority, and I am faced with two employees of different ethnicities, I always direct my question to the person of color.
    2. I address all people, regardless of race, with terms considered to be respectful. I’m from the south, so I say, “Yes Ma’am and Yes Sir,” to people in authority, regardless of position, race, or age. To the cashier at CVS who asks me if this is all I need today, I respond, “Yes, Sir.” To the doctor in the ER who asks if I have been seen yet, I say, “No Ma’am.”
  3. I consciously refrain from prejudging people. I know very well that a well-dressed elderly white man can be every bit as threatening or as innocent as a teenager dressed like a juvenile delinquent. I am equally respectful and equally suspicious of both.

Those are just a few of the things I do in my life to help make a difference in the race problem in America. Here’s what I don’t do. I don’t list things African American people can or should do differently to reduce racial tension. As a white woman married to a white man and the mother of three white children, I really can’t participate in this method of eliminating racism. I just can’t.

So I do what I can do, what I should do, the things that fall within my scope of responsibility. What about you? What do you do to help eliminate racism?

 

 

Race in America: Bridging the Divide

TKaydonLaytonRichardsonUKWhen people talk about police shootings, it’s hard to find neutral ground. Folk seem either to be biased in favor of the officer or of the alleged criminal.

But I believe that if we are to find real solutions to racial tension in America, we must find ways to bridge the distance between opposing views.  It seems to me that one way to do that is to identify a point where we all agree. Let’s take the Ferguson situation. There are a number of facts in this case that few would dispute. Here are a few of them.

  1. Looting private businesses is destructive. It is also illegal.
  2. If people are permitted to act in destructive and illegal ways, no one benefits.
  3. Desperate people tend to do desperate things.
  4. American law enforcement officers have a right to defend themselves and to protect citizens.
  5. People who are in the process of breaking laws can be violent and aggressive.
  6. People who are in the process of enforcing laws can make mistakes.

Agree? Okay. Now, while we are all on common ground, let me make one more statement that I don’t believe anyone will contest.

babymichaelbrownEighteen years ago, when Michael Brown was a newborn baby, no one wanted his life to end like it did.

Right?

So let’s just start there. What can we do to see that all the baby Michael Browns grow up to become the men we all want them to be? Well that depends on who you are. But let’s say you are a person of a different race not directly connected to the baby. Here are a few things that might make a difference.

  1. See baby Michael as an individual, not as a demographic. Remember this throughout his life.
  2. Help baby Michael grow into healthy young man Michael. Do that by fighting for the right of every child to have access to basic health care. Promote good health habits. Challenge your local elementary school to offer healthful meals and fight for the right of children to have physical education throughout elementary and middle school.
  3. Support public education so that baby Michael can grow up and go to school. Every minute Michael stays in school increases the likelihood that he will make his parents’ dreams for him come true.
  4. Get to know Michael. Volunteer at his school. Be his coach, his music teacher, his scout leader. Michael benefits from knowing you. Plus, you are benefitted too: your world becomes bigger, you understand people better, and you become less biased against those who are different from you.
  5. Be okay with Michael wearing clothes that are not your preference. Consider that Michael may disagree with your fashion style too.
  6. Are you still seeing Michael as a person, not as an age, race, and gender?
  7. Stop thinking like a racist. Realize you have biases. Work on seeing each person as an individual, not as a member of a particular group. Try this technique: notice people--the cashier, the waiter, the housekeeper. Is the receptionist right handed or left? What rings does your hairdresser have? What color eyes does the police officer have?baby-boy-k
  8. Stop making racist remarks. Wince when you hear the n-word. Take issue with racial profiling. Remember Michael! You wouldn’t want people saying these things about that sweet baby boy, would you?

What else? How can you be a part of the solution?

Race in America: Input from Law Enforcement

So far, I know my posts about Race in America have been one-sided. In truth, I know many more African American people than I do police officers. Indeed, even most of the police officers I know are African American. Because I want so much to be a part of discussions that lead to solutions, I'd like very much to hear from police officers and other law enforcement professionals. Would you share this with those you know who fit that description? I'll be compiling the information an presenting my findings in an upcoming blog post.

