This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://spectrummagazine.org/views/2020/three-reminders
An excellent article! I’m pretty sure I agree with every word.
This one statement, though, could go farther:
In point of fact, it’s not that there is only one race, it is that race is totally and completely made up. There are no “races” of tigers or chimps or any other mammal. We are mammals. We are one species, and homo sapiens have no sub-species.
The entire concept of “race” comes from a deep history of “othering”, often as a precursor for horrific practices: Slaughter, slavery, and the like.
It is one thing to have “my people”: My family, my friends, my town, my tribe, my faith. Shared history and experience. Shared values. Shared social contracts. These are good things.
But, evil comes when you take the next step and then add to those concepts and say . “…and we are intrinsically better than those others.” And then, even worse, that is followed by, “…and since we are superior, it is OK for us to subjugate those others.” Or to ignore their plight.
Finally, all racist fruit comes from the same poisonous tree
Thank you, Jason, for an excellent article. People will generally not resist when someone calls out heinous racist acts, like the one that occurred in Minneapolis this week. It’s what we might call the low-hanging fruit of the “poisonous tree.” But dare to suggest that the poisonous roots of those despicable acts reach into the soil of our own homes, churches, and schools, and it becomes a very different story.
Just go back and read the thread that erupted beneath the Spectrum articles related to an incident that occurred at one of our schools recently, involving a young black student’s paper about the stereotyping of black Americans. Since that incident, three of the precious lives listed in this article were snuffed out: Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd. Some would argue that the professor’s “kinder, gentler brand of racism” was no racism at all, and that his remarks certainly had no relationship to what went down in Minneapolis this week. But, in my view, they would be wrong. Rather than defending the professor as a “leading expert on racism,” on the one hand, or calling him out as “a racist,” on the other hand, why not simply identify his ideas and actions in that moment as ones born of the poisonous tree?
Last week, New York City resident Amy Cooper tried to defend herself after falsely accusing a black man who was bird-watching in Central Park of trying to harm her. “I’m not a racist. I did not mean to harm that man in any way,” she exclaimed. The target of her actions, Christian Cooper, had an insightful response: “It’s not really about her and her poor judgement in a snap second,” he said. “It’s about the underlying current of racism and racial perceptions that’s been going on for centuries and that permeates this city and this country that she tapped into.” After asking people to stop threatening Amy, he said: “[There’s] no excusing that it was a racist act because it was a racist act. But [does] that define her entire life? Only she can tell us if that defines her entire life by what she does going forward.”
I think if more white people could appreciate this nuance, that not everyone who engages in a racist act is necessarily bound to be a racist for life (thanks to Harry Allen for suggesting an edit here), we might be less prone to denial and defensiveness and more likely to engage in the sort of self-critique that Jason encourages. We would be more ready to listen, to apologize, to learn, and to grow in our capacities to be anti-racist. Our axes would be sharpened and quick to sever the poisonous roots whenever and wherever they might surface, even in our own lives.
I am not sure if racism in America will ever have a remedy.
I wouldn’t be surprised seeing a couple of Spectrumites posting in the next few hours here saying something that would actually be some kind of excuse in favor of the four assassins that killed George Floyd. Let’s wait and see, but I bet at least one will raise his voice criticizing those of us who oppose racism and discrimination in any form.
Trump told a journalist that the case is “sad.” I wonder what he would have said if the killers were black/hispanic/asian, killing a white guy by suffocation. Would they be still on the streets by now??? The white murderes still are!
The ideas and actions of the professor you criticize have their origin in Jesus Christ. If the professor were black and not white, he would not have been attacked and disparaged. He would not have been mugged.
Andrews University is in the grip of the ideology of black racism. We need a black person of stature who can bring about the Sister Souljah moment that Andrews University desperately needs. I have no idea who that person might be. And I do not expect such a moment to occur any time soon.
