This Must End

I’ve seen one of these cards personally. It was 1995 in Ohio.


It was a Sunday morning and I’d just completed the second service at one of the churches I served as a pastor.


The day prior, I’d performed a wedding ceremony between two friends, one happened to be a Black man and his fiancee, a white woman.


As parishioners were leaving church that Sunday, a man came up to me after all had left and handed me the card explaining this was a warning for what I’d done the day before. He said I should know better than to perform a marriage between people of different races, especially Black and White.

I recall the shock of it, then the fear, and then the rage that I felt. I tore the card up in front of him and told him to leave. He warned me to watch my back and that lots of accidents can occur in a rural area, especially at night. He reminded me that I sometimes worked nights at either that particular church or the even more remote one just up the road.


Seeing this card again brings up those memories. The attempt at intimidation.


I’ve seen and stared into the face of hate. Unadulterated, contemptible, and all too American grown hate.


I’ve passed places in the South where they don’t even hide it. Places like Laurens, SC where a shop across from the courthouse brazenly displays the name “White Man’s Shop” and has a mannequin wearing the robe of the Klan.


Living in the South, I’ve had my children hear racist epithets hurled at them by the parents of classmates and those who had children in the same daycare they attended. I’ve heard them thrown at me as well. Things like “Chink lover” and asking why I didn’t adopt “one of my own kind.”
If anyone questions why I never wanted to return to the States after having lived in Canada, this is a major reason. I saw the writing on the wall during the 2016 election. I saw more and more individuals then as I see now around the country who have become more brazen and public with their hate.


I’ve watched the last 4 years of an administration led by an individual who espouses and encourages hatred, prejudice, division, and racism. I heard it when he claimed there were “good people on both sides” after the white supremacists marched on Charlottesville. I heard him when he told them to “Stand by and stand down,” rather than condemn them. Sure, he offered a half-hearted comment of being against them when asked by a reporter, but his actions speak louder than his words.

It causes me fear.
It causes me sadness.
It causes me anxiety.
It causes me anger.

Fear for my children and for people who are not white or who stand up against these horrible individuals and groups.
Sadness in that there are people who feel that way now.
Anxiety as I know there is somewhat of a target on my back and the backs of those who stand against the hate.
Anger in a way that motivates me to stand against them even more.

We cannot and must not allow this to continue. It matters not whether it is the Klan or any other white supremacist group or individual, they must be stopped. Silenced. Rendered flaccid in their rhetoric and actions.

We do this by standing up against them.
We do this by not being silent.
We do this by removing elected officials who espouse racist and divisive beliefs.
We do this by never giving up nor giving in.
We do this by protesting, peacefully when at all possible, but at the same time not becoming doormats for them to trample upon nor silence.

Coming Back to America

I originally thought of this as a quick post to social media, but then rethought that as it goes deeper than a post to Facebook and certainly much longer than Twitter can handle. This post concerns observations and thoughts that I had as I faced returning to the U.S. from having lived in Canada for almost 5 years.

We moved to a city in the Province of Ontario from Florida back in 2013 because of a job opportunity with the organization for whom my wife works. When we left, I was well aware of the racism and prejudices present in this country both from having children of a different race as well as having taught at the middle school and high school levels and having to attempt to teach students not only English, but also Holocaust/Tolerance education. I also saw it as the conservative media and politicians continued to attack President Obama’s every action. Yet, seeing it from the outside gave me a much darker look at what was going on in the U.S.

One way that I saw the dark clouds of paranoia and xenophobia was when I’d have to make trips back into this country for medical or other purposes. As the election of 2016 came closer, the officials at the U.S. border became increasingly more visibly armed and their questioning more increasingly and ominously paranoid. Whenever I would enter the U.S., the guard would ask questions that seemed odd. It started with asking me my license plate number (not something I’d memorized as I doubt many folks do). Then, it morphed into requests for me to remove my cap and glasses. Then, questions regarding my political views about the incoming administration and how I viewed living in Canada, if I liked it better than living in the States. I became thankful for my ability to hide my true feelings and even flat out lie after a few times of this. My tension would not cease until I returned to the safety of Canada and their border patrol’s benign questions concerning if I had any alcohol, tobacco, or firearms and where I lived in Canada and why which I deemed valid as it was their country and I was a guest in it.

