December 5, 2020

Privilege, silence, shalom, and a generational moment

Our Declaration of Independence declares that all people are created equal. It proceeds to clarify what “equality” means: we are all endowed with certain natural rights by our Creator. But, though we may all have those rights, not all people start life or live it on an equal footing with others. And thus we speak today about “privilege.”

I am a privileged person. I am a white Caucasian male, born into an intact family. I have loving parents who raised me in safe, stable communities. I had access to a middle-class lifestyle, a good education from kindergarten through graduate school, and a multitude of opportunities that were not difficult to find or obtain. I never felt threatened or afraid (except by the occasional bully). I never wondered where my meals might come from. I knew I would get nice birthday and Christmas presents. I’ve always been healthy. Much was given to me before I even took my first breath, and the rest was pretty much there for the taking without extraordinary effort. Life’s been good.

My parents and grandparents worked hard to procure this life for me, but they grew up in relatively privileged, advantageous settings as well. And so it has been true for many people like me for generations.

We all know my experience is far from universal (though I conveniently forget about it often). I’m privileged to be who I am and where I am.

Privilege is not something to feel guilty about. It’s a fact. Some have more advantages than others. However, to cite Jesus, it is something to always keep in mind:

  • first in terms of my own personal responsibility (“to whom much is given, much is required”),
  • and also in terms of being mindful of those who’ve not had such privileges (“love your neighbor as yourself”).

It is my sacred duty to try and understand my neighbors, where they come from, and to serve them in ways that will honor their dignity, lift them up, and help them flourish. And, on the structural side, I’m called to advocate and work for a society in which the starting line and the path will be more level for everyone. All my neighbors should have opportunity and access to better lives. That is the work of justice, and it’s the only way we can all find lives of shalom together.

Now, that is about all I can say at this point regarding the current social upheaval we are experiencing after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

There is ZERO chance I can say anything on behalf of people of color regarding their lives and experiences. I can simply say I am for them. I am for justice. I am for shalom. As a Christian I believe Jesus died and rose again to break down the walls between those who are at enmity with one another. I am willing to do my part in helping us take steps toward dancing together on the rubble. However, that project first involves taking a stance of listening about 99% of the time these days. The world does not need yet another privileged white man spouting opinions about matters far beyond his experience and expertise and adding to the noise.

It’s possible that what we are seeing today is a generational moment, just like the decade of the 1960s. The strongest voices I am hearing these days are from young people. Their experience has been much different than mine. I have children who married people of color, and who now have children who will be growing up in this world. My kids and others their age are more sensitive to matters of racial disparity and injustice because they see similar faces in their own families. I’m convinced that these organic changes are integral to societal advancement.

So I am happy to let the young speak and to support them in the wisest and best ways I can discover.

My kids grew up with this album and this song playing in our home. Today they are hearing and helping the whispers of revolution grow louder.

Comments

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=juQLifY4l_0

    Privilege is real for any person regardless of race if they have economic security, a secure , supportive family unit and and all the things mentioned in your article. Senator Corey Booker, just to pull a name out , comes from a privileged background vs. Clarence Thomas who did not, just for an example. Bill Clinton did not come from a privileged background, Bush, Gore did. CM , so as a privileged white man you should not or chose not to have any input into the discussion? I guess you mean other than here Who is the expert on privilege ? I think David Webb in the radio interview summed it up. The lady in the interview who was so sloppy , she did not even do basic research had a promising future being a talking head but I think this killed it. She came into the interview with a pre judged attitude and set of facts about the man she was talking to, defining prejudice to a T. She then blamed her people. The comments below the video are good. Anyway, this is one of the layers of issues that require serious attention.

    • Robert F says

      >Bill Clinton did not come from a privileged background…

      Bill Clinton had the privilege of not being under the watchful eye and suspicion of every cop who saw him on the streets of the places where he grew up and lived, and not expecting to be. Senator Corey Booker, on the other hand, despite wealth and privilege far beyond Bill Clinton’s, was automatically on the watch list of every cop as a potential criminal perpetrator, and treated with that prejudice as the default setting, and he knew and expected that.

    • Robert F says

      The advantages of white privilege, and the disadvantages of not having it, do not change with affluence, intelligence, ability, or any other personal characteristic. It’s there whether you’re rich or poor, smart or not so, capable or incapable, law-abiding or criminal.

      • I don’t disagree but let’s not turn it into a metaphysic like Original Sin. It is the result of historical and social forces that can be addressed by people of good will.

        If as a white guy I am being granted recognition of my civil rights I am NOT being privileged. Those are my rights. If black folks are NOT being granted recognition of their civil rights THAT’s the issue. THAT’s where the focus needs to be. Me walking around with a hang dog expression because I’m being “privileged” is not helpful to those who are actually being discriminated against. It’s just more white self-absorption.

