Author Topic: Fixing systemic racism  (Read 23774 times)

peter_speckhard

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Fixing systemic racism
« on: June 03, 2020, 05:54:10 PM »
This thread is devoted to concrete ideas/actions that can be taken to fix systemic racism. What should we do? Why would it work? Would it be just to everyone? How would we know it worked?

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2020, 05:58:08 PM »
As an aside, I'm assuming this will be the only thread Charles posts on in the coming day and weeks. It, and only it, must remain the focus.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2020, 06:53:22 PM »
One thing I think would really help would be not to tolerate public condemnation of the police generally as opposed to specific incidents of police misconduct. All stereotyping is potentially harmful, but stereotyping as dangerous the people who keep you safe is not only unfair to the vast majority of police officers, but it is unfair to young black people, who will fall into the same cycle of distrust that has caused so much of the conflict.

For example, you can't try to listen or read about sports today without hearing about Colin Kaepernick. Most of the focus has been on his kneeling during the anthem, which he claims was not at all a statement about the flag, the military, or anything to do with patriotism. Whatever. But in my mind his egregious offense was publicly wearing anti-cop slogans on his socks (with police as pigs or some such) during warm-ups. His own teammates should have called him out on that, if for no other reason than that police are assigned to keep him safe from lunatic fans. I've been a stadium security officer, and we were instructed not to confront anybody who got boisterous but to radio the real police on call because violence to high profile players is a real possibility. So for a star player to stand there mocking the police while being protected by them was colossally arrogant. But more importantly, it taught any young black football fans who may have idolized him that the police are bad and not to be trusted. That means any future interaction those kids had with the police would be far more likely to turn sour, which would make it a self-fulfilling prophesy and perpetuate the problem. And it would be the fault of the woke, privileged, fashion-revolutionaries like Kaepernick.

So that would be one concrete suggestion to confront systemic racism-- do not tolerate anything that teaches young black children that the police are racist or their potential enemies. Let them be surprised if they encounter racism rather than go into every situation on the lookout for it.   

D. Engebretson

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2020, 08:03:04 PM »
I think it might help to define what we mean by "systemic racism."  I believe it can also be called "institutional racism." So, I assume, we will be addressing how racism impacts institutions and groups, including, but not exclusive of law enforcement. 

Fixing much of this requires changes in structures that are often well above us.  We can vote in people we think will help influence this, but I'm not sure, short of holding a significant political position or office, that we can directly influence racism at this level. However, I realize many will say that organized mass protests help to influence change.  If that is the case we have to get a handle on those who are high jacking this form of expression.  Right now the waters are being muddied by fringe groups intent on injecting violence, destruction and mayhem into these gatherings. 

Churches, being institutions, certainly lie closer to our area of influence.  I live in a fairly homogeneous community, so I'm probably not the person to offer a lot of firsthand observations and suggestions.  That said, I think it is clear that the attitude of the pastor certainly helps to influence the overall attitude of a parish. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Michael Slusser

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #4 on: June 03, 2020, 08:25:44 PM »
This is a good place to recall the sober words of Fr. Bryan Massingale, quoted earlier on another thread:
Quote
"First, understand the difference between being uncomfortable and being threatened. There is no way to tell the truth about race in this country without white people becoming uncomfortable. Because the plain truth is that if it were up to people of color, racism would have been resolved, over and done, a long time ago. The only reason for racism's persistence is that white people continue to benefit from it.

"Repeat that last sentence. Make it your mantra. Because until the country accepts that truth, we will never move beyond superficial words and ineffective half-measures."

It has been said here that his words are theologically inept, and that they are not true. Still, they may be the most constructive way to address the title of this thread.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

RandyBosch

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #5 on: June 03, 2020, 08:56:18 PM »
This is a good place to recall the sober words of Fr. Bryan Massingale, quoted earlier on another thread:
Quote
"First, understand the difference between being uncomfortable and being threatened. There is no way to tell the truth about race in this country without white people becoming uncomfortable. Because the plain truth is that if it were up to people of color, racism would have been resolved, over and done, a long time ago. The only reason for racism's persistence is that white people continue to benefit from it.[/b]

"Repeat that last sentence. Make it your mantra. Because until the country accepts that truth, we will never move beyond superficial words and ineffective half-measures."

It has been said here that his words are theologically inept, and that they are not true. Still, they may be the most constructive way to address the title of this thread.

Peace,
Michael

As we are recently reminded this country was founded to  preserve and protect slavery, and all value that has accrued to the people of this country who are white was and continues to be benefits of that racism.

How then can the end of racism by eliminating benefits to white people ever occur?  Other than by the elimination of white people?
Even reparations proposed by some would be funded by the benefits of racism accrued to white people, including those who emigrated to this country as recently as yesterday.
Perhaps that is the only way, in this country.
Other nations that did and still practice racism and have a majority racial or ethnic group that therefore has benefited from racism face the same dilemma.

It's far more complex than that. 