The night of the election and for weeks afterward, I couldn’t sleep. I began to also overeat and simply not care about whatever happened to me because I knew that I’d be returning to a nation very much unlike the one I’d left. I cried a great deal. I tried to step up my efforts to find a way that we could remain in Canada. My wife tried to convince me that things would not be as bad as I thought they would be. But she didn’t watch the news nor pay attention to the rantings of the incoming administration. She felt that his party would hold him in check and that it would not be as bad as it appeared.

Once the current administration came into power, the guards at the border got worse, their open carrying of M-16s more apparent as did their now body armored uniforms. They became bolder in their questioning. Now, they would focus on my having a beard as they asked and re-asked the same questions to try to somehow catch me in a lie. At one border crossing, it became apparent that it was too isolated to be safe to cross back into the U.S. due to the behavior of the guards; so, I went out of my way to cross at a more populated one so there would be more witnesses to anything that could happen. Yes, I became fearful of returning to the country of my birth and citizenship, not because of doing anything wrong, but due to my fear of being seen as a threat because I did not agree with the policies of the new administration.

The news, as we watched both news from Canada and the U.S., seemed not to match. While we heard just the facts from the Canadian networks, the U.S. seemed more slanted. Some items occurring in the U.S. not mentioned in U.S. news broadcasts were mentioned in Canadian ones. Tougher border crossings for both U.S. citizens as well as Canadian citizens arose. It was like the U.S. intentionally did not want people coming in.

Once we moved back, it seemed like a cloud was descending over the States. More and more accounts of racism and prejudice. The rise of a more virulent and violent white supremacy. And the response from the current administration was everything from silence to stating there were “good people on both sides.” Under any other U.S. administration in my lifetime, Democrat or Republican, the actions of white supremacists would have been condemned. That was no longer the case. I’d lived in Florida when Trayvon Martin was murdered by a white man simply for walking down the street. Yet now, there were Black men and boys, such as Eric Gardner and Tamir Rice, being killed by police and getting away with it. There were people trying to escape violence and poverty now having their children placed in cages at the U.S.-Mexico border. There were people who were brought to this country by their parents years ago who were being threatened with deportation to countries they knew nothing about. The U.S. border officials started showing up at bus stations where I moved to try to deport people. Migrant farmers were being picked up and whisked away in an increasing manner. All of this and the administration not only condoning it, but ordering it and for no reason aside from prejudice and hate.

As I write this, a few days ago Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden named Senator Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the upcoming election. Almost immediately, the supporters of the current administration began to attack her based on the color of her skin and gender. They are putting out a conspiracy theory that she is not a U.S. citizen simply because her parents were immigrants. She was born in Oakland, California, and is a U.S. citizen regardless of whether her parents were or not. (They were, by the way). It’s the same tactic they tried to do to President Obama because his father was Black and his name was not a Western one.

There is no cause for this aside from hate and prejudice. In the coming months as we head toward the election, I know it will only get worse. It is my hope that the country can ignore the hatred and prejudice and come together in supporting the positive change that exists in the Biden/Harris ticket as well as in all the progressives that are running for office in this country. They need to be, indeed must be, elected in order for this nation to make it through this darkness and survive.

As President Lincoln once stated, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” This country is divided under this current administration. It will not stand if this continues. No, I am no naive enough to believe it will not take work to bring about change once the administration changes. Yet, I know that it is only with a massive change in the governing of this country that any movement forward can occur.

White privilege is not what whites think it is

White privilege doesn’t mean what some Whites think it means. They get stuck on the word privilege believing it to equate with wealth and comfort. However, that’s not it.

Privilege, as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary, has two related definitions. The first is “a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favour”. The second is “to accord a higher value or superior position to”.

The social and political system of this country grants people who are white with certain privileges that are not given to people of colour which are based simply on the lack of melanin in their skin. It has nothing to do with wealth, but everything to do with living each day.

Whites can and do go about our lives not really worrying about being pulled over by law enforcement or being shadowed in stores by security/loss prevention personnel.

