The Golden Rule

It is now the end of Spring semester, COVID-19 has changed our world, probably forever, and my students are writing their concluding blog for the semester. My entry here, is an example for them to follow. It is by no means is it the end of my own blogging.

Golden Rule (Rockwell, 1894-1978a). ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

I have peppered this post with images from the 2015 Norman Rockwell Exhibit, We the People and his Golden Rule painting (Rockwell, 1894-1978a). I have come to believe the historical Christian Church has failed at Matthew 7:12, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (The Peoples Bible, 2009). I ask you before you read this summary of my previous entries for the semester, to look at Rockwell’s Golden Rule to the right. Notice the rainbow of black to brown to white and remember my post, The Myth of Race.

My focus this semester was looking at the question, “How may I work towards social justice in the fight against racism with my brothers and sisters in Christ?” (See The Journey Continues). My greatest movement towards answering that question was committing to a year-long facilitator training program with the United Church of Christ Sacred Conversations to End Racism (UCC SC2ER, 2020) (See Jesus didn’t Speak in Red letters.)

Reference photo  1 (Rockwell, 1894-1978b)

Participation in that process and reflecting upon what I have learned has already led me to change the name of my blog from Let’s talk about racism: You say you’re not a racist to Deconstructing racism: Moving beyond what we see. Here are some of the things that I learned and that are supported in social, anthropological, and genetic research.

I learned that we all have our origins in Africa and at some genetic level, we are all persons of color. I lay my case for that in my entry Across the Great Divide. I supporting that in facts through my own genetic testing results indicating my African ancestry of 1.3% Angolan and Congolese. Race, as a biological construct does not exist.

Reference photo 2 (Rockwell, 1894-1978c)

I learned that while there is no basis for race, racism, as a social construct is alive and well in the 21st century. A fact I talk about in my entry I was Black until 1967.

And I learned race, as we use the term today, is a direct result of a Papal Bull allowing Christians to seize the lands of other people and to enslave them and which future Protestants would use to continue the same. A fact I talk about in The WASP’s Nest.

I know I have not begun to address my question, but I have laid the foundation for it. But based on what I have learned, I feel the Church has more of a role in atonement than I thought. I feel the Church mut not only be socially just and live the Golden Rule, but must be restorative and atone for the sins of its past. My question shifts from society to Church  and How may I work towards restorative racial justice within the Christian Church?”.

United Nations Golden Drawing (Rockwell, 1894-1978d)

References

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978a), Golden Rule, 1961 [Oil on canvas, 44 1/2” x 39 1/2”. Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978b), Reference photo 1 Rockwell used for his Golden Rule [Photograph]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978c), Reference photo 2 Rockwell used for his Golden Rule [Photograph]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978d), United Nations [Drawing]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

The Peoples Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. (2009). Fortress Press.

United Church of Christ Sacred Conversations to End Racism (2020). Retrieved April 17, 2020 from https://www.ucc.org/sacred_conversations_to_end_racism

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Across the Great Divide

I was walking into work this morning. Behind me to my left were two white men, mid 40’s or 50’s. One rolling a suitcase with his overnight bag resting on top. The other walking beside him carrying nothing. Their conversation went something like this:

The Queen of Sheba. From the manuscript “Bellifortis”
by Conrad Kyeser, ca. 1402-05. Staats- und
Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen, 2 Cod. Ms. Philos. 63,
Cim., fol. 122r. This photo was retrieved from
MicroSoft Word and indicated as Creative Commons
and for use in the public domain as follows:

This Photo by Unknown Author is
licensed under CC BY-SA.

Suitcase guy: “My wife and I had driven to a conference to see a part of the country we hadn’t seen before, Southeastern Ohio and West Virginia. I had to wonder how those women that worked in those gas stations that have the booth, how their lives looked like.”

Empty-handed guy: <Sound of acknowledgment>

Suitcase guy: “I guess they’re happy, but they were obviously lower middle class. Most of them weren’t white either. they were mostly black or Hispanic women and some black men”.

Empty-handed guy: <Another sound of acknowledgment followed by some statement that I didn’t quite get about the statement Suitcase guy just made>

Suitcase guy: “I haven’t given it that much thought since it’s different in Michigan”, was the last thing I heard before our paths diverged.

