Friday, June 15, 2007

Riverdale- Next Steps

So what now? There have been nearly 200 comments to this blog alone about the situation in Riverdale. At this point, it can’t be swept under the rug. We can’t pretend that it didn’t happen or impose our own wishes & hopes that the event was ‘educational’ after Principal Doug Spencer in both reports (Fresno Bee, Cover Page- 06/09/07 and CBS 47- 06/07/07) stated that is was a joke, a roast and mean to make fun of the students. We don’t have to dispute the content of the picture as the captions rendered by the photographer tell a greater story. We don’t have to wonder whether the church is embarrassed or feels some level of guilt after they removed the pictures and deactivated their church website. We don’t have to debate whether African-Americans/Blacks/ black Americans are offended when there have been several accounts through these comments. While there may be a few individuals with an African heritage who are not offended (I would ask those persons to evaluate their self worth, appreciation and regard for their culture, and their prospective of slavery), it does not negate the morally improper acts demonstrated at the ‘Celebration’. There are people who are the least offended with the terrible tragedies of 9/11, Columbine, VA Tech, the Holocaust, the Trail of Tears, or other periods in US or world history where hatred for one group by another lead to their near demise and destruction. Yet their lack of regard is not the measuring stick in which we judge what is right or wrong.

There is a false notion that one good deed should cover any bad ones. Does 364 days of good driving negate one’s guilt if they run one (1) stop light? You still get the ticket, go to court and pay a fine. Does 20 years of love, gifts, a home & car make one night of an affair excusable? While I applaud the outreach, ministries, and contributions of Riverdale AG, it does not exempt them from getting this situation straight. Think, would that be a justified answer to God on Judgment Day: I fed the poor, visited the sick, ministered to the fatherless so don’t pay attention to that ‘little’ thing over there—let that one go by.

No one ever has the excuse to do wrong because of the wrong actions of others no matter who they are—rappers, other churches, public figures, neighbors or even your family.

To those Christians that out there, you know better (right?)… who’s suppose to be the light?

Personally, I have mixed emotions about the situation. One part wants to be angry because I KNOW the situation was wrong. Because such situations just don’t happen. They were planned, thought out, and agreed upon by multiple adults who have been exposed to what is morally and socially right. These acts would not be found edifying, good or acceptable in any reasonable institution of sound beliefs—Christian or otherwise. Also, as a Christian—a believer in the Holy Bible and teachings of Jesus Christ, I am hurt that such incidents took place under the covering of the church and has blemished the work of His Kingdom. Unfortunately, because of the power of religion and the church, many have abused its place in our society to propagate many principals contrary to the Bible in an effort to manipulate its members and our culture.

RACISM, PREJUDICE and DISCRIMINATION are not principals supported by true Church of Jesus Christ.

But these are issues that the Church has been plagued with since its inception. St. Paul who was commissioned to reach the Gentiles, had to OPENLY confront many of the Hebrew Christians because they treated non-Jews as second class believers. Because these acts were done publicly, they have to be dealt with PUBLICLY.

On the other hand, I willing to forgive as are many, but we have to deal with it. There is a group of organizations including ministers and pastors, who desire to sit down with the staff involved and church leadership to figure how to move forward.

Some will say that we (me—again, it ain’t about Tate) are moving too fast or not fast enough on this situation. Well, problems that have brewed over years can’t be expected to be resolved over night. I don’t agree that with Douglas Spencer that “there's nothing I can do to make it better" (Fresno Bee 06/09/07). Beyond apologies and feeling sorry (feelings change), the school should incorporate awareness training in their faulty development in addition to the student’s curriculum. For those are who claim Christ justifiably, they will welcome the opportunity for the dialog, to come to an understanding, and to reconcile. Others—black, white, the unwise and otherwise— will only want to fuel hatred with racial slurs, profanity, and cloud the issue of what’s presently in this situation.

Note: I do not agree with just making allegations that have serious criminal circumstances against specific individuals without any proof. If those situations are truth, then they should be handled in a court of law. Also, its not an outsider's place to tell a congregation or its' pastor how to spend money donated to that church. I am sure the church and General Council have procedures for handling any internal matters and the offended should utilize those channels.

Think we are alone? This is happening all over the country, especially amongst college students (the next place the Riverdale graduates will go) from Clemson University to The University of Arizona throwing 'ghetto parties' to mock MLK Day. But some institutions choose to handle it differently. Here is an example of what Whitman College did after picture surfaced on Facebook depicting white students in black face.

Excerpt from Racialicious:

There was an outcry among the student body when photos were found of students who put on blackface to mimic the racially segregated cast of “Survivor: Cook Islands” at an off-campus party. ( Hum…where have we heard that?)

Instead of merely denouncing this act, Whitman College cancelled classes for an entire day and organized a full-day symposium on race relations which every single student had to attend.

And this wasn’t some lame “we are the world,” “there’s no race but the human race” crapfest. Take a look at the agenda. Some of the panels and workshops included:

  • The History of Blackface
  • Creepy Fun, Complicit Thoughtlessness, and Taking Action
  • On Being White in A Racist Society: A Workshop on Becoming An Effective Ally
  • Individual vs. Institutional Discrimination
  • “I’m Not a Racist”: Feigning Moral Blindness
  • Race, Class and Gender in Outdoor Sports and Institutions; AKA “Why is it Always White Dudes Leading Trips?”
  • The History of Race in the Greek System


All About Race. White Christian Creatives and Stereotypical Assumptions

Fresno Bee.Riverdale Christian Academy staffers poked fun at slavery”

CBS 47 News. Thursday, June 7 2007

Lodi News. Riverdale Minstrel Show

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