Black, White and Different

         Hello, My name is Kyra Fox, a sophomore at Howard University and also, I am the Founder, President, and Producer of Black White and Different. Black White & Different is a movement. For our youth LGBTQ demographic, we have a mentorship program targeted towards mentoring these individuals across the country through face to face discussion or online video chatting. Black, White and Different is also a television show, and platform for the LGBTQ community to get their voice out and tell their stories in whatever way they feel necessary/appropriate. Lastly, we are an Awareness Program; put in place to educate those outside of the LGBTQ community and assist those within.

        In 2016, the LGBTQ community is still accustomed to feeling like the "other", or "different” in society’s eyes. However, one must ask, 

"Is it who we love that makes us different, or the fact that society views us as different, that makes our stories different?” -Kyra Fox

        People want to tell their stories, people want to voice their issues with society and people want to be seen as normal. However, who is going to listen? Who is going to answer their cry for help? Who is willing to recognize that people need help, and people need guidance? Who is going to educate those outside the LGBTQ community? We are.

        If you are of the LGBTQ community, you know what it means to have a “story”. Whether it's your "coming out" story, certain experiences with family, friends, or our society as a whole. Being apart of the LGBTQ community, we have experienced something in our lifetime that others have not, and this makes us different. BWD is looking for people with compelling and life changing stories who want to make a difference. Whether you are black, white, young, old, and everything in between in the LGBTQ community, we all have a story; we are all seen as different.

        For the show, we want to know why SOCIETY sees you as "different" or the "other". But we also want to know why YOU know that you deserve to be seen as normal. How has your story shaped who you are today, and how can you use that story to educate and help others? Submit your story online at blackwhitedifferent.com to be featured on the show.

        BWD is a movement, centered on painting the LGBTQ community to be seen just as human as everybody else through public speaking, mentorship and a television show which is to be used as a platform to get our stories out to the world and educate all people from all walks of life, on the LGBTQ lifestyle. We will empower the Black, the White and the Different through sharing our stories, advising others going through similar struggles, exposing our own weaknesses and our sources of strength!

        Spreading awareness doesn’t have to stop at sharing our stories. For some, listening to how others pull through, is only the beginning. Workshops and conferences will be held to cover and spread awareness about our message on a greater scale. Within these workshops and conferences, we will be covering our personal "Black, White and Different Survival Guide", that covers topics such as: tips on "coming out", how to live comfortably in your own skin, conforming to society, battling homophobia at home, in schools, in the work place, and much more.

        The website will be regularly updated with dates and locations of upcoming workshops, conferences, and events in Washington D.C. such as a Different Fashion (Fashion Show), Color Run, Talent Show etc. hosted by the Black & Different team itself and other uplifting groups that we partner with. For any questions you may have, please contact Blackwhitedifferent@gmail.com and our website for all information Blackwhitedifferent.com.

I have collected a team of young, dedicated Howard University students who are willing to help and support myself by being apart of BWD and assisting with events. Change starts with us. We can’t wait for laws to change the way people act or perceive things. That must come from us.

You may have been alone in your situation, but no one deserves to feel alone, outcasted, or pressured to stay in a closet and alter who they are.

Mindfulness and Compassion in a Time of Great Grief

Our world is hurting. There are literally thousands dead in recent weeks due to bombings and shootings. In 24 hours, two black men were killed by police. And then 5 police were killed by a black man. Strong feelings are floating around. There is anger, questioning, despairing, and pleading. 

These events hurt us. Every time we hear another person is shot or public space has been bombed, we feel a pang in our hearts, recognizing that it so easily could have been us or a loved one. It is difficult to feel any semblance of control in these times, and we perhaps get caught in rhetoric and arguments, trying to make sense of our heartache.

