Sunday, March 16, 2008

Race Relationships and Tolerance

Being a blogger has taught me a lot about what is, and what isn't genuine tolerance. I have found that people who come here and differ with me regarding true Christian faith often resort to hateful comments. They tend to disparage me; calling me intolerant, bigoted, and a racist. You name it - I've probably been called it.

What I have often noticed, however, is how those who disagree with any given topic often tend to change the subject at hand. For instance. In this thread the discussion turned from the original topic - namely, Obama's lies and the questionable relationships he currently has (e.g. with people who spew rabidly anti-American, and racism-against-whites-and-Jews rhetoric) - towards an unrelated topic like the Iraq war.

By now, most know about the hateful rhetoric recorded by Obama's own pastor. This is a "Reverend" whom he has known for 20 years and has been Barack's "spiritual advisor." "Reverend" Wright went so far as to bestow the Nation of Islam former leader, Louis Farrakhan, a lifetime achievement award!

What's more, don't we have the right to question Obama's judgment based on discovery about those with whom he has associated with, and taken campaign money from, (like Rezko and William Ayers)?

We have all heard the spewing of his wife, Michele, and how she was only "proud of America for the first time in her adult life" just because her husband is (apparently) having a successful run towards the Democratic nomination for president.

My questions. Are we allowed to ask these questions about Obama? Or, will we be accused of being "racist" just for asking them?

I have a few comments, here at my blog, awaiting moderation. One person even stated, "I bet you $20.00 that you won't publish this." So far, he/she is correct. I haven't published it. So, do I get to collect my $20.00? Or, will he/she claim that I took his/her comment "out of context" and that he meant that if I don't publish it, then he gets the $20.00? Hmmmm....

Besides being told that my "brand of Christianity" is "insane"; "Anonymous" also told me, "I doubt you can fathom what it's like to be a minority in the USA. Everything isn't squeaky clean and perfect for everyone."

Perhaps "Anonymous" is correct about that first issue. Perhaps I really can't "fathom what it's like to be a minority in the USA." However, I do realize that "everything isn't squeaky clean and perfect for everyone."

Question. If I am not familiar with that first comment...does this make me a racist?

Second question. If I am very familiar with the second half of that comment, do I get any points for that?

Another unpublished commenter had things like this to say:

1. Why do you support this "losing" Iraq war?
2. If you like the war so much, why don't you go over there and fight in it?
3. I (she) believes you (me) do have a lack of experience.
4. I (she) speaks four different yes, I (she) is more "worldly" because of this.
5. I (she) is able to look outside myself (herself) and admit when I (she)am (is) wrong.
6. It's hard to understand why a woman of your (my) stature would defend a loss. (Question. Have we already lost in Iraq? News to me!)

But the icing on the cake was this. I asked her whether or not she knew about the Holocaust and why the U.S. entered that war. Her response:

"What does the Holocaust have to do with the Iraq War?"

Ends her comment with:

"Why are you defending this war?"

I have purposely decided to hold off on answering her questions. One reason is the fact that I already gave her many links to read and it doesn't appear that she has read them. Second, is the fact that she veered off of the original topic of discussion (Obama's lies and sinister ties to people of very questionable character) and went on a tangent about the Iraq war.

This post isn't going to be about all of that. I have decided that based on "Anonymous" and his/her claim that "I can't fathom what it's like to be a minority in the USA" - then, perhaps, I need to share some of my own personal experiences regarding race relationships.

I would need to start with my teenage years, when I lived back in New Jersey. I grew up in an era where racial problems and segregation seemed to be the norm. I lived in an area where our school was all white, and the school in the next town - across the railroad tracks that separated us - was predominantly black. Each school had a football team and we were say the least! During my sophomore and junior years in high school, my brother was a football superstar. He also ran track and broke most of the running records at our school. He mostly did the 100 yd. dash ( I think his timing was 10.1 - which was considered good back then) and the 220 yd. dash. At one track meet, our best 440 yard dash runner was either injured or ill. My brother ran it for the first time at that meet and broke another school record. Obviously, he was a "white boy who could run fast."

