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The Race Chasm and the campaign

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For a further observance of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr., take a look a David Sirota’s analysis of the impact of race on the current election. Ponder this graph for a minute (it took me at least a minute!), then I’ll give you a few excerpts from his thought-provoking post from In These Times.

The Race Chasm may sound like a conventional discussion of the black-white divide, but it is one of the least-discussed geographic, demographic and political dynamics driving the contest between Clinton and Obama. I call it the Race Chasm because of what it looks like on a graph. … As the Race Chasm graph shows, when you chart Obama’s margin of victory or defeat against the percentage of African-Americans living in that state, a striking U trend emerges. …

On the left of the graph, Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

April 4, 2008 at 6:53 pm

Posted in Politics

Race, Obama, and white privilege

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Geraldine FerraroObamaIt is impenetrably difficult for we who are white to see what white privilege has handed us.

Sometimes I wonder if the common white “I am color-blind” outlook really amounts to just plain blindness. For to ignore color is to ignore the elephant in the room: being white is still very different from being non-white in the USA. Self-professed color-blindness, which has such a noble ring to those with the upper hand, may say to non-whites, “I am blind to how the past affects you and me today.”

It may be like saying, “You don’t hurt. If you do, that’s sad, but it has nothing to do with me. For since I bear you no ill will, I am no racist. As far as I’m concerned, we’re equals.”

Perhaps the operant phrase is as far as I’m concerned. Might it mean “My (white) view is the view by which we’ll operate”? Might it be the basis of Geraldine Ferraro’s rage: that her white view of what racism is—something like “harboring ill will toward people of color”—is, to her, the only view that matters?

Might the elements of racism that invisibly color our own outlooks be as pernicious as the more obvious ones we detest in others?

Roger Cohen, in a NY Times opinion piece, writes an eloquent, poignant personal reaction to the Obama race speech. I encourage you to read it all. Here are some excerpts:

Beyond America’s Original Sin

There are things you come to believe and things you carry in your blood. In my case, having spent part of my childhood in apartheid South Africa, I bear my measure of shame. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 22, 2008 at 6:29 pm

A landmark: Text of the Obama speech on race

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“A More Perfect Union”
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
Constitution Center
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tuesday 18 March 2008

“We the people, in order to form a more perfect union.”

Two hundred and twenty one years ago, in a hall that still stands across the street, a group of men gathered and, with these simple words, launched America’s improbable experiment in democracy. Farmers and scholars; statesmen and patriots who had traveled across an ocean to escape tyranny and persecution finally made real their declaration of independence at a Philadelphia convention that lasted through the spring of 1787.

The document they produced was eventually signed but ultimately unfinished. It was stained by this nation’s original sin of slavery, a question that divided the colonies and brought the convention to a stalemate until the founders chose to allow the slave trade to continue for at least twenty more years, and to leave any final resolution to future generations. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Posted in patriotism, Politics, Race

I helped Grace’s business! UPDATE

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Comité Las AmigasUPDATE: I had the privilege of temporarily sharing fifty bucks with Grace Anuafule in west Africa, and published the post below (in July) about how easy and fun it was to start the process thru Kiva. Just two weeks ago, I received notice that Grace has completely repaid my small part and that of the others who, combined, provided an $800 loan. Ta-da! It worked! What a privilege!

And my fifty has gone on another trip now, this time to a group of women with clothing and food businesses in Paraguay (at right). And a friend of mine just began this week, too, with a couple of loans to people in Peru.

Yahoo. Surely there’s more cash around here somewhere. Hey—you wanna try it, too? Click on Kiva to find out how.


July, ’07:  This is Grace. She stands in her business, Grace Store in west Africa, where she sells food and kitchen equipment. [It’s a great photo – click it for a version that will show you much more.]I am proud to say that I have had a teeny-tiny part in the success of the Grace Store. Like so:Grace recently saw an opportunity to expand her business. She needed $800 to do it.

I heard about Kiva. Kiva connects individuals who want to loan small amounts of money with people who need small loans Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

January 30, 2008 at 9:00 pm

Race, gender, age barriers smashed! (readings for Pentecost 05)

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Pentecost, Nora Kelly (Ireland)What a day of surprises that first Christian Pentecost must have been! We’re not used to them even yet.

Peter stands up amidst a throng of foreigners and is heard by each in their native language. He calls out the centuries-old prophecies of Joel. And he says, “This is it. Now.” [at left, Pentecost by Irish artist Nora Kelly]

Shocking indeed, that barriers of communication among people of many nations were miraculously bridged (in amusing contrast to that which we today label Pentecostal). But look what other barriers are declared finis:

“I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your young … your old …
Your sons and your daughters will prophesy …
Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit … and they will prophesy.”

National/racial barriers removed. Age barriers removed. Gender barriers removed (as if knowing people will have a hard time believing it, he says that one twice.) It’s a perfect summary of the example of Jesus. And this is the way it was to be from then on.

But how falteringly have we Christians taken up Peter’s cry! How unquestioningly we permit nation or race to cancel Jesus’ command to love all people. How pathetic that male privilege still trumps the equity Peter announced as the new norm (and prophesy does not here mean so much a telling of the future as it does speak for God). How tragic that old and young are segregated and mutually devalued in “communities” of faith.

Back to our roots, Church! Let all see that Jesus Christ means radically egalitarian love, radically egalitarian roles, radically egalitarian hope. And let no one imprison our faith in the rule-books of restriction and exclusion.

Related post:  The radicalism of Jesus Christ

Read on for the Scriptures themselves … Read the rest of this entry »