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Posts Tagged ‘Race’

Thanks to Erika Haub for directing me to Mixin’ It Up, the blog of Jelani Greenidge. Jelani is the son of Pastor Henry Greenidge, whom I interviewed a decade ago for my Christianity Today profile of Tom Skinner. Jelani is an eloquent and provocative young writer. His recent post, “An Open Letter to a Young Republican,” is a heartfelt commentary about politics, faith, and the need for grace between passionate Christian supporters of John McCain and passionate Christian supporters of Barack Obama, like Jelani. I appreciate both his frankness and his humility, both much-needed qualities in the pursuit of genuine reconciliation. I encourage you to check him out.

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I don’t want to get too partisan here, but most of you have probably figured out I lean toward Obama in the current presidential race. I realize that many will immediately think I support him because he’s black, and there might be some deep psychosocial truth to that. But, honestly, my main interest in him has more to do with the spirit of racial and cultural reconciliation that I detect in his message and manner—this was also a chief reason why I voted for George W. Bush in 2000. Nevertheless, I really don’t want to promote one candidate over another on this blog. When I talk about Obama here, it’s usually because of the social and religious questions that his candidacy highlights and stirs up.

We touched on this latest question in an earlier post, and I had no intention of pursuing it any further, but it’s been on my mind a lot the past couple days. So, here it is: In American politics and society, is it more acceptable to play the gender card (especially when the alleged victim of the sexism is white) than the race card? I ask this question sincerely and without guile. I really would like to know.

I could ramble on at length about how one side seems to be able to get away with crying “sexism” and “you’re playing the race card” whenever they want, while the other side seems scared to death to even mention the word race (even in the wake of cynical comments about “community organizers” and “uppity” behavior), but I’ll save that for later. However, I will excerpt from a reader comment on TheRoot.com that made me wonder about this question. The comment was in response to an article that contends Obama is playing too nice and needs to start getting as mean as his opponent. The reader cautioned against this, saying:

A snide remark from a Black mouth is not digested the same as a snide remark from a White mouth. Obama is not stupid. He is a Black man in America who understands how the game is played. And if he starts meeting barb for barb, we will all surely lose, hands-down! I have been tempted to question his tactics as well…it’s hard, but in the end, it will be worth it. Meanwhile, I’m praying.

What do you think? Is Obama constrained by his race—and perhaps, now, by his gender—from getting too down and dirty in this presidential contest?

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By now, many of you have probably heard about National Public Radio‘s current series on race and politics. NPR hosts Steve Innskeep and Michele Norris moderated a lively and revealing discussion with black, Latino, and white voters from York, Pennsylvania, which is considered one of the big “swing states” for the presidential election. The series features segments on both Morning Edition and All Things Considered.

Here’s the segment from this morning, and here’s the one from this afternoon. If you haven’t tuned in yet, I highly recommend it.

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Over at his A Man from Issachar blog, Rev. Eric Redmond calls our attention to the release of an eagerly anticipated book from Duke Divinity School professor J. Kameron Carter. The book, Race: A Theological Account (Oxford, 2008), presents a fresh perspective on the social and theological construct of race in our world. Here’s an excerpt from the book’s product description at Amazon.com:

In Race: A Theological Account, J. Kameron Carter meditates on the multiple legacies implicated in the production of a racialized world and that still mark how we function in it and think about ourselves. These are the legacies of colonialism and empire, political theories of the state, anthropological theories of the human, and philosophy itself, from the eighteenth-century Enlightenment to the present.

Carter’s claim is that Christian theology, and the signal transformation it (along with Christianity) underwent, is at the heart of these legacies. In that transformation, Christian anti-Judaism biologized itself so as to racialize itself. As a result, and with the legitimation of Christian theology, Christianity became the cultural property of the West, the religious ground of white supremacy and global hegemony. In short, Christianity became white. The racial imagination is thus a particular kind of theological problem.

Sounds like a challenging—and likely controversial—thesis. Perhaps if we were more willing to confront race as a theological issue, it would change the cultural conversation for the better. What do you think? If you get a chance to read the book any time soon, please let me hear your thoughts.

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