        Why are black folks not being treated equally under the law? That’s the question that needs to be asked.

        • Rick Ro. says

          +1. This. EXACTLY.

        • That’s true, but the issue is also the disparity. I wrote that privilege (having a more advantageous access to rights and opportunities) is not something to feel guilty about. But it is something to always keep in mind. The problem is not only that people of color don’t have it, it’s that the white majority and the institutions we have in place don’t recognize the disparity.

        • Robert F says

          I wasn’t aware of turning white privilege into a metaphysical doctrine. It’s a social construct. It’s there until society changes it, which so far society hasn’t.

          My hang dog expression is just a natural phenomenon.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        I come from a state whose Woke-ocracy has WEAPONIZED accusations of White Privilege et al. for Guilt Manipulation. After encountering SJWs with power, that is something I always have to keep in mind.

        • Robert F says

          I’m aware of extremism on the progressive side. That extremism won’t go away by saying white privilege doesn’t exist, and refusing to address the real grievances that it causes; it will get worse.

        • Robert F says

          The Trump movement seems to have accelerated the growth of Woke politics, moved its timetable up. Even if he wins this next election, reaction to him has mobilized the radical left in this country in a way that will end up crushing both conservatism and liberalism. I’m afraid the age of liberalism in its broad modern sense is over in America.

    • Dan, I reject your assumption that just because there are some people of color who have advantages more than others that there is no such thing as WHITE privilege. The scales are tipped in the advantage of people who look like me so far that it is way past time for a serious correction.

      • As Seneca noted below there are all types of privileges that we are born into or obtain ourselves. An American citizen has “American” privilege for example. White privilege is a social construct. I think there is a theory called the looking glass theory in sociology, that applies to this subject. Attractive people have good looking privilege, smart people have smart privilege, tall people have height privilege . The least racist, more permissive, most fair and most productive nation in history is being negatively changed by the a mob mentality disguised as progress.

        • Dan, this comment is close to being out of bounds. Stereotyping the tens of thousands of people speaking out and protesting as “mobs” is unacceptable. Watch it.

        • Robert F says

          Last week the “mob” at Lafayette Square were wearing uniforms, badges, and helmets, and deploying tear gas and explosives against peaceful protestors.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            While the Christians chorused “AAAAAA-MENNNN!!!”
            “HE HELD UP A BIBLE!!!!!

            • anonymous says

              “Christians” ?

              it has been a long time since ‘Christian’ meant a follower of Christ in this country

        • anonymous says

          . “Atticus, you must be wrong….”
          “How’s that?”
          “Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong….”
          “They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

          (Harper Lee, ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’)

    • Clay Crouch says

      Point missed, but proven. Attaboy.

  2. Christiane says

    “It’s possible that what we are seeing today is a generational moment, just like the decade of the 1960s. The strongest voices I am hearing these days are from young people. . . . ”

    THIS !

    these are the days of a ‘sea change’ which will not leave things ‘as they were’
    and maybe that is not such a bad thing anymore (?)

    so let us attend to the ‘voices of the young’ as they are the chosen ones now who WILL stand up for justice in the face of this chaos because no one else these days has the courage or the heart to speak for the oppressed of the earth:

    ““He felt his hunger no longer as a pain but as a tide. He felt it rising in himself through time and darkness, rising through the centuries, and he knew that it rose in a line of men whose lives were chosen to sustain it, who would wander in the world, strangers from that violent country where the silence is never broken except to shout the truth. He felt it building from the blood of Abel to his own, rising and spreading in the night, a red-gold tree of fire ascended as if it would consume the darkness in one tremendous burst of flame. The boy’s breath went out to meet it. He knew that this was the fire that had encircled Daniel, that had raised Elijah from the earth, that had spoken to Moses and would in the instant speak to him. He threw himself to the ground and with his face against the dirt of the grave, he heard the command. GO WARN THE CHILDREN OF GOD OF THE TERRIBLE SPEED OF MERCY. The words were as silent as seed opening one at a time in his blood.”
    – Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away

  3. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4gSprhWKm-c

    As I am an old white guy , I will submit this as my views on white privilege as it comes from someone who has a different experience. . Give it a hearing and explain where the young man got it wrong?

  4. senecagriggs says

    Within the providence of God, CM is who he is, Dan is who he is, Christianne is who she is and I am who I am. None of us chose our background, our genes, our parents.

    So I puzzle over God’s plan being convinced, he is both trustworthy and loving beyond measure.

    “Why me Lord?” Kristofferson

    _____________

    Do I listen to the youths? Not so much.
    Give me Solomon, David, Isiaih, St. John and the Apostle Paul, authors of the unchanging wisdom.

  5. Adam Tauno Williams says

    Excellent post.

    • Ben Cribbin says

      I agree.

    • Michael Bell says

      Written much better than I could have. Which is one reason why I decided not to fumble my way into this yesterday.