During his senior year (when several college coaches were after him to sign a letter of intent to attend their university and play football), the game against our cross-town rivals was at the other team's home field. Our team arrived at the field and it was all muddy. It hadn't rained the night before, so it must have been done on purpose. The reason? To slow my brother down so that our rivals might have a better chance to win the game. It was a sloppy say the least. Our team won anyway. The games were always a bit rougher between our two towns. The stands were quite rowdy, too. There always seemed to be high tension in the air at those games. My parents would not allow me to attend the games "over there" for the fear that racial violence might happen. I hated that! But I listened to my parents.

Skip forward to my young adult years. I played 3 years of varsity basketball for my college team. Whenever we would play against Queens, New York, our little team of "white women" didn't stand a chance. There were big, fast, and really tall African-American women (the one I was supposed to guard was 6' 2" - I'm only 5' 8") on that team! I mean, how could I ever block out someone that size? Rebounds off the basket were not about to land in my hands, either! We knew that we didn't stand a chance to ever win. However, we played our little hearts out and did the best we could under the enormous (pun intended!) size and skill differences.

My junior year, we had a transferred student and basketball player from a N.Y. college who was an excellent point guard. She was a master at feeding the ball to the forwards, and/or taking a shot of her own at the top of the key. That year, she would often feed the ball to me as I stood far outside the key, near the baseline. The person guarding me, at first, would not come out to attempt to block my shot because that type of shot was considered more difficult to make. It was only after I had scored eight points doing this, that my opponent came out to guard me. Then, our point guard teammate would make her move and I'd pass off to her for an easy lay-up. [Note: Back then, my "outside shot" was only worth 2 points. Today, it's worth 3 points! Darn!]

That particular year, we also recruited a young black player out of high school who was one of the best players who could successfully rebound the ball off of the rim (fair shooter, too). She could jump so high that I knew that she would be competitive against the Queens College women. We also had a 6' 1" center that year. Long story short, we came within points of defeating Queens the first time we played them that year. At our second meeting, we defeated them by just a few points! We went on to compete in the Regional Tournament. It was the first time that the women's basketball team ever qualified for the tournament in the history of our school.

Why am I telling you all of this. I do have a point and I will get to it soon.

One day, Elaine (the only black player on our team) wasn't "getting" the play that our coach was drilling us on. The same thing kept happening during the game. At one point, I got so frustrated with her that I yelled something that - to this day - I still remember and still regret ever saying. I yelled, "you've got it a**-backwards, stupid!" The moment that verbal spewing left my mouth, I regretted it. I just said it in the heat of anger and frustration. I did apologize to Elaine, and she accepted my apology. In fact, she often joked about it as the season went on.

In a way, Elaine chose to exhibit, in abundance, tolerance towards me. She knew that I had said something that, of course, she didn't agree with; however, she allowed me the forgiveness, grace and mercy to accept my apology. We didn't let it divide our friendship or our team camaraderie. She could have chosen to hold a grudge. She could have blamed it on perceived "racial intolerance" towards her. But she didn't.

I realized that Elaine needed more explanation and practice of certain plays before she could perform them automatically. That was just her. We all have different skills and abilities. It didn't mean that she was "stupid."

I was never skilled at dribbling a ball down the court. In fact, when circumstances required me to rebound and take a few dribbles, our point guard would look at me in horror! It's so funny to recall this! Anyway, our skills and our flaws were apparent. Acknowledging them, concealing them, and/or working them out towards our team's advantage (and not towards the advantage of our opponents) was the goal. Did it have anything to do with our skin color? No.

Fast forward again to my mid-twenties. I was a Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Occasionally, I would travel into the Puerto Rican neighborhoods located a few miles from my home town. I had a customer there. One day, there was a parked car with several Puerto Rican men leaning against it smoking cigarettes. When they saw me exit from my vehicle - a blonde, white, young woman dressed in a suit - they started to walk towards me. Alba, my client, came out of her townhouse and yelled something in Spanish at them. Then she said, in English, "she's alright."

I have to admit that I was scared, at first. Apparently, I had "invaded their territory." But the fact that Alba said that "I was alright" made a difference to these young men. I remember asking Alba, "what was that all about?" She said something like, "Oh...don't mind them. They were just trying to act tough."

After my appointment with Alba, I got into my car and drove past the men. I smiled and waved at them. With straight faces, they nodded towards me. Did they accept me? Probably not. Did they tolerate me? Yes. In that moment.

