You and I both know that racism isn’t dead. Back in November of 2011 Eric Ries wrote a tremendous article about the homegeny of the tech world. It contained one of my favorite lines, and it echoed a theme I have long espoused. “This is why I personally care about diversity: it’s the canary in the coal mine for meritocracy. When we see extremely skewed demographics, we have very good reason to suspect that something is wrong with our selection process, that it’s not actually as meritocratic as it could be. And I believe that is exactly what is happening in Silicon Valley.” When everything and everyone is the same there’s no impetus for growth. Or change. You end up with a stagnant populace. Japan is a good example. They are one race, one culture and one time zone. Their initial interactions with the world were stunningly violent. They simply did not consider other races human. The same underlying philosophy colored our ancestors’ interactions with Native Americans. There are no virgins in our planet’s history. That being said some of us have held the notion that progress has been made. Incremental, yes, but slowly falling forward. You would think this to be especially true after Madeline Drexler wrote her groundbreaking piece in 2007 on how racism causes, verifiable, physical ills. It is a legitimate health issue. And it is being ignored. And, no, you don’t get to make a joke about Obamacare here. Although, ironically enough, the new health care system will treat the symptoms but not the underlying issues. That works for the treatment of malaria so hopefully it will help some here too.
But I’m not putting to much stock in that.
It was as s recent as 1978 when the Church of the Latter Day Saints, a/k/a Mormon Church, finally broke down and admitted that black people could worship God just like white people.
John G. Turner took a great look at that interesting bit of awkward history.
“I BELIEVE that in 1978 God changed his mind about black people,” sings Elder Kevin Price in the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon.” The line is meant to be funny, and it is — in part because it’s true.
In a June 1978 letter, the first presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaimed that “all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color.” Men of African descent could now hold the priesthood, the power and authority exercised by all male members of the church in good standing. Such a statement was necessary, because until then, blacks were relegated to a very second-class status within the church.
The revelation may have lifted the ban, but it neither repudiated it nor apologized for it. “It doesn’t make a particle of difference,” proclaimed the Mormon apostle Bruce R. McConkie a few months later, “what anybody ever said about the Negro matter before the first day of June of this year, 1978.”
Mr. McConkie meant such words to encourage Mormons to embrace the new revelation, and he may have solemnly believed that it made the history of the priesthood ban irrelevant. But to many others around the country, statements of former church leaders about “the Negro matter” do, in fact, matter a great deal.
They cause pain to church members of African descent, provide cover for repugnant views and make the church an easy target for criticism and satire. The church would benefit itself and its members — and one member in particular, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — by formally repudiating the priesthood ban and the racist theories that accompanied it.
Mormonism wasn’t always troubled by anti-black racism. In a country deeply stained by slavery and anti-black racism, the church, founded by Joseph Smith in 1830, was noteworthy for its relative racial egalitarianism. Smith episodically opposed slavery and tolerated the priesthood ordination of black men, at least one of whom, Elijah Abel, occupied a position of minor authority.
It was Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, who adopted the policies that now haunt the church. He described black people as cursed with dark skin as punishment for Cain’s murder of his brother. “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cane in him cannot hold the priesthood,” he declared in 1852. Young deemed black-white intermarriage so sinful that he suggested that a man could atone for it only by having “his head cut off” and spilling “his blood upon the ground.” Other Mormon leaders convinced themselves that the pre-existent spirits of black people had sinned in heaven by supporting Lucifer in his rebellion against God.
Yes, the same Brigham Young they named a university after was a race hating sociopath. In March of 1863 he dropped this gem on the world; “Shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain, the penalty, under the law of God, is death on the spot. This will always be so.”
Well, there you go. That’s a warm fuzzy.
But that’s all in the past. Right?
Well, not exactly. Dunkin Donuts in Thailand just recently released this masterpiece.
And, just as sure as the sun will shine, they issued an apology.
