Racism


This morning I settled into my couch with a cup of PG Tips, thankful to have the day off in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and conscious of those who are not granted this time.

Meanwhile, social media sites were blowing up with response tweets to a well-known pastor who degraded the faith of the President, Facebook posts from friends proud that the President is being sworn in on such an anniversary, and this video:

This clip really has me thinking. MLK’s legacy should be honored and his prophetic voice should be remembered and heard again as if it were new to us today. What he stood for – nonviolence, equal rights, beloved community, care for the poor – should be what we strive for year-round, not just romanticize one day of the year.

MLK’s message was the message of the Kingdom — maybe not perfectly or wholly — but it was based in the person of Jesus and expressed through the voice of the African-American community. The Kingdom glimmered through him and all who participated in the Civil Rights Movement.

So yes, I resonate with Dr. West in that having President Obama be sworn in on MLK’s Bible is questionable and upsetting. But I am more concerned that I haven’t thought twice that all presidents are always sworn in on a Bible. While I do not by any means doubt the faith of the President, I wonder if we are trivializing the call of the Word on our lives.

While President Obama’s action today may have misrepresented MLK’s legacy, let us not play with Jesus, and let us not play with his Kingdom. Let us not use the Bible as a moment in a presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge that the Word presents to all of those who are in power, no matter what color.

It speaks for itself. Thankful for my friend Kevin and his gift for writing.

Speakfaithfully

Recently the first WeekFOUR event took place.  WeekFOUR is the student group I started with Matt Schuler as a platform for student voices at Fuller Theological Seminary to be heard and as a space for the incredibly diverse and experience-rich Fuller student body to impact, shape and challenge each other more intentionally.

My motivation for starting this group came after I watched a panel discussion hosted at Fuller and some elements of this discussion were actually found in the WeekFOUR talk that I gave (it will be uploaded and available soon).

As a prelude to a much larger post on race that should be coming out in a couple of weeks I wanted to write on something that I have been thinking about for some time: the White Western hegemony of the Gospel.

First, you may want to watch their talk here:

To begin I must explain my belief that…

View original post 2,055 more words

The following are a compilation of photos I’ve snapped in the day-to-day. Some looked innocent at first glance but upon further thought I found they served to perpetuate stereotypes that ‘capture’ and render us limited in our identities. Others are a glimpse into a life that can so easily be seen as ‘normal’, that is in fact, just one of many ways of seeing the world. We must acknowledge that our paradigms shape how we see the world, and the world shapes our paradigms. My intention is not to call out any person, company or organization but to call all of us to a greater level of examination of our paradigms and what shapes them.

Difficult times indeed. First world problem?

Missing: Donkey. Lost during the Modernist/Fundamentalist Split.

White men this way!

I’ve seen another (probably more recent) version of this sign that says “crew working”, utilizing gender inclusive language.

I saw this ad in an airport and literally stopped in my tracks, mouth gaping open. If we assume the astronaut is male (especially based off of the proximity and intimacy with the main child) then there is only one woman portrayed in the image as a role model, hero, or someone to look up to. And she’s a princess. Note how the color differences in their outfits point to their gender.

Those who hold privilege in society are granted the ability to assume that their experience is ‘normal’. We assume that others’ experiences are like ours. While R.A. Torrey may have intended this book to be about evangelizing both men and women, he most likely overlooked the ways the genders experience the world differently. Non-inclusive language assumes that the experience of women is the same as men.

It’s impossible not to draw conclusions between the feminine brand name of the wine and the reference to promiscuity. What does this suggest about women who drink?

I thought I may have been looking too hard for objectification in this billboard (“she” + “thing” + “beauty”) but a friend told me about another ad (below) that confirmed my suspicions.

While searching for a picture of this billboard, this one popped up. Originally the billboard has the same caption: “She is a thing of beauty.” Is it referencing the beer, the woman… or both? I think we know. What does this say to men about permission to gaze at women in this way? The Billboard Liberation Front “improved” this sign to clarify the impact that it has on its viewers. It’s also important to note that the upper or upper-middle class individuals in this photo are both White.

Perpetuating the lie that women who hold positions of power hate and are a threat to men. Of the six professionals portrayed in this billboard, five are men and all are White.

A White female jockey, wearing pink and white. Is she whipping the horse or… ?

Spotted at my local lavanderia. Congrats, women! We can now choose a laundry soap that fits with our personality! Calm, passionate, or sexy. No overlapping allowed – you must choose one.