      • Rick Ro. says

        Ah, don’t sell yourself short. Your post yesterday was excellent.

      • Robert F says

        Your post was good.

      • Christiane says

        Michael, your post was good. It was honest and real and thank you for writing it and sharing it yesterday. I continue to pray for you and your dear parents, as do many others here who appreciate your contribution here.
        God Bless !

  6. Michael Z says

    There’s two other important things about privilege:

    One is that privilege is multi-dimensional. Someone who comes from a disadvantaged background in one dimension of life can still enjoy privilege in another. For example, a rural white person who is economically disadvantaged still has many advantages compared to a black person with the same exact resources and work ethic.

    The other is that white privilege, in particular, has long been created and upheld by the government – for example, in racist policies preventing black people from becoming homeowners, and in the racial disparities in the policing and justice system. When an injustice is created by the state, the state has a responsibility to rectify it.

    • senecagriggs says

      “One is that privilege is multi-dimensional”

      Absolutely. being Caucasian is but one element.

      Far more important; did you grow up with a functional father.

      • How many good black fathers were taken from their families by systematic racism and injustice? Quit trying to evade the point.

      • IOW, no exceptions, no “but what abouts’. In THIS moment, there is no more important point.

        Racism.

        Systemic injustice.

        Dwell on THAT.

      • Rick Ro. says

        –> “Far more important; did you grow up with a functional father.”

        And yet most anti-abortionists insist single moms bring their babies into broken, fatherless homes while NOT providing any support for these families, and even while striving to take away some of the provisions that might help a mom make it with a newborn in a broken family (aka take away welfare).

        • That’s not the experience at the crisis pregnancy center we support. I’m sure there are hypocrites in the movement- every good thing has its counterfeits- but you’re painting with too broad of a brush.

          • Christiane says

            problem:

            one is seven American children go to bed hungry

            why else do you think there is such a struggle to keep school ‘cafeteria’ services open for the poor who counted on the ‘breakfasts’ and ‘lunches’, such as they were, for meals, as in disfunctional homes, there may be little else to feed them

            DebD, happy for your little enclave and its success in caring for single mothers and their babies, but you do need to see the larger picture as it really is, in order to understand the scope of the trouble single mothers are in and how their children have suffered, are suffering, and will suffer in the richest country in the world

            Survival of the Fittest? or just the greediest among us?

            in any case, good for caring for the ones in your facility and God Bless your work helping them

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      This.

    • “For example, a rural white person who is economically disadvantaged still has many advantages compared to a black person with the same exact resources and work ethic.”

      What are those advantages? I’ll go ahead and grant you less harassment by the police, but in a rural setting there aren’t a lot of police anyway. So what other advantages does the poor white guy have?

      • Robert F says

        When he leaves his neighborhood, he has an advantage over the black guy who leaves his neighborhood. He can drive into an affluent suburb to attend a party he’s been invited to without being pulled over by the police. Once he’s pulled over by the police, the black guy knows anything can happen if he makes even the slightest wrong move. The white guy is not confined to and monitored in his own environs like a criminal in a jail, and he’s not viewed as an escapee by the authorities when he goes outside those environs.

        • I already stated police harassment, I said what else. Also, I don’t think poor white people get invited to a lot of affluent people’s parties

          • Robert F says

            The ability to be socioeconomically upwardly mobile is largely dependent on the ability to be actually physically mobile. If you are prohibited or impeded from going anywhere, your socioeconomic prospects are also limited. Fear of the police, and intimidation by the police, impedes socioeconomic upward mobility by limiting physical mobility for those white privilege operates against. The police act as protectors of white privilege and affluence, and monitors of those outside white privilege and affluence. Social and economic mobility are inhibited by a police state, which is what has historically existed in black urban, and non-urban, neighborhoods.r

            • Police harassment is enough, but we can add discrimination in employment and in access to financial services.

              • And the big one — housing.

                • Adam Tauno Williams says

                  Housing +1,000,000,000,000,000 OMG, Housing.
                  And then there is Transportation (Mobility).
                  H+T (Housing & Transportation) are the tedious – boring – pair of devils used to enshrine the status-quo. Housing & Transportation policy…. most people fall asleep pretty quickly.

                  • Robert F says

                    When all those suburbs were going up after WWII, housing and transportation policy, official and unofficial, made sure black Americans could neither access the resources to buy into them, as white Americans could, or get to them even if they had some resources of their own. The policies were designed to keep them in their own neighborhoods, whether urban or rural, and to prevent them from getting out. What a tremendous multi-generational economic disadvantage that was to black communities can’t even be calculated.

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      It also cultivated a fear in the Burbs of black mobs boiling out of those slums and attacking. In post-WW2 Los Angeles, Chief Parker was able to build his base for cleaning out LAPD corruption by invoking that Race Card fear.