Thomas Wolfe understood very well the human condition. He wrote, “If a conservative is a liberal who’s been mugged, a liberal is a conservative who’s been arrested.” We should strive to sympathize with the victim who has been mugged and the person lying on the street whose neck is being pressed down by a police officer’s knee.
I can’t believe that those four assassins haven’t been yet arrested. If they were black they would have no chance, they would have been arrested on the spot.
By the way, due to so many errors being committed, I am against the death penalty. Unless the murder is caught on camera…
Thank you for your interesting article. Unfortunately, there a few areas I do not share an agreement with.
I have imagined a world without white people but this dream was short-lived as I remembered the atrocities in Rwanda, Cambodia, Darfur and other parts of the world led by minorities.
I have imagined a world without black people but this dream was short-lived as I remembered the atrocities of the Holocaust, Nazi Persecution, Bosnia and other parts of the world led by white populations.
Racism like other evils need good people among the oppressed and among the oppressors to say nothing to flourish so let us remember that we all without exception has a part to play.
In order to stimulate change both groups, oppressed and oppressors, need to be made aware of the evils of racism. I am glad that courageous individuals use their devices to film, to report truthfully the evils around them and contribute to this needed awareness. Racist acts may not be in the increase but may simply be filmed more often so people can really see its many forms.
Racism in Adventism or in our world can also be addressed when we honestly acknowledge that Christianity, Islam and other religions asserted the unique and wonderful value of the individual human being as a created by God or High Power for His special purposes yet Christian and Muslim societies, for example, for their own special purposes, long approved the capture, sale, ownership, use of men, women and children from Black Africa. We still cannot know the extent of the human cost but it is certain that many millions lost their lives in the warfare and raiding which provided the captives for slavery and many also lost their lives in the process of collection, initial transport and storage of slaves for the West’s so-called Atlantic Trade as well as for the East’s so-called Islamic Trade. Blacks have suffered and struggled in White and Black societies. Many may argue that the inhumane treatments may have been slightly different but nonetheless inhumane.
Telling the truth implies accepting the consequences of such truth and take actions for the betterment of our societies. It also includes telling the name of the person you did not wish to mention by fear of your article not being read. No matter what we do or say some people will accept and some will not.
These are in a nutshell some of my thoughts as I read your interesting article.
All the best! Stay Safe!
I’m not sure that there would be many people in the US who would look at what this woman done and say “yeah, but she was only a kinder racist”.
The problem in that situation wasn’t as much racism, but being a case of two people trying to force their will on each other by using fighting tactics. The guy didn’t like that she had dog off the leash. She didn’t like that he said something like “well, it you are not going to leash him, I’m going to do something”, and likely was trying to provoke her into a rage… and that aftermath is what was shown. Her fighting tactics were obviously much more egrigious, but it’s not a story we’ve been shown on the news.
But again, even this case, there isn’t a dominant media story out these that “hey she was a soft racist”. She was immediately fired from her job and made to apologize.
The problem with this article is largely out of touch narrative that we are living in a system that doesn’t do anything to deal with these complex problems, and that’s simply not the case.
Not only we do something, in many cases we go overboard in terms of placating. For example, Jason isn’t bringing up right now Minneapolis burning and people looting and tearing disproportionately into businesses who support and service these communities. That’s a separate issue that can’t be avoided in a discussions like these as to which is the proper course of action when it comes to methodical elimination of these issues… and mere emotional outbursts don’t resolve it
Second, it is an issue of freedom of thought which is almost always, in my experience, exploited by those who love to get out there and have you prove to them that you are not a NAZI, or bourgeois, or racist, by clapping/jumping/standing/sitting and playing a modified version of “Simon says” in which you are a racist unless you play the game properly.
And that’s perhaps the most problematic issue with this , is that people like Jason use the language like “I’m done with you all”, like it really carries any weight at all in this conversation. That’s not how you initiate successful dialog in all of this.
So, George, if they indeed have been black… would it then be a less egrigious crime then? Would people still riot?
How about if the victim was white? This wouldn’t even be blip in the news cycle. The world would all be “right” then?
