Race

Young (White) Anabaptists Radicals?

Debbie Says:

How many young adults of color are authors on this blog??? Think about it. This should be called YWAR – Young White Anabaptists Radicals.

There are some, though you might not know it from the pseudonyms, and I’m sure it isn’t representative.

There’s also a good post on a related topic from Skylark earlier called How do we get the straight white men to shut up?. Here is another place to talk about it:

Who needs hate crimes protections?

The US House of Representatives just passed hate crimes legislation that would extend hate crimes protections to be based on sexual orientation and gender identity in addition to current protections for race, religion, color, and national origin. It still has to go through the Senate and then face veto by you know who.

The thing that really blows me away is that people are actually against this, and that those people happen to call themselves Chrisitians. Now, if folks have a problem with the idea of hate crimes protections in general, eh, I would be happy to discuss that. But the idea that some groups of people should get protections while other groups (groups which happen to experience a disproportionate amount of hate crimes) should not is completely ridiculous. As it happens, the religious right is coming out en force against hate crimes protections for lgbt people. I linked this article about this in an earlier post.

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How do we get the straight white men to shut up?

Before anyone gets offended, that’s hyperbole. Bet it got your attention, though. What I’m really asking is how do we achieve diversity on YAR? I have noticed something these past few weeks on YAR. The regulars who tend to dominate the discussions on race, gender and inclusion are… men. (Or I presume so based on their screen names.) I recall several saying they are straight and white. In no way am I saying I don’t enjoy reading what they have to say. I’ve certainly been challenged by them in many ways. It just seems to me there’s something anachronistic about a core group of males who are probably also straight and white being the primary discussors of these matters in this venue.

I remember a recent race and church discussion here in which someone said straight white males should step down from church leadership to give women and minorities* back some of the power. How much does YAR function as a pulpit? We know more people are reading than simply those who post and comment. We’re even going to give periodic summaries of our discussions to an Anabaptist publication.

My fear is that with several straight white males being so adept at sharing their (thoughtful and insightful) views on the subject, the women and minorities* who would like to speak up will see YAR as ultimately no different than any other straight-white-male-dominated venue. I’m not one to just shut my trap on here, heh, but not everyone is like me. Hopefully those who know far more than I ever could will find this a safe place, too.

Maybe I made some of you mad. Good! If I’m wrong, tell me so. Come up with a better solution. Tell me which are the right questions to ask.

*I’m including GLBTQ in “minorities.” Hopefully that’s not a problem.

Breaking my writer’s block!

Have you ever experienced something so overwhelming that it takes a while to sink into a place where it can be digested? (I’m hoping the American people are going through a “writer’s block,” so to speak, and will very soon rise up with their voices, pens, and withdrawn tax dollars to stop the worship of war in our country! But I digress…)
I spent last July in Monrovia, Liberia with my parents (they were there on a two-yr. humanitarian term with MMN, years that tested their marriage and their faith–but that’s a whole other entry!). A collapsed infrastructure is astounding and brutal to see face to face; so is the result of centuries of violence, corruption, and struggle…It’s taken me 8 months to put my experiences in Liberia onto paper…and even so, they are so hard to capture or revisit. Anyway, here are some new poems. I’d love to read others’ travel writing!
_____
TO THE GIRL ON SOMALIA DRIVE

I am not prepared to see her on Somalia Drive.
We have the car windows closed, partly
so that no arm can reach in, see what white skin
has to offer, partly to block out the loudest fumes.

Diesel trucks and busloads in front of us mimic
slowly rolling waves (children have been lost
in the mahogany puddles of rainy season potholes.)
Roads pulse with people, dogs with teats dragging, lines
of goats. We crawl past a slaughterhouse, a Coca Cola factory,
a trailer packed with workers singing
of the Promised Land.

We are some sort of horrible royalty.

After all, we are from America,
that real Promised Land that sent freed slaves here
to start Liberia, also the home of “freedom.” We are tied
to these people outside our car windows
by blood and sweat and quiet
greed. Men suck their teeth
at my mother and me, their way of getting
our unnerved attention. Looks of longing,
money signs, and awe. Babies often cry—
to them, we are ghosts.

I have learned to be overly interested in my shoes.

When I do glance up this day, I see a flash of white,
and there she is: a blue-black body
all treble clef curves, a bucket of bananas
cocked on her head. We look
at one another, five seconds
at the most.

