Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Rally the SJW! Apparently I'm a Racist! - An Open Response to a RecentReply to a Recent Post About Racism

I recently posted an article about the whole #blacklivesmatter thing and as predicted, it attracted responses. That's pretty good, right? Yep. And now I reply to the replies.

A particularly lengthy response has awakened my need for rebuttal and now I am prepared to answer all the concerns of all the hipsters, liberals and social justice warriors! Let's begin.

First of all, let's make one thing clear - thug isn't a racial term. 

But the vernacular doesn't always adhere to the etymological roots of a word, so I did a little survey. And you know what I found? Out of everyone I asked said that thug meant someone who either had no respect for women or had no respect for themselves. Not a single reference to skin color -- except from privileged white people who fancied themselves less racist than others and as a result sought to liberate blacks from the negative implications of the term. I found that very interesting.

But I found something else: no one at all correlated the word "thug" with women. Implying that within our collective consciousness, "thugs" are a male-only breed, making it a more sexist term than racist.

Now touching on the two young men I called thugs in my first article. I stand by that. By both etymological and vernacular reasoning and definitions, those two were thugs. They were criminals. Thieves.

I make absolutely no apologies for calling them what they were.

But something that seems to have been overlooked in my article - I stated that their lives were no more valuable than police, that's true, but I also said that their lives were no less valuable as well.

Why on earth wouldn't they be?

But here's the thing: a friend challenged my post, and now I will put forth a reply to everything he said (Caleb, I hope you don't mind me quoting you). So without further ado, here is my comprehensive reply:

4) We shouldn't need to declare that black lives matter: that's the point. We shouldn't but in our society we still do because of systemic racism that continues to oppress people of color. 
Alright. I'll grant you that assuming systemic racism against minorities actually does exist in our culture, then we absolutely should declare that black lives matter. And Hispanic lives. And Asian lives etc. BUT systemic racism doesn't target minorities exclusively. In some areas of the country, there is systemic racism against minorities, but in other areas, believe it or not, whites are HIGHLY prejudiced against. I grew up in poor areas where it was essentially a crime to be white. And where being black was a free pass to break the rules, receive free money from governmental benefits and altogether be treated like royalty. And why would such a system exist? Simple - no one wanted to be perceived as racist, so they overcorrected, over compensated and basically reversed the problem instead of erasing it.

Nearly every day I heard people declaring how not racist they were. Those were the white people. And you know what? It sucked.

But it doesn't end there. White families were denied benefits that black families received (Food Stamps, Welfare etc.), white students involved in fights at school were labeled as aggressors while black students were simply defending themselves. But the reality was the opposite. I, along with almost every white person I knew around my age, was bullied simply for the sin of not being black. 

And disregarding these few very subjective reasons (personal experience can't always be used to prove a point), let's take a look at a few examples outside my own experience:
Oprah Winfrey is one of (perhaps the) most financially successful woman on the planet. Black.
Barak Obama is the president of the country, and while a lot of people are unhappy about it, it demonstrates that at the very least the majority of Americans are not racist.
The list goes on and on.

And before you say "there is no systemic racism" realize you're not black and probably haven't felt the brunt of it. 
See above.

Why do predominantly black schools get the worst textbooks? 
They don't. Poor schools do. The fact is that predominantly black schools exist in poverty stricken neighborhoods (more on that in a bit). But this is correlative - not causal. 

Why do predominantly black neighborhoods get patrolled by police three times as much as white neighborhoods even when the crime activity is comparably low in some places?
The obvious racist answer is that the crime is low because they have three times as many cops. And again, the neighborhoods that you're talking about are typically poor neighborhoods. And statistically speaking, poor people are more likely to be desperate and thus more likely to commit violent crimes or theft. But alright. I'll give you this one since I don't particularly like police as a rule and I'm willing to call them racist. I've seen and read To Kill a Mockingbird. 

Why is an overwhelming majority of the prison population black when most are in there for drug related offenses that white people have committed too and gotten off for? 
Maybe because ...

Never mind. The prison population isn't predominantly black in this country. It is overwhelmingly white. As in more than blacks, Native Americans and Asians COMBINED. This information came directly from the United States Government - the guys who imprison these individuals. I don't reckon there is much else to say on this. Except maybe that if I were to kill my wife and her lover, I'd never see the light of day again - because I'm not OJ Simpson. These issues are slanted toward money - not skin color. 

It is not racist to say that racism exists. It is not missing the point. It is the point. We should affirm black lives matter when they feel like society tells them they don't.
I agree. It's not racist to say racism exists. But the fact is that society doesn't tell blacks that blacks don't matter. Look at the film industry for a quick example. Notice anything about black people in modern movies? They're freaking MAGIC!!! 