People have very different methods of coping with difficult situations. Many of us are “internalizers,” meaning we prefer to keep to ourselves. We might hide our feelings, or push them down and away. Others are “externalizers,” meaning we seek to express emotion outside of ourselves, perhaps through our behaviors, actions, and interactions with others. In either case, pure, unprocessed emotion can cause damage. Keeping things bottled up can lead to depression or anxiety. Spewing your feelings out can lead to aggressive encounters and words or actions you later regret. Emotions are helpful tools in tough times, as they are signposts for our bodies and minds and indicate our true feelings about a topic or event. But emotions without awareness create chaos.

In this time of high emotion, I invite you to engage in a simple practice. You do it all the time, but for the next few moments, do it with great awareness. Breathe. Notice your breath as you breathe in and out. See if you can feel the touch of your breath at your nose. Put a hand on your chest or stomach to see if you can feel movement as you breathe. Stay there for a moment. Allow yourself to be.

No doubt as you breathe, thoughts, feelings, and strong emotions will pass through your mind and body. Notice them. Name them, if you can. Notice if your hands clench, your eyes water, or you are overwhelmed with anger or sadness. Notice it. Breathe. And see what comes next.

This is not an exercise in letting go of your feelings or clearing your mind, though that may occur as a result. This is what Jon Kabat-Zinn calls “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” The purpose is not to push away our feelings or act on them immediately. The purpose is to give our thoughts, feelings, and emotions the space they, and we, deserve.

While no one can condone violence, one cannot help but wonder what goes through the heads of those who enact violence on others. Fear? Sadness? Anger? Isolation, perhaps? It is easy to hate. But let us reflect on the possibility that most who commit violent crimes are acting from pure unprocessed emotion and inner chaos. 

Though we may condemn them, perhaps, for our own sake, we might try to find room in our minds for compassion. If not for the offenders, then for the many affected. Acknowledge that a great damage has been done which cannot be undone. That chaos of emotions begets chaos of emotions. That we are hurting, no matter what side we “stand” on. 

In a moment of quiet between the pain, anger, and sadness, take a moment to send compassionate, loving energy toward yourself, someone you love, or perhaps someone who needs love dearly. Bring an image or sense of yourself or the other person to your mind. Imagine yourself or that person happy and surrounded with good things. Silently, or aloud, send the following thoughts: May you be happy. May you be peaceful. May you experience peace in your life.

These are simple practices, but they are a place to start so we can use our inner resources to move forward. 


Poonam Desai is a School Psychologist in Texas. She currently works as a Mental Health Trainer and Postdoctoral Fellow at Momentous Institute in Dallas. She is a certified mindfulness instructor. She can be reached at poonamsdesai@gmail.com.

Graceful and Gay Bashing

Graceful and Gay Bashing

My cousin was a prisoner in Abu Ghraib, the notorious American torture camp in Iraq. Not because he had committed any crime or was part of the insurgency resisting we foreign occupiers, but because my fellow Americans,

Faking Time

It is much easier to learn to do the butterfly in the backyard pool than it is to say these simple words out loud, I AM A FAKE. Fake, as defined by me, is as an unfinished work with unauthentic origins. Fake does not become fake on its own, fake takes work. Fake takes time.

When I left for college from my home in Salt Lake City, my just-older brother Wade ran out to the waiting taxi-cab reached in and handed me a wooden nickel. He said, "Let this be the last one you ever take." I was 17 years old and I never forgot his words. Within my first 24 hours on the campus of Howard University I bought 4 watches from a young man whose uncle worked for a big watch manufacturer. The manufacturer had made too many watches and needed to get rid of the excess inventory. His nephew agreed to help in his free time. As I happened by this young man, who appeared older than me not by much, opened his too hot for the season trench coat revealing a plethora assortment of genuine diamond studded designer watches. If I wanted one or more he echoed I must hurry, he could not stand out there forever.  In my best effort not to conceal my overabundance of excitement responded that I only had $75. This $75 was the total lot my single mother of four could amass before I left for DC. She made me put it in a knee high stocking tied off with a knot and stuff it in my bra all the way from Utah to Washington DC. Upon reaching my dorm, I was instructed to hide it in my underwear drawer. I promised and I did.  Mama said it could be weeks before she could send any more money, and it was, months even.