                      A contributing background factor was the rise of Fifties suburbia itself. Post WW2, we’d just come off almost 20 years of Great Depression and Global War. And the postwar prosperity boom while we rebuilt a devastated Europe and Japan plus GI bills and New Deal mortages meant a working stiff could own his own house on his own plot of land and drive his own car. It was Miller Time all over, and you didn’t want anyone to rock the boat and maybe crash it all. (This was a major factor in the suburban conformity of Nifty Fifties culture.)

                      Yet another factor of Fifties suburbia was “The Atomic Cafe Factor” of the early Cold War. Before megaton-range thermonukes, atomic bombs were around Hiroshima size. Dispersal of population and industry into sprawling suburbs meant a single nuke could not take out ALL the city.

              • Thank you for actually naming some others, and historically speaking you are right. But today there is also affirmative action and many government programs, grants, and scholarships that favor minorities. Lower middle class and poor white people don’t get much help. When talking about white privilege it is probably best to leave them out of the conversation and focus on the middle class and up. As for the rest of this conversation I’m staying out, I have a feeling it will less productive the longer it goes.

                • Robert F says

                  Lower middle-class verging on upper lower-class white guy here. I benefit from white privilege every day. I’ve benefited from it all my life, even though my father was an uneducated farmer from Italy, and my mother didn’t make it past the eighth grade in urban NJ. They had no problem getting a low-interest, government arranged loan to move into white suburbia in the 1950s, even though they were working class and far from wealthy. No policy official or unofficial stopped them, none of the new neighbors tried to keep them out. Then they bought and sold several houses, moving up each time into a more affluent town and neighborhood. Ultimately, with a low interest college loan and help from my parents, I was able to go to and graduate university; that I never cashiered my degree into a comfortable middle-class living is my own fault. But very few black kids of my generation had anything like the opportunity I did. Few of them had a home in suburbia as an economically secure home base to return to if things didn’t go well even if they were able to get into and graduate college. So don’t leave lower middle-class whites out of the white privilege discussion.

                  • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                    They had no problem getting a low-interest, government arranged loan to move into white suburbia in the 1950s, even though they were working class and far from wealthy.

                    I repeat my comment from above:

                    Post WW2, we’d just come off almost 20 years of Great Depression and Global War. And the postwar prosperity boom while we rebuilt a devastated Europe and Japan plus GI bills and New Deal mortages meant a working stiff could own his own house on his own plot of land and drive his own car. It was Miller Time all over, and you didn’t want anyone to rock the boat and maybe crash it all. (This was a major factor in the suburban conformity of Nifty Fifties culture.)

                • The belief that affirmative action and various government programs have made these problems go away is almost touching in its faith in the power of government. Sadly, their actual success has been decidedly partial.

                  • Adam Tauno Williams says

                    They are ineffective because these programs essentially don’t exist. They are a rhetorical prop.

                    • Besides, with housing for example, it still depends on local communities and realtors to offer people of color opportunities to even see homes in certain communities.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  Thank you for actually naming some others, and historically speaking you are right. But today there is also affirmative action and many government programs, grants, and scholarships that favor minorities.

                  And any Affirmative Action program has a side effect:
                  Resentment among those groups NOT benefiting by the program.
                  And with today’s Zero-Sum thinking, favoring one group means cutting down the others.
                  The trick is to take that side effect into account and keep it at a low enough level so as not to turn into violent pushback. That takes a touch we don’t have in the days of “WE WIN!” and Utopian visions of Unicorns Farting Rainbows with NO side effects whatsoever.

            • Adam Tauno Williams says

              > is largely dependent on the ability to be actually physically mobile.

              +1,000

              Spot on Robert.

          • Robert F says

            You don’t think disadvantaged people and people of color are frequently enough invited to activities, or have to perform activities, outside their normal worlds to count in this discussion? I think the social and economic worlds are a lot more porous than that. There are rural municipalities where poor black and white neighborhoods exist right alongside wealthier white neighborhoods; you know who the police keep an eye on in those wealthier neighborhoods. And then there are for instance those delivery people who regularly have to venture into affluent neighborhoods to do their jobs, often in unmarked vehicle. It happens in rural areas as well as urban ones.

      • Clay Crouch says

        “So what other advantages does the poor white guy have?”

        In the rural south? Just about everything.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          During the days of the Third Klan, most of the Ku Klux rank-and-file were real bottom-of-the-barrel “trailer trash” types. The ONLY thing they could brag about was their Whiteness.

          “If Ah can’t be better than a N****r, Who Do I Got to Be Better Than?”

          Nobody is as motivated to keep those on the bottom on the bottom as those who are second from the bottom.

