Diversity

Eboo Patel 02-22-2017

I WAS ONCE on a panel with a counselor who proudly claimed her identity as a woman as the reason for her feminist approach to counseling. Toward the end of the discussion, she told the story of a client who frustrated her. A highly educated middle-aged mother of three, this woman (the client) had stepped off the career track to take care of her children. The children were now grown, and she had come to counseling to think through her next steps. My fellow panelist encouraged this client to claim her identity powerfully and express it in public fiercely. The client liked this idea. Some weeks later, she told her counselor that she had gone back to the Catholic church of her childhood and started to attend pro-life rallies.

“That wasn’t what I meant when I told her to claim her identity and express it in public,” the counselor deadpanned, and the liberal university audience laughed along with her.

The exchange left me feeling queasy. Here was a counselor purporting to empower the identity and expression of a client in a period of transition and then being disappointed that her client hadn’t chosen the identity and expression the counselor desired. And the public affirmation of the counselor in a room full of people who clearly shared her worldview felt doubly unsettling.

Da'Shawn Mosley 02-22-2017

 

Image via NASA HQ PHOTO/Flickr

“Here at NASA, we all pee the same color,” says Harrison.

But this scene never happened. Harrison never took a crowbar to a “Colored Ladies Room” sign. He never solved Johnson’s dilemma of having limited accessibility to a legal bathroom. Harrison’s action is a fabrication framed as history, one that could easily be recognized as an insidious white savior narrative created and advanced by the white people who made the film.

Julie Polter 12-21-2016

Where do we find quality stories for children about a diverse world? Not books that preach, but that evoke empathy and curiosity and different perspectives through good stories and/or art? As is the case across all publishing categories, books by and about people of color (or people who are not able-bodied or citizens or middle-class or otherwise conforming to a mainstream standard) are in the minority.

Julie Polter 10-27-2016
Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock

TO FIND BOOKS for young people by and about people from a variety of perspectives—including race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, class, and disability—the children’s librarian at your school or the public library will often be the place to start (read why we need diverse children's literature in our December issue article, "Stories for All God's Children"). If you’re fortunate enough to have an independent bookstore in your area with a robust children’s department, the staff there may also be of help.

If in-person advice is in short supply where you live, several online sites can also provide ideas. These include the website of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books), which has bibliographies and booklists on a wide range of topics and population groups. The We Need Diverse Books campaign website (weneeddiversebooks.org) has a variety of resources for finding diverse books for young people, including a list of other websites that focus on books featuring certain demographics or on diversity in specific genres. ThePirateTree.com features interviews, reviews, and other articles from a collective of children’s and young adult book writers interested in children’s literature and social justice issues. School Library Journal (slj.com) is a key source of reviews and other publishing information for librarians and teachers who work with children and teens.

The following are examples of recent books that break free of the restraints of a “single story.”

Families, by Shelley Rotner and Sheila M. Kelly, is a picture book for very young children that describes and celebrates all different configurations of families. Holiday House (Ages 2 to 6)

Thunder Boy Jr. is the first picture book by beloved young-adult fiction author Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Mexican- American artist Yuyi Morales, it is the exuberant story of a little boy who is nicknamed after his father but wishes instead for a name “that celebrates something cool that I’ve done.” Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (Ages 4 to7)

Elaina Ramsey 09-22-2016

There is an unmistakable energy when women come together. In my experience, a boldness and brilliance fills the space in rich and surprising ways when women are gathered.

Such was the case as more than 1,500 women from across the country attended the recent We Won’t Wait summit in Washington, D.C., to organize and strategize for a better life for their families and communities. But this was no ordinary conference.

Da'Shawn Mosley 09-08-2016

Ultimately, as audience members, we have the power to control what we see. TV execs need our eyes watching the programming they select, and if we say we want diversity — if we purposefully watch more shows that are inclusive and that introduce us to narratives and cultures that are simultaneously new to us and reminiscent of our own lives — we can change the television landscape. We can change what we see and thus make sure that everyone is seen. 

Development Associates International President/CEO Jane Overstreet, right, participates in a Servant Leadership workshop in Juba, South Sudan, on March 19, 2013. Photo courtesy of Caleb Overstreet via Development Associates International

While America’s population is becoming less white and while gender diversity is transforming workplaces, white male leadership persists at most evangelical parachurch organizations — the thousands of nonprofit businesses that carry out various kinds of Christian ministry.

Only one of 33 major national organizations contacted for this article is led by a woman — Jane Overstreet at Development Associates International. And only three are led by nonwhite males.