Thanks so much for your help!

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

praying hands caucasian, African American

Racism in the US: Getting Stopped by Cops

diversityhands“So Nathaniel*, I’ve got a question for you.”

“What’s that,” he said, adjusting his Jansport® backpack. Nathaniel, a first semester community college student, had a solid A in my class due to his impeccable study habits and his professional approach to college. That day, he looked no different than he had every other time I’d seen him—like a stereotypical Ivy League co-ed: short hair, styled fashionably; wire-rimmed glasses; starched button-down shirt; dark blue jeans with a leather belt; and dressy shoes--Sperry’s® I think.

The question I had for Nathaniel arose from a conversation I’d had with an acquaintance the previous day. That month in our community, a 19 year old African American man was shot and killed by a police officer. The young man was allegedly breaking and entering, and officers believed he was carrying a gun. (When he was shot, he was in fact unarmed, though he had been carrying a weapon earlier. You can read the full story here.) This shooting death hit close to home: AJ Marion had graduated with my oldest daughter. He’d been a promising football star and by all accounts, just a really nice guy. Undoubtedly, he’d made some poor choices along the way; most assumed though, that he’d right himself sooner rather than later.

Anyway, I’d seen a mom I knew from my kids’ elementary school days. Her son was about the same age as my kids; I asked if he’d been friends with AJ. She explained that indeed her family and AJ’s were connected through church and family ties and that they were all shocked and devastated.

We talked for a while about the prevalence of police shootings of African American men and then she said, “Oh yeah, I tell my son that if I ever catch him out without his id, I’ll take him into the police station myself.”

Huh? “Um, say what now?”

She repeated herself, but it didn’t help. I had no idea what she meant.

“You don’t make sure your son has his id when he goes out?” she asked me.

“Well, I mean, I tell him not to drive without his license if that’s what you mean.”

“No. What I mean is a police officer can detain anyone and ask for identification. If you don’t have your id, they can take you in for questioning.”

“No way.”

“Absolutely. So I just randomly ask my son for his id just to make sure he always has it with him,” she laughed a little cuz-I’m-the-mama-that’s-why laugh.

“Oh my gosh. I had no idea,” I said, as realization dawned. “I guess I didn’t have to know though. My son is white.”

She nodded. “Mothers of African American boys live in fear of our sons being wrongly accused or worse.”

Heartbreaking. Unbelievable. And in 21st century USA.

I thought of my student Nathaniel. Could this be his reality as well?

“It’s a nosy question, Nathaniel, so feel free to tell me to get out of your business.”

“Sure Ms. Aileen, what’s up?” (Despite the fact that I invite my students to call me by my first name, Nathaniel never did, opting for a title he deemed more respectful.)

“Have you been stopped by police and asked for your id?”

He laughed, “Today?”

“Seriously?”

“Ms. Aileen, I’m stopped several times a week, sometimes every day. I get stopped walking from my car or downtown. I’ve even been stopped walking away from this campus. If I have a ball cap or hoodie on, I know I’ll be stopped.” He patted the pocket of his designer jeans. “Got my id right here.”

“This is outrageous!” I said, “How do you not stay furious every single day?”

“Oh, I used to,” Nathaniel said, shaking his head. “But it really doesn’t help to get angry about it. I just figure I’ll keep working on myself, keep going to college, keep moving up, ya know?”

Actually, I didn’t know. I could not imagine how hard it would be to keep a positive attitude while facing such blatant discrimination. “You’re a fine man Nathaniel. I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. I had no idea.”

“Thanks. It’s all good. Gotta go to class. See ya Thursday.”

My son, a 6’3”, 18 year old who regularly wears hoodies and ball caps, has never been stopped by the police. Never.

Nathaniel, a 5’8” twenty something who looks for all the world like a future lawyer, doctor, or banker gets stopped weekly, at least.

