Monday, May 26, 2008

Prejudices

Last Sunday at church our pastor asked each of us to really pray about whether we had hidden prejudices in our hearts--against a certain race, or religion, or disability--any kind of prejudice. I so appreciated him for bringing that to the forefront of our minds (especially at a church like ours that makes a huge emphasis of embracing all nations).

Two things have come to my attention recently that just make me sad. First, I saw on the TV the other night that Obama's overall approval rating was like 52% among democrats. But his approval rating with white democrats was like 40%. I wasn't oblivious enough to think that there would be no difference in "overall" numbers and "white only" numbers--but I didn't expect it to be such a big difference. I expected more out of my fellow citizens. And especially the democrats--who typically pride themselves in being the more open minded of the two parties.

Then today at dinner with my family, talk of the election came up. The over all gist was that we should just "throw them all back" and try again (democrats and republican). I am NOT a political person. I know who I would vote for, but haven't sat for hours looking over ever aspect of the person's qualifications to come to my decision. It's not about who I would vote for. I sat holding my tongue during most of the conversation.

What bothered me was that someone in my family said something to the effect of, "I mean really...it's just wrong to have someone with that name sitting as the president." It just makes me sad. What name? A name with African and Middle-Eastern roots? Should that bother me? Aren't we a nation made up of immigrants that prides itself in being a "melting pot?" What about his name is unAmerican or unworthy of having the word "President" in front of it?

I think my family member was alluding to Obama having a family history that includes Islam. It seems not to count that he claims to be a Christian. I'm probably going to shock some of my very conservative Christian friends and family by saying this...but I really wouldn't care if he WAS Muslim. So what? Does that mean he's got Al Qeida on speed dial and is one of the "them" we are so scared of in America? Give me a break.

Obama does not claim to be Muslim (unless I missed something somewhere while I wasn't researching it!). But if he were Muslim, would things really be so different in our government? I think that separation of church and state is a GOOD thing. Muslim, Hindu, or Christian in the white house--Jesus has been removed (officially) from our schools and I don't think that will ever change (for better or worse).

I believe that there is a place for sharing about my Christian faith. There is a time to share with unbelievers. And I certainly encourage my children to do that ON THEIR OWN in school. But do I want the school to teach religion? Probably not (although I certainly think that would help to create a better understanding of our different-faithed friends). I'd rather them just keep religion out of the school. It's something that I, as the parent, want to teach my child about. It is not something that I want my kids learning about at school. Who's to say that the teacher would teach what our family believes? I just don't want to go there.

Anyway...these two incidence of prejudice just really give me a sick feeling in my stomach. Intelligent people. Loving people. People who absolutely adore Bright, as an African child--but would discriminate against Obama because of his family history. I just don't get it.

Anita
P.S. Family member--if you read this--know I love you. I just had a hard time with the political views at the table today. =-)

7 comments:

Bingaling 9:40 AM  

I am so with you on this Anita! I tend to get kind of "spirited" in political debates, so I've been avoiding talking about them so far (well, except with Zack, but he's a captive audience - and I am for him, too). Personally, I think the fact that not all the choices are middle-aged, rich white guys is a REALLY GOOD thing! But, I also find it really disheartening and discouraging when people will hear rumors and assume they are true because they WANT to have a reason to discount a particular candidate. I suppose that this is true of all candidates, but it seems to be a bigger issue for Obama. Regardless of a person's political leaning, I think its important to vote for (or not vote for) a candidate based on facts and the candidate's stance on issues that are important to you...not on rumors about a candidate's religion, the candidate's sex or skin color, or the fact that his/her name is unusual by American standards.
Chanda

Jena 7:17 PM  

I recently got a chain email from my MIL claiming that Obama is indded a muslim....
*sigh*
when I questioned her if she knew the source of the email, or if it was true, she said she was not trying to be political. hmmm...
I could have written this post. I really appreciate it.
As someone who tries to continually confront the prejudices in my own heart/mind I really relate to this post.

Kristin Jag 8:43 PM  

Well said Anita. I have been getting emails from a certain family member worried about who I am going to vote for and the stuff they are sending me makes me wonder how they think they aren't being judgemental. We all have it in us, it just frustrates me when we don't take the time to look for the log in our own eyes.

Kristin Jag 8:43 PM  

Well said Anita. I have been getting emails from a certain family member worried about who I am going to vote for and the stuff they are sending me makes me wonder how they think they aren't being judgemental. We all have it in us, it just frustrates me when we don't take the time to look for the log in our own eyes.

Kristin Jag 8:43 PM  

Oops, sorry about that. I double clicked!

mabmd 12:14 AM  

Anita,
my question is WHY? did you choose to hold your tongue during the conversation? As an African-American woman who has been reading your blog for a while, I've found your commentary to be really insightful and heartfelt, and so often right "on point."

A college professor of mine used to repeat constantly that "the personal IS political." The fact that you've adopted three children of different cultures is not just awesome, but it's INCREDIBLY political!!! Who better than you, to gently point out another way of viewing the political landscape to your family member? You're right in that it's not about who YOU are going to vote for, BUT just as there's a place for sharing your Christian faith, there's also a place to start addressing prejudices.

And in my mind, that place is at home. That's essentially what your pastor was doing with your congregation, and what you have the opportunity to do with family members. Unfortunately sometimes we need a mirror held by someone we love in order to see the plank in our own eye. So, whether you think of yourself as being political or not, I think you would have A LOT to contribute, the next time the subject comes up!

Robin Dodd Photography 5:15 PM  

Right on Anita!