Eboo Patel 07-26-2016
Rittikrai Pix / Shutterstock

Rittikrai / Shutterstock

I SPEAK ON about 25 college campuses a year, which affords me a front row seat for current trends in identity politics. One of the things I’ve noticed is that when people say they are engaged in “diversity work,” what they often mean is that they are busy mobilizing their preferred identity groups toward their approved politics. The main role they see for those on the other side is to be defeated.

But the real challenge of living in a diverse democracy is not dealing with the differences you like, it’s working with the differences you don’t like.

In his excellent new book, Confident Pluralism, John Inazu, a professor at Washington University Law School and board member of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, takes a long look at how to do this, with special attention to religious differences.

Disagreements with regard to religious matters are some of the most challenging ones around. That’s because religion is about ultimate concerns. Not only do faith traditions deal with issues—creation, salvation, morality, human purpose—that are inherently ultimate in nature, they imbue matters that may otherwise be viewed as mundane with a sense of ultimacy. That’s not just a random group of people over there, that’s the church, or the umma. That’s not just any old piece of land, that’s the place where the Second Temple once stood, or where Lord Rama was born.

Inazu opens his book with a sobering quote from the French philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau: “It is impossible to live at peace with those we regard as damned.”

He is reminding us right off the bat that the stakes could not be higher.

Ewan McGregor in Last Days in the Desert. Image via Sundance Institute / RNS

“Daunting” is one word Ewan McGregor used about stepping into the role of Jesus in the new film Last Days in the Desert.

“Freaked out” is another way he described his feelings about the task, McGregor said.

Catherine Woodiwiss 03-08-2016

Image via michaelgoodin/Shutterstock.com

Some commentators say this season is anxiety-inducing but temporary, the moment when white Americans are realizing their way of life is over. But Dr. Jennifer Richeson's findings, with Northwestern colleague Maureen A. Craig, say something else: Unaffiliated white Americans, including those with progressive, moderate, and conservative leanings, express more racial bias when confronted with news of a majority-minority future — and, in a further study, demonstrate a tendency to shift right on race-related policies.

Ryan Hammill 02-10-2016

Image via CJ Hanevy / Shutterstock.com

Bernie Sanders’ primary victory in the Granite State Feb. 9 made him the first-ever non-Christian to win a presidential primary in U.S. history. In addition, depending on whether you count Barry Goldwater as Jewish (his ancestors were Jewish but he identified as Episcopalian), Bernie Sanders could be considered the first Jewish primary winner in history as well.

the Web Editors 02-04-2016

Image via Pew Research Center

The good, the bad, and the ugly of this campaign season has exposed the depth of some of the United States’ racial and ethnic fault lines. But the fault lines themselves are moving. The 2016 electorate will be the most racially and ethnically diverse ever, due largely to U.S.-born Hispanic youth and naturalizations of Asian immigrants.

the Web Editors 01-14-2016

For the second year in a row, every Academy nominee in an acting category is white.

Forget Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation. Or Michael B. Jordan in Creed. Or Bernicio Del Toro in Sicario. Or Will Smith in Concussion.

The 93% White, 76% Male Academy wasn't interested.

Straight Outta' Compton was also lauded as a potential best picture nominee, but was only nominated for Best Original Screenplay, which was written by two white writers. Similarly, only Sylvester Stallone was nominated for Creed, a film with a black lead actor and a black director.

Image via /Shutterstock.com

Rummana Hussain was one of those children whose Muslim parents envisioned her in a white coat with a stethoscope around her neck. Instead, she became a metro editor and reporter at the Chicago Sun-Times, where she covers criminal courts and remains the only Muslim member of the editorial staff. She knows “a couple” more Muslims at the Chicago Tribune, the state’s largest paper.

Joe Kay 12-07-2015

I was 6 years old, growing up in Cleveland. It was Christmas Eve. The traditional Slovak dinner was ready on the stove — mushroom soup and pierogies. My mom, my younger brother, and I were waiting for my dad to get home so we could eat.

The waiting part was no surprise.

My dad was an alcoholic. During the Korean War, he enlisted and was assigned to a paratrooper unit. He was wounded during a mission. My mom said the experience changed him. He brought some demons home with him.

the Web Editors 10-30-2015

1. Death Café Hopping

A woman explores the recent trend of “death cafés” — public meetups among strangers to share experiences, memories, and challenges dealing with death of loved ones. “Death: What happens next?”

2. Has ‘Diversity’ Lost Its Meaning?

“When the word is proudly invoked in a corporate context, it acquires a certain sheen. It can give a person or institution moral credibility… It’s almost as if cheerfully and frequently uttering the word ‘diversity’ is the equivalent of doing the work of actually making it a reality.” Scorching indictment. Necessary read.

