Tag Archives: racism

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Why I Started an Internet Radio Station (and How it Could Shape a Better America)

I promise you, this title isn’t just clickbait. I really did start an internet radio station, and I really believe it can help make things better in these (barely) United States of America. But to explain how and why, I need to start at the beginning.

 


 

First, for about as long as I could remember listening to music, I wanted to have a career in radio. I have vivid memories of being a kid and huddling up at night with a blanket and a handheld transistor radio, listening to the radio at night. It wasn’t just the music itself — although the music was definitely a huge part of it — but it was also hearing the voices of the DJs as they called out the songs and spoke to callers and whatnot. It was like I felt like by listening in, I was included in their informal gathering, getting invited into a party that I could attend anytime I was feeling lonely or like an outcast. Listening to the radio became an important coping mechanism, and when you’re nine years old and you’ve just moved to a new city, you need as many healthy ways to cope as possible.

As I grew older and moved through middle school and then high school, I continued to appreciate the way that local radio stations helped to define the shared language and culture of my generation. The songs, the stories, the slang, it was all tied to what radio station you listened to. And because I grew up in a city with a smaller black population, the radio helped me learn how to code switch. When I was with my white friends from school, it was all Z100. With my black friends, it was 1480 KBMS. The music and culture gave me a shared experience with which I could, through the awkward fits and starts of adolescence, find ways to fit in.

For a time, this worked really well. But I ran into problems when it came to expressing my faith.

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If Police Kill Me, Don’t Let Them Change the Narrative

Okay, y’all. I wanted to avoid writing about this, because I’m tired of writing about black people killed by police. Seriously you all, I AM TIRED OF THIS. This is not my idea of a good time. I have a birthday coming up, and I’d rather be playing video games than dissecting the hypothetical scenarios of my improbable demise at the hands of police, which, judging by the headlines, seem a bit more likely by the day.

What I’m saying is, the story of Botham Shem Jean’s killing by Amber Guyger in Dallas has me shook.

Like Jean, I’m known in my community as a Christian, and specifically as a worship leader. Like Jean, I am somewhat larger and physically imposing (although not in great shape like he was). Like Jean, I live in what is a fairly exclusive apartment complex, made possible because of work I do in and among a suburban locale, where even though there is a modicum of diversity, most of the seats of power are filled by white people. Also like Dallas, the police department of my home city is also helmed by a black woman, which might give off a more progressive impression than what the truth should warrant.

Anyway, the shooting — as tragic as it is — is not the thing that completely burns me up.

And that fact — all by itself — is all kinds of f***ed up, because all by itself, that morally reprehensible and societally-aberrant act of unnecessary lethal state-sanctioned violence should make me furious. I should be marching in the streets right now. I should be dropping f-bombs in my sermon, stopping traffic on the highway, interrupting dinners of whoever is complicit in this nonsense in order to get through to people that THIS KIND OF THING IS NOT OKAY AND IT KEEPS HAPPENING.

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Today’s Racial Microaggression Courtesy of WinCo [UPDATED]

In case any of you doubt the existence of racial micro-aggressions:

I was shopping at WinCo today, and when I went to pay for the $150 or so worth of food on the checkout counter, the young lady at the counter told me that “I’m sorry, it came up declined.”

I was taken aback by this, but I didn’t want to get defensive until I checked my bank account on my phone, so I did so.

“Huh. I’m pretty sure there’s plenty of money on that card,” I said, as I pulled up my app and waited for it to load.

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Get Out: Why Evangelicals Should See It

Get Out is a taut horror thriller from Jordan Peele, famous as half of Comedy Central’s sketch comedy duo Key & Peele. In Get Out, Peele makes his debut behind the camera, directing fresh-faced Daniel Kaluuya (Black Mirror, Sicario) and Allison Williams (The Mindy Project) with his original script. But rather than comparing it to horror classics, I found it instructive to compare Get Out to another story with a relationship at its center – 2015’s film adaption of the hit musical The Last Five Years, starring Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan. They’re both masterful in the way they use characters to hone a sense of perspective.  And Lord knows, when it comes to racial issues, evangelicals could use a healthy dose of the black perspective.