It’s not all good. Not even close.

*Nathaniel's name has been changed to protect his identity. I asked my daughter to give me a man's name that sounded like a doctor's name. This is what she chose.

Still think racism doesn't really exist? Take a look at this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ti5ZFmglzV4
Want to know how big the problem is? Then watch this video: http://youtu.be/tkpUyB2xgTM

Guest Blogger: Sacred Connections

Please welcome guest blogger Rev. Dr. Jim McCoy of First Baptist Church of Weaverville. In this month's letter to the congregation, Dr. McCoy reflects on recent events, both national and local. I was challenged by his words and asked if I could share them with you here. Be blessed.candles

Dear Loved Ones,

Two high profile funeral services were held this past weekend.  On Sunday, a congregation gathered at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary in Rochester,New Hampshire for the funeral service of James Foley, the photojournalist who was murdered by radical extremists from a group called ISIS. On Monday at the Friendly Temple Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis, another congregation gathered for the funeral of Michael Brown, the teenager shot and killed by a police officer under disturbing circumstances that are still under investigation.

Given the fury of the events themselves plus the bright glare of a 24 / 7 media, the funeral services provided not only some much-needed context but also profound insights into what these agonizing events mean.  The Bishop who preached at James Foley’s funeral reminded his parents of the blessings they received at their eldest son’s baptism, and how the priest at that time had prayed that they would “see hope of eternal life shine on this child.”  Then the Bishop told Diane and John Foley, “Rarely do we recall those words, but I bring them to mind for you, as they are more poignant and prophetic.”  Imagine that – the remembered vows and promises of baptism provide the mooring when, years later, the floods of chaos threaten to overwhelm.

A cousin of Michael Brown said that Michael had told the family that one day the world would know his name.  “He did not know he was offering up a divine prophecy,” the cousin stated.  “He did not know how his name would be remembered.  But we are here today remembering the name of Michael Brown.”

The funerals of these two men also offered direction and challenge on how to move forward.  Foley’s photojournalism calls us “to see the world through a different lens” and to “hear the cries [of those suffering in war-torn regions] that are a world away.” Michael Brown’s death in the week before he was to begin college brings to a head a host of long-simmering realities of racial inequities.  “We will not accept 3/5 justice,” the family attorney said.  “We will demand equal justice.”

There was another momentous event this weekend, one that for me was even more intensely personal.  I sat by the bedside of Geneva Cheek and sang hymns shortly before she departed this earthly life.  The death of this dear sister in Christ, the blessing of her presence in this church family, and the unshakeable hope that all our lives are woven into the larger story of the Gospel, are a part of the brightest light of all that shines in the darkness.  As we prepare for her funeral, Tom Long’s unforgettable words come to mind:  A saint has died, and is traveling to God, continuing the baptismal journey toward the hope of the resurrection of the body and God’s promise to make all things new.  We have been given the blessed burden of carrying a child of God to the waiting arms of God, singing as we go.

Thanks be to God!

 

 

Dr. Jim McCoy, pictured here with wife Jane, Minister of Music at FBCW.

Dr. Jim McCoy, pictured here with wife Jane, Minister of Music at FBCW.

Dr. McCoy has been pastor at First Baptist of Weaverville, NC for the past 17 years. Dr. McCoy is active in Christians for a United Community and the Ekklesia Project

race in america

Race in America Series: A Quest for Hope

I’m deeply troubled by the great racial divide in our country. This is not a black thing or a white thing. This is a people thing and we really have to do better.

If I were to trace the problem of race in America, I would go back through Jim Crow laws and legalized discrimination. I would go back before Ruby Bridges and Dred Scott. I’d go back to the end of the Civil War when slaves were set free, homeless and penniless, to live in a world that refused to hire them and rushed to oppress them.

But I would not stop there.

I’d go back to 19th century Charleston, SC where shackled men, women, and children shuffle across the auction block as white landowners place a price on humanity. I’d hear the clanging of chains, the crack of bull whips slashing across tattered flesh, the cries of beloved torn from beloved.