You don’t see the problem with such narrative? How can such unilateral narrative lead to any kind of reconciliation?
Thanks for reading. I normally wouldn’t comment, but the pandemic means I have more time on my hands. Just a few comments -
2.I wrote this piece before the reaction started so I don’t think it’s fair to judge the article for not mentioning it. I guess you can judge me now though because I won’t be addressing it here in the comments either. You say it can’t be avoided but it most certainly can because it is derivative and if you’re not willing to address the cause (which you aren’t because enough is being done in your estimation) then I am not willing to discuss the derivative with you.
I am not actually interested in this game of Simon says. But I do find it interesting that you would demean the demands of the oppressed in how they would like to be treated but still say you’re interested in solving the problem. I apologize- you never said you were interested in solving the problem.
You say my language doesn’t matter as you are commenting on my language under a post with my byline. I’m sorry you wasted your time. You also seem to think that I am interested in “initiating successful dialog” in all of this. (I don’t even know what that means. I am sure you don’t know what it means either.) I don’t think I listed that as one of my goals. I apologize if you were confused. I am convinced that successful dialog with many of you on this issue is an impossibility.
God bless. Thanks again for reading. For my own peace and health, I won’t be returning here.
Thanks for reading. I normally don’t comment on my pieces but the pandemic means I have some free time on my hands.
I don’t think I disagree with anything you said. Please note my qualifiers. the oppressed can’t “truly” tell… “how” to remove… I don’t think that is at odds with your quote “both the oppressed and the oppressors need to be aware of racism and its effects to fight it with efficiency.” The roles in removing the oppression are different and that is what the statement is about.
Well if what you’re saying is accurate, then no one is killed by racism. The question is why was there brutality? Why was there a failure to protect and serve? If you don’t think that racism was a part of the reason why then I have a long history of police brutality against people of color that you should read. By the way, I never made the argument that these officers were white supremacists. One of the things I find that most people don’t understand about race and racism is that you can do racist things and not be a racist.
My piece is about racism in America. You may be right about the rest of the world, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable making blanket statements about things I have not sufficiently studied.
No it does not. My work is my own and I make the judgments about what is included and what isn’t. Interestingly enough, I am very surprised that you and others don’t already know who it is, I certainly gave enough clues.
Again, thanks for reading. For my peace and health, I will not be returning here.
Thanks for reading. Normally I wouldn’t respond, but I think you raise something interesting that I wanted to address. You are absolutely right to point out that race is a totally made up construct. I just wanted to point out that this isn’t enough to make the argument that it does not have value. The nation-state is a totally arbitrary concept. So is money. But both are considered inestimably valuable to the human existence.
Race, especially for people of color, ends up becoming something of value because of the trauma of racism and our oppression has obscured our ability to group ourselves in the largest of ways you mentioned - the tribe. So we use race as a stand-in for the shared history and experience. Another example of the oppressed in history taking something meant for evil and extracting good from it.
Thanks again for reading. For my peace and health, I won’t be returning here.
I’m not sure that there’s ever “enough” of things to be done in that respect, because you can’t shift responsibility of these things to be some society-wide witch hunt of “ghost of racism” which it inevitably ends up being.
Even in this particular case, to attribute this particular crime to racism is to assume that you could viably read the mind of the officer, and that he isn’t merely on a power trip or had a bad day… you have to assume that he hated black people with prejudice, and that’s the only reason why Mr. Floyd is dead.
However tragic his death is, the reality that I’m pointing to… if the officers were black, or the victim was white… this wouldn’t have been an issue that was exploited in the media, first to grab more eyeballs and boost ratings, and second to channel political rage in whatever channel it’s directed.
And, you wouldn’t be writing articles about these equally-tragic incidents of excessive police force that results in hundreds of people dying yearly in the US.
So, when we shift conversation to excessive police force, then the conversation inevitably shifts to how statistically-disproportionate it is when it comes to composition of population. Of course, this leads to a conversation about these incidents disproportionately happening in poor black communities. And it leads to why… which is largely because these communities were marginalized in the past, and are simply stuck in a viscous cycle of bad cultural habits that such environments perpetuate.