Whites can and do get jobs over people of colour based not on qualifications, but on skin pigmentation.

Whites do not get stereotyped as being savages or lazy anywhere near the amount people of colour do.

A white man walking along the street while wearing a hoodie doesn’t have to pull the hoodie off when people pass him out of fear of being thought of as potentially violent.

When a white person does get pulled over or stopped by law enforcement, they don’t automatically get approached by the officer having his/her hand on the butt of his/her service revolver.

The list can go on ad nauseam, but I won’t belabour it. These are facts. People of colour, particularly Black and Brown skinned people face discrimination every day practically from the moment they are born.

Black and Brown mothers and fathers train their sons on how to try to avoid suspicion from ignorant whites so that they can come home from something as simple as a trip to get candy at the corner store.

Black women see images society throws at them saying their beauty lies in straightening their hair.

Black and Brown people are constantly told to behave like whites behave if they want to achieve success and stay safe in this country.

Again, the list can go on ad nauseam.

Enough is enough though!

Blacks and other people of colour cannot fix the system that’s rigged against them by themselves. It’s up to whites to join with them, listen, and act with them to change the system from one of systemic racism to one of real equality.

Not Enough

Not Enough

Shirts are not enough.
Signs are not enough.
Painted streets are not enough.
Sentiment is not enough.
Letters and emails are not enough.
Voting is not enough.
Protests are not enough.

All of these actions, while necessary and good, are not enough to bring about meaningful and lasting change in this country. We need tangible and earnest change in the system to rid ourselves of the systemic racism that pervades our country.

While the above-mentioned list is a start, we need to elect officials at all levels of government who will listen and act in a manner that changes the system. We must move forward with the agenda for which people are shouting, protesting, dying, and being arrested. We must make the agenda into law.

No human should worry about being mistreated based solely on the colour of her or his skin.

No human should worry about being killed based solely on the colour of her or his skin.

No human should live in poverty based solely on the colour of her or his skin.

No human should worry about being able to get a job based solely on the colour of her or his skin.

No human should worry about not having healthcare based solely on the colour of her or his skin.

We must force our government to truly make this country one where equality is truly equality.

Equality across the imaginary concept of race.

Equality across all cultural differences.

Equality across all genders and sexual orientations.

Equality across all religious beliefs or non-belief.

The idea of equality for ALL PEOPLE truly should be equality for ALL PEOPLE!

The Myth of White Superiority-A Brief Look

It’s time once again for me to anger some people and delight others. With the recent installation of a new president in the United States, there has been a surge in the numbers of white supremacist groups, along with other hate groups that are primarily made up of individuals of white European backgrounds. They all claim to be of a superior race. It’s not a new thing that they’re claiming, but it is a myth or rather an invention of culture that has sullied the human race over time.

Gene researchers have concluded that race simply does not exist. All humankind is genetically the same. Our differences in appearance are evolutionary mutations that helped our ancestors adapt the climate where they lived. In fact, “the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)issued a statement asserting that all humans belong to the same species and that “race” is not a biological reality but a myth” in 1950 (Sussman). Dr. Sussman, a professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, further states that while “the concept of human races is real. It is not a biological reality, but a cultural one. Race is not a part of our biology, but it is definitely part of our culture”(Sussman).

I recently read, and I apologize as I do not recall from where, how at one time in our nation’s history, indentured whites and blacks were considered to be on the same level, the lowest in fact. However, in order for the white elites to maintain power, they allowed the poor and indentured whites to believe they were part of the ruling class based not on economic status, but on race. Much of this occurred as a result of Bacon’s Rebellion in the 1675, when Nathaniel Bacon, “a white property owner in Jamestown, Virginia,…managed to unite slaves, indentured servants, and poor whites in a revolutionary effort to overthrow the planter elite” (The Birth of Slavery). When the uprising was suppressed, the wealthy planters put into motion changes that brought in more slaves from Africa rather than ones from the West Indies who might know English and be able to try to unite again with the indentured servants and poor whites (The Birth of Slavery). As such, the poor whites, while allowed to vote, felt they were superior to black people based on their being white rather than being any better off than the black people were.