3) It implies other lives don't matter: okay sure, do me a favor and go crash a fundraiser for cancer research and complain that "all diseases matter!" Saying cancer is important does not mean Alzheimer's, AIDS, Parkinson's, etc do not. All lives matter, obviously, but focusing on black lives doesn't negate the importance of others. Jesus often said he came to preach to the poor, so if you were there making the money most even minimum wage people make now (which would make you comparably RICH) would you decry "Rich Lives Matter!" ...? We have caused for a reason. Too wide a focus doesn't rally specific movements to address specific concerns.
I have no objections to this statement. You're right. And crashing that fundraiser was a terrible idea. They kicked me out.

2) It is founded on thugs: YES you do sound racist. This is the racist garbage you're talking about. So Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were "thugs." You love a lot of pulp genre entertainment, in which you notice the only thugs are lackies for villains. Not a nice modifier for anyone. Speaking more generally, "thug" in American Culture is a particularly racialized term. White people are "offenders" or "perpetrators" or "criminals" but black people are always thugs? 
Yep. Trayvon and Michael were thugs. Plain and simple. I've already gone into the reasons that I won't recant. 

Look at coverage of Katrina ten years ago: a white couple "found" groceries from a flooded store, while a black couple "looted" them in a similar story covered later. 
I have a couple of questions:
1. Were these two stories covered by the same network?
2. Would you be willing to say that Bush is still president? Silly question, perhaps. But you're citing decade old news stories. The question isn't whether racism has existed in the past - the question is whether systemic racism still exists as you claim it does today. 

"Thug" is yet another way to tell black people they are inherently worse for the same offense. 
Not even close. NONE of the black people I spoke to thought that thug was a racially informed term. As I mentioned earlier in this post, only the people fighting to get rid of the stigma attaching the word with black people actually thought that there was a stigma to remove. That's like me trying to get people to stop calling Val Kilmer Batman. Sure, that was a reality twenty years ago, but today it's Ben Affleck's turn. 

Furthermore, you say (as if that justifies it) these people attacked the cops who killed them. Cliché sure, but what would Jesus do if he were attacked? He'd act peacefully. Not immediately reach for a gun. 
What Jesus would do is not the concern. We're not talking about Christians. We're talking about men who felt their lives were in serious danger reacting in a desperate attempt to survive. I'm not saying their actions were justified, but the fact is that shots to wound are illegal whereas shots to kill are not. That may seem like a stupid law, but it's reality. 

Self defense and gun rights aren't even the problem here though. It's you saying they deserved to DIE. 
I don't think they deserved to die. I never said anything of the sort. Actually, I said the opposite. I cited Gandalf (I called him Olorin) in saying that 'many who live deserve death and many who die deserve life. Can you give it to them?' That in no way communicates that I believe those young men deserved to be slain. But the fact is - black, white, Hispanic, Asian or otherwise, I may have done the exact same thing had I been in the situation that George Zimmerman and that cop in Ferguson were in. 

When they didn't. They "deserved" to be arrested I bet, maybe immobilized till there was no threat, but not killed. 
See above. 

And finally, BLM also stands up for Eric Garner who was choked to death in an illegal hold and saw no justice, Tamir Rice who pulled out a toy gun and was killed for it because the cop's first instinct was to shoot a child (I'd love to see your outrage if that happened to someone you know who was white), Walter Scott who ran from a cop and was gunned down (shot in the back!) rather than pursued and who only got justice because someone filmed the murder on a cell phone, Freddie Gray who was so roughed up and mishandled on the way to the police station he died because he didn't receive immediate medical attention as protocol dictates. There are real problems way way then there are villains here. Even cops aren't the "bad guys" writ large. It's just some cops can be bad. 
This happens to people of all creeds, social classes, races etc. Cops can be bad. Other cops can be good. I'm not here to defend police. For crying out loud, my car was stolen by a cop and I had to pay to get it back (sensationalized as that sentence may be, it's sort of true - I'll explain that in a separate blog post). 

1) It accomplishes the opposite: uhh yes black lives are a thing. Just like white lives are a thing. You and I have a white life. Of course we all share this life, across colors and many other differences. But it does affect the way we lead our lives especially in America where "white is right" has been the case explicitly and implicitly for hundreds of years ("that's mighty white of you" used to be a compliment!). 
Again, color no longer has a bearing on this. We're dealing with social classes induced by the size of you bank account - not the color of your skin. I've lived in Georgia, Alabama, Washington and Alaska. I've spent time in South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and Azerbaijan. I've lived in extremely poor neighborhoods, higher class expensive neighborhood, predominantly black neighborhoods predominantly Hispanic neighborhoods and neighborhoods with mostly white people. And the one thing that is true everywhere I've been is that money is a bigger determinant of people's perceived value than race is. 

If none of that matters, God would have made us all one color or transparent for that matter. 
I don't think I can agree. Biblically speaking, the human race began with no diversity and then found diversity as a result of the wrath and judgment of God (Tower of Babel). Diversity was not celebrated in Scripture - it was detested. But God restored fellowship within the various nations through Christ. 

We should be unified across barriers but God actually wants us to celebrate our differences. 
See above. 