I love stories. They allow me to see a more full picture of humanity – a unique glimpse of God and the faultiness of our beings. I see the glory of all humans were intended to be and the awful brokenness of who we are. Women’s Letters: America from the Revolutionary War to the Present offers glimpses into the lives and the stories of women in the United States since 1775. The words in this letter were written by one of the bravest women I know… and yet she invalidates and diminishes herself by revealing her belief that to be emotional is to be weak and feeble, and that emotions are something to be conquered. Commonality arises, as to this day, this belief is still entrenched in our values and in how boys and girls are socialized. In understanding what her words reveal through omission, I am also forced to confront the greater reality that the fight for women’s suffrage was fought primarily for White women. This is still a tension today, as women of color often feel they must chose between fighting against racism or sexism. As a White woman who is a follower of Jesus, I must stand side-by-side with all my sisters, and ask to be given the honor to hear their stories.

With American men overseas, the war offered American women new possibilities – not only for hard and important work, but also for political leverage. In 1917, Alice Paul and a group of suffragists started picketing the White House on a nearly daily basis, demanding the vote. The presence of these self-named “Silent Sentinels,” as well as their placards (“Mr. President How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty”) was a constant affront to Woodrow Wilson and an embarrassment before visiting dignitaries. In June of 1917, the first six women were arrested, and eleven more on July 4, on charges of obstructing traffic. Rose Winslow was among one group sentences to seven months in prison. After staging a huger strike – in which the women asked to be treated as political, not criminal, prisoners – they were brutally force-fed. The letter below is comprised of a series of notes smuggled out from the prison hospital to Winslow’s husband and her friends.

1917: December
Rose Winslow to her husband and to members of the National Woman Party.

If this thing is necessary we will naturally go through with it. Force is so stupid a weapon. I feel so happy doing my bit for decency – for our war, which is after all, real and fundamental…

The women are all so magnificent, so beautiful. Alice Paul is as thin as ever, pale and large-eyed. We have been in solitary for five weeks. There is nothing to tell but that the days go by somehow. I have felt quite feeble the last few days – faint, so that I could hardly get my hair brushed, my arms ached so. But to-day I am well again. Alice Paul and I talk back and forth though we are at opposite ends of the building and a hall door also shuts us apart. But occasionally – thrills – we escape from behind our iron-barred doors and visit. Great laughter and rejoicing!…

My fainting probably means nothing except that I am not strong after these week. I know you won’t be alarmed.

I told about a syphilitic colored woman with one leg. The other one was cut off, having rotted so that it was alive with maggots when she came in. The remaining one is now getting as bad. They are so short of nurses that a little colored girl of twelve, who is here waiting to have her tonsils removed, waits on her. This child and two others share a ward with a syphilitic child of three or four years, whose mother refused to have it at home. It makes you absolutely ill to see it. I am going to break all three windows as a protest against their confining Alice Paul with these!

Dr. Gannon is chief of a hospital. Yet Alice Paul and I found we have been taking baths in one of the tubs here, in which this syphilitic child, an incurable, who has his eyes bandaged all the time, is also bathed. he has been here a year. Into the room where he lives came yesterday two children to be operated on for tonsillitis. They also bathed in the same tub. The syphilitic woman has been in that room seven months. Cheerful mixing, isn’t it? The place is alive with roaches, crawling all over the walls, everywhere. I found one in my bed the other day…

There is great excitement about my two syphilitics. Each nurse is being asked whether she told me. So, as in all institutons where an unsantiary fact is made public, no effort is made to make the wrong itself right. All hands fall to, to find the culprit, who made it known, and he is punished…

Alice Paul is in the psychopathic ward. She dreaded forcible feeding frightfully, and I had to think how she must be feeling. I had a nervous time of it, gasping a long time afterward, and my stomach rejecting during the process. I spent a bad, restless night, but otherwise I am all right. The poor soul who fed me got liberally besprinkled during the process. I hear myself making the most hideous sounds, like an animal in pain, and thought how dreadful it was of me to make such horrible sound… One feels so forsaken when one lies prone and people shove a pipe down one’s stomach…

This morning but for an astounding tiredness, I am all right. I am waiting to see what happens when the President realized that brutal bullying isn’t quite a statesmanlike method for settling a demand for justice at home. At least, if men are supine enough to endure, women – to their eternal glory – are not…

They took down the boarding from Alice Paul’s window yesterday, I heard. It is so delicious about Alice and me. Over in the jail a rumor began that I was considered insane and would be examined. Then came Doctor White, and said he had come to see “the thyroid case.” When they left we argued about the matter, neither of us knowing which was considered “suspicious.” She insitied it was she, and, as it happened, she was right. Imagine any one thinking Alice Paul needed to be “under observation!” The thick-headed idiots!…

Yesterday was a bad day for me in feeding. I was vomiting continually during the process. The tube has developed an irritation somewhere that is painful.