I get it… and that’s what the actual issues are below the surface of the ocean when these hurricanes brew, but it’s not something you are willing to discuss, because people on the left tend to avoid these subject in order not to make it seem like they are blaming victims.
The problem is that, the internal problems in these communities tend to be externalized and projected to be sourced elsewhere… and such externalization, unsurprisingly, doesn’t fix their internal problems. Money thrown at these communities don’t fix their problems, just make them worse in many cases. And thought police culture of making sure white people don’t say racist things doesn’t seem to fix their problems either.
So, your outrage isn’t going to fix it either. I actually do propose quite simple set of solutions that were proven to work virtually anywhere these were implemented, because these empower communities. Us Jews have been doing this for eons, and there’s a reason why it works:
Teach people to band around local community structures and pool resources. Marriage and strong familiar relationships is the bedrock of that.
Cultivate strong moral community sensibility which revolves around certain religious defense of proprietary communal ideology.
Help and build up people that share your cultural ideology. Help those who are in position of building and influencing communities, and reward those who adhere and defend moral action.
Stop externalizing responsibility for your own success as family - community - culture.
Those four are hard work, but these have been proven to work for any marginalized subcultures like ours, and which are far more effective than constantly crying “Anti-semite!”, which is a viable tactic, but isn’t that helpful when it comes to our cultural context of building strong families, businesses, and culture of independence from external oppression which historically was always there.
Fair-enough, although I think you don’t want to go there precisely because you can’t go there without claiming that people who are robbing those stores are somehow “victims” in all of this. I could be wrong. I hope your views are much more nuanced and complex, so perhaps I should give you a benefit of a doubt.
Oppression is a subjective context. I could roll over and claim that you are oppressing me right now with your belligerence, and being anti-Semitic and insensitive to the plight of the Jewish people who were marginalized by historic scapegoating because their cultural habits landed them in the upper class of society. But you see, that wouldn’t be a fair argument. So, let’s abstain from these “I’m defending the innocent you insult” tactics when we are discussing issues that have little to do with that.
In short, stop dancing on the graves of marginalized in order to make a point from a relative comfort of your own home. That’s just as absurd as me dragging Holocaust into this conversation. I have my own list of names from my family which liberal socialism that you promote has put to death, so let’s set these tactics aside.
I am interested in solving a problem, but you may not like what I may think the real problem is, and what real solution would be.
The first issue is that you have to stop assuming that people like I, on the other side of this argument are somehow against you. We are not. I get what you are trying to do, but you have arguably incomplete solution which largely revolves around tea and sympathy. There’s a need for tea and sympathy, but it doesn’t help the victims in the long-term, especially if they have to go through the lengthy rehab for the “hit and run” accident in the past. We may drive them there. We may pay for it, but if they don’t go through the rehab, they are not going to get better.
With that said, you are very much interested in playing the game of “Simon says”, because unless I am playing this game by your rules, you think that it’s pointless to discuss these issues with me. So, from your POV, we can’t discuss this as “bad culture” that we need to remedy, because it’s “victim blaming”. Again, I hope I’m wrong, and I hope your view is more nuanced… and you don’t merely think that everyone else needs to change, and jump through the hoops of both pretending that such bad culture doesn’t exist and that it doesn’t justifiably contributes to the negative stereotypes that it perpetuates.
Well, the problem that you don’t care to see or understand is that coming together on this issue IS THE PROBLEM… and that’s something that you reject from the get-go with a very narrow ideology and perspective on these issues in which all of us could do something beyond policing our language.
You attempt at pointing “language” issues is noted, but you should also see it as a red herring that it is in a scope of a broader problem. I understand that those issues is like explaining sexuality to an adolescent in a culture where sexuality is a taboo, but someone has to do it
Believe it or not, we are on the same side of this issue. And there isn’t any good reason to continually fracture these same sides of the issue into “right and wrong”. Both are correct in their proper context, but unfortunately both are exploited by the existing identity politics.
