Tag Archives: politics

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Black Panther, Blackest Movie Ever, Is Ironically Quite Conservative

One of the great ironies surrounding the phenomenon of Marvel’s latest cultural behemoth Black Panther is that a lot of Bible-believing, white evangelicals would really love it, if not for the fact that its name is remarkably similar to the revolutionary socialist political party of the 1970s.

(I’m guessing the Wikipedia Black Panther disambiguation page is getting a pretty good workout right about now.)

I’m serious. If it weren’t called Black Panther, if it was called T’Challa’s Triumph or Game of Thrones: Wakanda or something similar, even more white people would love it than already do.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, this movie is a huge freaking deal for a black people, and our people are seeing it in droves, but African-Americans cannot solely account for its record-setting box office numbers. White people are supporting this movie, if for no other reason than it’s the next hit of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).

Even Marvel Studios boss Kevin Feige, after screening it for the first time, told director Ryan Coogler, “that’s the best movie we’ve ever made.”

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What Traffic Can Teach Christians About Racism

So one of the problems I see in our political discourse, is that we often use the same words but mean different things.

And nowhere is that problem more vexing than in our discussions about race. It’s been a problem for a long time, of course, but ever since the election of Donald Trump, there have been a fresh round of arguments springing up on cable-news pundit panels, message boards and social media feeds. And the typical argument goes something like this:

 

Progressive: [Insert recent news story] is a clear example of racism! That [incident, action, statement or idea] is racist!

Conservative: No, it isn’t! Why do you make everything about race? That had nothing to do with race. [Insert person at the center of story] is not a racist!

Progressive: You don’t know what you’re talking about! Your denial of racism is racist!

Conservative: You don’t know what you’re talking about! Your accusation of racism makes you the real racist!

Rinse and repeat.

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How to Move Forward and Fight Better Political Battles (Starting Right Now)

Last night, I posted the following status update to my Facebook account:

 

Wait, there’s been reports of racial harassment to people of color from Trump supporters? Well, we shouldn’t be surprised.

I mean, when white Republicans send candidates to the White House, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending a candidate with supporters that have lots of problems. They’re bringing crime, and they’re racists, and some of them, I assume, are good people.

 

It was my tongue-in-cheek way of trying to get conservative Republicans who feel defensive about accusations of racism to see how it feels to be targeted rhetorically, and then to remind them that guess what? Your choice for president said this, and much more.

But satire is always a risky proposition when it comes to making a point, and most of the time it ends up serving as a way to signal congratulations from people who already agree with you. Last night’s post was no exception. A bunch of my Facebook friends who knew what I meant, laughed. (One friend said she laughed so hard, she ran out of capital letters. “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAhahahahahahaha,” That cracked me up.)

On the other hand, a few of them responded somberly, aghast at the ideological divide that this election has revealed. They wanted to stick up for people they know who voted for Trump who they feel are good people who agonized over a difficult choice and just made it differently than I did.

I get that.

I still think they’re wrong for choosing Trump, but I get it.

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If You Still Haven’t Heard Hamilton Yet, We Might Not Be Friends Anymore

I wasn’t going to blog about it, but seeing the White House recently host a live performance by the Hamilton cast, I decided this couldn’t wait any further. But I want to be clear about something from the outset. This is not a post to convince you of how great Hamilton is and why you need to see or hear it.

Don’t get me wrong. I certainly want more people to know about it, but if after reading this you decide to listen to the official cast recording, I claim no responsibility for the ensuing addiction that will follow.

On the contrary, this post is simply about what a profound effect Hamilton has had on me, and why. It’s about how Hamilton relates to what’s going on with me in my life (plenty of big changes!) and what’s going in America in general (also, plenty of big changes!). There are lessons to be learned that go way beyond the aesthetic pleasure of enjoying good music and watching a compelling stage performance. Indeed, I suspect that what makes Hamilton resonate so deeply inside me and so many others is its incredible sense of timeliness. It is, to crib a line from the Dark Knight trilogy, not the play that America deserves, but the play America needs, and needs greatly.

But alas, I’m getting ahead of myself.

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Obama’s In, So No More Business As Usual


Well, he did it.

My brother lost the bet that he and I made several months back, wherein he all but swore on a Bible that there was no way that Barack Obama could beat John McCain in a general election.