Never was there a sentence like ours for such an offense as ours, even in England. No woman ever got it over there even for tearing down buildings. And during all that agitation we were busy saying that never would such things happen in the United States. The men told us they would not endure such frightfulness…

Mary Beard and Helen Todd were allowed to stay only a minute, and I cried like a fool. I am getting over that habit, I think.

I fainted again last night. I just fell flop over in the bathroom where I was washing my hands and was led to bed when I recovered, by a nurse. I lost consciousness just as I got there again. I felt horribly faint until 12 o’clock, then fell asleep for awhile…

I was getting frantic because you seemed to think Alice was with me in the hospital. She was in the psychopathic ward. The same doctor feeds us both, and told me. Don’t let them tell you we take this well. Miss Paul vomits much. I do, too, except when I’m not nervous, as I have been every time against my will. I try to be less feeble-minded. It’s the nervous reaction, and I can’t control it much. I don’t imagine bathing one’s food in tears very good for one.

We think of the coming feeding all day. It is horrible. The doctor thinks I take it well. I hate the thought of Alice Paul as the others if I take it well…

We still get no mail; we are “insubordinate.” It’s strange, isn’t it; if you ask for food fit to eat, as we did, you are “insubordinate”; and if you refuse food you are “insubordinate.” Amusing. I am really all right. If this continues very long I perhaps won’t be. I am interested to see how long our so-called “splendid American men” will stand for this form of discipline.

All news cheers one marvelously because it is hard to feel anything but a bit desolate and forgetten here in the place.

All the officers here know we are making this hunger strike that women fighting for liberty may be considered political prisoners; we have told them. God knows we don’t want other women ever to have to do this over again.”

The Kingdom of God is:

– not feeling in competition with other women or as if I’m only a potential mate for men

– seeing women (younger and older) comfortable with their gifts of speaking and preaching

– hearing prayers in many languages and global perspectives

– being inspired and convicted by men and women who have traveled the journey of gender equality ahead of me

– being hugged by a professor who’s class was integral in building my foundation of gender equality

– listening to the pain of people of color who were deeply wounded by racism on a campus like Biola

– being affirmed as a White woman in the job I hold

– being asked by a much older, and much more well-educated man what books I would recommend

– much discussion and relating with a passionate, intelligent woman my age

– watching memorial slideshows of competent women who dedicated their lives to go where God called them, regardless of what society would allow

– elevators rides that aren’t awkward

– the grace for being late to a workshop on creating safe spaces

– the process of recognizing the extent to which I have been socialized

– combating the racism, sexism and myths of superiority, inferiority, and meritocracy in my own heart

– having someone I just met share a poem they wrote out with me

– conversations with people of all different races and ethnic backgrounds, in their 20’s and in their 70’s, first-time attendees and founders and board members, experts and beginners, those who paid their own way and those on scholarships…

…this is the Kingdom.

This 4th of July my heart is heavy as I thank God for the freedoms that I enjoy, knowing full well that I benefit from these freedoms because of the past and current oppression and exploitation of the marginalized, the poor, and people of color.

I hope to never forget what my (white, American, able-bodied, heterosexual, upper-middle class, English-speaking) privilege costs other people, and ultimately, myself.

The following lyrics are by Owl City, a band which I enjoy via Grooveshark but not quite enough to commit to buying their music for my own. But after hearing this song I was more than disappointed.

