Revisiting the Racial Divide (#602)

After our last podcast on the racial divide, we were surprised at the audience reaction. Most white people I know loved Vince's perspective hoping it would define a way forward for us, while many people of color didn't think his experience spoke for them. We invited one of those who wrote us, Gil Michel to join us to further shed light on the racial divide and continue the conversation that will hopefully lead to better understanding. Gil is along time God Journey listener, and a bi-vocational pastor of an inner city fellowship in South Bend, IN. With the recent brouhaha between President Trump and the NFL, it seemed important for us to take another look at the racial tensions in our society.

Podcast Notes:
Previous Podcasts about Race: Just Mercy and Reaching Across the Racial Divide
The Doll Test that Gil referred to
NY Times Article by Eric Reid on Why Colin Kaepernick and I Decided to Take a Knee
Gil Michel hosts a podcast at HisStoriespodcast.com and pastors That Church Downtown
Helping with Agriculture in Pokot
Add your voice to our question/comment line via Skype at "TheGodJourney"

29 Comments

  1. The link is broken. This podcast is not available on-line or on iTunes. Trying to download brings up a “nothing found” error.

  2. Appreciate the courage in having this Podcast. I pastored a multi-cultural church in Elgin, IL for 8 years and grew in knowledge and appreciation for this complex topic and my African American brothers.

    Thanks especially to Gil for sharing with compassion, wisdom, and boldness on racism. I am a white guy and believe the white community/body of Christ desperately needs to hear and understand this issue. Hearing and understanding on a deep level is part of living loved and acting in love.

    Appreciated the doll test reference. Also would be good to have further discussion about individual and systemic racism. Loved Gil’s point about white brothers needing to “acknowledge” and validate versus minimize. My experience does not determine truth. Build deep relationships with people of color and really listen.

    “What did I do?”–all of humanity could ask this question in reference to first Adam’s sin. White people tend to think individually when it comes to culpability while other cultures (and culture in bible times) tend to think community. Just being a part of the white community matters and I need to understand and validate my black brother’s different experiences. Let’s watch out for ethnocentrism especially since love is about seeing things from other’s perspectives.

    Thanks! I was refreshed and blessed to hear this discussion.

    Adam

  3. Interesting that I found the discussion unsettling and I was left with no place to go but a focus on an impossible issue to solve when trying to bring change politically. Even as I write this, I find myself feeling like I have to explain how I am not racist, ie…. friends, working in the inner city, showing how I am sensitive to the issue… or how I too am a minority (asian). Truly none of this matters, and if I try to explain, in the society we live in, I am racist. Can’t win. I also find that when I am pulled into looking at this issue not from a relational place, but a political one, I feel accused if I disagree with a political agenda that I see as much more complex than political activism.

    It also seems at this time, that the race agenda is being manipulated by the two extremes. The KKK, white supremacy groups on one hand and Antifa, Bamn, and BLM on the other. Both are inflammatory and violent, and politicians and other power brokers profit from the social alienation of good people not on the extremes. Like I stated previously, at this time in history, it seems to me that the social agendas are lead and controlled by these violent extremes. I believe that that is different than the civil rights movement of the 60’S and 70’s when MLK lead a group of people to a Godly stand against oppression and injustice. So now when I am against hate and racist attitudes, and yet not agreeing with the stand of what has been labeled “liberal left”… I feel I am labeled a racist, homophobic, facist, a Nazi, and mysogynistic.

    So because of this divisive, manipulative, and confusing environment, I do really see the only answer is to keep our eyes on Jesus…. as trite and cliche as that sounds. Be transformed by His love, so that I can love others, have His heart of compassion, and enter into relational discussions with those Father brings me into contact whom I do not understand. The degree of anger, hate, and division that is being created by the current methodology and is not Father’s heart, and is what would seem to me to be the enemies agenda.

    I hesitate to post this as to sound insensitive to the issue of racism. But I just thought I needed to present a perspective from one who is not white or black, yet pulled into the issue not because of race, but ideology. So ok… I will post this…. with much respect to all, and a profound understanding that Father is still working on me.

