Friday, November 14, 2008


Division is the word that keeps coming to mind when I look around me these days. It is every which way I turn. I've had several sad division encounters lately, but will choose one to share now.

A few days ago, a neighbor’s car pulled into my drive. I was excited because a) we seldom have visitors, b) this was a neighbor I had been trying to meet for months and c) phase one of our new porch had just been completed. So I eagerly ran out to the front yard in my bare feet, something I wouldn’t have done if I’d been thinking. Red ants abound here in east Texas.

I greeted him and his wife, who I hadn’t met before. I had only met him once briefly and hoped we’d get to visit again. He said he had only stopped by to ask me a couple of questions, which I answered. Then, I invited them to come up and sit on my new porch. "Could you come up to the porch and sit?" I asked. "I’m standing in an ant pile getting eaten alive!" I hoped they’d stay for a glass of tea and a chat. But, he declined quickly and said he didn’t want to bother me. He was gone rather abruptly.

Sometimes in a conversation you get a very strong feeling of how the person feels or what they may be thinking, even if they don’t say a word to that effect. I had a very strong impression that he was thinking, "I’m black. You’re white. There is a wall between us and so I’m not going to bother you."

I came back inside, started washing dishes, and found myself in tears before I knew it. I stopped what I was doing and just sat at the table and buried my head in my arms and cried. I was crying because I was disappointed, crying because I was excited that someone might sit on my porch and it hadn’t happened. I was crying in frustration at seeing that tiresome old dividing wall of racism between us. But other times in my life, none of this would have upset me so much or brought me to tears. I think the division he sees between people for a whole host of reasons, must be making Father cry extra hard right now for me to have that reaction.

This election has been like an earthquake. No one was indifferent or unaffected. One black lady I know said this election is the craziest thing she ever saw. Her black friends told her if she didn’t vote for Obama she isn’t black. Her white friends said if she did vote for Obama, she isn’t Christian. If I were her I might have wanted to leave the country for about a month, two weeks before and after the election, to maintain my sanity. I’ve certainly been rattled by all the doomsaying, the anger, the hysteria, the name-calling, the racism issues, the hand-wringing… the division. I have had to remind myself that God isn’t surprised nor unprepared for the days to come.

A hundred years ago, a black man couldn’t be invited to the White House without a scandal. Now we will have a black man and his family living in the White House. People say we’ve come a long way, and in some ways we have. But, I still wonder if the man and his wife down the road will ever come sit on my porch and feel comfortable.

Well, one day in heaven if not here on earth, I hope to have a beautiful porch with a variety of friends sitting on it. We will all hold hands…black and white and brown and all shades in between laced together, noticing no difference except how uniquely beautiful each one is.

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Few Thoughts on the Election

There has been a lot of ruckus the last several days across the nation. Some of it good, some of it not so good. Many people are happy that Obama is our new president-elect. Others are not.

I’m not here to trumpet my political views in this blog (Can I hear a 'thank ya, Jesus!' LOL) I will say that no one seemed indifferent to this election. People were excited, nervous, happy, angry, uncertain, full of anticipation. I sifted through all kinds of emails, yahoo groups, and news articles about all of the involved candidates. Yes, I deleted at least a dozen of those "Obama is the anti-christ" urban legends. I saw all the Saturday Night Live skits (Amy Poehler was hilarious as Hillary Clinton and John McCain pretty doggone funny as himself). It wasn’t until the last few days before and since the election, though, that one very important issue came to the center of my focus.

Racism. It’s that icky word and that unpleasant subject that people don’t like to talk about. As mentioned above, I read all kinds of stuff about the election, but only in the last few days did I see a lot about how very much this election meant to the African American population. About how many were so full of anticipation that they wouldn’t let themselves get their hopes up too high. They spoke of how they had been disappointed in the past. Some of their leaders in the past century were killed. Other noteworthy African American icons were marginalized and mistreated for years. Would their canditate actually win, showing how much things have changed? John McCain remembered an incident over 100 years old during his concession speech. In 1901 , President Theodore Roosevelt invited educator Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House. When news of this dinner spread, outrage ensued. Reading a couple of quotes from old newpaper articles about this dinner, I am shocked at what passed for acceptable journalism back then. Even by today’s "National Enquirer" standards.

No matter what one’s preferred candidate or party, I think all of us who are on the journey to love have to be happy that such ugly racism has been trumped this time, by the election of the first black President of the United States. A few decades ago, saying a dirty word in reference to blacks was done as casually as lighting up a cigarette in the doctor’s office. Now both of these actions cause gasps and immediate chastisement. As the old Virginia Slims ad used to say, we’ve come a long way, baby!

But we’re not there yet. Racism no longer has the same stronghold on our culture that it once did, but it is sadly still alive and well.