oppression

Do Teenage White Females Understand Their Privilege?

Last Saturday, I went to Tout Suite to indulge in their infamous brunch and do some leisure reading. As I approached, four young white women stopped to take selfies, bare-shouldered and Birkenstocked. I stood patiently waiting for them to either finish or notice they were blocking me. Eventually, they politely let me pass. I walked into Tout Suite and was struck by the privilege I afforded them. One they didn’t even know they had. They had a luxury most minority girls don’t. In their aloofness and adolescent frivolity, they had been privileged with innocence. This innocence, that made them not a blockade, but just teens being teens. This innocence, that if something happened to them, they would automatically be victims. This innocence, that frees them to be nonspeculative of the world around them. It was a careless and free innocence.

I hadn’t ever noticed it before. I wasn’t angry or upset with these girls. As I settled into my book, I watched them. Lingering in front of the case of desserts, unaware of the line behind them. No one tempting to urge them or hurry them. They took selfies in front of everything. Older couples looked upon them and smiled. One spilled their drink, and several people stopped to help this damsel.

I don’t want to spend much more time discussing these 4 white adolescent females. I cannot speak on their assumed innocence. Rather, I was heartbroken for my own. I work with a predominantly African-American community. I spend a substantial amount of time with black girls. We talk. We laugh. We cry. We do each other’s hair. When I look at them they are innocent girls, but I know the world does not see them this way. Black girls don’t get the luxury of innocence. My girls get hyper-sexualized earlier. I don’t know if it is hitting puberty earlier or the commodifying language we use with black skin. All, I know you never hear anyone saying about little white girls, “Your skin is like a yummy dollop of mashed potatoes”, but there lives a level of impurity and “chocolate sinfulness” in a black girls’ skin.

Those 4 girls, were allowed to be free, and the world accommodated that.

Perhaps, history or society or a blend of the two has placed a filter on the innocence of the black girlhood. Recently, a study was released discussing the Erasure of Black Girls’ Childhood. It is a good read. It is pretty spot on. I agree not only based on my experiences but the experiences of my girls.

I don’t know where is post is meant to go. I have thought about this for a week. It makes me scared for black girls. Worse, if there is little innocence to be given to black girls. I cannot imagine the consequences for black women.

Actually, I can…

God help us.

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The Confusing and Frustrating State of the Evangelical Vote

Before you read this, these are some observations I have made of the Bible and evangelicals. If you end up being offended, thoughtfully pray about it, lament to me, and handle your business like an adult.

The first five books of the Bible highlight the foundation of Israel. In the two books focused on the Law (Leviticus and Deuteronomy) God gives clear instruction about practices to keep Israel both morally and ceremonially pure. He also gives instruction on how Israel is meant to be radically different from other nations. No child sacrifices. No pagan sex worship. No oppression of people, especially women, children, and foreigners. In fact God tells Israel since you were oppressed (in Egypt) care for women and children and foreigners as a testimony of how God cares for them. This is a repeated instruction in both the Old Testament and New Testament.

When God gives Israel the Law, He tells them practices to serve those who have little.

“When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do no go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 19:9-10

In this repeated instruction, Christians learn how to care for the disenfranchised in a manner that does not rob them of their imago dei dignity. This is what matters most to me: poverty and immigrants. I care about those in need not having the resources to succeed and being placed in systems (created by people) where it only helps the symptoms.

I wrote this first portion (the part above this one) about two weeks ago post election. I didn’t vote for Trump. So, I was not enthused about his victory. Greater than my lack of support for President-elect Trump was my growing anger at the evangelical voting population. I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how they could support someone so vile. Someone who just screams anti-Christ values in the manner he speaks of humans. I mean even the Old Testament speaks of Gentile leaders who ruled over Israel with greater levels of compassion (Cyrus and Artaxerxes in Ezra).

What I have come to understand in the past two weeks is this: what matters to me as a Christian is not the same thing that matters to other Christians. And that’s okay(ish). Some Christians don’t care about poverty and immigrants. However, I don’t care about being pro-life and America’s relationship with Israel as much as I probably should. (Personally, I am pro-contraceptives. Free condoms and birth control and Plan B for everybody)! I just don’t have the capacity to care about all the things I need to care about.

I guess what frustrates me ultimately, is not knowing, what should we value the most? Because, the poor matter a lot to the Lord, as do immigrants. However, God was not pleased with the slaughtering of children in Canaan, which led to their demise. What would God’s stance on education be and gun laws?

I dunno? I dunno? I don’t think I am bringing any new content about this stuff to the table. If anything, I believe this election just points to a problem with the Church. We rely too heavily on the government to do what we have been asked to do. Would it be great to have a government that sided with us on everything: totally! However, if we choose to impose our values as believers from a place of dominance and control, then we completely lose sight of the Biblical story of humility, sacrifice, and people’s right to choose. God’s raising of Israel and Abraham was to show all the nations that there was a better way. A way where we take care of those who suffer and not oppress them. A way where we care about children and immigrants and the impoverished.

The church is called to nationalism, but the nation we represent is a kingdom. Our King is Christ; we are simply ambassadors charged with the task of living by kingdom principles in a broken world.

I end with this small note to Christians:

My Brothers and Sisters,

We failed. We all have opinions and beliefs about what matters most. However, we should be mindful about the lengths of support we offer a candidate. Pastors it is not your place to endorse candidates to your congregation, either passively or aggressively. Teach them how to be attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit. Believers, it is not own place to hungrily pursue positions of authority over all people. Choose humility; it’s always the best option. Finally, it is not a sign of disrespect to support a policy and question the man or woman behind it. It is wisdom and discernment. I will do my best to respect President-elect Trump. However, my potential, future support of any of his potential, future policies don’t indicate my support of him. Neither my faith as a Christian nor my nationalism as an American will allow it. My prayers go first to the church and then the nation as we enter into this season.