The four watches I was ogling were being offered at $125 sum total. But since it was getting dark and I was brand spanking new to the big city, this nice fellow was going to make a once ever exception and cut me a deal. He reminded me much to my excitement that normally he did not reduce prices and likely his uncle was going to be quite irate, but for me it would be worth it. Now hurry he told me. "I can give you five minutes." I took off like a flash, I ran through the corridors up the steps and to my room like Jackie Joyner Kersee. I was moving so fast I brought back both the money and a pair of underwear stuck to the knee high stocking. I was so very afraid I had not made it back in time. What if this nice fellow was gone? What if he changed his mind about the exceptional deal he had promised me? What then I asked myself?

No need to worry, the nice nephew had not moved an inch from where he last stood when I left. As I got really close I slowed just a bit, trying not to show my sweat. I walked briskly now almost a skip to where he stood casually leaning on a brick wall near my dormitory. I spoke first, "$75, all four watches, right?" He said, "Yeh, I promised you right? You bring the money?" Noticing for the first time I had underwear in my hand too, I turned four shades of country bumpkin red and managed to respond, "Yeh I have it, all $75." As nephew reached for the money, still in the knee high stocking, he said half-question, half-statement, "Mama's idea right?" I nodded my head. 

He reminded me of the great deal I was getting, counted the money which contained a lot of singles. Singles because most of it was from tips mama got while bartending most nights at the Elks Club. Nephew asked me who the watches were for and I told him, my oldest brother John whose birthday was right around the corner, mama of course, a boyfriend back in Utah I was sure I was going to marry one day and then the last one was for me. I thanked this young guy once too many times and told him I knew he was in a hurry to go. "Again thank you. These SEIKO watches are going to make awesome gifts back home." 

My watch was on a necklace. In the twelve position instead of a number was a sparkling diamond. I wore that necklace proudly, slept in it too. The other watches I placed in my underwear drawer in the same space the money had been. It was worth it I told myself. I was going to bring such big smiles to everyone. I set the time on each watch, used my underwear to shine their new faces and tucked them away. NOT ONE OF THEM INCLUDING THE NECKLACE AROUND MY NECK EVER KEPT TIME. They were all fake, completely!

When I realized I had been had, I sobbed. I sobbed for my naïveté, I sobbed because I wasted mama's hard earned tip money. I sobbed because I realized I couldn't trust anyone. I sobbed because I looked totally stupid running through that dorm and back. The way I oohed and aahed and thanked and thanked this fellow for his kindness toward me. All I could see now were wooden nickels.

At Christmas, I handed out the non-working watches, all of them. With each came my story of how I got them. Mama said hers was the best gift she ever received. After listening to my story she said, "Great! You will be fine out there in them streets. You are now ready." For many years I kept my necklace watch in my underwear drawer as a reminder. My brother Wade never said a word. He didn’t have to.

I bet that trench coat wearing brother without an uncle of excess inventory, has perfected one hell of a butterfly. What a fake he turned out to be.

There's still time.

See more at: www.liveyourawesomelive.com

La Detra White

Artist Ricky Vaughn-Pergola

My name is Ricky Vaughn-Pergola. I’m originally from Texas City, TX. I went to Stephen F. Austin State University  where I studied biology and Spanish. In November of 2006, I decided to move to Dallas for a change of scenery and I’ve lived here ever since. The people I’ve met here in Dallas have been a huge influence on me. Artists, musicians, entrepreneurs.  They’ve all inspired me to think outside of the box and do things that I’ve always wanted to do, like become a photographer and travel abroad more.  I’ve seen great things and even greater people; and I feel as though these experiences have inspired the makeup of my photographic work. I started photography in 2010, but since my childhood I’ve always been obsessed by photographs and how they tell a story.  As a kid, I’d go to my grandmother’s home every weekend and thumb through the same photo albums every time. Nightclubs, family reunions, holidays, and home snapshots. They were all documented by my grandmother. And from each photograph, I remember the table settings, the fashion, the automobiles, and furniture design, all by detail.