  4. Thank you, Wayne for revisiting this issue. The dialogue definitely needs to continue in our country.

    This guest’s perspective more clearly and accurately mirrors my experience as an African-American and of many others that I know. If one doesn’t have something in their life that is so central to everything they do, they won’t understand the need for children to be educated about it so they aren’t out in the world with blinders on not understanding how they may be perceived and treated, and why. Knowledge is power and knowing some facts about one’s history and standing in the culture does not mean one has to embrace a victim or even militant mentality. It’s about awareness, but you go on and live with your life equipped with this knowledge. Just as most parents would not dare NOT to tell their child not to talk to strangers, other parents have had to include discussions about how people may look at us, treat us, how we need to dress, act, where to travel and not to travel, etc. That’s just reality. I think some people assume because we’re no longer in the Jim Crow era, that this stuff is dead or that some of us are ridiculous for bringing it up, but it’s our reality and equal rights has not erased years and years of ingrained views in some people’s minds. So, today in 2017, I can get a second look if I’m in an upscale neighborhood or shopping mall. Why should that even be if there weren’t certain views ingrained in people to be surprised that a black person would or could be in that locale? And not to minimize what happened to Brad’s son, but in some ways, we’ve dealt with this for years. It was (and in some ways still is) not uncommon to have been heckled for no other reason than the color of our skin. So, while it’s hurtful and scary, maybe it can be a teaching moment of what others have endured for a long time. That in itself might bring the lesson home as to where the hurt and anger originates from.

    “a lot of white people want Vince to be the answer” taps into an age old problem in race relations. If one black person can be found who adheres to what the majority group believes, then that’s all they need to hear. And from then on, that person is held up as the standard, and almost unspoken is the sentiment, “see why can’t you (or the rest of you) be like this”. This then allows people off the hook and they can consider the issue over and done with, when it fact, it’s not over with because of (fill-in-the-blank).

    Anyway, thanks again for this discussion (and allowing me to vent 🙂 ) and I look forward to part 2.

  5. While racism of blacks by whites no doubt still exists, the real war is on white males of European descent. This war is being waged by the media who foments black hatred of whites. I found this video compelling by Tree of Logic who is a black woman arguing for whites to recognize the attack on them by the media. Here link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5RJiLb7jmGY&feature=youtu.be

    I would love a further discussion from this point of view.

  6. That was excellent, challenging, and convicting

    Thanks for your guest and the conversation

  7. I found this an excellent podcast — eventually. It would have been tempting to turn it off during the Wayne/Gil left-wing political love-fest at the beginning, but I sensed Gil was worth listening to and then after Brad interjected some excellent questions, to me, Gil became more real, engaging, thoughtful and definitely worth learning from. His church sounds like a place I would love to hang out. I’ll be honest about my political leaning – the far-left has highjacked so much of the discussion on racial issues, that they have gotten lost, which is tragic. For example, I would like to hear honest discussion on the degree to which racism and/or the family collapse/War on Poverty have contributed to the CURRENT economic/social disparity by skin color. Given that inner city, predominantly black schools have black political leaders in the city, black administrators, good funding etc., there has to be something more complicated than simplistic Democratic Party mantras keeping those children from obtaining decent educations. To me, the two evidences of the high-jacking, even in a discussion as thoughtful as this one, are 1) abortion (which has been hammered into me by local black pastors) and it’s racial selection, 2) minor, but perhaps telling, the Miriam Carey killing – a black lady certainly more innocent than Michael Brown or Freddie Gray, yet ignored. In this vein, I disagree with Gil that Mr. Kapernick has caused a wide discussion on the issues he raised. Yes there is a lot of discussion about the clumsy NFL responses, but in my circles, with a wide diversity of opinion on the kneeling during the anthem, I haven’t heard anyone mention the original purpose for a long time and doubt that many remember. I’d like to hear a discussion of this thought experiment: what if Mr. Kapernick, after seeing that his kneeling diverted attention from the issue he wanted to raise to himself, had simply said that he feels very strongly about his work in the community and picked a clumsy way to try to bring it to the public’s attention – and then go on to point people to his website showing the community work. I think THAT, along with the support of other players,would have brought the right kind of attention. I’m not an NFL fan so have sort of enjoyed seeing them stumble over themselves, but when a friend directed me to Mr. Kapernick’s website, I suddenly felt it tragic that no one much knows anything about him except that he seems to be an America-hating, left-wing Democrat. Well, I look forward to the continuation of the discussion….

