September 2017: Is Racism Worse Than Ever?

September 2017 Inter-Belief Conversation Café

Is Racism Worse Than Ever?

Monday, September 18, 2017
7 – 9 p.m.
Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul
1671 Summit Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55105 (View Map)

With White Nationalists marching and the internet fueling division has “post-racial” America turned into an abyss of hatred? Why do terms like Black Lives Matter and Islamophobia dominate the news? Do national leaders feed the fire and speak in coded and perhaps not so coded statements meaning if you’re not white, you’re not right. Or are we seeing pushback against wrongs once tolerated? Confederate generals are seen as defenders of a racist order and the shooting of black males is called out as a problem to be finally addressed. How far are we from the promise of all men created equal of the Declaration of Independence and Martin Luther King’s wish that his children be judged on the content of their characters not the color of their skin?

After the Civil Rights struggles of the Sixties and the election of an African-American President, why are neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members, and other white supremacists still marching? Don’t they know that they are bigger losers than the Confederates whose monuments are coming down? With 75% of terrorist acts in the United States being committed by supporters of White Power, why are people afraid of Muslims? Do white nationalists really include nice people or are they a dark underside of the American psyche? Are they dangerous or just a small extreme fringe? Are confrontational antifa (anti-fascist) groups just as problematical?

Is racism behind the resistance to immigrants/refugees? What about the welcoming words on the Statue of Liberty of tired, poor, and huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of a teaming shore? Aren’t homeless and tempest-tost people allowed in the golden door? Are bans of immigrants from Asian and African mostly Muslim countries what the Lady in the Harbor meant? Why build walls to keep southern Hispanic neighbors out? If we are a melting pot, don’t we wish the greatest diversity possible? Isn’t Islam with a presence in U.S territory since the 17th Century as American as apple pie? Haven’t Hispanics been in the South and West longer than the Anglos? Is immigrant bashing and Islamophobia our vision of the Land of the Free?

Are we actually more sensitive to racial issues with ethnic humor and stereotypes seen in their true light? Black lives were taken well before Jamar Clark and Philandro Castile, but perhaps they didn’t matter as much to us? But why was the death of an Australian woman the reason for Chief Harteau’s resignation? Confederate statues used to be part of the heritage of the Lost Cause, but do we understand the cause better and are we happier that it lost? Do we have more sensitive ears and eyes or have we become hyper-sensitive, looking for offense when none is offered? Do we seek micro-aggressions and live in a culture of political correctness?

But isn’t it the time for long-deferred action? Should a major lake in Minneapolis be named for John Calhoun, a notorious defender of slavery, instead of being called Bde Maka Ska, honoring the first peoples of the land? Shouldn’t we question a justice/prison system incarcerating a disproportionate number of minorities? If a New Jim Crow exists shouldn’t it be denounced? Is such overdue change now threatened by those who long for Good Old Days where being “free, white, and 21” meant something? Are we climbing up a steep hill with the end in view or are we tumbling down to a dark past?

What do people of different faith, belief, and value systems react to these questions and issues? Have people of different religious traditions or of alternative value systems been contributors or opponents of racism?

On Monday, September 18 from 7-9 PM at Interfaith Action of Greater St. Paul, 1671 Summit Avenue, Inter-belief Conversation Café will ask if we live in the worst of times or in the best but just don’t realize it. Agreements of open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, discovery, sincerity, brevity, and confidentiality will hopefully help us listen to better angels of our nature. But whether enlightened or not, treats are available for all!