I get all sorts of emails. Some are sweet chain letters asking me to forward the message to a loved one having a bad day, and some are political opinions stating an obvious conservative or progressive cause, asking me to support their point of view. Many are harmless but once in awhile a vicious and virulent email will arrive. In the face of our growing racial and economic divide where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer I received this email from one of my friends this morning.....
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SOCIALISM AND RACISM
A young black kid asks his mother, "Momma, what is Socialism and what is Racism?'
"Well child, ..... Socialism is when white folks work every day so we can get all our stuff, you know.... like free cell phones for each family member, rent subsidy, food stamps, EBT, WIC, free school lunch, free healthcare, utility subsidy, and on and on.... you know, that's socialism."
"But momma, don't the white people get pissed off about that?"
"Sure they do Honey. That's called racism."
This was sent by a well educated, business professional who otherwise would seem to be a nice guy. Have we made progress? Yes we have. Do we still have a long way to go? Yes we do!
I have thought about how to respond. Do I go nuclear on him and call him out or do I go gentle in the night and avoid all political or religious discussions? Do I do a family systems "cut off" or do I wade into the middle of this and find some pathway of re-education? Do I confront or cajole? Up until this point, my response has been underwhelming. I wrote back a reply that said "I appreciate you, but what about huge tax credits for multinational corporations? Is that socialism?" Embarrassingly weak.
I thought racism was supposed to go underground but here it is, out front and offensive. I thought all of us, Christian and non-Christian alike agreed with Jesus that everyone should be treated with dignity and respect.
Two books which have had a great influence on me are Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich and Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado. Read these books and you will know the real reasons for dehumanizing poverty in our country. No one has ever accused me of being a quiet limousine liberal, and yet some how this friend thought it was ok to send this email to me. I cannot hide my faith any longer. I want to make a difference. I want to transform the world in the name of Jesus Christ. It starts with direct conversations with people who say this stuff. What should I have said that would have an impact and still treat this guy as a child of God with sacred worth? Ignoring stuff until it goes away is no longer a viable strategy. Thoughts? Ideas?