Archive for February, 2011
Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Today’s guest post is by Carl Rogan (aka Baby Bullet ), husband to Alice, father of 2 sons (Christopher and Anthony) and co-facilitator of the “Racial Harmony Roundtable” at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
Growing up in Kansas City, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, Big Bullet and Big Momma. Many of my values were shaped by them. The summers were spent in the Ozarks where they had a cabin. Concentrated quality time with them proved to have many future benefits for me.
Big Bullet lived and breathed baseball. He played professionally in the old Negro Leagues for the Kansas City Monarchs from 1920-1938. I listened to many stories from him and his friends of his exploits over the years on how good he was. He played every position, but was known primarily for his blazing fastball.
He also talked of the bad playing conditions, money, racism, and unjust treatment in many cities. But he never expressed any regrets or bitterness, because he played for the love of the game.
These stories were not just fables. In 1998 he was voted posthumously into the Baseball Hall of Fame as a pitcher. It was a weekend to remember in Cooperstown, surrounded by the greatest players in baseball. I was part of the exclusive set, standing elbow to elbow with heroes I had admired and worshipped as a teen and young adult. It is one of the highlights of my life.
Big Momma was an outdoors person. She loved fishing and reading the Bible. I spent months with her during the summer and was her sidekick and buddy. As a strong Christian woman she planted seeds early in my life about the love for the outdoors and Christ. Every night we read the Bible together and I could recite the 23rd Psalm before 2nd grade.
Parties were a way of life for many in the Ozarks, but not for her. She would say to me sometimes when libation was at full throttle “how can something that looks so good, taste so bad?” As I have reflected on that statement over the years, it has become very profound.
The world flaunts its riches and glamour and the professional athletes are immortalized. But by God’s grace, I learned from my grandparents the truth that none of the glory we seek for ourselves has any eternal value.
Saturday, February 26th, 2011
These DVDs are recommended by our daughter Talitha off the top of her head. She wants to make clear that there are other really good movies.
I agree with her in recommending these.
As with all movies, it would be wise for parents to preview before watching with their children, especially considering the tension, language, and frightening experiences that are part of stories in this swath of our history.
Glory Road — Story of “the groundbreaking achievement of Don Haskins, who coached the 1965-66 team from Texas Western University to the NCAA championship, using the first-ever all-black lineup in the championship game and forever changing the rules of college basketball. Texas Western’s underdog season is followed from anxious start to glorious finish. . . . This typically wholesome Disney film doesn’t flinch from the harsh realities of racial tension (including player beatings and vandalized motel rooms) that Texas Western’s black players had to struggle against as their victories began to draw national attention” (Amazon.com review).
Selma, Lord, Selma — It’s 1965, segregation is still the order of the day in the South, Martin Luther King Jr. is leading voter-registration drives, and an Alabama schoolgirl gets caught up in the civil rights movement. . . .Being forced to guess the number of jellybeans in a jar in order to vote and being gassed and beaten for marching are just some of the indignities Sheyann and her friends endure. Parents should know that two prominent characters are murdered. . . . Appropriate for kids 7 and up with adult guidance” (Amazon.com review). Based on the memoir of the same title by Sheyann Webb.
And the Children Shall Lead — “In 1964 segregation is a reality in Catesville, Mississippi, but 12-year-old Rachel doesn’t notice it because she has many white friends. When a group of civil rights activists comes to town, the tension between black and white citizens grows. It’s now up to Rachel and her friends to persuade the adults to overcome the racial barriers that divide them” (Amazon.com review)
The Great Debaters — “Inspired by real events, the [film] fascinating The Great Debaters reveals one of the seeds of the Civil Rights Movement in its story of Melvin B. Tolson and his champion 1935 debate club from the all-African-American Wiley College in Texas. . . . The film is also about the state of race relations in America at the height of the Great Depression. With lynchings of black men and women a common form of entertainment and black subjugation for many rural whites, the idea of talented and highly intelligent African-American young people learning to think on their feet during debates would seem almost a hopeless endeavor” (Amazon.com review).
Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Today’s guest post is by Lou Ann Brown, pastor’s wife, mother of 5, RN, friend to refugees, immigrants, and international students.
This is in honor of Oraletta Williams, a woman born and raised in the coal mining areas of West Virginia. She became a follower of Christ, was a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic, and was part of our missions Bible Study. She became my friend and then part of our family.
Oraletta isn’t famous in this world’s eye. She never made headline news or even made it into public tributes during Black History Month, but she was worthy of all that and more.
Oraletta was our friend, our sister, who was used of the Lord to encourage us, exhort us, laugh with us. She trained as a Biblical counselor after her retirement, and she continued to minister until her homegoing.
My son wrote this tribute on his blog:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
When I was growing up, I would come home from school for dinner, and every so often, I would find Oraletta and Roosevelt Williams there. I wasn’t sure how we knew them, but it always seemed like they were just part of the family. They loved life and let it show.
It was always a joyful event when they came for dinner. I laughed more with them than with anyone I can remember. Those dinners were few and far between, but we always seemed to pick up where we left off, as if no time had passed.
Now those dinners are a memory. Oraletta succumbed to her cancer on November 2. She blogged about her “adventure,” and wrote in May 2007:
I don’t know if any of you have experienced having a second chance at life after having survived cancer twice. I must say that everything–and I do mean everything–becomes precious. You start to notice the little things that you used to take for granted.
And, oh yes! Remember those things called birthday? Oh Dear Loved Ones, when the Almighty gives you another chance at life (not just one, but two: remember the breast cancer five years ago), whatever you do, seize every moment to give him all the glory, honor, and praise.
And just remember one thing. If you never get sick a day in your life, if you have all the money you could ever want, if you have all that this earthly life can offer, just remember one thing. The Lord Jesus is truly worthy to be praised. No matter where you are in life or what you have, it is all useless without Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Her last post was titled Oraletta is Home, speaking of her return from the hospital. Now she is home, and a part of my family is gone.
Thursday, February 24th, 2011
Today’s guest post is by my friend, Phoebe Dawson. She and her adopted daughter live in Harris County, Georgia. She has worked professionally and personally with adoptive families for many years and is involved in a new Adoption/Foster Care ministry called JEEAH’s Hope.
I must first thank Rachel Holbrook for leading the Believing God Bible Study and Beth Moore for writing it. Both helped me as an African-American to reframe my picture of Black history.
Rachel is the oldest of four children I placed in the same adoptive family. Her three siblings all have issues with their adoption. Rachel is resolved and fulfilling her God-given destiny.
When Rachel was asked what was the difference, she acknowledged that there was pain in her adoption history, but that she had made peace. She chose not to react in the same way as her siblings.
In the Believing God Bible Study, an important factor for victory over past hurts is discovering God in the circumstances. God is sovereign. Knowing this doesn’t change the past, but it changes the person.
As I look back at Black history in this country, my picture looks quite different in its new frame. No longer do I view slavery as the most awful thing that could happen to a people. My very existence as a free black woman in America was a result of it. For this I am grateful.
I am not saying that slavery was good. Because God is who He is, He causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him. The greater good for the believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). It is for this reason, I have no problem being in slavery to Him. For I have been bought with a price, the precious blood of Christ (1 Corinthians 7:23).
When I recall the freedom marches and the fight for civil rights, I am no longer puzzled by my lack of participation in these events. I am not saying that these activities should not have happened, but I understand now that God wanted me to direct my attention to One who gave up his right, and he would have me follow in his footsteps (Philippians 2:5-8), For this I am grateful.
By God’s grace, I can move forward in the call He has on my life (Philippians 3:12-14).
I look back at the racism, discrimination, prejudice, betrayals by those trusted, rejection, mental and emotional abuse during a time when America couldn’t decide whether to love me or kill me. I look up and I see Christ.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:3
And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him. Luke 23:33
I was a lost sinner during those turbulent years of America’s Black history. I could have died, lost forever to spend eternity in hell. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). For this, I am truly grateful.