I believe his quote was,

“A brotha… in these times? Against a war hero? Come on, now.

Honestly, I was convinced Obama would make a good president even before he finished consulting his exploratory committee, and almost two years ago, I said so in this space. (Though if I were to be honest, I’d have to give credit to Eric Zorn for saying so first.)

Two years later, he’s about to become president. As so many have said, his election signaled a momentous mile marker in the history of these United States of America, and for many reasons, most of which I need not enumerate.

However, I am concerned about the dark side of his imminent presidency.

No, not the Republicans-that-think-Obama-is-the-antichrist dark side. I’m not so much worried about his policies per se — though I do have some concerns, and I’ll surely have more as time goes on — as I am about his supporters.

Now here’s the thing… part of the reason why President-elect Obama won is because he was able to collect a broad constituency of supporters. People of color (however you choose to define that term), the educated, urban dwellers, and younger voters all turned out in record numbers for Obama. Black and White, straight and gay, in coastal cities and in so-called flyover states, many, many people chose to support his as their choice for president.

As a result, my generalizations about “Obama supporters” should not to be taken too broadly, as many of them will not fit sizable portions of his constituency, just as generalizations tend to fall flat when applied to any large group of people. There are always exceptions to the rule here.

On the other hand, if the shoe fits… you know the rest.

My biggest question for Obama supporters is this: what now?

If the biggest accomplishment in President-elect Obama’s campaign was successfully engaging people in the political process who had previously been relegated to the sidelines, then I fear the biggest letdown will be most of those people feeling satisfied, complacent, and ultimately returning to business as usual.

This is an understandable response, because right about now the emotional highs should be all but worn off. Even Chicagoans, who probably felt as much pride about Obama winning the presidency as they did about the Bears winning the Super Bowl, still have to confront the fact that they still live in Chicago. Just because their guy is about to take the highest office, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems in the here and now. Neighborhoods need help. Bills need to be paid.

The problem, though, with business as usual, is that it violates the spirit of all the promises that were made in the campaign. All the rhetoric of Obama-going-to-bridge-the-divides-and-usher-in-a-healing-dawn… well, if you were an Obama supporter and you meant it, then it’s time for you to do your part in living up to the promise. You can’t be all high-minded and idealist during a campaign, and then, now that your guy has been crowned, go back to doing things the way they’ve always been done.

What am I talking about? I’m talking about several things.

First, I’m talking about policy.

Those of you dyed-in-the-wool blue-state Dems should not expect the entire framework of policy advocacy coming from the executive branch to simply march to the left, because that’s not what Barack Obama promised. On several issues (none of which I will name because I don’t want to get too bogged down in minutia) he has been known to embrace certain tenets of conservative ideology — personal responsibility, for example.

Midway through Obama’s campaign, his policy wonks made several concessions here and there in order to maintain a broad constituency and ward off attacks of being the most liberal Senator in recent history. And even though it angered his vocal Democrat base … it worked. Obama was elected. So if he doesn’t back some of that talk up with pragmatic solutions rather than standard liberal dogma, the moderate, independant core of voters that sided with him will turn against him. And he and his staff are smart enough to know that. So those of you who expect the incoming Obama administration to be an avalanche of leftist initiatives, don’t hold your breath.

I’m not just talking about policy, though. I’m also talking about personal conduct, especially as it relates to the political process. Now I realize that some issues are hot-button issues, and no amount of high-minded speeches about unity will appease the rabid constituents on either side of the debate. (Gay marriage and Proposition 8, for example.)

But I hope that we can take some cues from our leaders and stop treating every issue like it’s “us against them.” The truth is, unless you’re talking about sports, most of the time it’s hard to figure out who represents “us” and who represents “them,” because people are different and different people respond to issues in different ways.

And since there is a clear Democratic majority in at least two of the three branches of our federal government, and since we can therefore expect some amount of public opinion and policy to gradually shift leftward, I hope Democrats will remember what it was like to be on the outside looking in, and be gracious enough to respect the opinions of those in the minority. After all, our president-elect made his case to America largely on his initial opposition to the war in Iraq, an unpopular stance at the time. There will surely be other urgent issues where many of our credentialed, experienced, qualified leaders will disagree. If Democrats simply resort to using their numbers to shout down the opposition, they’ll quickly relinquish the moral high ground that they worked so hard to gain. Because nothing screams “business as usual” like doing very the thing you’ve been accusing your opponents of doing.