We have to at least agree that both Conservative and Liberal politics has a context in which it is more correct than it is incorrect, and the other way around. There’s a time for socialism, but socialism isn’t the only solution you can have in your bag of tricks. Likewise, we can discuss things in similar context… things like Political Correctness. There’s nothing wrong with it, but when political correctness becomes a tool of vindictive ideology, then it undoes everything that Political Correctness stands for. So, we have to discuss and justify these ideas and ideals as standalone, before we lump them with “de facto” way of doing policy and structuring moral landscapes.
We need to have both conversations, and unfortunately you are not ready for it. And I hope that some day you will be. In either case, keep your fuse intact. Don’t let the hard times be the end times.
While I support your main points, I do not see race as a risk factor for being a murder victim. I have never in my professional life identified race as a risk factor when completing psychiatric forensic evaluations for our local county court. In a 2009 FBI study, “of the 13,636 total homicide victims analyzed by the FBI, 6,556 (48.1%) victims were Black, 6,568 (48.2%) were White, and 360 (2.6%) were classified as Other.” Of the offenders “15,760 total homicide offenders analyzed by the FBI in 2009, 5,890 (37.4%) were Black, 5,286 (33.5%) were White, and 245 (1.6%).
Significant risk factors included gang activity, drug trade, access to guns, alcohol and illicit drugs, unemployment, temporal variances such as time of the day 7PM-2AM, national holidays, weekends, summer and spring. I still have yet to see compelling evidence that race is a risk factor for being a victim of homicide. I’m sure racism happens in a broken world but why use an outlier to explain the norm?
And another point. You do not have to leave. I enjoy following your articles.
The unfortunate reality that you may be very familiar with is that young black men are more at risk of taking their own life than being killed by someone else:
See page 11 for the leading causes of death by age.
I personally find this particular marker much more disturbing and far more riot-worthy.
Bingo. Jason also errs in his emotive claim that his list of victims were unlawfully murdered by government sponsored racism. Quite a few of the examples were not killed by a policeman nor were they lily-white innocents.
As a lawyer in his past life, i am sure he is aware that murder is a crime. Racism is also a crime.
Tilting at windmills, not so much.
I’d suggest that coercively extruding every white on black crime as certain supremacist racism is unhealthy and exhausting. Perhaps one should take a rest from this tactic-and despair less about how one cannot seem to make everyone accept this false proposition.
Conflating the two is unhelpful. I am no less an “unwitting ignorant” than Jason an educated elite on the basis of our skin melanin content. I sort of lump this in the “codependency on steroids” phenomenon.
Quite simply it is not true, despite how stridently many seem to desire it so, that all white people are supremacist racists (unless they jump through the hoops being whirled around) and all black people are owed something by all of society because they have reached some enraged threshold.
Insistence on this narrative is not race-relations repairing, at all. As exhbit numero uno i hold up Mr Hines inability to hear any of the equally valid rejections of his pet topic which he continues to foment (and then turn turtle and claim exhaustion).
The incident between the professor and the student is similar to those that Jon Ronson relates in his book So, You’ve Been Publicly Shamed. What Ronson calls a “renaissance of public shaming” via social media is an unsettling development. We’re seeing exposure tactics used by a number of student demographics on our campuses, typically aimed at an institution but occasionally at individuals.
Social media has dramatically altered the landscape of higher education, placing the coordinating power once held by institutions into the hands of individual students, allowing them to subvert institutional authority and processes. As a result, there has been a shift in how students handle their grievances. In the past, students might knock on the door of a dean or the president or take to the sidewalks in protest. Today, students are much more likely to bypass the institution’s established grievance processes and head straight to social media.
Religiously conservative students, politically conservative students, LGBTQ students, black students, sexual assault victims and advocates–all have used social media at one time or another in our Adventist universities to stir public opinion and incite change. Many of these incidents have been subsequently documented in the pages of Spectrum, which is how the whole system works.
