Defining Racism

My post the other day was a littleā€¦ provocative. I was pleasantly surprised, the comments (on the post and in social media) were largely thoughtful. I agree with many: racism is more spectrum than category; flowcharts privilege the binary and the binary is bullshit; my focus on black-white race relations is also a binary; race relations is a problematic term anyway; and plus, it’s rude and polarizing to call someone racist.

This last one I agree with less. In the circles I run in–this is at least partly generational–“racist” isn’t an pejorative term. It doesn’t connote the KKK as much as the flaws we all have: “hey, that’s racist, please check yourself.” So I apologize to those who took “racist” as an insult. It’s not. It is bad to be racist, but it’s also honest to be racist. Again: only once you admit the problem can you begin solving it. So let’s roll back a couple steps and define “racist.” I’m going to use a story about white/black, because that’s my own experience. Continue reading

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Ferguson, the Rivers of Babylon, and Racism

In my congregation, there is mixed feeling about what happened in Ferguson. In my heart, there is not. I, as a young white adult who has lived in predominantly black communities, am absolutely convinced this has everything to do with racial inequality. I value the dissenting voices in my congregation, but since I have this space I want to explain how white voices (especially skeptical ones) can makes sense of the outcry following yesterday’s announcement.

Yesterday, the Grand Jury in Ferguson announced their decision not to indict the police offer who killed teenager Michael Brown in August. Two days ago, I finished a sermon series on the Psalms. But today I have one more Psalm, for Michael Brown. Continue reading