The myth of superiority of whites simply continued as our nation developed and the myth continued to be perpetuated though laws and stereotypes. Historically, there was, of course, the whole Eugenics area of pseudo-science that tried to perpetuate these ideas of race and racial superiority. Nazi Germany was perhaps the most infamous for this as they tried to show the superiority of the Northern white Europeans over everyone else. Even in the history of politics, we have the words of Lyndon B. Johnson who said, “I’ll tell you what’s at the bottom of it. [commenting on racial epithets seen on signs as he visited in Tennessee] If you convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

What does all this have to do with life in 2017? Everything. This myth of white superiority has never gone away. It’s why there are people who complain about the Black Lives Matter movement and reply with All Lives Matter. It’s why enough people went out and voted in such a way as to give an openly racist and xenophobic person the Electoral Votes to win the presidency, even though he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes, which he claims were rigged. It’s why there are people who have given themselves over to irrational fear of immigrants from primarily non-white countries and who are of primarily non-white dominated religions. Racism is not dead by a long shot, but it is, despite the uptick of hate groups in recent years, terminally ill.

One remaining vestige of the myth remains with white privilege. There are whites who wrongly claim this does not exist. Many of these white privilege deniers think that since they are not wealthy, then they cannot be considered privileged. These folks still buy into the same culturally based myth as the poor whites did after Bacon’s Rebellion, yet they refuse to see how people of color are treated differently than they are treated. They do not see how law enforcement target people of color in subtle and not so subtle ways. They don’t hear car doors lock at a stoplight when they walk pass. They do not know what it feels like to be denied service or even a loan because their skin color makes them a credit risk. If a white person commits a terrorist act, that person is deemed mentally unstable; however, if a person of color, especially a person of color who is also a non-Christian commits a similar act, then not only is the act labeled an act of terrorism, but it’s expected by the media that all members of the perpetrator’s race or religion come out to condemn the attack or else they are deemed to be in favor of it.

That’s white privilege. Those are not exhaustive examples, but I’m not writing a dissertation on racism or white privilege either.

White privilege is not about wealth or status. It’s about how being born white, particularly a white male, makes it that the person can get away with things that his or her non-white peer cannot. It’s the white kid caught with a joint who gets a verbal reprimand, but her non-white counterpart gets suspended or expelled from school. It’s the Asian kid who is told they must be good in math or science based simply on the color of his or her skin, while his or her white counterpart rarely hears that. It’s the Middle Eastern person who is seen as a terrorist, while his or her white neighbor never gets a second glance. It’s the Black person who is seen as a threat simply by walking down the street, while a white person is not. It’s the Hispanic person who gets asked if he or she is an illegal, even though he or she was born in the United States, but the white person is not. It’s stop and frisk versus let him or her pass freely. It’s fear that creeps into the heart whenever law enforcement passes a person even though he or she knows that he or she is doing nothing wrong.

White people need to own up to this problem and work to eradicate it. While a few whites may see this as an “us vs them” issue, it is not. Our country is based on the ideal that all humankind are equals. If a white person is treated better or differently than a person of color, that damages us all, if we truly believe in equality for all people. Some whites will feel threatened by this for fear that those who have been treated unfairly will rise up against them. Some whites fear no longer being in the majority and, therefore, feel they must fight for their culturally given right to remain a superior race. But again, there is no race aside from the human race. That’s a scientifically proven fact.

When it all comes down to it, all humankind are the same. There are good people and bad people of every skin pigmentation. There are intelligent people and, frankly, stupid people of every skin pigmentation. There are good people and bad people from every religion and no religion at all. People are simply people. Messy, mixed-up, and imperfect humankind.

We, as humanity, must begin to shift our conversations from non-existent race and toward conquering the problems we face as humankind. Problems that are not perpetuated by any race or religion, but by people being irrational and cruel to one another. Problems caused by not seeing one another as human beings regardless of skin color and treating one another with mutual love and respect that is due to all humanity.