I am not inclined to see the university as being in “the grip of black racism.” (I see this term as highly problematic and would not use it myself. If anything, most Adventist institutions have a history of being in the grip of dominantly white thinking.) But I do see our schools in the throes of a media revolution that has dramatically altered social relations and balances of power. This seismic shift has empowered those who have historically lacked a voice. On the darker side, it has also opened up the possibility for mob thinking and action. What may begin as a legitimate complaint that should have gone through a confidential grievance process, ends up in a Twitter pile-on that creates only more hurt on both sides.
So, no, I do not necessarily agree with the methods used by the student and her internet followers, but I do empathize with her hurt and frustration. (Because I have listened to our black students, and I know the stories that would lead her to despair of being heard at the institutional level.) Nor do I agree with the professor’s ideas or approach to the subject of racism (something on which you and I may disagree), but I can understand his distress over such public exposure.
Even as we educate students about ethics in this new media environment, we should understand that many of them (both liberal and conservative) no longer trust our institutions to change on their own and are willing to use the tools they have on hand to bring that about. Today, the police officer can no more hide behind his or her badge than universities can hide behind their ivy-league reputations. Citizens and students with cell phones and an internet connection are challenging institutions and the individuals who work for them in unprecedented ways, often in an attempt to hold them accountable.
In fact, we now know that it was Darnelle Frazier, a young, black 17-year old teenager, who captured the murder of George Floyd on video. Were it not for Darnelle holding her phone and standing her ground, we might not have ever known about this heinous act of white brutality.
I, for one, welcome this new age of transparency and accountability, even as I recognize its risks for those of us who “wear the badge” for one institution or another. Let’s hear it as a call to embody the values of empathy, respect, and compassion.
@webEd could post the following podcast as an alternative view of the hidden factors behind the mere reactionary perception of police violence in poor neighborhoods in general. But, perhaps now isn’t the best time to do this.
Either way, I would recommend this for anyone who is interested in a broader view of the issue from Ivy-league grade linguist and sociologists.
We may have lost the heart and soul of a nation. The stealing, killing, destruction is being glorified-selfies, social media, street cred, bragging rights, MSM exposure. Our entertainment tentacles, the education system, loveless religion, and rampant political corruption have taught these kids they can just lawlessly grab what they want, and destroy everything else. For 15 minutes of fame, for a name, for promise of social justice and money for nothin’.
Who will rebuild our nation?
These kids don’t want to, ain’t gonna, surely don’t know how to, and don’t understand or care about ethics, morality, equality, responsibility.
This is not about “racism”, that handful of men who senselessly ground Georges life out on the pavement did not surely intend to kill him just because he was black, or that they were white supremacists.
That is a lie from the pit of D.C.
Don’t fall for it, there are bigger voices calling.
And don’t fall for the lie that somehow I-and people like me-condone or somehow are all cool with George. THAT is even more uncool, and a false witness, a baseless accusation from a brethren, a cheap slash.
How do you know?
What can be observed is that a person was denied to breathe, even after people and George himself asked for simply breathing multiple times. Breathing is a basic part of human life. Imagine that, he asked that he would be allowed to breathe! Simply breathe! To deny that is to deny life. Not caring if someone breathes over whom I have power is to not care for him at all, not caring for him as a human being, denying his dignity and right to exist. That can be called dehumanizing with the result of actively taking George’s life. It’s dehumanizing a human being. It’s hubris.
I see a human that knelt on another human being and thus choking him to death, ignoring multiple pleas for ending that from the victim and others. No mercy. No checking. I don’t have a strong enough word for it.
Why did a specific human being dehumanize another specific human being? In general, racism, amongst other things, is a background for dehumanizing. I am not a US citizen, so this is up to you US people to investigate the relationship to racism in this case. In my POV, Jason’s articles reveal that each case has to be interpreted within a larger stream of history.