Dunkin’ Donuts said it was pulling an advertisement in Thailand featuring a woman with black face make-up after a human rights group criticised it as “racist”.
The US firm apologised for the “insensitivity” of the ad for its “charcoal donut”, which had the slogan “Break all rules of deliciousness”.
“We are working with our franchisee to immediately pull the television spot and to change the campaign,” Karen Raskopf, chief communications officer for Dunkin’ Brands, said in a statement received by AFP on Tuesday.
For the record, the head of Thailand’s division of Dunkin Donuts still doesn’t understand the fuss.
The CEO for Dunkin’ Donuts in Thailand, which is operated as a franchise, was initially bullish about the marketing. “It’s absolutely ridiculous,” said Nadim Salhani. “We’re not allowed to use black to promote our doughnuts? I don’t get it. What’s the big fuss? What if the product was white and I painted someone white, would that be racist?”
And he still isn’t getting it if you’re curious.
But that’s them there crazy ferners, things are much better here. Right?
In North Carolina the Freedom House Church asked its black congregants to avoid talking to potential new parishioners.
No, I am not making this up.
Churches often do their best to welcome new members and make new congregants feel welcome, but one North Carolina congregation caused a firestorm when a lead pastor requested “only white people” serve as greeters.
Carmen Thomas, a member of Freedom House Church was outraged after receiving an email from Pastor Makeda Pennycooke asking people of color to refrain from serving as greeters at the 9 a.m. service during the congregation’s busiest season, WBTV reports.
Pennycooke, an African-American, sent the email to a group of church volunteers writing “first impressions matter” and that the congregation wanted “the best of the best on the front doors.”
Thomas told the news station she believed Pennycooke was attempting to attract white worshippers.
“We are continuing to work to bring our racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” she continued in the email. “So we would like to ask that only white people be on the front doors.”
According to WBTV, Pennycooke has since apologized for the email along with seniors pastors Troy and Penny Maxwell.
“The pastors have been meeting with staff and church members to confirm their commitment to diversity and to ensure nothing like this happens again,” church officials told WBTV.
“Freedom House believes in a diverse relationship within its membership, reflecting the larger community in which the church resides, doing life together as a church representative of everyone — culturally, ethnically, economically, and generationally.”
That was yesterday, not 1953. Dear God, has anyone actually read the New Testament down there?
If not, start at Matthew 7:12 and work from there.
But in Casper Wyoming there may have been seeds of peace planted. Or, at least, tolerance. The KKK and the NAACP had a pow wow.
Yeah, I went there.
Leaders from branches of the Ku Klux Klan and the NAACP had a historic meeting in Casper, Wyoming on Saturday to discuss recent acts of violence against black men and the distribution of KKK pamphlets in the area.
Jimmy Simmons, president of the Casper branch of the NAACP, had reached out to John Abarr of the United Klans of America about meeting in June, according to the Casper Star-Tribune. The two didn’t meet until several ground rules were established, including an agreement to meet under heavy security.
The two discussed the KKK’s desire to secede from the union, segregation and violence against black men. Abarr revealed that he saw an uptick in new members after the election of President Barack Obama and shared why he likes being in the Klan.
“I like it because you wear robes, and get out and light crosses, and have secret handshakes,” Abarr said, according to the Star-Tribune. “I like being in the Klan — I sort of like it that people think I’m some sort of outlaw.”
But Abarr — who believes violence against black men is a hate crime and touts his group as a non-violent religious organization focused on political issues — said his branch of the KKK isn’t hateful enough for some, and that he really likes to “recruit really radical kids, then calm them down after they join.”
So this guy likes being in the Klan for the same reason drag queens like to shop at Macy’s? Because he gets to play dress up?
And, just FYI, there is no legal way for an organization to secede from the US. But, you’re welcome to move at any time.
The only good news I have on race relations today is that the top 20 states for interracial dating are split pretty evenly between red and blue states.
Illinois is #7, so we still have work to do.