Belhar Confession & My Racist Posture

I have been thinking a lot about what I believe. Mostly so I can hide from my convictions and not have to face that I am a wolf in Christian clothing. For all intensive purposes, I have no right to be in ministry.

I hold so many biases that you could start a black market economy from my prejudices and misgivings of people. I clam to be a pretty open fellow. The more I question this idea that more I realize that I am a messed up mucky muck kind of guy.

In early June, Mere and I moved to Old Louisville, in an area that has a large African-American population. Our building has ten apartments and two are occupied by Caucasian families [us included] and two are vacant. Sixty percent of our building is occupied by African-Americans. This is very different to me.

I grew up in largely Hispanic/Latino/a, Asian, and Caucasian context. I had very little exposure to African-American. Elementary school I had not African-American friends. In middle school a few African-American friends. None of which came to my house nor did they live in my neighborhood. In high school I had maybe ten close friends that where Africa-American. I played football with them and spent quite a bit of time with them.

I never went to there homes. I never entered their neighborhoods. I never entered their world. It was always on my terms, my space. I was at advantage in the relationship.

College, university, and seminary I had a sparse encounter with Africa-Americans. It may have a lot to do with the institutions I attended. They were largely Anglo funded and fueled, geared towards Anglo institutions.

I would not have called myself racist at all as all of the above transpired, say for a short stint in a bad situation and poor choices on my part as the company I kept. I kept my nose clean. I made sure what I thought was never used to impact a situation or event. I made sure to seek out quality friends and meet quotas so that I could not be accused of racism. I jogged on in life blissfully unaware that I am a much larger part of the problem that I imagined.

I arrive here in June with my new bride, my new life, my new chance at life. We rent an apartment sight unseen in a neighborhood we know nothing about outside of the research I did on crime of the internet. We arrive excited and ready to forge ahead and claim of stake in the American dream.

Only one snag…we live in a totally foreign context from what wither of us are used to. We arrive here in this building. We are surrounded by booming hip hop, tricked out cars with giant ass rims, and a sea of black faces.

I lived in Kenya for a year and am used to black faces. Again, I was in the African context but it was on my terms and folks there have a little bit of residue of the colonial system. My life changes but it was for the better. In Kenya I was part of a terrible legacy, but I was blessed by it. I was hungry often, but I never went hungry. I knew I was going to go home. There was an end date insight for the misery I witnessed. I focused on that and it made it bearable.

With all of this “difference” surrounding me here I begin to question my reactions. Would I feel safer if all of the music, clothing, language, and stuff were coming from a white mouth? Yes. I would feel safer. Would I look at this neighborhood as a sub-par place if it was not filled with African-Americans? Yes I would. If I saw a sea of faces that looked like me I would feel safer. I would not look over my shoulder at night.

We attend church on the other side of the highway. It is in a nice area, teeming with white faces. We like to cross the river in to Indiana to shop, because it is filled with white, suburbanite faces. We had dinner on Bardstown Road Monday. We loved it very much. We joked that we would love to live in this area and not in the ghetto. Why? Because, it had a sea of young, white faces with privilege scribbled across their foreheads. This is a judgment call on my part. I write this convicted and afraid.

So I write this realizing that my every move is routed in classism, racism, sexism, and elitism. I am so part of the problem it hurts.

I do not want to hold preconceived notions of how and why people rooted in non-relationship. Where is Christ in this?

I do not want to shun responsibility to diversity and inclusion because I an uncomfortable in this place. Where is Gods love in this?

I do not want to stay where I am mentally and emotionally because I am scared shitless to trust God. Where is my faith in this?

I do not want to be a part of the problem because I do not want to rock the boat or speak out or answer the call on my life. Where is the Courage to Be in this?

Folks I am a master of stereotypes. A swindler of goodness and mercy. I am a hypocrite in sheep’s clothing. I want to change. In response to Pastor Jin Kim’s riveting sermon at GA and his convicting call to the denomination at Church Unbound I want to apologize for the atrocities I have committed. Not just the ones I am personally accountable for. More so for the things I remained quite about and stood by as others raped cultures and maimed communities in the name of progress and righteousness.