But I’d keep going.

I’d go all the way to the coasts of Africa where 18th century opportunists snatched up human beings and stacked them like cheap cargo on ships bound for American shores. I’d want to look away, knowing as I do that so many of them will die on that trip, their bodies discarded with the galley garbage.

Instead though, I’ll look in the face of this imbecilic, barbarian behavior and say, “Here it is! Right here. This sin will fall from father to son, mother to daughter, through generations. This treating people—people created by God Almighty—as objects in your sick game of immediate self-satisfaction is the very essence of evil.”

Think about it. That wrong, that undeniable injustice, has created a culture of oppression and corresponding mistrust that has characterized race relations in America for millennia.

So what do we do about it?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But I believe we absolutely must do something. In my next few blog posts, I’ll be reflecting upon this issue. Will you join me? I’d love to hear your thoughts as we muddle through the mess we’ve made to find solutions for a more just world.

mercy and grace

And Justice for All

July 16, 2013

It really, no kidding, could have been my son.

My 17 year old boy, broader than many and taller than most, must seem imposing, threatening even. I know this because a few weeks ago, when my son was in a place he had every right to be, doing something he’d been asked to do by a responsible adult, he raised the hackles of a concerned neighbor (I’ll call that person Watchdog). It was dark, and Watchdog caught sight of my boy and panicked. Rather than going home and calling 911 though, Watchdog approached and confronted my son, warning him to leave the property. Luckily, my husband happened to be with our son that night; he addressed Watchdog, reassuring that all was well. 

The next day, Watchdog (who is actually a nice person who seems to have only the best intentions at heart) expressed to the homeowner—the one who had hired my boy in the first place—concern about the events of the previous night. After implying ownership of a firearm, Watchdog then said something like, “This could have turned out very differently, perhaps even tragically.”

It didn’t though. My son wasn’t shot. Watchdog didn’t have a weapon on him at the time, so there’s that. Plus my son is Caucasian, the same ethnicity as Watchdog. And we’ll never know what could have happened that night if circumstances had been different. I can’t help but wonder though.

Consider the findings reported in this video. It’s a clip from the television program What Would You Do with John Quinones. This show creates public scenarios involving moral or ethical issues; hidden video cameras record the reactions of observers. In this clip, two different actors hired by the show attempt to steal a bicycle in a public park. Both men—one Caucasian, one African American—are similarly attired, appearing much like my son would have looked the night Watchdog challenged him.

Here’s what you’ll see when you watch the video. The white male is occasionally questioned, but most people walk by and say nothing. The black male, though? He’s on the verge of being attacked. Witnesses become downright aggressive. People are snapping pictures, taking video, snatching his tools.  Are you kidding me? It’s unbelievable. Or it would be, if it were not so frighteningly common.

justiceRacism. It’s pervasive and it's deadly. See, no matter what you think about the recent verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, two things will not be changed: 17 year old student Trayvon Martin will still be dead, and Zimmerman will still be free. What can be changed though, is the mindset that led to this tragedy in the first place. Let’s put ourselves on trial. Let’s ask ourselves convicting questions.

  • Do I have racist opinions or beliefs?
  • Do I assign personality traits to groups without regard to individuality?
  • How often do I interact with people who are different from me?
  • Am I suspicious of people because of the clothes they wear, the color of their skin, the length of their hair, the amount of ink or piercings decorating their bodies? 

And if we find ourselves guilty on any counts of racism, let’s sentence ourselves to life with a new attitude—an attitude of mercy, love, and grace. Now that’s justice.

. . . and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?  Micah 6:8 NRSV

 

Knowing Even More: The Paula Deen Controversy Continues

After reading a couple of essays and completing further research, I'd like to add to my comments about Paula Deen.  I tend to be an optimist and one of my (many) mantras is, “Maybe there is something I don't know.” I applied this to Deen’s comments and opted for grace over criticism. I still default to grace, but editorials written independently by Michael Twitty and Daryl K. Washington have caused me to consider the whole thing in more depth.