    • Earl, we’re hoping to have a more reasoned conversation here than to stereotype views you disagree with as “left-wing political love-fest.” I’m not left wing at all. I would have been where you and Brad are ten years ago, but as I’ve spent more time getting to know people in more urban environments, my heart has been sifting to great understanding and compassion for the historical inequities of our culture and how that impacts people today. I’m not selling “white guilt” or any government solutions to these issues. I’m hoping that if normal Americans can find a way to talk about these issues without all the manipulative, political rhetoric that leads to anger and ignorance, we might all learn something that will show us away forward.

      I heard a quote on the PBS Vietnam War series by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick that really made me think. Sam, Wilson, an Vietnam vet was talking about Americans being prisoners of their own experience and not being able to understand that Vietnam was not World War II. He said, “It is very difficult to dispel ignorance if you retain arrogance.” There’s way too much of both in our culture especially as it pertains to race.

      Being dismissive of that as “left-wing” avoids the conversation and puts us back in the Republican vs. Democrat political divide that is manipulated by both sides to polarize the population and which I think Jesus finds reprehensible on both sides. Don’t let the extremists define the issue. Talk to some people who have grown up in black America and learn that reality isn’t always what we want to believe from our safe, white neighborhoods.

  8. As a Caucasian guy who is very poor, I feel a lot of people looking down on me in similar ways as black folks do… Many of my friends at this time are the black guys I work with, and it seems like there is no way out of poverty for me, or them. No matter how hard you try, it seems like you never get paid an honest days wages, we get treated like we are worthless no matter how hard we work, and it seems very difficult to find an honest boss that will treat you in a humane manner.

    The big problem I see is, that, even after listening to this podcast, I still don’t know what to do, or how to even begin to address this issue. I hope this discussion can continue in the next successive podcast(s) in this small series and give some answers or avenues to take to help people open their hearts in a loving manner so we can begin to talk to others about these issues.

    Thanks for sharing these discussions.

  9. I loved the podcast, definitely presenting the issues as is. I also appreciate very much Wayne the blog you wrote recently on how CK’s protest has been hijacked … so well stated. I plan on giving it another good listen. Gil did a great job of fitting in and you guys (B & W) created a good space for him to talk. I also found the question from Brad ‘I’m a white guy … what have I done wrong’ … I find this annoying. No one is asking for anyone’s white guilt.

    People also ask themselves ‘what can I do to make it better’. Each person has to educate themselves and believe that systemic racism, police brutality against blacks continues to this day. Yes, it’s tiring and emotionally exhausting discussing anti-black racism but just take a look at the innocent black lives being snuffed out. A recent video going viral on FB shows a white guy totally uncooperative with a police officer. Police officer tases the white guy which further enrages him so he chases the police officer who runs for his life. The white guy ties to escapes into a police cruiser and then you hear helicopters above and then video ends. Pure white privilege — had this guy been black he would not have had the benefit of being tased but would have been immediately shot dead (compare this to another video just recently posted where a black man is arrested and then tries to make a run … he is running away and is then shot in the back 3 or 4 times.)

    And to comment on some of the comments this is why you have Black Lives Matter … they are trying to raise the awareness of the issue. They are not pro violence or anti-white … a few violent acts have been wrongly attributed to them. Perhaps some of their actions are questionable but why does everything have to be perfect? Let’s listen to what black people are saying,let’s watch the videos and let’s not grow weary in all this.

    I’m also not black or white but know once black lives matter all lives will matter. No more silence on this issue … 500 years is enough of this hell!

  10. Let’s talk about race relations. And, let’s talk about God relations. They go together, right. It really concerns me and concerns you, and everyone. There is a backlash in this country, not just with blacks, hispanics, whites–

    It really concerns me that Black Families are taught to be suspicious of white people, and that everything is race based. It’s so not. My cousin, who is half black was never in our life until his 20’s because his family told him, we were racists! What a lie! My mentor is black, and many of BFF have been black in season of my life.