Please forgive me. God forgive me. I pray it does not stop. A half-ass apology on a blog is not the place to end. I want to be a part of a diverse and real community here in Old Louisville. I want to walk with and serve everyone. I want to be challenged and shaped by the struggles of others as my heart moves in theirs. I want to be near God. God present in the hurting, poor, and broken.

The Specials have this great song “Racist Friend.” One of the lines is, “If you have a racist friend. Now is the time for your friendship to end.” The friend part ends but we must wrestle to stay in relationship with each other.

The denomination is looking in to the Belhar Confession. A document created in oppression seeking reconciliation. I read this with hope. A hope that we can truly live this document out.

I am going to explore this document here in relationship to my struggle with my condition. I pray it is fruitful for me and for you.

This is why I respect Jay Mohr

The NCAA desperately needs to hire black coaches. Enough is enough already. For years, people have been arguing vehemently over smoke-screen issues in college football like BCS rankings and the need for a playoff system.

As loudly as we have all complained over the cosmetic problems, isn’t it time we start to holler about the complexion problem? As of this writing, there are five black head coaches in Division I football.

Five.

Five black head coaches out of ONE-HUNDRED AND NINETEEN SCHOOLS.

That, my friends, is good, old-fashioned racism. There is no other explanation for it. Is anyone going to try to argue that there are only five black men in America qualified to run a football team? Good Lord, I hope not. I would like to believe that as a society we have come a lot farther in race relations than that.

One would think that after spending the majority of their days pining for the best black athletes in the land to resurrect and/or sustain their football teams, the average athletic director would find it in his heart to hire a black man to guide them.

They don’t.

The only five black head coaches in major-college football are Sylvester Croom (Mississippi State), Tyrone Willingham (Washington), Ron Prince (Kansas State), Randy Shannon (Miami) and Turner Gill (Buffalo).

Karl Dorrell was fired from UCLA this week, and that was a good news/bad news proposition at best. The good news was that Dorrell was not fired because he was black, but rather he was fired because he wasn’t very good. The bad news is that too many people will see the Dorrell firing as an example of a black coach failing.

This is pitiful. Karl Dorrell was hired in large part to clean up the off-the-field messes that Bob Toledo’s Bruins spread all over Westwood for almost a decade. Dorrell is a former Bruin himself and was counted on to bring class and respectability back to the UCLA football program. He did just that. The only thing he couldn’t do was put a basketball school emphatically on the football map.

Tyrone Willingham was called on to do the same thing at Notre Dame. He cleaned up the Irish image with a no-nonsense approach and an eye for detail. He was jettisoned soon after the great, wise white men in charge of football in South Bend wanted someone else.

We all know the amazing improvement Mr. Weis has brought to the Irish. He has helped them become the laughingstock of Division I football as well as an albatross around NBC’s neck. Nothing like being contractually obliged to showcase a three-win team every Saturday. Way to go, guys.

When Croom was hired by Mississippi State in 2004, he became the first black head coach in the history of the Southeastern Conference. Go look at the calendar, folks. We were all the way up to 2004 before the SEC found a way to throw a brother a bone. Yuck.

An NCAA study released a year ago determined that 46.1 percent of Division 1-A players in 2005 were black. Yet, just 4.2 percent of the coaches are black. That isn’t a black eye for the sport, it’s a bodybag.

Fortunately, I have found a solution for this blatant racism. It will require some party loyalty and a little bit of sacrifice, but it will work. In fact, I will be so bold as to say that if my plan is properly implemented, we may be able to get the black coaching representation all the way up to 10 percent in one year.

Listen up. This is for all black, high school football players. The phenoms. The players that get asked in the middle of their junior year, “Where do you plan on going to college when you graduate?”

Look the reporter squarely in the eye and say these seven words. “Washington, Mississippi State, Kansas State, Buffalo, Miami.”

Say the names of these five schools and only these five schools. When asked why you chose those programs, just say, “I feel more comfortable playing for a black head coach.”

If only a third of the top recruiting class in the country did this, I am fairly certain athletic directors across the country would start racking up big phone bills trying to track down the best black coach available.

To all of them I say best of lucky,

jay mohr

I say do it! Break the system. Far to many kids are being used to perpetuate an oppressive system. The student/athlete is not true any longer. I would say that implementing what Jay proposes will do go for the black coaches but we need to go further. We need to demand greater representation of the minority voice.

WTFWJD?