          • Christiane says

            well, the worst it can get is that we do not see in ‘the other’ a human person, just an ‘object’ of contempt

            when George Floyd was dying, he called out for help, and when none came, he called ‘Mama’, ‘Mama’, and every mother in this country and in the world beyond our borders and yes, the trumpwall. . . .

            we have his voice to witness that in the end, he did what so many of the young soldiers who have died in battle are known to have done: to call out for their mothers who loved them

            God have mercy on us all for our blindness that keeps us from seeing the humanity of ‘the other’ and realizing that ‘there, for the grace of God, go I’. Now George Floyd is buried and we as a country have left his voice, a HUMAN voice, calling out for help . . . unanswered, to our eternal shame. God have mercy. Christ have mercy.

      • BCKemp65 says

        Statehouse representation, for one. It’s a demographic thing: in states with mixed populations, as rural communities become less populated, governance influence shifts to the suburban and urban centers. Suburban communities represent a higher proportion of the statehouse in terms of votes than either urban or rural. The coalition interests between rural and urban don’t align, so rural communities end up largely (but not exclusively) aligned to the (largely but not exclusively) interests of white neighborhoods in the suburbs.

        Where a state is largely rural to begin with, this split results in an advantage for white Americans. Meaningful representation of an economically disadvantaged rural American of color (any color) is depressed.

        This demographic imbalance is enhanced by the outcomes of historic discrimination both legal and social still present in many rural states. Legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were crafted to address these imbalances but have largely been gutted or left unenforced.

        As a practical matter, the representational imbalance also results in policy implications for the rural community. My day job is in agriculture, where historic and structural discrimination by various agencies against black farmers is widely recognized. A current major issue is ownership of the land they work. It’s estimated that about 60% of black farm families own their land as tenants-in-common, rather than having clear title to operate. USDA programs and loan opportunities have been few and far between for families in this situation, leaving them vulnerable to land speculators and developers. Rule making to address the issue has been stuck in idle since at least 2018 when the last farm bill passed with authorization to address heir’s rights.

        There is much that America does that is right and noble and good. And there is much that America does that deserves repentance and reform. Take a hard look at whether we are living up to the words of the Declaration and the Preamble to the Constitution – not just for yourself but for your neighbor, too. Especially for that neighbor who doesn’t have the inherited privilege of whiteness that our history so clearly lays bare. In my own case as a Christian in the Lutheran tradition, I then wrestle with Luther’s explanation to the Commandments in the Small Catechism and whether I’m living up to them.

  7. Robert F says

    The world does not need yet another privileged white man spouting opinions about matters far beyond his experience and expertise and adding to the noise.

    On the other hand, the world does not need privileged white men to keep quiet while other privileged white men — and their proxies — kneel on the necks of and otherwise brutalize and oppress people of color. If privileged white men don’t repudiate the evil done by other privileged white men, but continue to reap the benefits of the privilege that flow from that systemic oppression, they are supporting the status quo of oppression. And then there is the matter of what it means to be Christian in such a situation; as Bonhoeffer said, “Only he who cries out for the Jews may sing Gregorian chant.”

    • Adam Tauno Williams says

      > If privileged white men don’t repudiate the evil done by other privileged white men

      True. But that repudiation needs to happen in places other than The Internet, in other than words.

      “The more the words, the less the meaning, and how does that profit anyone?” — Ecclesiastes 6:11

      • Sigh. Hard to do anything else when you’re isolated at home…

      • Robert F says

        That depends. For instance, when during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s the all-white editorial staffs of newspapers took a position supporting the marchers and activists, the repudiation of the status quo in those words needed to happen and helped the movement. As for The Internet, to me it seems appropriate to counter misinformation, lies, and bigotry at whatever level it’s found, and on whatever forum. When those words descend into mere insult and vituperation, as often happens online and offline, then it’s time to step back. Certainly, The Internet — broadly speaking that includes periodicals, news media, and all the rest — is being used in tandem with other actions by black activists and their non-black supporters to promote their cause, and not without effect. Does what we say here at iMonk help? Maybe not much. But since the subject was brought up, and how could it not be given the times we live in, if they like I don’t see the harm in people weighing in with their own opinions — as long as it doesn’t descend into the cesspit I mentioned a few sentences back.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          “During the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s” MLK and other leaders framed it as a matter of bringing Justice and stopping Injustice.. That seems to have degenerated into a Zero-Sum Game of Virtue Signalling and Us-vs-Them sausage making. Restoring the original Justice-vs-Injustice instead of Us-vs-Them would be an improvement. and would get more widespread support. (And make sure “Justice” doesn’t end up redefined into a self-serving “diabolical meaning” like “Righteousness” has. In the original Biblical Language, “Righteousness” always included “Justice for the Downtrodden”.)

          • Robert F says

            There is a scary extremism on the progressive side. And on the other side. But neither of them will go away by ignoring the real grievances of African Americans.