Finally, it’s my sincere hope that admidst the throngs of inspired, dedicated Obama supporters, there will remain a remnant of folks who will continue to engage their government on state and city levels now that the hype has worn off.

Here in Portland where I reside, it’s a badge of honor for progressive types to complain about how terrible the Bush years have been for our country, which is one of the reasons why sarcastic, leftist bumper stickers sell so well here. Well guess what, folks? Our guy is going to become president now! How about we turn some of that energy into doing something better instead of simply complaining about it?

I was amused by so much celebrity support of Obama during the general election, because I knew supporting Obama was the hot, fashionable thing to do. But if more actors, NBA players, singers and artists of all flavors put a little less attention into being sexy and more attention into living lives of substance, then maybe our country would be better off. I would call some of them out by name like I did over the Tookie Williams thing, but there are just too many to mention, so I won’t.

Besides, celebrities can help bring attention and visibility to certain issues, but when it comes to doing the real work of healing America, the lion’s share of that burden falls on regular people, people like you, Whoever You Are. Policies can help, sure, but regulations can’t and won’t take the place of being respectful and choosing to engage in the areas where we have opportunity.

And when opportunity meets preparation, then boom … we’re in business.

Let’s just make sure it’s not business as usual.

I’m Jelani Greenidge, and thanks for Mixin’ It Up with me.

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Apparently Change Takes Longer in Rural Universities, Even Christian Ones


Just when you think that White people have finally come to terms with an African-American candidate — dare I still say, front-runner — for the presidency, you see stuff like this.

Hot off the Oregonlive newsfeed: Obama likeness found hanging at George Fox University.

Considering that I know many George Fox alums (I’m related to one, good friends with another) and a few GF students (also related to one)… and, considering I came **this close** to landing a job there as campus liaison for the students in the Act Six program, I can honestly say that this story disturbed me pretty deeply. (Especially the tidbit that the effigy of Obama was labeled with the words ‘Act Six reject.’)

I will admit, however, that although it took awhile for the sting of losing out on that position to heal (as I am very passionate about reconciliation in academic and faith communities), from the outside looking in, I’m quite thankful not to be either Robin Baker or Joel Perez, who now have the unenviable task of sorting through this mess and leading the campus toward a greater sense of community and responsibility.

I’ve just now I’ve become aware of the departure of Burel Ford, the former multicultural director, which apparently happened just a few weeks ago. There’s probably no direct correlation between what happened today and his departure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the current working environment that precipitated this prank is part of what made it desirable for him to leave.

And, if that were the case, I wouldn’t entirely blame him for that choice.

It seems like only yesterday that I was removing posters with provocative imagery from the sign in front of my church.

Ah, the good old days, when racial tension only flared up in the city.

Lord, help us.

(No, that’s not just an expression. Seriously, Lord… help us.)

EDIT (9/30):

Four GFox students have since confessed. I might be wrong, but according to everything I’ve read, there goes the left-wingers-did-it-for-attention theory.

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Help, My Church Has Been “Vandalized”…


… by shadowy organization of neo-reconciliatory Christians.

That’s just the term that I’ve given to the four guys pictured on the poster that was seen mysteriously taped to the sign of my church (and to the wall of one of our buildings).

On the one hand, I agree with the overall sentiment of the poster. As Christians, we believe that our identity in Christ is the ultimate common denominator, and that by first being reconciled to God, we can minister grace and be reconciled to each other, and then extend that grace out to a world in desperate need of it.

On the other hand… the iconography of the sign is deliberately provocative, which is great if you’re the type of organization that is seeking out controversy, but most churches are not in that category because, sadly, controversy usually does not put butts in seats. (As a matter of fact, it usually removes them.)

Which is why my fear with those signs, the reason why I removed them, is that I wouldn’t want anyone to be confused. If all you see are the “stars and bars” design and you don’t read the words, it looks like white supremacist propaganda. And I don’t trust many churchgoers to be discerning enough to give it a thorough enough look to understand the meaning. I do, however, trust many of them to go flying off the handle and start complaining, loudly, to anyone within the vicinity. And that, our church does not need more of.

So they came down.

