Racism and History with Carmen Lau — Adventist Voices

Adventist Forum board chair, Carmen Lau, shares about how her white Southern Adventist upbringing blinded her to the realities of racism. We also talk about Spectrum’s early history with the Civil Rights movement and the plan for a group of Adventists to visit Alabama next month to learn more about the history of social justice.

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Alexander Carpenter is a board member of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum.

Photo: Edmund Pettus Bridge by Rick from Alabama/CC BY 2.0


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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/10712
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Here is a link to an article in the Dallas News that gives a first person account written by a friend of Roy Branson. https://www.dallasnews.com/arts-entertainment/books/2015/01/12/bryan-woolley-remembered-the-experience-of-selma/


Thanks for the link and podcast!

Racism has roots in the distant past. Any race that is a minority is going to suffer racism; and it stems from fear of something that is different from your norm. Place a white minority amidst a black culture, or any other majority, whites would suffer racism as well. It’s our common sin.

I had mentioned not being able to find a definition of racism, and of course was mocked for it. These days everything is called racism that does not comply with the wishes of the minority. It’s “woke” to call out the behaviour of the majority population racist. That’s not to say racism does not exist - of course racism exists, as any majority population takes charge of its environment, not paying heed to the needs and wants of the minority. In the US racism comes down from its history of the slave trade and everything that caused. Bad people take advantage of any situation and make things worse. As Christians, we must realize “bad people” are all over the place. That does not make "all white people bad when bad white people take advantage - and vice versa.

Psychologically, we receive the behaviour from others, we expect to receive. After time, the expected behaviour becomes the norm. White people have characterized the black community by what they expect to see; and the back community sees only what it expects in return. This can be changed only one encounter at at time. We can protest and riot until the cows come home - it will not change racism. It will only make it worse.

You would think that inter-racial problems are a brand new phenomenon by all the hysteria surrounding current events. This hysteria is opportunistic, being blown up by political manipulation. If you don’t see that, “I have a bridge in Brooklyn I can sell you.”

No valuable or lasting change comes from throwing Molotov cocktails and looting your neighbourhood stores. The only remedy is education. I would submit there are factions in this country that don’t want to solve the problem - it’s too lucrative.


I would argue that the same psychodynamics involved with Cain slaying Abel specifically, splitting of the ego, envy, projection, fantasy and sibling rivalry are the same psychodynamics underlying racism. If God proved unsuccessful in stopping Cain, who else can stop us? Mandating, legislating, shaming and violence will resolve nothing. One can only ask TW. The only power that can stop us is ourselves through education. But we all know that at times, ignorance is bliss even at a price. Ask Cain.


So true! The end of racism is possible only through proper education and willingness. The big EGO has to be put aside, or even to death! :open_mouth:

(This is about what I plan to say on the recurring theme of racism here on Spectrum. Glad to do it before a fiery discussion starts all over again between 3 por 4 people… :roll_eyes: - Thanks Spectrum for the “7-day rule” … :wink: :innocent: )

  • it’s to lucrative… yep, yep, and yep. As with most things follow the money.

I’m checking out TOO.


But that’s followed by another 7 days. :smirk:


And another 7 days after that…, and counting… Geeeeesh…


Thanks, @Carmen.

I didn’t know that you were white, or Southern. Based on your surname, I imagined that you were ethnically Asian. :slightly_smiling_face:

I think our only direct interaction to-date was a little over a year ago, when you kindly complimented me, after I was interviewed on hip-hop and peacemaking. (Through your bio, I see you appear to possess an interest in systematic reconciliation.)

As well, I’ve seen some of your comments on this site; e.g., ones that moved me to recently deem you “a thoughtful and intuitive thinker and writer.”

That opinion is reinforced by this Q&A.

I was especially taken by this statement: “God is teaching me through Black people; me, as a Southern girl. … I think they’re telling us what we need to hear as white people.”

It’s fascinating, to me, how many white people do not, seemingly, share this opinion; i.e., that they have anything to learn from Black people, especially, ironically, about racism.

Indeed, some of the greatest outrage accorded many of the current racial conciliation models go to the parts that say white people should listen to Black people, and do so past their comfort levels.

I’m always energized, both as a Black person, and as one who has thought a lot about white supremacy, when I encounter white people with genuine questions; ones who want to listen. I’ve encountered a few, here, on Spectrum’s message boards. It’s always incredibly refreshing to see people act outside of, what you refer to as, a “Southern, ‘fear-based narrative,’” regardless of from where they actually come.

That said, I also wanted to say that I enjoyed the comments you and @TheAdventistPodcast shared on, what he calls, the “weirdness of washing feet.”

In the era when our Lord originated this rite, foot-washing was work performed by servants. By washing His disciples’ feet—few of us, even if we have “doubled up” for communion, have ever had to wash 12 pairs of feet!—Christ, their Master, in this act of inversion, demonstrated that, “If I can reach down from Divinity and serve you in humility, you can certainly serve those I made just like you, in humility.”

I strongly disagree with your colleagues who wonder if foot-washing is still relevant, or if we should wash each others’ cell phones. I think foot-washing, because of the changes in social mores over time, is far more compelling now than it even was then.

That is, it is even more an act of humility, because, in our modern era, we do not touch each other’s feet; not even the ones of those we are welcoming into our homes.

As anyone whose heard the opening dialogue of Pulp Fiction will recall, feet are off-limit, except for reasons of erotic intimacy or professional care. Because, in the foot-washing act, I give neither of these to a brother, I am breaking through far more barriers to touch his feet than even a 1st century disciple would have done.