Lately, I’ve been most interested in street photography and portraiture. Street photography is more of a challenge because the moment and image can change instantly and you don’t have a lot of control, if any.  With portraits, you have time to get to know the subject you’re photographing and direct them. Photographing the streets of Dallas has been quite the experience. The city isn’t like New York or Rome. You have to actually search for your street subjects. It takes effort and time. But I’ve found myself capturing some very great images here.  Images that one wouldn’t instantly notice.

If you would like to connect with Ricky Vaughn-Pergola on social media, you can find him on instagram under @vaughnograph 

Dear, Kardashians. Reign On. Signed, Black People.

There’s been a lot of controversy and questioning lately about the Kardashians as it relates to Black people and Black culture.

We live in a very unusual and for many, probably most of us, unexpected time.

We have a Black president who, as he approaches the end of his second term, is presumed by some to be letting the Black out, meaning becoming more aggressive and forth right as if somehow that puts him in the realm of a winning NBA star or award winning, though contentious, drug dealer turned rapper.

If that means he’s a brilliant educated man who’s withstood adversity, has a strong belief system, maintains the sanctity of his family and is willing to sacrifice himself to put others and his objectives first (i.e. the betterment of our country), then yes, his Black flag is flying high.

We live in the time of #Blacktwitter and #Blacklivesmatter, where social media hashtags are used to bring attention to bigotry, social injustice and intolerance resulting in awareness and change.

We live in a time where the Confederate Flag is front and center, congregations are being murdered and Black churches are being burned to the ground.

Is it 1968 and who will be the modern Dr. King? We need her stat!

We also live in a time where millennials like Raven Symone prefer not to be categorized racially or sexually believing that it is not necessary or beneficial.

And we live in a time where the reigning royal family of social media marketing, a family of Armenian descent (Is that considered white in America?) has an affinity toward all things Black - clothes, men, hairstyles and even nail polish!

Are they appropriating or misappropriating Black culture?

Are the Kardashians feigning Blackness?

These are the questions that float through our minds, daily, as we look at their chemically tanned skin, sizeable asses (natural or not), cornrowed hair and plumped up lips (thanks for the truth Kylie) as displayed on every media outlet in the country.

Many, including the likes of Amandla Stenberg (Is that a Jewish name? Sorry for that question, Raven.), believe that the Kardashians are utilizing the benefits of Blackness, taking advantage of those things that we find unique and appealing, while refusing to stand up for current inequities.

The reality is that the Kardashians, in their oblivion, have made so-called Blackness culturally acceptable. Since their entre onto the scene Black women seem to flaunt their style and grace, their bodies, their natural hair (Don’t get me started on the topic of hair or I’ll never stop.), their lips, etc. far more freely. Keep in mind that no two Black women (or women in general, for that matter) are or look alike, that stereotypes do not hold true for any sex or race, but since this is the topic, let’s go with the flow.

If it took the Kardashians to get American culture to publicly verbalize their adoration and attraction for sumptuous Black women that avoids subjugation and rape culture as cultivated via a history of slavery, then I’m all for it.

Are the Kardashians using Black men to elevate themselves?

This question is beyond fascinating! In a country where Black men and the business of prison are intricately linked, where unarmed Black men are executed by the police (Garner, Brown, Ford, Parker, Rice – a list too long to include them all), where my Dominican friends are pursued by Nazi’s in Miami (true story), where my Black friends are publicly shamed and ostracized on DC subways, the “N” word like a stab to throat (also a true story) this is an interesting concept.

Is there some segment of the country that now considers Black men highly favored and desirable or does that only apply to ballers and shot callers?

If Kanye were an uneducated, less than successful dude riding on a bicycle in Atlanta, would he be coveted and pined for?

By the way, the same goes for George Clooney on a moped in Kentucky. Would Amal Alamuddin, Esq. still want him then?

The bottom line is that women are drawn to what they consider successful men by whatever standard they make that assessment. It varies by location, economics, education, and social standing, etc.

