Tuesday, February 23, 2016

If There Was Sauce for the Goose…

Once again Sheila Kennedy has a way with words.  Though I'm not from Indiana, the last line may have an impact for us all.


If There Was Sauce for the Goose…: By now, anyone not living in a cave knows that Republicans in the Senate are refusing to participate in the constitutionally-required exercise of...

If There Was Sauce for the Goose…

By now, anyone not living in a cave knows that Republicans in the Senate are refusing to participate in the constitutionally-required exercise of advising and consenting on a proposed Supreme Court nominee. Not that they have objections to the (as yet unnamed) choice–no, they object to even allowing the President to fulfill his constitutionally-required duty.
Indiana Republicans seem to like the GOP’s new “Obama Rule;” to the extent that I can understand the basis upon which Mitch McConnell invented it, it goes something like this: We don’t like Obama, and we think the next President will be more to our taste. (Ignore the fact that Obama won election pretty overwhelmingly, and a lot of Americans–arguably still a pretty robust majority–still do like him.)
Here in Indiana, we also have a state supreme court vacancy. Indeed, interviews for the position are already underway. Governor Pence is in the last year of his term, and all signs suggest that he is far less popular than the President. (In my circles, he’s less popular than dandruff.)  So shouldn’t the voters get to decide who they want picking Indiana’s next state supreme court justice?
If America is now operating on the basis of what Bill Maher might call a “new rule”—if we’ve decided that it is improper for political executives to select judges during the last year of their term–shouldn’t we apply that rule to Governor Pence?
Actually, we might take the new rule even further; since one-third of the US Senate is up for election this year, maybe those senators shouldn’t vote or do much of anything until we see whether the electorate has returned them to office. (Okay–scratch that last suggestion: this Senate isn’t doing anything anyway.)
Besides, let’s be honest; it’s only a black President who’s limited to 3/5 of a term….

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Primary Racism? A shared Post from Shelia Kennedy

Primary Racism?Shared Blog "Primary Racism" it is an election season...

Primary Racism?

With political attention focused on the Nevada caucuses and the South Carolina primaries, Iowa and New Hampshire are rapidly disappearing in the media’s rear-view mirror. But before we bury ourselves in more current analyses and prognostications, it might be well to consider the peculiar order of America’s primary lineup.
I thought about this because I recently came across a post raising an issue I had not previously considered; that the choice of Iowa and New Hampshire as the sites of our earliest political primaries operates to support racism—or at least white privilege—in American life.
This is my epiphany of 2016. Our primary system – like the rest of our political system – is one more example of the racism we so deeply entrench and protect. I don’t pretend that moving the first primaries to more representative states would end racism, but, like pulling down Confederate flags, it couldn’t hurt.
In defense of this conclusion, he points to media coverage of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries—coverage strongly suggesting that the results from these two states tells us something important about the desires of the “American people”— and he places the outsized importance attributed to those contests alongside voting requirements, slating, and gerrymandering, as examples of structures “designed to exclude minorities and protect white privilege.”
Frankly, it would difficult to find two states less representative of America than Iowa and New Hampshire. Only 3% of Iowans and 1% of New Hampshire residents are black in contrast to 13% of the nation. Only 5% of Iowans and 3% of New Hampshire residents are Latino in contrast to 17% of the rest of America. Indeed, having our first primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire is a little like reserving the front of the political bus for “whites only.” When the political parties suggest America has spoken in Iowa and New Hampshire, they imply that white America- the America that really matters to them – has spoken.
Indeed, Iowa and New Hampshire represent an America that hasn’t existed for two hundred years. Thirty-six percent of Iowans and forty percent of New Hampshire residents live in rural communities while only 19% of Americans are rural dwellers. Claiming white farmers and woodsmen are the most politically important people in our nation may have made some demographic sense in the 1800s, but it is patently ridiculous and racist in 2016. Allowing the opinions of whites in Iowa and New Hampshire to have such an inordinate influence on our national election is wrong.
I am less inclined to attribute the structures the author identifies to conscious racism; they are equally likely to be a result of partisanship and happenstance. That said, his larger point is worth considering: although this country has eliminated most of the legal disadvantages and inequities that operated to tilt the playing field in favor of white Americans, even people of good will have yet to recognize–let alone disassemble–the myriad social structures that facilitate racist practices and foster racist assumptions and stereotypes.
There are actually all sorts of good reasons to revisit the importance of the Iowa and New Hampshire primaries—reasons having little or nothing to do with race. Even if one finds the post unpersuasive, even if moving the primaries to more representative states wouldn’t really represent a blow against racism, the author is clearly right about one thing: it sure couldn’t hurt.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Reactions to Confronting Racism in 2016

Soo, reaction to Last night's web cast "Confronting Racism." [It's a bit long.]
Prelude: January 14, 2016:
This was an interesting Day, when these two visual events happened simultaneously…
Republican Party Debate – North Charleston, SC
ELCA - Confronting Racism: A Holy Yearning
Post Webcast: Angie Shannon asks:
Okay Lutheran family: Who saw the Live Webcast "Confronting Racism"? What are your thoughts? Honest. Thoughts.
I was number 17 in 1971 @ age 26. Seventeenth Black Pastor in the LCA. During seminary, I was a part of the trial and editing of a program of the LCA called “Justice and Social Change”. Sherman Hicks and I worked with Dr. Charles King, as he both taught at the seminary and led race relations programs in White Lutheran Churches throughout the state, based upon the publication “Justice and Social Change”. “Over time he felt unable to penetrate the wall of White ignorance among the student, until one day he simply exploded in Black anger in class and discovered that this was the thing that pierced the veneer of racism and led to real understanding. Both his classes and his racial awareness programs became vehicles for cleansing confrontational encounters with racism.” [as reported in The Encyclopedia of African American Religions, by Larry G. Murphy, J. Gordon Melton, Gary L. Ward, 2013.]
I clearly remember saying to Charles, during a break in a workshop, “I don’t know if I can love these folks that much?” It is a fine line to walk between education and anger as it relates to race. This past year as one of my former students lamented her encounter within the church, I confessed that while our conversations had been educational and friendly, I had not shared the depth of the pain of being viewed as Other, even in the midst of being welcomed within. The reality of living in two worlds became an operational style without writing the necessary operational manual for those who followed me down the same path.
I lament an elder clergy of color was not present in the webcast, but many, like me, might resurrect more historical moments of the pain experienced, than can be accommodated in hour of looking for ways forward. It is not that reflecting on sins recognized or unintended from the past is unimportant, but unless you are Henry Louis Gates, it makes for bad television. Actually, I’m pleased to interact with Lenny and others from my position of retirement, but at the same time I’m working to capture the history of those older seventeen and others who preceded me before their stories are totally lost. We can learn from the historical moment, but it seems “to me” to serve best as a reflection upon what we have done and what has worked and what has not achieved the goals desired.
While we each, in our own generations, sometimes feel as if we are trail blazers, the reality is that there have been those who have broken paths that continually need to be cleared and expanded and perhaps paved for the next generation, and even then we may feel as if we have not done, perhaps never done, enough - Enough for the next generation not to encounter a pervasive side of humanity that clouds our ability to see all of humanity as a part of the family of God.
I don’t know how to teach peripheral vision, but there are few parts of the nation that are absent the presence of People of Color. The two video sessions may offer the opportunity for those who were not distracted by the other televised offerings move our heads from side to side to see what else might be within our field of vision and perhaps ministry. POC are legion.
Rich Stewart