Tag Archives: racism

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If You Love American Music, You Have Andraé Crouch to Thank

(Editor’s Note: Yes, the title is a bit clickbaitey, but hang with me. I’ll back it up.)

 

Yesterday, Andraé Crouch slipped into eternity, present in full with the Lord, in perfect peace.

I’ve been half suspecting, half dreading that this day would come for a while now, and yet now that it has, I still feel completely unprepared — probably because it’s hard for me to imagine a musical landscape where Andraé Crouch was not still creating such soul-stirring, inventive, revolutionary music.

Part of the reason why it’s always profoundly bothered me when I hear someone make the blanket declaration that “Christian music sucks” is that it never tracked with my reality.

Because how could it? Sure, my parents played Earth Wind & Fire like any self-respecting Black people did, but my childhood musical diet consisted mostly of Christian music, from luminaries like The Winans, Walter, Edwin & Tramaine Hawkins, The Imperials, and then much later, Commissioned (then eventually as a teen and college student, Fred Hammond). But towering above them all was Andraé Crouch, a man who I would later come to realize was a musician’s musician — that is, the kind of musician that other great musicians consulted, collaborated with, and gathered around.

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Dear White People, I’mma Need You to See This Movie

DWP1One of the great ironies of Justin Simien’s masterful directorial debut, Dear White People, which released in theaters nationwide this last weekend, is that although it’s aimed at white people, it’s not about white people.

And just now as I was writing, I was tempted to use another, less weaponized-sounding verb, but truly, “aimed” is the right choice, because Dear White People is relentless in its depiction of white people as alternately clueless, ambivalent or calculatingly sinister regarding the racial issues on display at fictional ivy-league school Winchester University. And I mean that as a compliment.

In ways both obvious and subtle, it makes Big Important Pronouncements about race, and then uses those pronouncements both as occasional comedic sketch premises, but also as plot devices to flesh out the emotional development of its main characters, all of whom are either black or biracial. The combination of the two, the thematic heavy-handedness modulated by a playful tone of nimble vignettes with varying emotional intensity… it’s quite a balancing act to pull off, akin to performing surgery with a shotgun.

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For My Birthday, Help Me Make Facebook A Little Less Racist

Okay, that sounds bad. It sounds like I’m saying that Facebook is a racist place, which is bad because Facebook is filled with all manner of people, many of whom are not racist, and plus… it’s not even a place.

Although that makes me think of this R-rated Chappelle’s Show sketch imagining if the internet were a real place.

 

I’m sorry, where was I?

 

Oh, right.

 

Perhaps I should start over.

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Let’s Not Martyr White People For Speaking Honestly About Race

So it just hit the news today that businessman Bruce Levenson has voluntarily agreed to sell his ownership stake in the Atlanta Hawks in response to an internal NBA investigation over a racially insensitive email he sent to Hawks staffers in 2012 — which he voluntarily disclosed to the league office himself in July.

Now, I’ve seen and pondered a lot of different theories about this strange story. Some people think that he was being blackmailed by someone who had the email and decided to get in front of it. Some people think he saw how much money Steve Ballmer paid for the LA Clippers and voluntarily blew the whistle on himself in order to facilitate a huge payday.

Regardless of why, it’s clear that Levenson, after having stated emphatically on the record during the Sterling mess that the league needs to have a zero-tolerance policy about racial discrimination, needed to go to avoid being labeled as a hypocrite. He said so himself in his notice to league commissioner Adam Silver.

But there’s something I’m worried about, buried under the avalanche of Sterling comparisons.

I don’t believe his email was racist.

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When Passive Aggression Turns Deadly

Okay, so let me be up front about something.

Many of my pieces originate with me ranting about something that annoys me, and this is no exception. It’s hard to write this without coming off as self-serving, because on a basic level, this is about me being annoyed with people who are passive-aggressive.

I’ve often heard it said that the things we hate the most are the things we dislike about ourselves, and for me, this is true! In general, I hate passive-aggressive behavior, and I hate it even more now because I find myself surrounded by it enough that it’s starting to affect me.

Which is really janky, because black people… we don’t usually do passive-aggressive. It’s not what we’re known for. But Portland is a very passive-aggressive place, and living here, it’s like I can’t even help it.

True story…

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The Truth Bucket Challenge (Sponsored by Ferguson, Mo.)

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The sad irony is that, by virtue of the many friends and allies I have who are white and who understand the racial injustice involved in the whole Ferguson saga, that this article will probably be shared a lot — but probably not by the people who need to read it most.
But I’m writing anyway, in part because I’ve received valuable confirmation, in the form of several friends and allies confiding that my articles on the subject have helped them to initiate conversations with friends and family members who don’t get what all the controversy is about. To these folks — and you know who you are — I say wholeheartedly: thank you. I write with the same conviction that many tent-revival evangelists had back in the day: if it makes a difference, even for just one, then it’ll be worth it.

 

In the response to the many articles about the travesty that unfolded in Ferguson, I’ve seen certain trends in the comment sections. Particularly in the ones written by and toward evangelicals, like this excellent guest-blog series facilitated by Ed Stetzer on Christianity Today, the sentiments of (presumably white) dissenters usually include one or several of three common responses aimed at African-Americans or other people of color (paraphrased, but only slightly):

  • Regarding the “militarized” police response: with all the rioting and looting, what did they expect would happen?
  • Regarding protest: why don’t they protest the black-on-black violence in Chicago every weekend?
  • Regarding the shooting itself: We shouldn’t pass judgment if we don’t know all the facts.

These ideas are as ubiquitous as they are problematic. And they all stem from three problems that, by and large, are preventing more black and white people from establishing common ground in the wake of this tragedy.

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Whaddya Mean, About Race?

This is a response I see a lot… all the time, in fact.

I saw it in response to the Ferguson shooting, but honestly I’ve been seeing it for years… decades, perhaps. It’s  a common response from white people who don’t understand why everything is always about race with you people.

So I thought I’d write about it.

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Ferguson Is Closer Than You Think

 

It may be miles and miles away from where you live, but Ferguson, Mo. is closer than you think.

This national embarrassment, this ridiculous cluster-you-know-what, is terrible, virtually indefensible on so many levels. But the seeds of this atrocity were planted a long time ago. What’s worse, they’ve been planted all over our nation.

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Why #ImSoPortland Matters

(Editor’s Note: This post began as an addendum to something I wrote in April about life in Portland as a black person. For more context, or if you’re not intimidated by a 3,000-word post, check it out.)

 


 

 

My social media feed has been blown up with old school nostalgia.

I’m seeing a ton of mostly black Portlanders throwin’ up the #ImSoPortland hashtag and reliving a lot of memories from back in the day. I’m not sure what started it, but a basic search for “#imso” on Twitter showed me hits for Memphis, New Orleans and Chicago, so I know it’s not just a local thing. I’m not sure why now as opposed to any other day, maybe it’s just radio and news stations getting people engaging with a harmless meme on a slow news day. Or, … maybe, like the big bang theory, it just sort of… happened.

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Yes, There’s Diversity in Racism Too

Modern day America has a problem with racism.

But the problem is not that Americans are not against it. On the contrary, you’ll have a hard time finding anyone who won’t come out against racism, or at least who won’t vigorously deny being racist.

The problem is that we don’t understand racism enough to get past the outdated caricatures of what it is and how it works. Guess what, people? There’s a lot of diversity in racism.