  11. In Acts 6: The complaint was about the Hebrews getting preferred treatment, not the Greeks. Just want to clarify that, cause hating the Europeans is strong narrative in these modern times.

    Here’s the scripture for ALL, for ALL time:
    Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

  12. I’d like to add some thoughts–

    People around the world, India, Africa, Mexico, Japan, Thailand, etc. have for thousands of years of valued within their own populations, a value based on skin color. It’s so not a new problem. A very ancient issue. It’s not just a problem today around the world, or in the USA’s history. It’s happening within colored people’s subgroups in the USA! People are bent in sin, making efforts to justify some sort of superiority or classifications of beauty, or economic status, education, etc.

    This is humanity’s history.
    Keep THAT in the conversation.
    The BIBLE addresses every single category.
    Period.

    And, let’s keep talking about it!

  13. Colorism is a serious issue in many parts of the world. It’s very sad but let’s not deflect from the issue which is the US has serious race problems and I mean anti-black racism (which if you look at the world is a global problem). It is the Europeans that colonized so many parts of the world and left it in a mess by plundering, raping and stealing what is not theirs. The concept of white race is a social construct .. even the Irish who look white were not accepted but after a time became “white” … this is where the power lies. So it is the white people that have made it all about race. Back to the US: and now with social media and all the atrocities being captured on video people are talking about it and protesting peacefully. Saw this on FB (yes, love FB) :

    WE MARCH, y’all mad.
    WE SIT DOWN, y’all mad.
    WE SPEAK UP, y’all mad.
    WE DIE, y’all silent.

    That’s right black people are dying at the hands of white cops. Rather than focusing how black people’s reactions may not always be the best let’s focus on how they are being mowed down by the police and suffer daily due to systemic racism.

    • Hey JKB,
      While I can seek to appreciate your point of view … I can’t say that it really promotes any kind of meaningful dialogue. Seems rather like a blanket 1-way accusation. I don’t think anything in this life is all that simple. Nor do I think painting any group of people with some monolithic brush is ever going to be all that true. I’m not interested in being drawn into an argument… I would just encourage you to consider the whole point in our wanting to further the dialogue and seek to find something productive and healing. I’m not sure your broad sweeping statements are all justified and accurate. You can find me annoying, but I think we are hoping for something more constructive. I want to hear what other people’s experiences are, and I do care, I think a lot of people do… but some of how you are sharing this I don’t think helps your cause. Take it for what it’s worth.

      • Hi Brad, I enjoy your contribution to the God Journey , you bring a different and needed perspective. And of course the Shack – loved it. However, I got to say I was really disappointed when I heard you voted for Trump. You are a leader so there is in a sense a looking up to you. I’m not against conservative values … but Trump has done so much to embolden white supremacy. He didn’t cause it, but it’s all out … and maybe that’s a good thing and perhaps it can be dealt with in a final and decisive way.

        I believe you when you say you care. I wasn’t trying to accuse any group of anything. I think history speaks for itself … . It’s important to understand the brutality of US slavery and how it impacts lives today.

    • In the USA, there are estimated 21.5 Million African American males, out of this population the percentage of those serving time in jail whether federal, state or local is .045%.

      That means 99.56% of African American males are law abiding citizens. !!!Please reread that fact!!!

      The narrative that African American men are a hiccup away from jail is a false narrative , and perpetuates a serious bias towards the black community.

      Instilling the idea to young black males or other people groups, one is more likely to go to jail as a black male is a huge twist of facts. Its highly unlikely. It’s shocking if you do, even as a black male.

      Police brutality is real, but uncommon. It’s not an epidemic.

      Fear is powerful. It makes us all act crazy! Using the same statistics, the chance of an African American male being shot this year by the police is .00001 chance, even if you are armed and breaking the law.

      That’s not to invalidate what appears to be a concerning disproportionate statistic, that 60% of those serving jail time as men are African American males. Nor is it to disregard that injustices, racism and corruption exists. However, it greatly concerns me the former is not a “top of the mind” statistic and often promoted fact. That’s unjust.