Michael W. TwittyIn his "Open Letter to Paula Deen." Culinary Historian Michael W. Twitty “speak[s] to [Paula Deen] as a fellow Southerner, a cousin if you will, not as a combatant.” Also a Southern chef of considerable acclaim, Twitty is more frustrated by systemic racism than by Deen’s infamous remarks. He describes at length the incessant bias written into culinary history. It’s fascinating; it’s also unsettling and provocative, making me wonder how many of our language patterns are rooted in racism. For that reason alone, you should read it. But it’s this comment Twitty makes to Paula Deen that redirected my thoughts:

Some have said you are not a racist.  Sorry, I don't believe that…I am more of the Avenue Q type—everybody’s—you guessed it—a little bit racist.  This is nothing to be proud of no more than we are proud of our other sins and foibles.  It’s something we should work against.

Now understand, part of my very identity, right up there with being Baptist, is my intolerance of ethnic prejudice. So I chafe at the idea that we are all racist, even me. But Twitty gave me pause for thought, and I have to agree that I have definite biases—not in regard to ethnicity, but still . . . . Twitty says, I “should work against” the intolerances I hold, not defend them. I think he’s right. Paula Deen should do the same.

Daryl K. WashingtonDallas attorney Daryl K. Washington expressed his concerns in an editorial on blacklegalissues.com. In his opening, Washington says this: “For one, many people have been making this incident about the ‘N’ word only, but it's much more than that.” He doesn't defend her use of this slur (and please note neither do I), but he simply states that there is more at issue here than bigoted expressions. The case brought against Deen is less about speech and more about practice. Read Washington’s summary to understand more about the accusations. (Oh, and while it really should not matter, the plaintiff--accuser--is a white woman from Georgia, just like Paula Deen.)

Washington explains what caused him to review the Deen case in depth: “When I learned about the major companies dropping Paula Deen without being demanded to do so, I knew it was deep.” See that’s something I had not considered. (Here again, there was something I didn't know. So often that's the case.) Washington studied the court documents and found appalling claims. In my opinion, if she’s guilty of even half of them, she should not be allowed to run a business without strict accountability. These allegations—made by a woman who, demographically, could be mistaken for Deen—are absolutely abhorrent. Read more about them here.

Aileen MItchell LawrimoreSo here’s what I think:

  1. When we are in relationship with people, we say things that may sound offensive to outsiders.
  2. No one should ever say the N-word. It’s vulgar. (An issue, by the way, that Twitty and Washington view differently. Twitty says you can use racist slurs within your race, Washington, not so much.)
  3. Name-calling is mean.
  4. When you employ people, you are bound by anti-discrimination laws. When you break those laws, you pay the consequences.
  5. Paula Deen should make restitution for her wrongs.
  6. My parents, white folk raised in South Georgia, are in their seventies and they don’t use the n-word. Just sayin’.
  7. It’s easier to point at the mistakes of others than to examine my own. I'd rather make blanket statements about the sins of others. It’s much less convicting. It’s also wrong.
  8. Worship Paula Deen if you want. I'll stick with Jesus.

 Resources used:

Michael Twitty, “An Open Letter to Paula Deen,” http://afroculinaria.com/2013/06/25/an-open-letter-to-paula-deen/

Daryl K. Washington, “The Paula Deen Incident; You should know all that’s being alleged before defending her,” http://www.blacklegalissues.com/Article_Details.aspx?artclid=7dfdbe0461.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Federal Laws Prohibiting Job Discrimination Questions and Answers,” http://www.eeoc.gov/facts/qanda.html

Additional resources:

Sadiq Green, “Paula Deen case is not solely about how she used the N-word,” http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/353435

Fran Jeffries and Wayne Washington, “Paula Deen Scandal Continues As Employees Tell Rainbow/PUSH Coalition Of Alleged Discrimination,” http://tinyurl.com/nx6lw3b.

 

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