      • Christiane says
    • Robert, my primary concern about speaking is the assumption that many people seem to have that they can speak for the experience of others. I cannot represent my black neighbor’s experience accurately. I can advocate. I can sympathize. Can I truly empathize? Only to a degree. That’s why I think the best stance for me and people like me at this time is supportive listening. Listening does not mean sitting back and doing nothing. It means paying attention and moving in loving action toward justice and peace.

      • Robert F says

        White people should surely practice supportive listening in this matter, and be careful of and reticent in what they say. But right now black activists are asking that we give our support in word and deed; one of the slogans that have been adopted by this movement, “Silence is Violence,” is directed specifically at white people. This movement wants us to speak up. For my part, given my own restrictions and limitations due to a variety of factors, including economic and health issues, I can’t be on the street with protestors. But if someone posts comments here that are critical of the movement for racial justice, or that claim there is no need for such a movement because there is no systemic injustice or white privilege, I’m going to counter those comments and claims. I won’t be silent. And neither will you, as your responses show.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          But right now black activists are asking that we give our support in word and deed; one of the slogans that have been adopted by this movement, “Silence is Violence,” is directed specifically at white people.

          “You have a saying — [insert saying here];
          We also have a saying — PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS!”
          — Babylon-5

          Because talk is cheap (with Pious God-talk rapidly becoming the cheapest of all); at some point you have to back up your words with actions. (Note that depending on the words, this can go both ways.)

      • Listening is a great first start. But what if you just fundamentally disagree with the loving action that is being suggested or pushed? And by disagree, I mean that you believe another course of action would be superior (based on data and experience – not preference or racism) – not that you disagree that an injustice has occurred.

        How can one go about having that conversation? Seems it almost always devolves into one where the one subjected to something can always just play the “see you don’t or can’t ever understand…” card.

        • All I said was that I can’t adequately explain my black neighbor’s experience. That is what I need to listen to more than ever now. But that also defines the boundaries of my silence. Of course, you and Robert and others are correct that there are always things that can be said and probably should be said.

  8. Tracy Chapman has never been more relevant. She had a sensational album in the late 80s that included “Talkin’ About a Revolution,” “Fast Car,” and this piece of genius, “Behind the Wall:”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=huez5QyZ5lI

  9. Michael Bell says

    “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
    To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly[a] with your God.” – Micah 6:8

  10. anonymous says

    we are who we stand up for

  11. senecagriggs says

    Seen on Twitter

    “My black male friend just told me a white lady he barely knows chased him down while he was riding his bike in a primarily white Long Island neighborhood, to ask him how he was doing.”

    “My brother is experiencing the same thing here in our little progressive town. He said it’s weird, unnecessary and uncomfortable.”

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Sounds like a One-Eighty Overreaction.
      i.e. Too Far in the Other Direction.
      Like Kyle’s Mom in the early South Park episode with the school nurse with a disfiguring birth defect. Kyle’s Mom smelled a Righteous Cause and went all Karen in support of the deformity to the detriment of the school nurse who was the focus of everything.

      South Park DID make it obvious that Kyle’s Mom didn’t care a flaming F about the nurse, only her own Virtue Signalling. (And Virtue Signalling is just Holier-than-Thou without all that pesky God-talk. Retaining the long trumpets blown before the Woke announcing their Devotion. Funhouse mirror.)

  12. Burro (Mule) says

    I wish I was other than what I am.

    There is a part of me that doesn’t really want “peace” and “justice”, but rather chaos and opportunity, with plenty of ammunition. ABOVE EVERYTHING ELSE, I don’t want someone else defining to me what justice looks like.

    I don’t want Stacey Abrams telling me what justice looks like
    I don’t Eeyore telling me what justice looks like
    I don’t want Donald Trump telling me what justice looks like
    I don’t want Richard Spencer telling me what justice looks like

    We’ve been done this road so many times, so many times, since 1792. The song is always the same; if the right people are in charge, if the caring, sensitive people are in charge, the really Christlike people are in charge, by golly, they’d give all them evil, bad people the what fer, by gum!

    Malcom Muggeridge hit the nail on the head, but you all won’t want to hear it:

    “And I accepted completely the views of these good men, that once they were able to shape the world as they wanted it to be, they would create a perfect state of affairs in which peace would reign, prosperity would expand, men would be brotherly, and considerate, and there would be no exploitation of man by man, nor any ruthless oppression of individuals. And I firmly believed that, once their plans were fulfilled, we would realize an idyllic state of affairs of such a nature. They were good men, they were honest men, they were sincere men. Unlike their prototypes on the continent of Europe, they were men from the chapels. It was a sort of spillover from the practice of nonconformist Christianity, not a brutal ideology, and I was entirely convinced that such a brotherly, contented, loving society would come to pass once they were able to establish themselves in power.”

    In the meantime, I will do what I have to do – I will seek my interests and those of my loved ones, in concentric circles; my parish, my neighborhood, my city, my country.