“Deer in the Headlights” by Owl City

“Met a girl in the parking lot
And all I did was say hello
Her pepper spray made it rather hard
For me to walk her home
But I guess that’s the way it goes

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
Well smile because you’re the deer in the headlights

Met a girl with a graceful charm
But when beauty met the beast he froze
Got the sense I was not her type
By the black eye and bloody nose
But I guess that’s the way it goes

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
Well smile because you’re the deer in the headlights

It’s suffocating to say
But the female mystique takes my breath away
So give me a smile or give me a sneer
Cause I’m trying to guess here

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
I’m sorry I ever tried (Deer in the headlights)

Tell me again was it love at first sight
When I walked by and you caught my eye
Didn’t you know love could shine this bright
if life was a game, you would never play nice
if love was a beam, you’d be blind in both eyes
Put your sunglasses on
Cause you’re the deer in the headlights
You’re the deer in the headlights
You’re the deer in the headlights”

Can you guess why I’m pissed? I can’t go into depth regarding the meaning of the lyrics because I don’t know why they were written but regardless of the INTENT, the lyrics definitely cast women in a negative light – specifically, as over-dramatic, man-hating, and manipulative or playing “hard to get”. But it’s not just that – the first two verses completely negate the fact that women have a legitimate reason to carry pepper spray and know how to physically defend themselves. And as a woman who carries pepper spray and has taken self-defense classes, that makes me feel invalidated and as if my bodily safety isn’t worth protecting.

I “get” that it sucks that these nice, well-meaning guys have to “suffer” the repercussions of the “baggage” that some women carry around from abuse and that all women carry (whether they know it or not) from sexism. But how can the woes of these ‘love’-struck boys outweigh what women have to go through on a daily basis in order to be vigilant about protecting their own bodies?!

I’m disgusted that Owl City created lyrics that minimize the gravity of the safety of womens’ bodies and the fear that we live with on a daily basis, and ultimately cast women as the antagonist who are in opposition to these clueless and innocent men who simply want to ‘love’ us.

Men, have you ever had to consider the following?

1. Where to park in regards to a street lamp?

2. Have you ever had to pause inside of a building at night to get your keys out to be able to unlock your car with the utmost speed?

3. Are you careful to only unlock the driver’s door instead of all the doors of your car when entering it? Do you always lock your car doors when inside it?

4. Have you ever had to check under your car or in your backseat before you get near/in it?

5. If walking a lengthy distance, even in the day-time, have you ever periodically checked over your shoulder to see if you were being followed?

6. Have you ever changed your demeanor while walking from a casual stroll to a confident stride with your chin up in order to demonstrate to possible predators that you will put up a fight if tried to take advantage of?

7. Have you ever felt nervous entering your home alone? Or made a lot of noise entering your home in hopes to scare off any thieves or predators that may be inside?

8. Have you ever felt the need to carry pepper spray, a rape whistle, or a kubotan?

9. Do you have dreams of being assaulted or beaten and unable to defend yourself adequately?

10. Have you ever felt powerless when walking somewhere, no matter how you are dressed, because you know your body is being scrutinized and will likely “solicit” comments, inappropriate looks, whistles, and/or crude shouts?

11. Have you ever felt a sense of relief when you walk somewhere with a guy because you know a stranger won’t try to take advantage of you and you probably won’t have any whistles or shouts directed at you?

Men. We NEED you. We need you to speak up and talk about how it isn’t acceptable for women to have to live in fear for their safety. So next time a woman gives you a dirty look after you’ve hit on her when you’ve known her for a total of 120 seconds, realize that it’s probably more than she just “doesn’t like you”. And next time a female friend expresses concern for her safety or her lack of trust in men, don’t say she’s “overreacting” or that she’s “too sensitive”. We have a hell of a lot on our minds.

The second thing that is concerning me is this recent ad from Dove.

Spotted in Oprah Magazine, I immediately noticed a serious problem with this skin care ad. Mirroring the before and after pictures, there are three women who stand in order of darkest to lightest skin. What does this imply? Even if one doesn’t notice this consciously, we still learn something from it. Lighter is better. But not only that! It could also be deduced that blonder, straighter hair is better and that thinner is better. Again, the INTENT of the advertisers isn’t the only concern. There are a number of articles on the web discussing whether or not Dove was purposefully being racist. While that is a legitimate question, in the end the IMPACT of the ad is what matters more. This is why it’s possible for us to not be racist ourselves (as in, participate in the KKK or hate a certain people group) but still be participating in a system that perpetuates racism. If we just go with the flow, oblivious of the impact of our actions, we are keeping racism instilled as a system. Unless we actively go against racism, we are supporting it, whether we intend to or not. While Dove may have not been intending to espouse the idea that “lighter is better” (though this may be argued) they were certainly oblivious to what the article was teaching it’s audience, and in the end, perpetuating racism.