This is not new. What is new is that there are more Black men in the public eye that meet the standard of success as defined primarily by the media. And let’s get real, Black men are sexy as f*ck and always have been.

That cat is securely out of the bag and so, the Kardashians being who and what they represent are reaching for the stars. Can you blame them?

Are they using Black men?

If you want to recognize that they’ve tapped into a pool of power, commitment, sensuality, love, confidence, vision, etc. Then yes, Black men are being used and I am happy (though perhaps this was best kept a secret for Black women) that the news has hit the press.

Black men are awesome!

So, if American and world wide attention to and affirmation of the charisma, beauty and appeal of Black people, women and men, is the side effect of the Kardashian eminence, then I’m all for it!

Reign on!

Find more of Seanne N. Murray on Elite Daily or on Instagram @taos_snm

Who you calling crazy?

Raising children is hard enough. Doing it sane is insanity. I have a proven system for raising children to yield the best possible outcomes. Outcomes meaning; they move out only once and before they are 30. Outcomes meaning they know how to sort and recycle paper, plastic. bottles. They wash their own clothes, count change at the cashier counter without using their hands. Outcomes like just being a super human being without having to prove it. They just do it.

My strategy is simple. You make the kids think you are certifiably crazy. Not the, "We need to have mom committed" crazy. But rather the "She did not just do that in front of my friend?", crazy. You see I like, rather relish, the thought that my kids think and yes really believe deep in their bones that I might, at any given moment, become unhinged.

Some time in my future, when Johnny comes to the house to pick my daughter up for a date, I double-dare him to blow the car horn. Please! I have been planning for this moment since quite frankly, my mom did it to me. I am going to kindly walk out to the car in my ratty house gown, tell that "borrowed car, allowance yielding, letter jacket wearing butt", to get his a## out of the car and take the 22 steps it takes to reach the front door of the house we kindly like to call our own, wipe his feet on the welcome mat, proceed to ring the doorbell that works just fine and then ask in his best prep school manner if my sweet daughter is home and can receive visitors!? That is what this crazy lady is expecting and by golly I will act crazy to get it.

That day when pushy Miss Sharon blows up my son's phone calling, texting, calling, texting, calling... and it is clear that he either cannot or is not going to respond for whatever reason he has respectively arrived at, then out comes my crazy. See I have been Miss Sharon and it got me exactly nowhere. Well nowhere I wanted. So I will help all parties out by intercepting that next call to the phone that I am likely still paying for. "Miss Sharon you are most decidedly consistent. You are beautiful, bright and it appears not very busy since you have so much time to ring and text my son's phone repeatedly on end. I would like to suggest you lose his number. Tell yourself you deserve better, you can do better, you are better than this behavior. Do that Miss Sharon so you and I will both feel better."

Yes, I might be crazy. But most of all, I am crazy about the work I pour into these kids. I care about the examples I set, showing them how to treat others and how to draw the line at how they are treated by others. My methods might be a bit unorthodox, but in the end I can hear God saying to me, "You got them to see me and that was all I needed in order to finish a great work in them."

As parents, it is within our constitution as parents to be the authority figure first and friend-like second toward our children. No matter how unwound we become they will come around to understanding we did it for them, acted out at times for them, behaved unbecoming, only when it made a bigger point. And one day they just might have the honor and privilege to be blessed by the Almighty to become that crazy person with their children.

Crazy like a fox. That's me. Dang proud of it! Doing a slight curtsy to all the other crazy moms out there. - See more at: www.liveyourawesomelive.com 

La Detra White

De Facto Segregation

Being from the South, de facto segregation is my explanation for what we see (or don't) in Dallas' homogenous societal representations. It's only when people intentionally step outside their bubbles that true exchanges and change can occur. So what did I do? I joined a white church (First Baptist); regularly dine at restaurants and bars outside my neighborhood; and I'm learning from my Blasian grandchildren that love sees no color. I don't know if any of these things are transformative or not, but they've been small steps. And in the process of making these steps I'm finding that --on the whole-- people are stepping towards, not away from, me.

post by Danielle McClelland

The Black Lives We Aren't Talking About

blacklivesmatter.jpg

This is a really interesting article from the Huffington Post contributor Rashawn Davis. I posted an excerpt below. What do you guys think about what he is saying? 