Still, I’m so intrigued…

Who did post this? Are there any more at other churches in our neighborhood? Are these four guys pictured even involved, or were they just victims of a rogue Photoshop session? And what was this poster supposed to accomplish? Was it just to stir up some thought and discussion among those of us who think there is no race issue in the church or in America? And considering everything that’s gone on with this presidential campaign, is there anyone left who still thinks this is not an issue?

As Arsenio used to say, these are things that make you go ‘hmm.’

(or, if you prefer, C+C Music Factory also said it.)

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More Links to Keep Making You Think (About the Campaign)


So much goodness, so little time. I tried to let go of this campaign stuff, but I can’t help it. There’s just so much worth reading and discussing. So in no particular order, I give you:

  • Gina Dalfonzo, one of my new favorite bloggers, holds it down at The Point. (And I’m not just saying that because I made her daily roundup.) Of her manifold posts, my current favorite is the one where, in one deft sentence, she refutes a hot mess of vaguely xenophobic misanthropy coming out of the LA Times. Apparently off-the-wall names are not exactly indicators of cultural degeneration… especially when other U.S. presidents have done it (not just VP nominees like Sarah Palin).
  • If you really like to read, and you’re not intimidated by academic publications, you ought to check out this thorough examination of why people tend to vote Republican, by Jonathan Haidt. In a nutshell, this UVa prof of psychology was able to, by spending time as an anthropologist in India, shed his liberal biases and come to a clearer understanding of the underlying girders of middle-American morality. In an offhand sort of way, this is like that old SNL bit when Eddie Murphy puts on white makeup to see what it would be like living as a White person in NYC … only without the dancing ladies serving drinks on the bus.
  • Joe Klein at Time magazine has put together a compelling portrait of the myth of Sarah Palin’s America. And while it examines many of Palin’s strengths, it points out the places where her ideology doesn’t exactly match up with reality. For example, small towns are still full of salt-of-the-earth type folks, but they are no longer our nation’s economic backbone. And the truth is, even in small towns, things are changing rapidly. (Case in point: I traveled a few days ago to Royal City, Wa. (population: 1950) to do an educational presentation for Making It Count at the local high school. What surprised me was that my audience of about 150 kids was mostly brown, and not white like I expected.)

  • Over at Scot McKnight’s Jesus Creed blog, there has been plenty of lively discussion about both candidates and politics in general. In this thread, Scot lays out his summation of what he would consider an Obama presidency to look like. (A few days prior, he did the same for McCain.) If you want honest, passionate dialogue by and for Christians that doesn’t descend into the usual name-calling flamefest, you should check it out.

  • Also, I don’t know if this was intended to be a joke or not, but apparently John McCain’s Senate oversight was directly responsible for bringing us the BlackBerry.

  • Ryan Quinn at The Root shows his Wasillan pride by explaining all the reasons why people in his hometown are proud of Sarah Palin — and why she would make a terrible VP.

  • Over at Ed Gilbreath’s Reconciliation Blog, there’s some lively discussion surrounding the fallout of the infamous Obama waffles at the Values Voters Summit in Washington (including a healthy number of comments from yours truly). One thing I wonder… if waffle mix seller Bob DeMoss is related to Nancy Leigh DeMoss of “Revive Our Hearts,” and Nancy subscribes to the idea promoted by some of her contemporaries in the Christian life/marriage scene that men are like waffles and women are like spaghetti, does that mean that Obama should be a considered a man’s man now? Or does it mean that Chicagoans, leftists, and Obama supporters should eschew waffles for French toast as an act of solidarity? (And if they do… would they have the stomach to call it “freedom toast“?)

  • By the way, FRC Action, the people behind the Values Voters Summit, has apologized for allowing the waffle mix to be sold. Whether that’s an act of contrition or damage control is probably in the eye of the beholder, but either way, I’m glad.
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Links to make ya think: Obvious Edition

A glimpse at today’s headlines reveals a correlation between individuals who move up the chain of command and their inability to grasp the obvious.

Consider the latest sex scandal to sully a politician, where an avalanche of amorous text messages are threatening to be the downfall of Kwame Kilpatrick, the mayor of Detroit.

The obvious part is a money quote from Michigan’s Governor Jennifer Granholm, who asserted that she doesn’t know if Kilpatrick can survive the controversy intact.