Black history didn’t change me. God changed me.
Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011
Following is a letter she wrote to her students.
We watched a documentary a few days ago about the 1921 Tulsa Race Riots. Just miles away, an area Booker T. Washington called “Black Wall Street” was destroyed overnight.
People who looked like me shot people who looked like you. People who looked like me burned the homes and stole the property of people who looked like you. People who look like me must look a lot like the enemy to you.
I’m so sorry.
I feel no connection to whites who looted and killed during the riot. I wish my skin were a different color so you wouldn’t see a connection either.
We’re learning together about the painful history of race relations in this country, and an ugly pattern has emerged: people whose skin looks like mine mistreating people whose skin looks like yours.
I try to show you the source of racial tension is not whites and blacks coexisting. I point out racism globally because I want you to see beyond the black-white struggle in America and recognize the problem of racism begins in the human heart.
We studied Rwanda’s genocide so you’d know it is possible for humans to slaughter humans whose skin is the same as their own. When we let hate take hold in our hearts, no one is safe. You need to understand that.
I point out to you the good and bad men and women on both sides. I show you civil rights champions of different races. Not every white accepted slavery. Not every black understood love of neighbor. I want the way you choose your heroes to go deeper than skin color.
Nate and I are adopting children from Africa, first generation African-Americans. I talk about them in class; you laugh at the thought of your white teacher braiding black hair. I look like the enemy to you. You look like my children.
I cried in the back of the class during the documentary. You stiffened, uncomfortable with our history. Rightly so. This is not comfortable. It will not be comfortable for my children.
What saddened me most was how familiar it felt. “It’s still like that where we live,” you said.
You know two responses: fight or flight. I want to teach you a third: faith. Faith in a God whose multi-racial family will one day live united, glorying in Jesus whose greatness swallows our distinctions in collective worship.
Note from Noel:
The Tulsa Race Riots of 1921 are called the worst in the history of our country. And yet Miriam’s story is the first time I remember hearing of them. If this is true for you too, here is a 2-part video that’s worth watching: part 1 and part 2 .
After watching, and maybe reading some more, I hope you have as hard a time controlling your emotions as I am having right now. And I pray that, with God’s help, we can redirect the energy of those emotions–whatever color we are–toward loving our brothers and sisters, whatever colors they are. It’s the mark of who we are.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Sunday, February 20th, 2011
I’ve known Jill Swanson for a long time. You’d have to look far and wide to find someone more devoted to education and good books. Her blog is amazing–brimming with suggestions and reviews of books for children 12 and younger.
During Dr. Martin Luther King’s birthday week, she featured books pertinent to Black History Month.
I’ve linked here to pages with other books on the same topics, including some written for older than 12 years old. But please don’t miss Jill’s excellent choices and thoughtful reviews.
Saturday, February 19th, 2011
Today’s guest post is by Kara Chupp, wife of Jason, mommy of five (4 here, 1 in heaven), and blogger.
The adoption agency called it a “Transracial Adoption Plan.” But for us, at that point, everything we wrote in preparation was mostly hypothetical.
We promised to make an effort to build ties to the local African-American community. We started listening to more gospel music. We watched a video about African-American skin and hair care. We collected and read books on Black history, checking off every stereotypical box we could think of.
Still, it all was very much “in theory” back then.
That was then. Now two of our five children are African-American. They are “Chuppies,”–ours–and they are also African-American.
And that changes the way we view Black history. Because everything changes when it is connected to someone you love deeply.
Black history is now part of our family history. Our future generations will forever carry on those ties. The stories of George Washington Carver and Harriet Tubman and Festo Kivengere and Thomas A. Dorsey and John Perkins and Ben Carson and Martin Luther King Jr.–they hold a whole new meaning for us now.
Their lives will forever impact people we love.