    • Norma Cenva says

      I think you’re onto something Burro.
      Not a perfect Utopia, but a world in which the worst abuses are contained and curbed.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        I wonder if you understood me.

        I was lamenting the fact that our noble efforts seem to spiral out of our control and produce unforeseen consequences.

        Like the current desire to defund the police. My gut instinct tells me that this would result in an increase rather than a decrease in the numbers of dead young black men.

        • senecagriggs says

          “unexpectedly”

          • So, we may as well shrug and not try? How loving and Christlike is *that*? We must use the tools we have, and not wait for utopia to be handed down from On High. As Gandalf said, all we can do is clear the soil for future generations – what weather they will face in planting is beyond our control.

            • Burro (Mule) says

              Sometimes, yeah. Not trying has a lot to recommend it.

              • Robert F says

                Disbanding the police would involve not trying to control things so much.

                • Burro (Mule) says

                  Well, it would devolve security to a more familial matter, so maybe you’re right. I hadn’t thought of that.

                  However, I have lived in areas where the hatred of black people is visceral and unthinking. I don’t pretend to understand it, even less do I know how to heal it. I have confronted it and I have let it slide to the same effect. I was thinking more about the police protecting our black citizens from this element.

                  • Robert F says

                    To repeat: disbanding the police does not mean police no longer exist. Camden did it, and rebuilt the department from the ground up; Camden still exists, and crime had decreased by half. That’s not to say that all black people who live there think things are perfect, or anywhere near.

                • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                  Morning drive-time did a segment on how several years ago Camden NJ disbanded their police force due to rampant corruption. What this meant was the old police force was completely cleaned out and they built a new one in its place based around Community Policing. And that this has been very successful, cutting the crime rate in the city while building trust and connection between the new cops and the civilians they police.

                  • Robert F says

                    How long is your morning drive, HUG? I know you live in CA around the LA area, I think. How long does it take, and how many miles to do you go?

                    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

                      In the pre-COVID days, anywhere beteen 20 & 30 miles (30-50km) depending on traffic conditions and alternate routes. For several years I’d been taking Metrolink (commuter rail) instead to reduce the hassle, as there were Metrolink stations an easy drive from my home and a long walk from my place of work.

            • Headless Unicorn Guy says

              So, we may as well shrug and not try?

              “The Perfect is the enemy of the Good.”

        • Robert F says

          I don’t think defunding the police means there would be no more police. I think it means more resources would go to community building, and trust building between police/municipal government and black communities. I think it actually already happened in Camden NJ — the police department was actually disbanded, and rebuilt from the ground up, some years ago. Camden still exists.

          • Robert F says

            Crime rate actually was halved in Camden since the disbanding of the old police department.

            • It has been interesting what they have done. Not all agree that it has been the greatest thing though.
              They roughly doubled the number of officers after disbanding.

              It is possible the crime rate change is due to other or multiple factor (pick the one(s) you like):
              – better training
              – getting rid of the bad apples
              – double the officers – able to watch people more closely so crimes are not committed
              – economic growth – many $’s have been spent in that area to revitalize
              – Camden has been one of the poorest cities in the country – positive income growth and opportunities are known to decrease crime rates
              – not counting crimes – no arrest record generally means no crime to count
              – ~5% decrease in city population over the time period (most of the numbers shown/highlighted are not per capita)

              • Robert F says

                >– getting rid of bad apples

                That would’ve been a direct result of disbanding the then existing police department.

          • “Defunding” is an easily misunderstood term. I would instead submit the following ideas as practical reforms…

            1) seriously curtail the power of police unions. More scoundrels than honest cops find refuge in the blanket protections police unions demand.

            2) fire anyone – ANYONE – found to have posted racist/alt-right content in their social media. “Free speech” doesn’t mean US government employees are allowed to advocate for the overthrow of the government – so cops shouldn’t be allowed to advocate the trampling of other citizens’ rights.

            3) set aside a generous pension fund, and pension off any cop who doesn’t want to change – and replace them with cops and/or community patrollers who will.

            Thoughts?

        • Norma Cenva says

          I too would lament the disbanding of a well-regulated police force.
          Even lofty sentiment and ethereal good intentions can go awry and nudge us toward the precipice.
          Neecha (Nietzsche) put it this way:

          “Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”

    • There is no Utopia. But we still have the Magnificat and the Beatitudes. I fear for any world that forgets or neglects these ideals because of the practical difficulties of reaching them.

      And I do believe and know that only God can make a new creation. But being “saved” means being restored to our vocation as stewards of the world God gave us.

      • Burro (Mule) says

        My tenancy here has just about run out its lease. Everything else aside, I have to admit I have very few complaints to tender the Landlord.

        If I had had my druthers, though, I would have preferred a more personal world, a smaller world, where the people telling me what to do were known to me, and their relations were known to me as well.

        I would have preferred less justice and more kindness. Less freedom and more rootedness. Less equality and more closeness.