      It’s time to discuss real facts that destroy stereotypes and racism. Fear is very powerful and can destroy people. We must address the lies and immense distortion behind fears(s). That’s my take.

  14. We are a multi-racial (Black and Hispanic) family living in the south where racism is very real. Race relations is a topic we must continue to tackle, as difficult as it can be to discuss. Thank you for having this follow up conversation! It was needed and I’m looking forward to Part 2.

  15. Modern colonialism began with the Spanish Empire. Those Spanish speaking conquerors, who along with the Portuguese changed the Americas greatly. It’s Hispanic history. How controversial, nobody seems to get the idea.

    It’s ethnocentric to fixate on a sliver of human history, and disregard all the other nations. Conquered or otherwise.

    Let’s go back to child sacrifices. Or are you ignorant of the sins of “indigenous” people groups, nations and tribes? Plenty of rape, slavery, plundering and corruption there too.

  16. from my perspective, racism cannot be fixed by communication without approximation. racism is a product of worldview, and facts and information are not effective worldview changers. relationship is the one thing that has promise in fixing the “us versus them” mentality brought about by worldview. so, until we choose to approximate, we will be ever segregated by worldview.

  17. Enjoy reading the e-dialogue (comments)…Kent yes for me also, it seems to be coming back to relationship. Yelling at each other, blaming or “commanding” any group separate from relationship seems so hollow and never touches the depth of issues (this issue being one of systemic racism). Sigh….messy….yes but the dialogue needs to continue within the framing of relationship. Glad we can continue to dialogue….

  18. A few rambling thoughts:

    I find this entire discussion difficult and unsettling. I was reading some of the above posts this morning when it suddenly struck me… Everyone does realize that the first segregation occurred in the Bible at the tower of Babel, and was initiated by God himself(?) The segregation was based on language (now considered a primary cultural indicator) and God separated them so that: 1) they we unable to do what they could do in unity which was their own glorification and 2) to scatter them across the globe rather than all be in one place.

    Global unification and or desire for world domination seems to be a reoccurring theme throughout history. One world government with the same desire to “make a name for ourselves”. World unification is not a good thing according to God, is how I read that story in Genesis.

    Of course, the desire for power and and glorification did not end with the segregation at Babel It continued on within each language group and culture. The need for dominance or importance remained.

    I do not believe that racism or segregation will ever be solved, only because some cultural differences are incompatible heightened by the need for power. We build one society based on certain ideologies, but another culture is built on different ones. Then when they come together, they cannot work together because they are based on completely different values. One is always considered right and the other wrong, and compromise is never fully functional.

    An example of cultural difference in our city is that a certain ethnic group as identified themselves to be a warring people (as they were in their country of origin), and so gangs are simply a normal part of their lives. This is incompatible with how the rest of us see our Canadian society, and is contrary to our laws and ideology as an inclusive law abiding society. The warring ideology is deeply entrenched in this cultural group. Does it seem reasonable then to invite that culture to live within our own and expect them to comply because we ask them to? It seems to me that we are inviting trouble. And trouble is what we get.

    It is these cultural differences and world viewpoints that create divisions. Unless we all come to the same worldview, conflict will always exist. Now a common worldview may seem like a good idea, but expect it to be fully ungodly as it was with the tower of Babel.

    Is it possible this is God’s doing? To keep people from becoming one and extremely powerful? The more the world comes together the more anti-God it becomes, or so it seems. There continues to be talk of one-world unity and government, more that ever, and yet it is illusive.

    The cultural landscape takes many years to shape itself and it is shaped by many generations. It is shaped by critical mass. We can see a shift in the “Christian” culture or lack there of over many decades. The reason for the shift is the compromising stance taken by Christians over many decades, not politically, but personally compromising in their beliefs. Critical mass shifts a culture but that takes a long time to reach. If you want to see a shift in cultural thinking back to Christianity, then it falls on the individual to begin living their lives a certain way uncompromisingly, followed but the next, and the next. And it will take decades to change before critical mass returns once again to a different common belief of faith.