In 2010, Dr. John Rich, a renowned academic at Drexel and McCarthur "Genius" awardee told a group of reporters what anyone who has spent time in any American metropolis already knows; that the leading cause of death for black men ages 15 - 24 is homicide. Despite only making up 13% of the entire U.S. population, African Americans accounted for 45% of the 12,253 homicides committed in the U.S. in 2013. 2013 is not an anomaly either, in 2012 African Americans accounted for 50% of 12,765 homicides, and 49% of the 12,644 homicides in 2011. Couple those numbers with the unfortunate fact that most homicides are committed by perpetrators who look like their victims, and it becomes very apparent that there is an entire aspect of #BlackLivesMatters that we aren't talking about, an essential part. There are entire groups of Black and Brown people that this movement isn't reaching, and it is having deadly consequences.

Academics and activists alike will give you a litany of reasons why "Black on Black" crime is so persistent in urban areas like Detroit, Cincinnati, and Camden. Many of those reasons I agree with wholeheartedly. Systemic injustice, generational poverty, and inequitable education have all without a doubt contributed to the state of dystopia too many of our people currently live in. However, the time of rationalization has come and gone. With more than 5,000 African Americans being shot, stabbed, and killed on city streets every year, and places like Baltimore breaking decade-old homicide records with black and brown faces flooded in the obituaries as a result, we must re-prioritize as a movement.

Read the entire article by Rashawn Davis on The Huffington Post

 

Global Service

Global Service, Cross-Cultural Appreciative Inquiry, & Grassroots Christian Missions

Our family [the Scotts] believes that the creator of humanity seeks to gather together a People for himself, and we aim to contribute to that endeavor, as he continues to draw out a ‘family of nations’ from every ethnicity, language, tribe, and tongue. By relocating to Togo in West Africa we hope to serve one of six different Togolese language groups who have neither a Bible nor a community of Believers in their language-groups.

 

As we live along-side local families, we will devote ourselves to presenting the opportunity to claim the place that is reserved for them in the LORD’s Kingdom. We are preparing to learn their language, culture, and customs; to pray and look for hospitable families; and to make disciples within the course of life through sharing meals, stories, experiences, and scripture. We do all this because we want to see local leaders serving their own people in their own language, as they follow the Messiah along the pilgrimage of faith. We believe this is important, and we want you to help make it possible by becoming a sustaining donor.

See more about the mission at ScottsForTogo.com

Becoming our insides

 

I have thoughts I will never speak, actions I will never breath to fruition. I dream of places I will never visit except in dream states. There are pieces of me I will never know. These fragments of me that I was born with but due to one circumstance or another they will remain dormant,buried beneath "I can't and tomorrow."

Each new day I lift my head from my pillow and for an instant I feel invencible. I stretch my mind to possibilities unrealized. Somewhere between my day starting and life interrupted my invencible turns invisible. I curse those invisible parts.

It would be different if I thought we lived forever. At least then it would be easier to tolerate my procrastination and self defacing tendencies. Perhaps that is why we come with an expiration date. Simply to keep us striving for relevance in our lives. Something to snap us out of our zombie state of waiting on something to change.

Knowing and believing that no new day is promised should be enough to cause electrifying manifestations in each of us. Things like being the first to quickly apologize. Things like pouring ourselves into our relationships. Things like sharing our authenticity without punishing each other with silence or coldness.

I have thoughts that we can get there. If only we were to try. 

You can find more from La Detra at liveyourawesomelife.com

What would happen if we just quit asking?

“Remember! Take your time! It’s not a race!”

I called out to my son as he headed off to school to take standardized tests last week. We had heard horror stories from other parents about how their kids were filled with anxiety over being assessed, curling up into crying balls on the floor. To prevent this problem, we didn’t talk about the exams at all, save for this one piece of advice.