I think that this is the genius of God’s concept: That it has become more powerful through the centuries, not less.

I believe this statement—“I think noticing racism and structural injustice would also be a part of that service of discipleship, that we can think about when we do the ordinance of humility”—possesses its own brilliance, also.

And, of course, not merely “noticing” these blights, but eliminating them, and replacing them with Justice.


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Thanks, @Sirje.

There’s a fair amount in your post to which I would like to respond, and I’ll do so later.

For now, allow me to point out these one-and-a-half errors:

Please: What’s your evidence for this?

That is, someone once tried out your exact thought experiment. For example, most will recall the minority government of South Africa.

Under its apartheid regime, which, from 1948-1991, enforced one of the most brutal systems of racial mistreatment yet witnessed, white people—whose percentage of the population never ever went above 20%, and actually declined to 13% during this era—dominated the rest of the country’s non-white people with fists of iron, for even the most trivial of activities.

Consider, for example, this beach sign, in both English and Afrikaans:

Even today, nearly 30 years after the end of official apartheid, overwhelmingly, the mighty economic wealth of the nation is still in white hands. Today, they form 8.9% of South Africa’s people.

That was just the briefest, most cursory of outlines, obviously: Recounting the history of apartheid, in greater detail, would probably take centuries, if not millennia: Keep in mind that the apartheid period does not include the previous 300 years of mistreatment Southern Africans suffered under white people, beginning with the hostile incursions the Khoikhoi suffered from the Dutch.

However, based on what you’ve said above, and especially if it is true, there should be similar histories, perhaps all around the globe, where non-white people dominate white people for hundreds of years, until bringing the same to a fifty-year crescendo of blood in the 20th century; a coda that other white people, particularly ones running major corporations, gently abide.

I don’t think so, but, I could be wrong. Please kindly say where and when the same took place.

This is true: You were mocked for it.

You were mocked by George Tichy, who replied:

However, you were not mocked by me. Plus, I answered your question.

I’ll do so, again, here, below:

Put another way, racism is what the Boers were practicing on non-white people in South Africa.

The white people had the last word on anything “the blacks” did in economics, education, entertainment, labor, law, politics, religion, sex, and/or war.

By “the last word,” I mean that no non-white person could do anything, in these areas, that could not be overruled by one or more white people.

The reverse is not true.

I’ll get to the rest of your post—and these others—after Sabbath.



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George @GeorgeTichy

When I read your post reminding @Sirje that time was of the essence regarding the definition of racism, I thought, what a wonderful and thoughtful psychologist we have in you, especially considering your emoji sign. Then I read:

I thought to myself, there was no way George would intentionally mock Sirje. But then I see the world through a different lens.

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Thanks, @elmer_cupino.

@Sirje said she was “mocked.” This was her word.

When you look at her posted statement, there are only two responses to it: The one by George Tichy—which you referenced—and mine.

In its entirety, I said to her:

Then I reproduced the definitions that you see, above.

Now, @Sirje never said who mocked her.

If you think, based on my written response, that I did, please say why.

However, because you are a reasonable person, I doubt that you do.

And, unless @Sirje was being communicated with by some other means—off-site, say—it seems that you should have a discussion with George and/or @Sirje.


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Elmer, you are right. Mocking is not part of my behavior in conversations or any kind of interactions.

May be what was said here reveals some transference happening when I was accused of mocking Sirje @sirje. Knowing each other here on this forum for many years, I am sure that Sirje did not read any mocking or disrespect.

It seems that some bullying is taking place here, again, but I am out of this conversation. It’s obvious that the conversation in this thread is being killed too, aborted for the same reasons as it happened elsewhere before. It appears to be the “new normal” now, with the site’s blessings.

See you again on another thread.


I know she said it but how certain are you that she was referring to our friend George @GeorgeTichy who mocked her especially when George made his post after she said she was mocked? That is quite a leap of faith or is it bias instead? Like you would frequently ask, “give the evidence.“


You are quite the prophet. You predicted it and here it is.


I have no idea what Harry posted. I don’t read him period. But I know you and George to be accepting and balanced people so I can read you two and get a pretty good idea. I refuse to be a part of his game and it is a game because last I saw he is pretty much alone in his posting. Like others have said, I’m just not participating in games.


Well George, as of right now, you have only 5 days to figure this out.

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Thanks, @elmer_cupino.

One way, and the shortest, most direct way to determine this would be for you and/or George Tichy to turn to @Sirje and say, “Sirje, when you said, ‘I had mentioned not being able to find a definition of racism, and of course was mocked for it,’ to whom were you referring?”

Do you agree, and/or disagree?

As for your claim that “George made his post after she said she was mocked,” let’s walk through this together:

A) According to the site’s internal chronometer/date-time stamp, @Sirje’s statement:

…was posted on September 10, at 8:59 am.

B) George Tichy’s response, which “mocked” her:

…was posted 1 hour and 23 minutes later; September 10, 10:22 am.

C) @Sirje’s 2nd statement:

…was posted on September 12, 7:22 am.

In other words, your statement—“George made his post after she said she was mocked”—is not true.

George made his post 1 day and 21 hours before she said she was mocked.

That is: She said she was “mocked” nearly two days after George Tichy made his mocking statement.

What other evidence do you desire? :thinking:

Or do you, George Tichy, and @2humBaby want to continue to suck the oxygen out of the room?