D. Engebretson

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #6 on: June 03, 2020, 09:07:01 PM »
One way that some institutions tried to remove apparent inequities was by a quota system.  That, too, has it own problems.
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Dave Benke

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #7 on: June 03, 2020, 09:24:41 PM »
Try this on for size, posted/copied by one of our Atlantic District pastors, specifically defining systemic racism: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1_93Oro7P9mrg2oV5yrw4gobsNIl6B5kP9BvCuhYhEWYy7w1Oz9T0WQBI

Dave Benke

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2020, 10:18:44 PM »
Try this on for size, posted/copied by one of our Atlantic District pastors, specifically defining systemic racism: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1_93Oro7P9mrg2oV5yrw4gobsNIl6B5kP9BvCuhYhEWYy7w1Oz9T0WQBI

Dave Benke
Here in Indiana we have a voucher system for education, which liberates families from bad schools. Tonight we had our 8th grade graduation. 24 kids (13 white, 8 African-American, 3 Hispanic) and no real racial problems at all. Happy, multi-racial sanctuary full of proud parents and grandparents in every other pew because of Covid. Those students come from the full range of among the best school districts in the state (Munster) to some of the worst in the nation (Gary) and had the same high quality education here due to that voucher system. And graduates of our school are automatically eligible to attend Munster High School (again, one of the best in the state) even if they live outside Munster. In fact, the kids from worse-performing school districts actually get higher voucher amounts, which the parents can use to send them to any private school, which in turn, I believe, makes them eligible to attend the high school of whatever town that private grade school is in. And one can have a pretty decent income and qualify for a voucher (full disclosure: my kids are voucher students, and I am by no means even close to poor). In addition to that, any Indiana resident can donate to the state's Scholarship Granting Organization and get a 50% tax credit (not deduction, but credit on state taxes owed) up to something like $1000, and designate the money to the school of their choice. In short, if Jamal and Kevin lived in Indiana, much of the education aspect of the issue would be erased. But getting teachers' unions to support this solution is pulling teeth. 

So I would submit that voucher systems like those championed by Education Secretary Betsy Devos do more to combat systemic racism than probably any single political solution on the table. But I sense support for that is for some reason tepid among those most willing to make needed changes to combat systemic racism.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2020, 10:37:08 PM by peter_speckhard »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2020, 10:48:28 PM »
Another important facet of systemic racism is how people internalize stereotypes to the point that they demand members of their own identity group conform to it. African-Americans taunting with words like Uncle Tom, Oreo, "acting white" etc. hold back other African-Americans. In fact, studies show that having students identify their own race on a test causes African-Americans to perform significantly worse on the test than they perform when they don't identify their race first. They subconsciously conform to low expectations. So another step out of systemic racism would be to treat self-policing taunts like Uncle Tom as just as destructive and unacceptable as racial slurs. Also, asking or forcing people to self-identify by racial category should be avoided whenever and wherever possible. This would liberate victims of systemic racism from the limits and boundaries imposed by internalized stereotypes.

D. Engebretson

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2020, 11:55:34 PM »
Is anyone familiar with CAMPAIGN ZERO?  It is an outgrowth of BLM and provides specific policy goals for police reform. 
https://www.joincampaignzero.org/
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #11 on: June 04, 2020, 12:07:26 AM »
Is anyone familiar with CAMPAIGN ZERO?  It is an outgrowth of BLM and provides specific policy goals for police reform. 
https://www.joincampaignzero.org/
I agree (I think) with all but #1 and #10.

The problem with #1 is that it considers a way to reduce problematic policing in isolation from the purpose of policing in the first place. It would mean living without fear of the police, true, but also in greater fear of crime.

The problem with #10 is that public employee unions are inherently unfair to citizens. I think that one shows that the movement struggles to dissociate from a larger progressive agenda.

#2-9 I agree with in principle if not necessarily in every detail.

Steven Tibbetts

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2020, 12:15:29 AM »
Try this on for size, posted/copied by one of our Atlantic District pastors, specifically defining systemic racism: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1_93Oro7P9mrg2oV5yrw4gobsNIl6B5kP9BvCuhYhEWYy7w1Oz9T0WQBI

Dave Benke

The video begins by comparing very rich white people with very poor black people.  It ignores almost all of the white population and their experience, and a lot of black people.  It completely ignores the other races, particularly the success of Asians, some of whom spent World War 2 in Internment Camps with their possessions being confiscated simply because of their Japanese ancestry.  Most of its assertions of fact have been untrue for a full generation or more. 

It is true that our public schools are, for the most part, utterly failing to educate our youth.  It's not for lack of money, though.  The money is there and our schools are lavishly spending it -- except in the classroom to teach students. 

I spent my first 27 years of ministry in one of the poorest Zip Codes in Illinois.  I would walk the streets of my neighborhood.  Or respond to a phone call by driving into a housing project and and walking to someone's front door.  (The white collar, that's privilege -- or protection -- from some really bad folk.)  Until very recently half of the population there was white.  They did not make up the better half.

