Here's what I've read in the last week that has made me think...
Why I Don't Want to Talk About Race - The Good Men Project
"I don’t want to talk about race because it gives weight to a fiction that was created to oppress. It has no basis in biology and is a social construction in this country that was engineered to maintain access to free labor... Black people can’t talk to white people about race anymore. There’s really nothing left to say. There are libraries full of books, interviews, essays, lectures, and symposia. If people want to learn about their own country and its history, it is not incumbent on black people to talk to them about it. It is not our responsibility to educate them about it. Plus whenever white people want to talk about race, they never want to talk about themselves. There needs to be discussion among people who think of themselves as white. They need to unpack that language, that history, that social position and see what it really offers them, and what it takes away from them. As James Baldwin said, “As long as you think that you are white, there is no hope for you.”"
He provides a good reading list for those wanting to learn more, and I would add to that the book "Learning to be White: Money, Race, and God in America" by Thandeka.
And then a companion piece to that one:
I Talk About Race Because I Don't Know How Not To - Good Men Project
"As Locke points out, as long as only people of color are asked to speak on race and then dismissed for doing so, white people maintain the privilege of not having to recognize the way race affects their everyday lives. Just as we need “good men” who are willing to talk about how being a man uniquely privileges them and how dominant constructions of masculinity hurt them... we need white folks to have open, public conversations about how their whiteness affects their everyday lives and to speak up against individuals, policies, and institutions that perpetuate racial hierarchies by refusing to talk about race. Silence isn’t only consent; silence is like giving a system based in racial hierarchies a bear hug and cooking it a romantic dinner."
On a seemingly unrelated topic (except of course it is)...
Preventing Orphans - Sit A Spell
"Our hope in writing this post is to draw attention to this missing element in our conversations about caring for the orphan internationally. We moved to Haiti to care for the orphan, and yet the only ideas we had for doing so were to either start an orphanage or help fund one. Isn't that neglecting one of the most critical pieces of this puzzle? We're simply proposing that this question, "How can we prevent children from becoming orphans" be welcomed into the room when we're talking about orphan care."
Some really good, provocative questions in this post.
And then some quotes from longer pieces that stuck with me...
The Elizabeth Warren quote that has been popping up everywhere:
"There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you! But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. You didn’t have to worry that maurauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory, and hire someone to protect against this, because of the work the rest of us did."
I like how it highlights the costs/benefits that usually don't get seen or taken into account... but it also makes me think about other hidden costs/benefits, namely, that our country (and all industrialized countries) was built on slave labor and the profits from slave labor, and our ongoing economic growth and personal consumption continues to be paid for from slave labor, all around the world.
And then this piece from from "Ask a Quaker" (on Rachel Held Evans' blog).
"Another characteristic of Quakers and the Bible is that Quakers have traditionally been serious about viewing the Bible as a message of today. For Quakers who relate to the Bible this way, the world is populated with Pharisees and Romans, Pharaohs and Ahabs, Pentecosts and still small voices. This means that any moment in the Bible is a potential new moment to be... Perhaps it seems odd to you to approach the Bible this way, but in many ways, this method of reading the Bible is actually similar to the way the black church tradition has read the Bible (especially Exodus)"
When I started reading the Bible as an adult I took it primarily on a metaphorical, poetical, and possibly a historical level --- especially all the bloody bits described in the psalms and the prophetical books. But the more I learn about all the levels of violence and oppression continuing in the world (rape as an instrument of war, modern slavery, genocide, torture), and the more I start to take these things seriously, the more I read these bloody bits (and therefore the Bible as a whole) as "a message of today" --- and as a "potential new moment to be".