rowanf: (Help I'm being englightened)
[personal profile] rowanf
Yesterday I went to the African American Community Service Agency's 35th Annual Martin Luther King Luncheon, a celebratory program acknowledging the Life, Legend and Legacy of the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I went last year and was again able to go this year representing SiVIC. We had a table with JCRC, actually about a table and a half -- so pretty good representation of white religious leaders.

There are things -- all the "god" stuff and the militaristic presenting of "the colors" by the local ROTC that are so not my culture. But I did want to support the effort and I was excited to hear this year's keynote speaker, Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. That man is a serious over-achiever and a great speaker. He said that he decided to become an astronaut after seeing the Moon Landing. He went on to become the "First African American to Walk in Space". Not to mention all kinds of other things. He has a foundation now that helps disadvantaged youth get into the STEM fields and does health care venture capital.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about racism lately. It isn't a new thing for me to think about. Leaving aside my work in the 60s-70s. I went to a talk in 2010 by Michelle Alexander and read _The New Jim Crow_ when it came out. I have been writing letters and such in the wake of Trayvon Martin, of Ferguson and the senseless loss of Black lives at the hands of militarized police forces around the country. Last week I re-read _Black Like Me_ by John Howard Griffin. I had read it in the 60s but the edition I just read is a 2010 ebook edition that contains a lot of afterword about Griffin's life and other works which gave even greater depth to his book. If you are unfamiliar with this work there is an interesting Smithsonian article on whether it is still relevant.

And whilst I'm at it, this poem is amazing -- 19-year-old spoken-word poet Sarah O'Neal recites her poem "An Overreaction," where she speaks about Dr. King and her frustration at having to defend the protests.

And yet, I'm so white. I'm like 97% Northern European. My ancestors came to America between 1600 and 1732. So I have Alsatian, Swedish, French, German, Scots, Jersiaise, English and Irish ancestors. They came to America and made lives for themselves and yes, some of them kept slaves and some were abolitionists. They fought on both sides of the American Revolution and the Civil War. But I think everyone wass doing the best they could with what they had in the culture they lived in. I'm not ashamed of who I am... How can I best help? I try to be aware and above all kind. I hope that will be enough to help things change.

Date: 2015-01-20 10:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I dont see any contradiction between your genetic and cultural whiteness and your interest in racism! I see our future! its only when white people really engage in unraveling racism that things will improve. You and I and our white sister have to show other people how to be brave and listen to the harsh, angry stories of black friends who live with things we will never have to endure. High five to you for your engagement.

On a related note, I am at an all time low with CoG. Its painful to see the organization tripping over itself to protect a small group of less than kind or open minded members. I am sad that someone I consider a friend is the current NFO and both is having to deal with all this and also is contributing to it. I feel ever more like a minority in this organization than I have in the past.

Date: 2015-01-21 01:38 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Well, I do agree that white folks have to step up to combat racism. But it isn't easy. Hugs to you and high fives back.

I entirely agree re CoG. I tried to join in the 70s and have been a member since 1980 or 81. I represent CoG in interfaith. And yet... I am so tempted to join those leaving. There is one particular man that I really wish someone would put a muzzle on. Every post he makes drives me further away. But GAH, it is OUR organization, we built it. Not leaving yet.

May 2015


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