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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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Engaging the Halo Prophecy

They say that those who don’t know their history are bound to repeat it.

And there’s a less well-known but corollary idea, that people who create realistic fictional content end up pulling their ideas from recent events.

But every once in a while, both ideas converge: a piece of speculative fiction, drawn from elements of real-life, ends up over time looking like a retroactive prediction of real-life events.

Remember how Back to the Future II predicted this year’s Cubs World Series win? I recently stumbled onto a similar phenomenon, with even bigger consequences.

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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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Donald Trump’s Win Is A Blessing of Pain

“We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

 

For a variety of reasons, I voted for Hillary Clinton for president.

 

Like many, many others, I did not get what I wanted.

 

But I did get something valuable.

 

I received the gift of pain.

 

As gifts go, pain is not usually high on anyone’s most-wanted list. It’s the reason why, when people want to exclaim strongly about how much they dislike something, they usually offer up a painful alternative that they would rather choose. I’d rather light myself on fire. I’d rather snuggle with razor blades and bathe in lemon juice. I’d rather have a root canal.

Actually, that last one seems rather apt, because the potential for pain from a root canal stems from the exposure of nerves in our teeth. We hurt because we are getting unfiltered, unadulterated, no-holds-barred pain signals from our bodies’ specialized pain sensors. When you need a root canal, your teeth hurt to remind you that hey, something is REALLY WRONG. 

That’s right. Pain is a messenger.

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Going Rogue Threatens God’s Mission for Justice

Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is out in theaters, and it dutifully fills all the boxes in the spy thriller checklist. Lifelike masks? Death-defying stunts? Car chases? Gunplay and physical combat? Glamorous locales? Check, check, checkity-pop-zoom-bam-BOOM.

One thing that stuck with me was the title; an interesting development, because action movie titles are often pretty irrelevant. They’re designed to sound intriguing-and-dangerous-but-vague, and too often come across instead as techno-gibberish. (Does anyone remember what “Ghost Protocol” referred to in the fourth M:I installment? Don’t look it up on Wikipedia, that’s cheating.)

On the contrary, a whole nation going rogue? That’s much easier to understand. The phrase picked up steam in the broader consciousness after Sarah Palin entitled her 2009 political memoir Going Rogue, reclaiming a definition of a rogue not simply as “someone who lacks judgment or principle,” but “someone who deviates from the expected norm of behavior.”

(Say what you want about Sarah Palin, but she’s amazing at deviating from expected norms.)

In Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, the rogues in question take the form of a nefarious collective of foreign agents called The Syndicate, all united in the pursuit of a terrorist agenda.

So with the Impossible Missions Force (IMF) shut down by Congress, super spy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) must rely on his friends, comic relief Simon Pegg as Benji, the steely-eyed Jeremy Renner as chief analyst Brant, Ving Rhames’ muscly perma-smirk as the homie Luther, and Rebecca Ferguson as mysterious femme fatale Ilsa Faust – all working together to defeat The Syndicate, and to a lesser extent, justify the IMF’s existence.mission impossible cast profiles

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A Modest Proposal to Protect the Confederate Flag

To Whom It May Concern,*

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the Confederate flag, a symbol of southern pride and heritage for generations, is under attack.

Because of one isolated incident with a mentally ill young man who just happened to be seen with the flag several days before gunning down nine African-Americans at a random church, suddenly everyone wants to pile on and act like the flag is some sort of magic talisman of hate that can instantly turn our children into racist, homicidal maniacs, rather than the piece of historical lore that it is.

As a result, there is a lot of talk, not only of removing the flag from the South Carolina capitol building, but of banning it altogether.

This, to me, is unacceptable. Rather than seeking to ban the Confederate flag, we need to be doing more to protect it.