Whenever I address the subject of race or racial prejudice here, I brace myself. I always get negative feedback, some of which suggests that I should leave the subject alone. The assumption of many of my critics is that race and racism are no longer problems in our society.
Oh, the bliss of wishful thinking.
Last week I attended the first few minutes of a seminar dealing with property values in neighborhoods as an index for determining "livability" or more comprehensive measures of community health. The presenters were accomplished academics, people who really knew their stuff. I'm sure the seminar was brilliant and full of at least some useful insights.
But, I left after the first twenty minutes.
One of the presenters made this statement about real estate values in South Dallas, "We controlled for many factors in our comparisons between this part of Dallas and other more affluent parts of the city. We were surprised to discover that race is still a significant factor affecting property values."
"Surprised to discover that race is still a significant factor affecting property values"--are you kidding me? Anyone who is surprised by that fact of life in the inner city has just lost the ability to command my presence for the remainder of the presentation. Thus, my early departure.
Race and racism remain powerful forces and factors in the dynamics of life, economics, opportunity, hope and justice in every inner city in the United States.
The entire ugly reality reminded me of a story I ran across recently. It seems a white preacher visited a black congregation and, during his sermon, suggested that in heaven there must be a Jim Crow partition that separated the white saints on one side from the black saints on the other. At the end of the service, one of the church's deacons led the congregation in a closing prayer that went like this:
". . .O Lord, we thank thee for the brother preacher who has spoke to us,--we thank thee for heaven,--we thank thee that we kin all go to heaven,--but as to that partition, O Lord, we thank thee that we'se a shoutin' people--we thank thee that we kin shout so hard in heaven that we will break down that partition an' spread all over heaven,--an' we thank thee that if the white fokes can't stand it, they can git out of heaven an' go to elsewhere!"
I think the deacon knew more than the academic who came to town last week. How about you?
The Messiness of Ministry
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