    It is nearly impossible to dictate or force a culture to comply to certain standards or beliefs. History proves this. The only way you may ultimately have full compliance is through force and fear. Criticism of cultural differences, differing world views and racism will never be fully solved.

    I wonder if mass protest helps or hinders the cause, because it seems to me that entrenchment of position is more likely to occur than shift in opinion. The believer in the cause remains convinced and even ends up being willing to accept social action involving violence and prejudice, and the one who does not believe in the cause simply see the other’s actions of protest and violence as justification for their belief of the inferiority of the other.

    So what do we do as Christians? This for me is the more important question, because I think the cultural/political discussion can become a distraction and is completely unanswerable outside of the God’s kingdom, and perhaps even contrary to God’s kingdom if attempting unity in a “worldly” way. If we try to solve them outside of the context of the Kingdom of God, I think we may be continually frustrated – and perhaps that is because that is because of the depravity of man and a continuation from God’s course of action at Babel. Perhaps that is why I am uncomfortable with parts of this discussion. Maybe we are only called to love our neighbour, the next one on our path rather than address a world unity problem.

    As believers, we are called to love the next person. I am more convinced of this each day. Jesus never entered the political/cultural arena. When I find myself caught up in issues of racism and politics here in Canada, I always find myself conflicted and at odds with “love your neighbour” vs a culture that is growing increasingly anti-Christ and one that embraces all cultures as being good and valuable when they are clearly not, and bad for my country, at least in my opinion. (So I guess that makes me a racist. Or am I? You can see my dilemma.) Only when I step away from that opinionated position, and focus on the way that I can love the next person on my pathway do I return to a sense of peace.

    • Though Scripture suggests that God thwarted humanity’s ability to cooperate by mixing up their speech, that was only to restrict evil. It may have been a puzzle he wanted us to sort out and cooperate not out of evil intentions, but loving ones. In Christ, his purpose is to bring every tribe, people, and nation under one Head. Can you imagine the power of Jesus’ followers in the earth if they were truly united under Him and spokespeople for equal justice and opportunity in the world? It would be amazing. Unfortunately those so called “Christ-followers” are as divided by pride and greed as much as anyone in the world. There’s a reason God wants evil splintered, and why he draws the righteous into a loving u unity that could transform the world.

  19. Thank you so much for helping me put into words what I have been thinking. The sharing of the “Bad” doll story was quite amazing, sad, but needed to be heard. When thinking of recent events in the NFL I think you nailed it. Instead of addressing the original issue of racism, it was ignored, changed, or missed. I have wondered from the beginning how patriotism was drawn into this. Just put a little Red, White, and Blue, then one must agree or be deemed unpatriotic.
    The thought of the struggles that different people groups must endure in the “Land of the Free”, should make the most patriotic person cringe. Unfortunately many people do not want a conversation they want to be right. Thank you all for the podcast.

  20. Hi JKB. I finally got a chance to read the article. Wow! It is a long one and trying to express what I thought of it in a few words would be impossible. Like most things I read, I resonate with some of it and feel like the writer pushes too far in other bits. Or at least I hope he does. I hate to think his conclusions define the America I live in and it truly makes me grieve for what we’ve become and what some Americans have had to endure of injustice and inequity to the empowered elite in our culture. And to be honest, I felt the same during the Obama and Bush 43 presidencies. I know humility, compassion, and honesty is not rewarded in politics, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pray for it every day.

    I get why African-Americans on the whole are absolutely terrified of this man, or think he is mentally imbalanced. I have good friends who tell me that he is a much better, wiser man than how he is portrayed in the media, but I have concerns just reading his own tweets, without the media’s comments. I’ve tried to resist the conclusion that he is an overt racist manipulating white power to his own ends, but articles like this make it much more difficult to do so. However whether or not it is by intent, he at least is doing so by his actions and words. I am absolutely flummoxed by the support he gets from many evangelicals as if he’s some kind of national savior sent by God.

    My only hope in the current climate is that Trump on one side and ANTIFA on the other will finally disillusion Americans on governance by power, and embolden millions of reasoned Americans to meet in the middle with a commitment to a common good that transcends race, gender, religious belief and even our agreement on side issues to find agreement on the big ones.

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