The following, written by Rev. Paige Eaves of University United Methodist Church (Irvine, CA) on May 1, 2014, is recommended reading for Cal-Pac from Bishop Minerva G. Carcaño.
“Watch, the black man will die,” says Forrest as he passes by the movie I’m watching. He doesn’t even have to know what’s going on. The black man could be a cop, a soldier, an international spy, or a teenage mutant. Within minutes, he has been shot, run over or vaporized. Don’t even try to argue this point. I tried for years to accumulate data to the contrary, but 98% of the time, Forrest is right.
Donald Sterling has taken over the news cycle this week with his unguarded racist comments about black people. Unfortunately for him, the “present company is excluded from my racist rant” presumption didn’t play, for it seems clear that his girlfriend made and release the damning recording in a chilling act of moral turpitude.
Give the punishments being heaped on Sterling, along with the condemnation aimed at racist rancher Cliven Bundy, we have made it clear that in America there is no room for overtly racist remarks. It doesn’t match our self-perception s nice, tolerant, and multi-cultural.
But what about the shaming of black people stuck in poverty? What about the disproportionate number of black men in prison and the disproportionate sentencing that puts them there? What about the school-to-prison pipeline, in which 40% of the students expelled from high school every year are black, and 70% of in-school arrests or law enforcement referrals are black or latino?
As people of faith, we are of course responsible to recognize that “the microphone is always on.” What you say reflects who you are, whether that is to your loved one or at a public gathering. But more than that – we are called to repent of the submerged legacy of racism that somehow allows us to look away instead of look into the depth of perpetuated racial injustice. The assumptions that allow our subliminal acceptance of black movie characters who die while white heroes go on to win the day.
Let me bring this home for you. Your youth pastor has been pulled over 5 times in Irvine. Twice in the last 6 months while pulling out of our church parking lot at night. By the same cop. Not because Alvia was speeding, texting, drinking, or unbuckled. But because he has dark skin, freedom hair, and an older truck. “If you don’t want me to pull you over, you should probably get a new car,” the cop said. Alvia has been pulled over roughly around 20 times in his lifetime. He has never received a traffic ticket. As we see more clearly, we are transformed and the world is transformed.