There are so many more stories regarding race relationships that I could share. I do realize this. Where a person grows up can have an immense effect upon them regarding racial issues. The prejudice between some of the races during the time I was growing up and in the place where I lived ran deep. I will admit that.

The generation in which my parents grew up was even worse. White women feared black men. But things were changing - for the better - or so I thought. Perhaps that "Anonymous" commenter is right. I have no idea what it is like to grow up as a minority. How could I? However, I can share my own personal experiences.

Fast forward to 1990 - 2008. I could share so many positive stories about race relations here in CA that they would probably bore you to tears, so I will just mention a few.

We have been members of two churches that have black pastors. I have held, and attended, Bible studies with black and white women. I have also attended Bible studies with people of different religions coming to learn about Jesus and Christianity.

My son's best friends on his high school baseball team were black, bi-racial, and Hispanic. My daughter's best friend was bi-racial. Another friend was of Iranian descent.

Should my own personal experiences be labeled "squeaky-clean" as the "Anonymous" commenter claimed?

Am I to be labeled as inept of reality because my life wasn't filled with animosity, pressure, hatred, and/or contempt towards other races?

Am I to be considered naive, or ignorant, or uninformed, or sheltered, or any number of other adjectives because most of my experiences were positive concerning race relations?

Am I in a kind of "big bubble" of protection because I haven't been in a raging war against another person because of their race?

Oh. I forgot one thing. Back in middle school, a Puerto Rican girl and her friends (some were white, btw) once ganged up on me on "Mischief Night" (typically named as the night before Halloween) and smeared my long blond hair with peanut butter and Ben-gay ointment. They did this just because "they didn't like me."

I was also inappropriately touched by an Hispanic boy during a party held in the cafeteria of our high school. There was a huge pinata' that was smashed open and everyone dove onto the floor to get the candy. I felt a hand go up my crotch and I screamed, but the noise was already deafening so no one heard me cry or protest. I got up, stared at the pervert and told him how lucky he is that I'm not going to report him. He just laughed and said, "prove it" as he turned and walked away.

Of course, these are very minor incidences of harassment.

I didn't grow up hating people because of their race; despite the fact that others around me did. That is the truth and I must be honest about it.

When I became a born-again Christian and attended a church that had both black and white folks attending; it really warmed my heart! Our pastor happened to be black and his wife, white. He would often preach that this is what heaven will be like - a diverse mixture of people!

Was I, again, in some sort of cocoon - away from the true reality - of what race relations in this nation are all about?

Was it just because of the area in which I live?

Was this some kind of unfortunate thing for me because I wasn't in the midst of the areas where race relations were terrible?

Is this my fault?

Do I need to repent of my ignorance in such matters?

Look. I have eyes and can see what goes on throughout our nation. I know about the history of racial tensions of the 60's and 70's. I know about Rodney King. I know about the L.A. police dept. and the terrible rift between them and the black community. I know that many jails are filled with minority men. I lived through the O.J. verdict.

But I must ask. Because I wasn't caught up in the midst (physically, that is) of all of those terrible race-related animosities, displays of hatred, obviously blatant unfairness, terrible tragedies, examples of villainy, rape, murder, etc. etc. etc. - does this make me guilty of something? What's more, does this make me ineligible to talk about them?

This post might do more harm that good. I don't know. But with the tension going on now over the Obama campaign vs. Hillary and the eventual contest between one of them and John McCain, I am concerned that there will be an explosion of racial tension in this country the magnitude of which we have never seen.

If Obama doesn't get the nomination - for whatever reason - I fear for racial tension and the harm it could do regarding relationships in our country.

If Obama gets the nomination - but doesn't win the presidency - I fear for racial tension and the harm it could do regarding relationships in our country.

When I sat down at this computer this morning, my goal was to talk about a new book I am reading called, "The Truth About Tolerance." I plan to do a series of posts about it. However, as anyone can see, my post turned out to be an brief essay on some of my experiences regarding race relations. I hope that readers will allow me to take this discussion and lead it towards a discussion regarding the true definition of tolerance and the truth about tolerance.

I wonder if people reading here will tolerate what I have written today? I think that the answer to that question will depend upon which definition of "tolerance" one chooses to use.

In "The Truth About Tolerance" authors Brad Stetson and Joseph G. Conti state:

We all want to be tolerant. No one wants to be intolerant. But does that mean we have to accept all truth claims as true? Does this virtue rule out having any strongly held moral convictions?