Alexander, Michelle. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.” The Birth of Slavery (Bacon’s Rebellion), The New Press, 2010, http://www.duboislc.net/read/BirthOfSlavery.html. Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

Sussman, Robert W. “The Myth of Races:Why are we divided by race when there is no such thing?.” Rawstory, Rawstory, 9 Nov. 2014, http://www.rawstory.com/2014/11/the-myth-of-race-why-are-we-divided-by-race-when-there-is-no-such-thing/. Accessed 16 Feb. 2017.

The Problem of Walls and Weapons

The tragedy in Paris, as well as Kenya and Lebanon, should send reminders of the fragility of human life in our modern age. Instead, it is fostering a growth in a continued movement for nations to erect walls and allow more weapons to be used to separate and kill people who are not like “us”. Think about that for a moment and consider the following.

More weapons will not stop atrocities like the events in Paris, Kenya, or Lebanon from occurring. A common message sent out from certain aspects of society, particularly in the United States, tries to state that had there been more guns in the hands of the innocent people in Paris, then the atrocity would not have occurred. They state this somehow believing it as solid fact. However, one cannot know if that is true or not. While there might have been fewer people killed, there also could have been may more killed in a crossfire between those who committed the atrocity and those who were trying to defend themselves. In addition, it is alleged that those who committed this heinous act were also prepared to die at all cost, including the use of suicide bombs as what happened near the stadium. I doubt more firearms could have stopped the bombers from committing their horrendous acts.

Then there is the call for walls to be built, either literally or figuratively, to keep out immigrants and refugees because it is currently assumed that one or more of the terrorists carried passports from Syria, the homeland of the majority of those same refugees. While it is horrible that this may be the case, what about the thousands more who are not the aggressors, but the victims of the aggressors? There are thousands of people who are fleeing for their lives from the violence caused by ISIL/ISIS. The majority of them are simply trying to survive, not flee to the West to commit violent acts.

Besides, walls don’t work to keep people, good or bad, out. If someone wants to get around a wall, he or she will find a way to do so. Centuries ago, China built a wall to keep out aggressors. It was breached. Each day, hundreds of people cross the walls and boundaries of countries as they seek a better life. Some remain, and some are deported back to where they came.

But there are other walls that become built that are unseen. These are the walls that separate people in a more social sense than a physical one. One wall is prejudice and the other is fear. These two walls are ones that are sometimes insurmountable, not because of their size, but because of how people latch onto them with such fervor. These unseen walls cause us to place barriers between one another. Sometimes, these walls are in the form of words we use to label large groups of people as being bad based on the actions of a few people who look like the group or happen to worship using the same terms as that group does.

Right now, it happens to be Muslims who are being portrayed by media and certain elements of society as being nothing but bad people. They are called terrorists as a whole based on the actions of an extreme few of those who hide behind what is a peaceful religion. The vast majority of Muslims want nothing but to live in harmony within their communities as well as those places where they live among non-Muslims. The majority feels the need to pay for the sins of the few as they are pressured to speak out against acts of terror or be seen as supporting it. Yet, if people from a different religious background commit an atrocity, the innocent of those backgrounds are not pressured to speak out. If a Christian person commits an atrocity, there is no call for all Christians to speak out against it. If a Jewish person commits an atrocity, there is not call for all Jewish people to speak out against it. Only the Muslims. Yet, there are some who continue to say that if they don’t, then they are guilty of the supporting the crimes committed by the few.

The problem is not with religion, it is with people in general. The problem is not with needing more walls, but needing fewer ones.

That’s right, I said fewer walls to separate people. The walls of ignorance, fear, hate, oppression, poverty, war, and famine need to be torn down. In their place, we need to build one thing up above all else. We need to build up our fellow humankind. We need to end wars, and start spreading peace. We need to replace hate with love. We need to eradicate poverty and build plenty. We need to educate others so they may have what they need, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

A recent article I read was one where the interviewer had the rare opportunity to speak with ISIS prisoners of war in Iraq. The vast majority of those who were interviewed did not join ISIS for religious reasons, but for economic and emotional ones. They were starving and this terrorist organization promised them a way out. The terrorist organization gave them someone to blame for their problems, in this case, the West. While some of that is true since, while many of these people’s lives were bad under Saddam Hussein in Iraq, their lives became worse once he was deposed as civil war broke out in their country based on centuries old hatreds. Some joined out of fear that if they didn’t, then they and their families would die.