3. Persian Gulf May Soon Become Too Hot for Humans

A new study shows that by the end of the century, the heat index may hit 165 to 170 degrees for at least six hours each day. So about hosting World Cup 2022 in Qatar…

4. ‘Granny Pods’ Keep Elderly Close, at a Safe Distance

Okay, maybe we can find a better name. But these tiny houses that sit in your backyard and come with security and medical resources are a step towards improving end of life care, and keeping our families close.

Cindy Brandt 09-22-2015

Image via /Shutterstock

I think the reason why the Christian Internet is so exasperating is because it is filled with so many people. Sensational click baits trend because we love juicy scandals. We share angry articles and judgmental pieces because it satisfies our human desires to point fingers and be in the right. The Internet has exposed the basest of our human fears and aired out our dirtiest laundry with the lure of anonymity and protection from our screens. 

The Christian Internet is all of us with our mess, our flaws, our brokenness, our hurts, our mistakes, and our pains. Which means that as hard as it is for us to see through the hazy noise pollution, behind every instigator of a mean meme is a person made in the image of God. And as long as I believe that is true, you can’t pry me away from the Christian Internet because I am not about to miss the astounding beauty that is sure to rise from the squabbling ashes. 

the Web Editors 09-21-2015
YouTube / Fox

Screenshot via YouTube / Fox

Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama at the 67th Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

Davis won the award for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, in which she plays Annalise Keating, a brilliant criminal defense professor.

In her stirring acceptance speech, Davis spoke about the difficulties women of color have often faced getting lead roles. 

Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama at the 67th Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

Davis won the award for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, in which she plays Annalise Keating, a brilliant criminal defense professor.

In her stirring acceptance speech, Davis spoke about the difficulties women of color have often faced getting lead roles. 

Viola Davis became the first black woman to win an Emmy for best actress in a drama at the 67th Emmy Awards on Sunday night.

Davis won the award for her role in How to Get Away with Murder, in which she plays Annalise Keating, a brilliant criminal defense professor.

In her stirring acceptance speech, Davis spoke about the difficulties women of color have often faced getting lead roles. 

Lisa Sharon Harper 08-10-2015
LisaHarper.jpg

EVEN AS SOUTHERN states—and GOP candidates—jumped through hoops to distance themselves from the Confederate flag, a backlash erupted among those claiming the flag was merely a symbol of “heritage.” Battle-flag waving Southerners (and Confederacy sympathizers) seemed to leap at the opportunity to wave their banner high.

But what about the rest of us? One of the most profound statements I’ve heard recently came from Rev. Jin Kim, founding pastor of Church of All Nations in Minnesota. This Korean-born pastor stood at the podium of the Sojourners Summit and said with conviction: “I am a white supremacist.”

How can this man, a person of color who’s dedicated his life to ethnic and cultural reconciliation, be a white supremacist? The same way any of us can. After all, at its heart white supremacy is not about white hoods, battle flags, and burning crosses. Those symbols are what we call explicit bias. People know when they are practicing it.

But most often white supremacy is about implicit bias that favors whiteness. It’s about the unconscious associations we make in our minds before we even know we’ve done it. White? Rich. Black? Poor. White? Good. Black? Bad. White? Trustworthy. Black? Scary. You get the idea.

These are the unconscious biases that shape the way we order our lives; the communities we live in, the places we shop, the churches we attend, the leadership from others we accept (or reject), and the policies we support (or don’t).

It’s not hard to fume at the thought of the killer of Mother Emanuel’s Nine. And it feels good to click “like” and share posts calling for the removal of Confederate flags.

But if we stop there, bias beats us. It is the unconscious biases of the masses that keep us from moving forward, not the explicit biases of the few. So, check out this tongue-in-cheek list of four easy ways to be a white supremacist (regardless of your own race).

1. Plan a conference on church planting with a speaker lineup so white it would make Honey Boo Boo blush. And if you want to increase your “diversity,” have one speaker of color (even if he is from India), an Asian emcee, and maybe a black worship leader.

The purpose of spiritual disciplines is not to earn brownie points but to restore or renew relationships. God seems most concerned to restore relationships that are most broken in society. This means that the outcry for justice from the Black Lives Matter movement provides an opportunity for the renewal of the church. The “Spiritual Practices for Confronting Racial Bias” presented by copastors Rebecca Steele and Larry Watson were these: gather in small groups that are 1) half black and half white, 2) half poor and half not poor, and 3) have a small stewardship team that redistributes tithes and offerings to those in need.

Those are indeed spiritual disciplines. And they were like the spiritual disciplines of the early church whose members not only brought tithes and offerings but they also sold possessions and brought the proceeds for redistribution among those who had financial needs (Acts 2:45). This same church, when one group (Gentiles) complained about discrimination in widows’ support, gave all the distributive power to the discriminated against (Acts 6:1-5).

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