For a sneak peak at my upcoming posts on this book, read this blog post.

The current mess that we are witnessing between the campaigns of Hillary and Obama is the result of the fact that the concept of tolerance is so abused, misued and misunderstood today. This will become quite clear to all readers when I start a series of posts on the topic. It is my hope that readers will allow me to take this subject and lead it towards a discussion regarding the true definition of tolerance and the truth about tolerance.

For now, I will close with a quote from R. Douglas Geivett, Professor of Philosophy, Biola University:

"We aren't as tolerant as we think we are - and genuine tolerance will emerge only when we no longer tolerate our many forms of pseudo-tolerance. Stetson and Conti demonstrate the need for a new culture of tolerance, where virtue governs our disagreements about the things that matter most. They've produced an astute commentary on contemporary culture, a rousing admonition to witness to truth with humility and respect, and an inspiring set of principles to guide the way."

HT: Theologica Blogspot


Susan Smith said...

My beautiful “little” sister on the West coast—

Your blog is a light to the world with the only WORD that matters. His Name is JESUS!

Let not your heart be troubled... (JOH 14:1).

I love you and pray for you and your loved ones. (ss)

Marysia Miller said...

Good post-very thoughtful.
The primary reason I actually loathe Barak Obama is his lies.
a. Rezko..many, many times-many versions of 'revelations'
b. Reverand Wright
c. $723,000 paid to super delegates from his PAC ( Citizens for Democratic Policy.Org, Washington Post)
d. claiming authorship of 62 bills introduced to the Illinois Legislature that were written and sponsored by Emil Jones and his associates(, Barak Obama & Me, Todd Spivac Feb 28, 2008)
e. plagiarism of Patrik Deval-collusion with Patrik Deval to plagiarize
f. racism
g. refusing to release his legislative documents that included earmarks for tenure in Illinois Legislature. 1) I never kept them..2) They were kept by the Illinois Legislature 3) My successor threw them away(New York Times, Wall Street Journal)
h. refusal to release whole tax returns from 2000-2006 not just front pages and accusing others(New York Times)
i. lying about details for house purchase (17 different articles 2005 through present, Chicago Tribune)
j. saying Rezko never asked me for favors 1. letter from Obama to Illinois Legislature recommending Rezko's company for the redevelopment of ruined Chicago project housing. The letter led to Rezko getting the job and netting a $1,000,000 profit. The job was never finished and Rezko's company went bankrupt. (Chicago Tribune)
k. Obama saying he respects all minority 'folks' with in his top tier of campaign advisors (Wall Street Journal)

This list goes on and on. Why it bothers me so much is his rhetoric insists he is the new standard bearer for honest politics, transparent politics and change in Washington. Out with the old and in with the new...honest and transparent.
He is the polar opposite of his rhetoric and when you ask him any question or make a statement of fact, his campaign responds with either an attack or the racism charge.
I am not a racist or opponent. I am a person who, by the tone of this false man has begun to see him for the 'liar' he is. How could anyone do that to our children who are so malleable?

Amillennialist said...

Reasons to be concerned about Obama: He's left of Hillary and tied to Islam.

Christinewjc said...

Thanks for your sweet words of encouragement Susan! Sometimes, it is hard not to "let our hearts be troubled." However, I know Who holds the future and that nothing or no one can "snatch me out of His hands."

Thanks for the reminder and thanks so much for the prayers!

Love & belief,

Christinewjc said...

Hi Marysia,

Good points all around.

The thing about Obama is that he is a type of salesman that puts on a mask of "hope," "change," "unity," - blah blah blah. Yet, in reality, months later we are learning that he is a liar and associates with anti-American, racist, anti-semitic and criminal people.

I am just so saddened by all of this!! The young people who have put so much of their trust in this liar will be heartbroken, angry, turned cynical and may not want to trust another politician ever again. Who could blame them? I grieve for these people who are so caught up the Obamascam. When they find out the truth, it is going to be devastating...

Christinewjc said...

Thanks Amillennialist. I, (as well as fellow blogging friends) have written about our concerns over Obama's ties to Islam. Thanks for the link to your blog post.

This rabid pastor scandal needed to be exposed so that the truth about Obama would be seen by all. I am so glad that the news media could not hide it any longer.