As I read the article, something occurred to me. The reason why many of these people joined was similar to why people join street gangs. Some fear that if they don’t, then they will die. Others do it as gang life promises them a sense of belonging and/or prosperity. Some join because they are so far in poverty that they need someone to blame and the gang tells them who to blame for their situation. This is not unlike those who voluntarily joined the Nazis in the 1930s and 1940s. It is not unlike those who joined the Ku Klux Klan in the post-Civil War South. It is not unlike those who join militia groups in modern society or other fringe, hate-filled groups. The majority of people who do so are looking for more in their life in some way and the gang persuades them that gang life is the way they can have or be more than who they are.

There needs to be an alternative to this lifestyle to make it stop. Rather than waging war in countries against people, there needs to be a fight for better living conditions. A fight for jobs. A fight for equality for all people regardless of who he or she is or what he or she believes. There needs to be education for all people to understand different cultures and religions as find common ground between them rather than what is different about them. Education is a powerful weapon against hate, fear, and violence. When humankind understands differences, then it becomes harder to fear or hate them. Instead, there becomes a natural instinct to try to see the similarities. But this only occurs with the chance to learn about our differences in a non-biased fashion. It comes with knowing who we are as individuals and facing our fears, prejudices, and ignorances, acknowledging them, and going beyond them to build understanding.

None of this means we have to like the way others are. It doesn’t mean we have to become like who others are. It does mean we must respect our differences and embrace our similarities. We must learn to love one another, whether we like them or not. For some people, this is seen as being too politically correct, as if that is a bad thing. However, it is actually being more humane to our fellow humankind.

Will this end all the problems instantly? No, there is no quick fix as many hope. It took time to build the walls, it will take time to tear them down as well. But it’s worth it.

The late Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This rings so true for our world today. Peace can only come through light, never darkness. Hope can only thrive where all humankind sees one another as one rather than as many.

Classy Kid vs. Racist Jerks

Recently, at an NBA game between the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs, a young man-made headlines for singing the national anthem. He did not forget the words. In fact, he sang them very well for a young man of his age in front of thousands of people. What he made headlines for was the reactions of some of the racists that fill our country and bring it down to levels of unintelligence not seen since the first man walked the earth.
People saying he had no right to sing the national anthem because he was not American enough subjected the young man, born in San Antonio, but of Mexican heritage, to racial slurs. Yes, you read that correctly, a number of racists that tweeted and commented about his performance did not consider him American enough about his singing the national anthem simply because of his racial background. Since when did being American equate with being White?
This rings of ideas reminiscent of the era before Civil Rights were gained in our country. White does not equal American. No race equals being American. We are Americans based on where we were born, if our parents were American, or if we were naturalized as citizens of the United States. The fact that there were people attacking this young man should not surprise us, especially since we have seen our president attacked and his being American questioned by “birthers” of the politically stupid that have come out of the woodwork in our country.
Our country is becoming less and less dominated by people who consider themselves White/Caucasian. The problem is that there are many Whites who fear this rather than embrace it as our becoming the melting pot for which our country is famous. Is this fear because there are those who are White who have acted in a racist manner toward those who are not and they fear retribution? Probably. Is it because there are too many Whites who simply do not know enough about other cultures and thus choose to fear them because it is easier than to learn about them and accept them? I think this is far truer than not.
This is not to say there are not racists of other colors than White. However, for those who are White, have you ever thought that is how they see you as well? Prejudice is the child of ignorance and fear. It knows no race, culture, or creed. If people are not willing to learn and take the chance to get to know others of differing cultural or ethnic backgrounds, then our nation is doomed to be run by racists such as those who spewed venomous words toward this young man. It should not be a case of a classy kid vs. racist jerks. Our country needs more people to realize that the only thing that truly sets us apart is our ignorance of one another. That can be bridged when one person steps forward with a smile and kind words. If enough people do that, then the hateful words and views of the few will be drowned out by the laughter and joy of friends of all races and cultures.