As far as I’m concerned, the only difference between Michigan and Ohio, who share a common border, are their football teams (Buckeyes rule … I know because I went to The Ohio State University many years ago). The people are pretty much the same across the state line … if you discount things like color, money, politics, factories, farming, drinkable water … (rolling my eyes as I type).

As I prepare for my UCC SC2ER training tonight, I think about the beginning of civilization and our common African ancestry. I think about the riches of Biblical Kush (today’s Ethiopia), which could have encompassed “the modern territory of the [entire] continent of Africa” (Adamo, 2001, p. 34), and their Greco-Roman neighbors across the Mediterranean. And I wonder what if? What if this much larger Africa had been able to retain its gold, copper, timber and other tangible it possessed pre-Colonialism (Miller, 1885)? What if, instead of European Colonialism, the United States had African Colonization? How would that same conversation play out?

Suitcase guy: “Oh, I haven’t given it that much thought, since they were only white people”.

You and I could have easily been the enslaved field workers forced from our land, beaten, sold, abused, murdered, raped, tortured and still falsely accused and falsely imprisoned today. We could have been treated like we have treated others.

So how does it look to you now … across the great divide?

References

Adamo, D. T. (2001). Africa and the Africans in the Old Testament. Wipf and Stock Publishers.

Miller, D. (1995). 2000 years of indigenous mining and metallurgy in southern Africa – A review. South African Journal of Geology, 98(2).

I was black until 1967

If I am to define race based upon skin color, then at my very genetic core … I must be a light-skinned black man. Legally, until 1967, I was black growing up in the Commonwealth of Virginia as a result of the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 (the instructions of implementation for the act are pictured below). Legally, I would only be able to drink from the non-white water fountains, I would not have access to the same quality education as white children, and I would have to sit at the back of the bus.

Racial Integrity Act of 1924
Wolfe (2015) Racial Integrity Act implementation [image].

“It is estimated that within the state from 10,000 to 20,000 possible more, near white people, who are known to possess an intermixture of colored blood, in some case to a slight extent it is true, but still enough to prevent them from being white”

from the Virginia Health Bulletin pictured

The act written to prevent interracial marriages in the Commonwealth of Virgina would not be ruled unconstitutional until the United States Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia, 338, U.S. 1 (1967) (Newbeck & Wolfe, 2015). But by definition, I could legally be classified as black in the Commonwealth of Virginia where I lived from ages 4-6, until 1967. I wasn’t, but I could have been, and so could you.

Need Proof?

Last November I had a health issue and all the doctors assumed I had lung cancer. They were also concerned about deep vein thrombosis which could lead to a pulmonary embolism. So when I read that the FDA had approved genetic testing with regards to thrombophilia, a blood clot disorder, (Boddy, 2017), I spit in a tube, and mailed it to 23 and me (https://www.23andme.com/). About a month later I got a report on my genetic characteristics. Fortunately, I was not genetically predisposed to thrombophilia. So how did I become black?

23 and me results also include ancestry and linage according to genetic markers. My genetic markers indicate I am 1.7% sub Saharan African and 1.3% of that is Angolan and Congolese. My historical genetic lineage traces back even further (see my 23 and me results below).

Dr. Cook-Snell’s African Maternal lineage according to 23andme.com.
Dr. Cook-Snell’s African Paternal linage according to 23andme.com.

So when did I become white? In 1967. But I had white privilege due to appearances long before that in my family of heritage, and that was in the 15th century, a topic I will explore in an upcoming blog.

References

Boddy, J. (2017, April 7). FDA approves marketing of consumer genetic tests for some conditions. NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/04/07/522897473/fda-approves-marketing-of-consumer-genetic-tests-for-some-conditions

Newbeck, P., & Wolfe, B. (2015, October 26). Loving v. Virginia (1967). In Encyclopedia Virginia. http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Loving_v_Virginia_1967

Wolfe, B. (2015, November 4). Racial integrity laws (1924–1930). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Rhttp://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Racial_Integrity_Laws_of_the_1920s