Later that afternoon, Jake came bounding in, filled with energy.

“How was your test today, buddy?” I asked.

“Good,” he chirped.

I prodded, looking for more detail. “Just good?”

“Yeah. I’m white.”

“Huh?”

“The test says I’m white.”

“What do you mean?” I was confused, wondering if this was a new category on his color-coded behavior chart. Or maybe they had already received their test results and he was in the “white” range.

“Someone filled out the top part of the test for us. Ben was black. Arjun got Asian. I got white.”

He “got” white. Like they were handing out popsicles or something.

“But you’re not white.” I corrected. “You’re Asian-American.”

“Like Arjun?”

“No, he’s from India. Your mom is half Japanese.”

He quizzed me. “India and Japan are both Asia?”

“Yeah… I think?” Before he could test more of my geography knowledge, I added “You’re technically Japanese American.”

“But how can I be Japanese, Dad? You’re not Japanese.“ He paused for emphasis. “You’re like… pink!”

I wondered whether or not I should be offended. He continued his assessment, turning toward Audrey and saying,

“I bet I would be a lot darker if mom had married another Asian.”

To which my seven-year-old daughter replied,

“True. But I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

I wasn’t sure if I should laugh because it’s funny, or cry because it’s true. Here I was, a white dad, trying to explain the construct of race to my Asian-American kids, and they couldn’t care less about the subject. And all because of a pre-filled bubble on a standardized test. The whole episode had me wondering:

Why do we even ask the race question any more?

From an accountability standpoint, I understand why we need to know a person’s race. The Civil Rights Act was a beautiful piece of legislation. It was one of those rare times in our nation’s history when capitalism took a back seat to doing the right thing. Imagine if you owned a lunch counter in Mississippi in 1962.   Serving “colored people” might hurt your business. So the Federal government thankfully stepped in and made it illegal to discriminate based on sex, race, color, religion, or national origin. And today, capturing demographic information helps us see if particular groups of people are being denied jobs, loans, or opportunities based on the color of their skin.

It’s an accountability thing. So we count.

But not very well.

Consider a recent leadership meeting my wife attended at our church. The team was reviewing the demographics of our congregation to see if we mirrored the community where we live.   Gabby pointed to the document and noted,

“This says there are no Asians in our church.”

 

“That’s right,” someone offered.

She raised her hand, “Ummm… we should have at least one. Right?”

*insert awkward silence*

To be fair, my wife is like an optical illusion.  She can look Asian, Hispanic, or Caucasian depending on whether we’re eating at Pei Wei, El Chico, or Applebees.

Gabby filled the void by asking, “How do we determine this information? Do we just look at people and take a guess?”

That’s when someone chimed in and said what everyone was thinking,

“We definitely shouldn’t be guessing.”

Again, laugh because it’s funny, and cry because it’s true. All of us adults are trying hard to get it right, but still making mistakes.  There is a genuine intent to honor the experiences of others, and race plays a part.  At the same time, I’m finding that my own kids seem to be oblivious to their own race, and we’ve told them dozens of times. It’s like they have racial amenesia or something. Or maybe they’re allergic to labels.

If so, they’re not the only ones.

In the most recent US Census, “Some Other Race” was the third largest racial category chosen. And it’s not for lack of options. The form allows people to select between White, Black, African American, Negro, Hispanic, Latino, Cuban, Puerto Rican, Spanish, American Indian, Alaska Native, Asian Indian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Guamanian, Samoan, Chamoro, Filipino, Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander.

Yet “Some Other Race” was number three.

This has the Census Bureau confounded. They are trying mightily to fix this problem to assure people accurately categorize themselves. They’re even working with the US Office of Management and Budget to adjust the “official” race categories. I know it’s silly to imagine, but yes, there are people whose job it is to determine what races are “official” in America. And it’s rather arbitrary, like trying to determine how many squares a roll of toilet paper should have, or what name to give the latest nail polish color at the Clinique counter. Looking at a brief history of how these decisions were made in the past, I was simultaneously amused, confused, and outraged.