Let me make it easy for you, Governor: NO. HE CANNOT.

According to multiple published reports, he perjured himself in the process of denying an affair with his chief of staff Christine Beatty, all while trying in vain to prevent a probe into his firing the deputy chief of police for trying to uncover the affair and other misdeeds.

Umm… no.

He’s not skating away from that.

If Senator Obama is still being raked over the coals for Tony Rezko and Dr. Jeremiah Wright… ain’t NO WAY brotha K is getting away with all that. I know Gov. Granholm was just trying to be diplomatic about her young Democrat ally, but still. With all the respect that I would have for a young, up-and-coming African-American mayor in a downtrodden city, it pains me to say this but… stick a fork in him, ’cause he’s done.

(For the record, I was going to end that with just “stick a fork in him” but I didn’t want anyone to think I was trying to get all Michael Richards on my man.)

Almost as sad is reading accounts of Hillary Clinton’s spokesperson Howard Wolfson attempt damage control surrounding the now-refuted account of the former first lady’s landing during a trip to Bosnia.

Their assertion? She may have misspoke.

I know I’m treading in dangerous territory here, considering I’ve known to exaggerate a story or three for dramatic effect. And I’d be violating all kinds of journalistic guidelines if I didn’t also point out that Senator Obama has been taken to task from time to time for stretching the facts to fit the contour of his rhetorical narrative (media whack jobs notwithstanding).

But still… she misspoke? Really? Are you sure she didn’t just ‘misremember’? No politician would ever publicly admit to lying in the middle of a hotly contested race, but you have to hand it to the Clinton camp — they’ve certainly got cojones.

Sinbad had the funniest line yet, recently commenting on the supposed danger:

“What kind of president would say, ‘Hey, man, I can’t go ’cause I might get shot so I’m going to send my wife…oh, and take a guitar player and a comedian with you.'”


I’m not going to say Senator Clinton has a big head, but if you look real closely at the Bosnia video, I think the little girl greeting her is really Lucy trying to snatch away the football.

In other news, the New York Knicks are finally ( and “–Allegedly!!–” as Rome would say) getting around to replacing Isiah Thomas. But amazingly enough, the fact that Isiah needs to go is not the most staggeringly obvious part. Rather, it’s that the fans have known this since the beginning of the season.

Which has somehow eluded the brilliant minds at Madison Square Garden, because they’re emailing fans, asking for their input on the state of the team.

Hearing thousands chant “Fire Isiah” day after day didn’t make it clear enough?



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Links to Make You Think: Ignorant Edition

I usually don’t like to pile on like this, but sometimes abject ignorance can be hilarious. And as always, I’ve tried to give equal access to the truly ignorant among us.

First, the mild:

Korean pop star promises to sell nude photos anywhere but Japan. I know, it’s pretty tame on the Ignor-A-Meter, but it just makes me laugh. Like they’re not already on the internet, where anyone — Japanese or not — can get to them.

Way to take the moral high ground on your nude photos, lass. Stay classy, San Diego.

Now the just-plain-sad:

Bush unaware of rising gas prices.

“Really… ” he says, with a hint of condescension. “I hadn’t heard that.”

Again, we all know that Dubya is not exactly the sharpest tool in the shed, but still… at least act like you know.

But finally… the coup de grace

DMX has no idea who Barack Obama is.

Seriously. Almost as ridiculous as the idea of him doing a gospel album (which he mentions in the beginning), is when the person doing the interview of the once-popular rapper DMX for XXL magazine mentions Senator Obama and the upcoming presidential race, and he has no idea what they’re talking about:

Are you following the presidential race?
Not at all.

You’re not? You know there’s a Black guy running, Barack Obama and then there’s Hillary Clinton.
His name is Barack?!

Barack Obama, yeah.

Barack?!

Barack.
What the f*** is a Barack?! Barack Obama. Where he from, Africa?

Yeah, his dad is from Kenya.
Barack Obama?

Yeah.
What the f***?! That ain’t no f***in’ name, yo. That ain’t that nigga’s name. You can’t be serious. Barack Obama. Get the f*** outta here.

You’re telling me you haven’t heard about him before.
I ain’t really paying much attention.

As the man himself once said,

“Y’all gon’ make me LOSE MY MIND… up in here, up in here!”

Apparently, we’re too late.