Diversity is a good word not a distraction of the fallen world. Before you say we shouldn't see color, let's remember that everyone in the Bible was pretty much tan, brown, or black (it was the Middle East) and then compare that to all the people who still think Jesus is white. 
"Galatians 3:28 (NASB) 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

If diversity is so great and should be celebrated, why are we admonished to ignore it and simply focus on Christ? I think that culture and heritage are beautiful things. I like anime, fajitas and Samuel L. Jackson. But when we focus on skin, even with good intent, we miss the Savior. But again, we live in a fallen world and cannot expect or assume that non-Christians will adhere to Christian ideologies. 

The many skin colors of the world are beautiful and they come with differences, but I appreciate that. We don't ignore that. 
See above. 

For that matter, can you blame black people for wanting to celebrate their skin color when they were taught the opposite by slavery (and other power systems after it stretching into today)? 
The slavery that occurred in the United States was relatively brief when compared to other nations. It was also not limited to blacks. Need I remind you of the 400 years that my people (the Jews) were enslaved in Egypt? Or what about Babylon? Assyria? How about the blacks that sold the slaves to the European settlers of the Americas? And the salvery that occurred in this country has never directly affected anyone living today. Maybe the early to mid twentieth century with the civil rights movement and the blatant racism there, but not a relatively brief period of time over two hundred years ago. Slavery has taught them nothing, because they were never enslaved. Just like being a slave owner never taught me anything. Because I never owned slaves!

At best, it is text books and their writers along with people trying to overcorrect that have taught black people to have pride in response to slavery.

Why not have pride on the basis of achievement? Peanut Butter. Darth Vader AND Mufasa. Hip hop music. RnB. Rock and Roll. The thirteenth note (thanks to Michael Jackson). The list goes on and on. Being black isn't reason for pride. Being white isn't reason for pride. Being human is. And sharing a heritage with great men and women is. 

Don't tell them to "not see skin color" when all they've seen by what many have shown them is to see they're the "wrong" color. 
I've demonstrated that this isn't the case by any stretch (whether convincingly or not is up to you). See skin color for all I care. Relish it. Take pride. Have pride in your heritage. Your culture. But the people showing that blacks don't matter are a staggering minority. The perception is only skewed because we live in a culture of sensationalized media. 

Yes we are all soul in true essence to a degree and this world is not our home and one day we'll leave our earthly bodies, etc. but we have them right now so how do we embrace all bodies, all skin, and all color without skipping to the part where that shouldn't matter and supposedly-shame-on-you-for-seeing-color?
I'm not a "shame-on-you-for-seeing-color" decrier. Colors are great. I'm a "stop-pretending-there's-an-issue-that-is-only-there-because-we-need-something-to-fix" decrier.

And by the way, my thugliest friend is white. 

And as for your last point: amen, may we see Jesus above all. But may we remember that Jesus looked left and right as well as up when he was on the cross.
Valid I suppose. But He was also directing attention upward.

He saw "petty criminals" and asks us to do the same. If we ignore the least of these (remember "criminals" made that list, according to Jesus) to just see only Jesus, we'll have missed a great way to truly know him: by reaching out to others put down by society, who see violence as their only option in cases where their skin color is their "first offense," who still experience racism today even if you don't. 
It's racist to assume that whites aren't discriminated against. But that is a whole different conversation. I agree. Petty criminal need the love of God as much - maybe more than - everyone else. 
Jesus cares about the criminals. We should too. But before I conclude, I have to admonish again, your analogy compares black people to crucified thieves...which is pretty racist yet again. 
No. My analogy compares thugs with crucified thugs. Criminals and thieves killed for their crimes. I don't care if the offenders were black, white, Arab, Jew, Martian, or Kryptonian. A thief is still a thief regardless. And my analogy is perfect because it takes two men who were in fact criminal thieves and were killed by lawmen and compares them to two men who were in fact thieves and were killed by lawmen. And then I went on to point to the innocent man killed by lawmen (a feat you were also quick to do). 
Your advice ends up sounding like, "ignore black people, especially the ones who commit crimes, see Jesus instead." Is that what Jesus actually sees? God, I hope not (an actual prayer, not using His name in vain).
Alright. Since I can't dictate what you perceive from my words, allow me to be more clear and to conclude by eradicating any remaining ambiguity:
Ignoring people of any color on the basis of their skin, sex, orientation, profession, net worth or interests is wrong. 

If we are going to ignore anyone, it should be bullies and persecutors. But even then we should only ignore their attacks on us and not them as people, opting instead to love and point to Christ as the source of that love.

I reach out in love by typing up this mini essay. See my words and my intent before you close your eyes and assume I'm wrong and therefore sinful. May God preside over this interaction.
Anyway, I figure you're just wrong and sinful ... Wait. Crap. You told me not to do that. Never mind.

In sincerity, I'm glad for the discourse. And I'm glad for the replies. All I have are facts and opinions. One is informed by the other.

*Emboldened text provided by Mr. Caleb Milligan during his response to my previous post regarding this issue.

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