The funny thing is, we’ve been doing all of this counting, since 1790, and every decade the number of boxes grows ever larger, with no end in sight. In fact, Census Bureau is testing a question for the 2020 form that adds a space beneath each racial and ethnic category so each person can write in his or her own description.

Yes. A fill-in-the-blank census.

As crazy as it sounds, it is probably the most accurate measure we could have. While it’s human nature to want to put people into boxes to make sense of the world, humans themselves resist being placed into boxes. I’m not sure why this is. Maybe it’s because our egos don’t like being pigeon-holed. Or maybe it’s because the Constitution says that we’re all created equal, and labeling groups of people only encourages stereotyping and generalizations.

Or maybe it’s because God never intended it to be that way.

I know I am a naïve idealist given the current state of race relations in our country, but I believe there’s some truth in the words of Roger Rosenblatt, who, at the turn of the millennium wrote this in his Letter To The Year 2100,

“U.S. immigration officials recently predicted that by 2050 (50 years ago for you), nearly half the country’s population will be nonwhite. There are more interracial marriages every year. I like to picture you all as a nice, rich shade of beige.”

It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Rosenblatt is on to something here. Maybe the solution to our problems isn’t ever more boxes to check on a census form, church register, or standardized test. Maybe what we’re truly after is something completely different. Think about it…

If we no longer asked the question, would division no longer matter?

It’s worth considering. And worth an investment of prayer and hope. That Rosenblatt’s words would somehow come true. All of us checking a single box. The human race. Created equal and treated as such. Seven billion unique expressions of the image of God.

Loving each other into oneness.

Read more of Scotts work at The Accidental Missionary

You can find his book A year without Purchase and Blessings from Above on Amazon.com or at Barnes and Nobel


Launch Event Photos

We want to thank all of you for joining us at The Common Desk and supporting us in this project. Your voices were and are incredible! Having all of you there helped us solidify our ideas and gave us even more fuel to move forward. You are part of the family now. 

Diary Entry

I’m flipping through the February issue of FD Luxe which features interviews and photos of prominent Dallas couples – wildly busy, wildly successful and widely in love. I smile, chuckle slightly and am reminded once again of one of the things that Dallas does well: celebrates a very few out of the 1.3 million that inhabit it. Even Rob Brinkley, Editor-in-chief of FD, seems to agree and expresses in his own way similar thoughts in the Letter From The Editor. In response to the assertion that “you always show the same people at parties”, he explains that “Dallas is a teeny, tiny town – as society goes.” And by society, he adheres to Merriam-Webster’s definition: people who are fashionable and wealthy…a part of the community that sets itself apart as a leisure class and that regards itself as the arbiter of fashion and manners. His theory is that an alarmingly small group…about 200 as he puts it…does all the work, buys all the tickets, gives all the time, writes all the checks, raises all the money and attends all the parties, galas and balls. For those who make the assertion that he always shows the same people at parties, he goes on to challenge them to…in so many words…step up their game and they too will show up in photos! At this point I’m more than chuckling; I’m rolling on the floor! LOL Can you imagine being one of those people who consider themselves part of “society” and they haven’t shown up in photos yet?! I have this vision of the “ladies that lunch” gasping for air at one of Dallas’ or Highland Park’s tony high tea spots as they’re reading his letter…LOL.

But all laughing aside, the 200 or so people that Mr. Brinkley speaks of have done a lot to make this city what it is and is becoming. Just look at the Arts District, The Perot Museum, and Klyde Warren Park which is inarguably one of best things to ever happen to Dallas in a long time!

But there’s another opportunity here. What about all the people who are shaping Dallas today and for the future, not necessarily by giving money, but through various kinds of creative expression, interesting life stories, great ideas and different world perspectives?

Unless Dallas only wants to be defined as a “teeny, tiny town as society goes”, then we should perhaps consider doing something different..something more.

Oliver