"Systemic racism" and "white privilege" -- and the ELCA talks about them so incessantly that the Presiding Bishop's sermon for Holy Trinity Sunday, which our Bishops are encouraging all of our churches to show in our online services this coming Sunday, was withdrawn hours after it was posted to be rewritten and re-filmed because she didn't focus enough on the crisis of our burning cities -- don't pass the "truth test."  And if you pay any attention at all, you'll realize this video doesn't even bother to pretend to do so.

But it's a really lucrative racket.

Christe eleison, Steven+
The Rev. Steven Paul Tibbetts, STS
Pastor Zip's Blog

peter_speckhard

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2020, 01:04:18 AM »
Try this on for size, posted/copied by one of our Atlantic District pastors, specifically defining systemic racism: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YrHIQIO_bdQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1_93Oro7P9mrg2oV5yrw4gobsNIl6B5kP9BvCuhYhEWYy7w1Oz9T0WQBI

Dave Benke

The video begins by comparing very rich white people with very poor black people.  It ignores almost all of the white population and their experience, and a lot of black people.  It completely ignores the other races, particularly the success of Asians, some of whom spent World War 2 in Internment Camps with their possessions being confiscated simply because of their Japanese ancestry.  Most of its assertions of fact have been untrue for a full generation or more. 

It is true that our public schools are, for the most part, utterly failing to educate our youth.  It's not for lack of money, though.  The money is there and our schools are lavishly spending it -- except in the classroom to teach students. 

I spent my first 27 years of ministry in one of the poorest Zip Codes in Illinois.  I would walk the streets of my neighborhood.  Or respond to a phone call by driving into a housing project and and walking to someone's front door.  (The white collar, that's privilege -- or protection -- from some really bad folk.)  Until very recently half of the population there was white.  They did not make up the better half.

"Systemic racism" and "white privilege" -- and the ELCA talks about them so incessantly that the Presiding Bishop's sermon for Holy Trinity Sunday, which our Bishops are encouraging all of our churches to show in our online services this coming Sunday, was withdrawn hours after it was posted to be rewritten and re-filmed because she didn't focus enough on the crisis of our burning cities -- don't pass the "truth test."  And if you pay any attention at all, you'll realize this video doesn't even bother to pretend to do so.

But it's a really lucrative racket.

Christe eleison, Steven+
That was something I noticed, too. As an explanation of systemic racism it simply doesn't explain how non-white immigrants with no accumulated wealth whatsoever and with the added disadvantage of not knowing English manage to leapfrog the African-American community in terms of economic success. But even to point out that obvious fact is to invite accusations that you are "victim-blaming." You will face the ire of columnists like this: https://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-glanton-white-america-mirror-george-floyd-0603-20200603-3c6zzlqtajfplmfak5ro7ulzxm-story.html

My Polish neighbors who came here as teenagers and whose parents enjoyed the good life being plundered by Nazis and Communists, who learned English and now live in a nice suburban house just like mine-- all privilege. Plus they have acquired the blame for the plight of African-Americans. Same with our Mexican neighbors. 

I think any explanation of systemic racism has to include not only the effects of segregation and redlining but also the debilitating failure of the Great Society. That wasn't intended to be racist, but it destroyed many African-American communities in the name of saving them more effectively than napalm could have. But again, even to think that was and is a factor is to be part of the problem according to the loudest voices out there.

In short, I think most explanations of systemic racism like this one are good at pointing out how and why a community became dysfunctional but not good at admitting that, whatever the reason, the resulting community is, in fact, dysfunctional, needs to change, and can only change itself; it cannot wait to be changed from the outside. If racism disappeared entirely today, many minority communities would be no better off. Black-on-black crime, for example, could have roots in white racism, but the end of white racism wouldn't end it. A dysfunctional community, be it inner city black or rural white, is like an addict: yes, there might have been all kinds of external tragedies and injustices that lead to the addiction. But knowing that doesn't fix it. If you actually want to stop being an addict, you'll be aware of the terrible things people have done to you, but that won't be your focus because such a focus would hold you back. But if you just want an excuse to stay an addict, you'll focus on how it isn't your fault. And you'll probably be right. But you'll still be an addict.   

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Fixing systemic racism
« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2020, 02:41:53 AM »
In short, I think most explanations of systemic racism like this one are good at pointing out how and why a community became dysfunctional but not good at admitting that, whatever the reason, the resulting community is, in fact, dysfunctional, needs to change, and can only change itself; it cannot wait to be changed from the outside.



Consider that it wasn't until 1924 that all Native Americans born in the U.S. were considered citizens.  https://www.nps.gov/jame/learn/historyculture/upload/Native-American-Citizenship-2.pdf


That was a change that had to come from the outside. The Natives, whose families had been hear much longer than the European immigrants did not have the power or authority to change the laws about their own citizenship.


As I think about this, when much of the west was annexed into the U.S. from Mexico, in the 1850s, the Mexicans and Spaniards living in the land became American citizens. Natives did not.


Sometimes fixing means looking back at how bad our systemic and institutional and governmental racism was. Some of those problems can be fixed by better laws and better enforcement.

"The church had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]