I am becoming numb to seeing more and more
young men with missing limbs or hands,
the sickening artwork of civil war.
But meeting eyes with a faceless girl—where cheeks
and nose should be, only white, only white—

who can ever get used to that? (more…)

a day late

I was just reminded of the significance of the fact that yesterday was April 4. If you go back in history a few decades – you’ll remember that April 4, 1968 was the day MLK Jr. was assassinated. But right now, I’m more interested in what happened one year before that on April 4, 1967 (40th anniversary was yesterday). King gave one of his more famous speeches at Riverside Church, titled Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence.

I’ll spare you a reflection or commentary of that here but I just want to make note of this anniversary and suggest that you all take a little time to read it (pdf)* or listen to it (quicktime).* It’s pretty long so you might have to take more than a “little” time. I must have been out of the loop yesterday because I didn’t hear or read anything about it in the media. I usually catch things like this.

I must say though, that it’s not a very big mental jump to replace a few words and King could be speaking to us today. Forty years later, the message is as relevant as when he made it.

*if you don’t want to download the pdf, it’s also here and audio can also be heard here (realmedia) and here (mp3).

more thoughts on the sins of my ancestors – a response to Skylark

Skylark — great questions you’re asking over on the ancestors’ sins thread! Sorry I’m slow to respond. Karissa and I are expecting our first child in the next week or two, and March 31 was the end of MCC’s fiscal year, which meant lots of extra bookkeeping work. Life just doesn’t seem to let up for blogging!

I think I miscommunicated in my “sins of the ancestors” post, and your response is helping me see how. The family research you’re doing is valuable (and by all means I’d encourage you to keep digging into it!), but I’m also talking about “ancestors” on the collective level. Individual family inheritance (of land, wealth, social connections) is one way that privilege (particularly class privilege) is perpetuated from generation to generation, but it’s not the only way. When I say “I benefit from the sins of my ancestors” I’m referring in part, but not solely, to my biological ancestors.

What do I mean by this? I grew up on fertile farmland in northern Indiana. Only a few miles from my parents’ house is the spot where used to stand Five Medals’ Potawatomi village. Five Medals (or Onaska) made peace with the United States in 1795 (Treaty of Greenville) and met with several presidents. Nevertheless, the US Army torched his people’s village and all their surrounding crops in 1812, and then again in 1813. In 1838 Menominee (leader of the last major Potawatomi settlement in northern Indiana) was “tied like a dog” and he and his people were force-marched to Kansas, a journey on which many of them died.

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Just who are the ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites?

Thanks to TimN for cajoling me to write my first post. I’ve been reading this for about a month, quite interesting stuff inside here, so here goes, my first post. As a multicultural Christian with my foot in a multicultural Mennonite church, I wanted to respond to just who are these ‘Racial/Ethnic’ Mennonites that Conrad Kanagy makes reference to in his recently published survey of diversity in the Mennonite church. You can read more of the survey results in one of February’s Mennonite Weekly Reviews.

Who are the Ethnic Mennonites? by Trini
So to get the conversation started around this, I wanted to ask, just who are the ethnic Mennonites? (more…)

Ain’t I a Woman?

I ain’t actually, but Sojourner Truth was. I copied this from the Modern History Sourcebook.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered in 1851 at the Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about? (more…)

Who, when, and where to talk about Race

Race is such a sticky thing to talk about. I almost don’t want to discus it for fear of looking like “that white woman who likes to hear herself talk.” I may put some people on the spot in this post, and if you don’t like that, I apologize. The questions:

—What’s the racial/ethnic composition here at YAR? I don’t know most of you yet, so maybe you’re not all white Anabaptists.
—For those of you who aren’t white, how should white people talk about racial issues? What’s actually helpful? I feel discouraged when I read or listen to a discussion on race and then realize all the participants are white. If white folks decide how to “fix racism” primarily by themselves, I doubt we’ll find anything lasting. It’s not enough just to talk about treating everyone right—we have to make sure everyone’s participating in the conversation. (more…)

living tribute

I learned of Martin Luther King, the hero of the Civil Rights Movement, in school.
I learned of Martin Luther King, the peacemaker, at church.

In both cases I learned about King as an icon. He was like an angel-man, superhuman. King became a real person when I moved to Atlanta.