        • I would love to see all of those things in place is small and big, rural and urban. Justice and kindness should always go together and I happen to think they work best in local settings. The problem with discussions today is that they often take their cue from widespread media coverage of what’s happening in many different places. The Magnificat and the beatitudes were spoken to groups of people who lived in small settings. And, although I do think there are big structural changes necessary, these things are always lived out in our neighborhoods.

    • Clay Crouch says

      Burro, that’s the saddest comment I think you’ve ever made. You sound utterly lost with a headful of snakes. I pray that’s not the case. Has it always been this way for you or is this a recent occurrence heightened by our recent travails? I have appreciated your insights, especially the ones that have both challenged my own beliefs and at times angered me. I hope you find peace.

  13. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Something I found over the weekend:
    The origin of modern Racism and its definitions/heirarchy of Race:
    https://getpocket.com/explore/item/the-enlightenment-s-dark-side?utm_source=pocket-newtab

  14. Rick Ro. says

    CM, Kudos to you for using this Christian/spiritual platform to discuss something that many Christian platforms shy away from, ignore, or even deny. The Floyd killing, along with the several other deaths that recently preceded it, seems to have ignited something that could have – hopefully – long-lasting, positive effects. Reading your take on it, Mike Bell’s take on it, along with several other commenters’ takes, has been very insightful, and gives me hope that many of us will conclude we CAN do better, and we will thus STRIVE to do better.

    Blessings to you and your family today.

  15. senecagriggs says

    Well I will not be genuflecting at the feet of any internet mob. I was in L.A. during the Watts riots. Obviously, nothing was learned.

    I’m mostly numb about these things – to say nothing of deeply cynical.

    Jesus, [ how could I have left him out to say nothing of the Church Fathers], the prophets and the apostles – worth their weight in gold if you would know lasting wisdom.

    If you wish to know the culture of the moment; join the protests which so easily become riots.

  16. senecagriggs says

    From 7 p.m. Friday, May 29, through 11 p.m. Sunday, May 31, 25 people were killed in the city An additional 85 were wounded by gunfire, according to data maintained by the Chicago Sun-Times.

    According to Chicago’s mayor Lori Lightfoot, on May 31 Chicago’s 911 emergency center received 65,000 calls for all types of service — 50,000 more than on a usual day. The Rev. Michael Pfleger, a radical activist and pal of the infamous Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Barack Obama’s one-time pastor, complained that it was “open season” last weekend in his neighborhood and others on the South and West sides. Pfleger said:

    On Saturday and particularly Sunday, I heard people saying all over, ‘Hey, there’s no police anywhere, police ain’t doing nothing,’ I sat and watched a store looted for over an hour. No police came. I got in my car and drove around to some other places getting looted [and] didn’t see police anywhere.

    That same Sunday, Mayor Lori Lightfoot held a conference call with city’s alderman. Not surprisingly, the alderman complained about the lawlessness and violence in their wards. You can listen to a recording of the meeting here.

    Alderman Michelle Harris (8th Ward) asked: “What are we going to have left in our community?” Answering her own question, she said: “Nothing.” “My major business district is shattered. Why would Walmart or CVS come back to our communities?”

    Why, indeed.

    Alderman Susan Sadlowski-Garza begged Lightfoot for help. “My ward is a sh*t show; they are shooting at the police,” she said before beginning to cry. Sadlowski-Garza told the mayor she was “scared.”

    Lightfoot responded: “This is a massive, massive problem. People are just f*****g lawless right now.” She told the aldermen that officers were in “armed combat” with criminals on the West Side, and were making progress only after bringing in “heavy equipment and stronger pepper spray.”

    • senecagriggs says

      It’s very, very tough for a lot of mayors at this time. It’s very scary to be a beat cop too

      • Christiane says

        and for the elderly seventy-five year old guys who work for peace . . . they are slow, they don’t hear well, they get in the way, and then they ‘have accidents’ and if they are REALLY unfortunate, they are called ‘antifa’ by the President of the United States who cowers behind his barricaded ‘white’ House:

        “”Buffalo protester shoved by Police could be an ANTIFA provocateur. 75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment. @OANN I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?””

        to which, my father’s generation would have responded to this ‘president’:
        “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

  17. Clay Crouch says

    I googled willfully obtuse. I did this because it is evident that that is what a LOT of intelligent, educated white folks are when it comes to racial matters. This is what I found. It sure resonated with me. It also helped to explain the “crosstalk” that occurs between those who are seeing and acknowledging our white privileged and those who don’t.

    https://abagond.wordpress.com/2014/12/26/wilfully-obtuse/

    • I was just listening to a program on NPR about police unions. One of the participants said that 90% of White police union members believe there is no systemic racism in America. Black officers were more or less the opposite, with the vast preponderance believing — knowing, I would say — that there is. America’s situation in microcosm.