There was a time when seeing a Toyota Prius was a rare thing…then I bought one and I see them all over the place. The same thing happened when I bought a Dodge Durango…one moment they were a rare species, then, all of sudden, there were TONS of them on the road!
Something similar has been happening to me concerning racism and gender discrimination. As a white Caucasian male living in a middle class world with no sisters, these things were fairly foreign to me….in fact I remember telling people that I thought racism had all be stopped in the USA…and gender discrimination, well, didn’t we stamp that out in the ‘60’s?
Then I got married and bit by bit first I started to see and hear things that didn’t seem right… I started listening to the stories of sister-in-laws, both of whom stuck off to the big-city (LA and Chicago) to find their fortune among industries dominated Caucasian males….while none of these ladies complain or gripe about their work environments, I did start to notice things…small things…a word here…a turned up lip there…a glance to the side…
At first I didn’t know what to do as these things were new to my worldview…it was almost like Pleasantville in which a once black and white world slowly turns to color one item at a time…
Items that I took for granted – or issues which I had avoided because they were too messy had to be dealt with…take church leadership for example. While my parents never put gender restrictions on people, I have to confess that there was a time in high school and college that I thought that it was wrong for a lady to be a pastor. True, my parents helped start a church with a lady senior pastor – but I was in college so I really didn’t have to think through the theology and practical implications. Instead I could ignore the issue and keep on living life as normal.
Then I entered into church leadership and all the gender issues I saw my wife and her sisters deal with came a calling… no longer could I ignore the issue… I had to take a stand, so I dived into the subject and came out on the side of feminism and women pastors.
A similar thing happened when I adopted my bi-racial son. No longer could I stand by and say that racism was gone….no longer could I stand idly by with blinders on my face…. No matter how much it hurts, I have to open my eyes and face the fact that racism is alive and well in the USA – especially towards African-Americans.
The first scale feel from my eyes a few years ago when a new family moved into the neighborhood and refused to let their children play with my son due to this race. Luckily my son was too young to know or understand the slight – and, praise the Lord, the rest of our neighbors and the community as a whole told them off and supported my son (that new family didn’t last long in the area before they left town).
The second scale is in the process of falling off as I watch the events in Ferguson. I know that I am hearing things second and third hand, but regardless there is something terribly wrong when the first response a police officer has is to pull a gun on a black teenager. Did he not have pepper spray or a stun gun? How about a Billy club or hand-to-hand training in how to arrest someone?!
Lord willing, things will be put right in Ferguson… in the meantime I’m left with a sickening feeling in my gut as I can see my son walking down that road in Ferguson just like Michael Brown….
Answers to all this I do not have…all I know is that I’m noticing racism and gender discrimination more and more these days (both within and without the church at large) and it is sickening… May the words of St. Paul in Colossians become true somehow someway:
On a similar note, I recommend everyone following this link and listening to Alex Landau tell his story of being stopped by the cops in Denver to StoryCorps. Needless to say, it is not a good story…but it is worth listening too as Alex is African-American and was adopted by Caucasian couple and had a good view of the police… again as I listened to Alex and his mother, Patsy Hathaway, talk all I could think about was my son…