It was a fall from a pedestal of sorts, when I learned about all of the trials, the fractures, the tribulations, the anguish, and the arguments that went on behind the scenes of the marches and the committee meetings. To listen to lectures by the veterans of the movement, (Former Ambassador Andrew Young, Rev. Joseph Lowery, R. D. Abernathy, Rev. James Orange) all still involved, but some bitter, some who have appropriated the movement…whew! I learned about the hundreds of sidelined and under-recognized women who laid the groundwork for so many of the church meetings, boycotts, and potlucks (Septima Clark, Montgomery Women’s Council, Ella Baker, Ruby Doris Smith Robinson). Most of all, when I saw the struggle of his immediate family to know how to live out the legacy of the father they lost when they were young children, it all became so tangible. (more…)

The Union Project

For a few months, I’ve heard a smattering of chatter about something in Pittsburgh called The Union Project. It’s a neat group of young people, many of them Mennonite (and some are alumni of Goshen College), who have purchased an old church building in a once-great, now-going downhill neighbhorhood. Their work promoting geographical and spiritual community in their neighborhood is refreshing. Among their projects are a cafe, which employs students from a local high school’s culinary arts program, a stained-glass business, and office and meeting places for local organizations. These include a church called The Open Door, which seems to be part of the “emerging church” conversation.

The Union Project promotes art exhibitions as fundraisers and partners with the city of Pittsburgh in community redevelopment. They are also located one block away from MennoCorps’ Pittsburgh unit, which is called Pulse. And those of us who have participated in BikeMovement might be interested to know that a local bike shop in their neighborhood sponsors a bicycle team. And some of you may know Brad Yoder, a locally-based “singer-songmaker” who lives in their neighborhood and first came to Pittsburgh through Pulse.

Mennonite Church (global?) identity

(This was originally written as a response to Eric’s article on “Calling the church to go pee pee,” but I decided that I don’t really want to be associated with Eric, and my post brings up some new issues. So I deserve my own [first ever] post. And since it’s my first post, I apologize if this topic has already been discussed enough. I haven’t been keeping up with all the posts over the past months.)

Good thoughts, bro. Like you, I wonder about the drive to look back to the “original” Anabaptists as a model for our developing church identity. A few weeks ago, Brian McLaren came to Goshen College and hosted a meal for a select group of AMBS and GC students interested in the future of the Mennonite Church. The discussion quickly turned to the developing identity of the Mennonite Church, and the growing feeling among young people that there’s a lack of intentionality about the formation of that identity. Not surprisingly, pacifism was the first thing mentioned as the central point of Anabaptist/Mennonite identity, and Brian encouraged us to emphasize that aspect in the future. There was a clear sense that what the Mennonite Church really needs is to return to the perfect example of the 16th century Anabaptists.

Let’s not be nostalgiac about the early Anabaptists. (more…)

Why is Iraq in Such Trouble?

Hi, I’m a young anabaptist named Nate. Some of you on this site know me. Anyway, I thought I’d post something on an issue I believe is of great importance: What’s wrong in Iraq?

Conservatives blame liberals for being “soft” on terrorism. Liberals blame the neocons. And everybody in America seems to ultimately blame the insurgents and “terrorists” who “hate freedom and the democratic process.”

But as usual, things are not that simple. Not nearly. There are several factors that most middle east scholars and experts foresaw. Let me enumerate some of them, since I believe it is imperative for us to understand world events so we can make a difference: (more…)

Reflections on Mennonite Young Adult Fellowship Retreat

This past weekend I, along with a couple of other YAR writers, went to a campground outside South Bend, IN for a weekend of conversation, games and networking with about 50 other young ethnic Mennonites in their twenties. I decided to go to the gathering after reading about it in Katie Ho’s post a month ago. I figured it would be a good way to reconnect some small part of the Menno community after being out of the country for two and a half years. And in that regard, I wasn’t dissapointed. While there were a few old friends in attendance, there were also lots of new and interesting people to chat with, including the chance to meet a fellow YAR blogger for the first time in person (Brian Hamilton). There were thoughtful sessions by Ken Hawkley, former Mennonite Church USA young adult worker. The Bike Movement crew did a presentation about their trip, their conversations and their upcoming documentary. And Jason Shenk and Nicole Bauman led a discussion session on young adults and the Mennonite church as part of their new roles with AMIGOS. To balance the serious parts there was also Menno Run, a version of survival. With Anabaptist hunters instead of wolves and foxes and Anabaptist instead of rabbits and deer. All this with liberal doses of engaging conversations. (more…)