Before, we genuinely admired the many great men and women who are part of Black history.
Kara recommends Heroes in Black History by Dave and Neta Jackson
Friday, February 18th, 2011
I haven’t heard anything about blue babies in a long time. I was familiar with the term when I was a child, maybe because I grew up in a doctor’s home. I didn’t know what it was, except that it was bad.
Blue baby syndrome is a congenital malformation of the heart. The resulting lack of oxygen causes the child’s extremities to be blue. Until the 1940s, blue baby syndrome was a death sentence.
In 1944, Dr. Alfred Blalock of Johns Hopkins announced that the development of a tiny valve device and pioneering surgery could now save the life of a blue baby. We can imagine the drama and acclaim that erupted around him.
A couple of years ago, I happened on a DVD that gives the credit due to the man who worked with Dr. Blalock. Something the Lord Made portrays the vital role Vivien Thomas played in that lifesaving breakthrough.
Thomas had dreamed of becoming a doctor himself, but the 1929 stock market crash left him with no funds to study beyond high school. He took work as a lab assistant, doing mostly menial clean-up work. When Blalock realized Thomas’s intelligence and yearning to learn, he gradually advanced him to the work that a doctoral research assistant would be doing. It was unsettling to people to see an African-American man wearing a white lab coat.
When Blalock performed the first blue baby surgery, Vivien Thomas stood on a stool looking over his shoulder, giving instructions. Thomas was the one with surgical experience, having performed this procedure on a number of animals. Dr. Blalock had done it only once before.
To realize how amazing this surgery was, we need to know that at the time, the heart was considered off-limits for surgery.
It was years before Vivien Thomas received credit for his contributions. The 1945 article in time doesn’t mention Thomas. But eventually, he became Supervisor of Surgical Research Laboratories and an Instructor to surgical students at Johns Hopkins.
Today his portrait hangs across from Dr. Blalock’s in the lobby of the Blalock Building at Johns Hopkins.
Even more interesting would be to learn the story from Vivien Thomas himself in his autobiography, Partners of the Heart: Vivien Thomas and His Work with Alfred Blalock.
Thursday, February 17th, 2011
Today’s guest post is by Bonnie Klein–wife, mother, grandmother, and adoption advocate with Hope Takes Root.
“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose….” Ecclesiastes 3:1
In three months, another school year comes to an end. This year is different. After twenty-eight years of educating at home, the home school season is finished. I have been heard to laugh and say, “I am retiring with only eternal benefits!” But this is not true. Our great God, the ultimate designer, used this season not only to educate our children, but to educate me.
While other schools closed in recognition of Dr. King’s birthday, we would enjoy studying his life. We would have our own “Black History Day.” Repeating this year after year educated us and changed the way we thought.
The 1960s community I was raised in prided itself on being an “all-white” city. This fact was in a brochure promoting the city! My father feared for our safety as the Watts riots were less than an hour away, and I remember sleeping in the den away from the front of the house.
My exposure to other races was indeed limited. Studying Dr. King helped to unravel hidden prejudices. These were things I didn’t even know existed. Somehow this is mysteriously connected to the incredible fact that I am now privileged to be “Grammie” to a beautiful, spunky, black granddaughter.
I already understood God’s miracle of adoption. Our youngest daughter came in 1999 from Romania. Our first grandchild joined us in 2007 from South Korea. We learned something incredibly simple: Exposure to those different from us promotes racial acceptance. For example, I hadn’t thought I was prejudiced towards Koreans, but in hindsight I see I was hesitant to engage with them. After experiencing the joy of our grandson, I found myself smiling, feeling affection and interest when coming into contact with Koreans. This was a surprising benefit.
When our son and and his wife announced that they were adopting from Ethiopia, I thought, “Ethiopia? Does that mean the baby will be black?” I felt fear. People are comfortable with the familiar, what they see in the mirror, what they are exposed to.
Though I live far away from my childhood town, I still live in a predominately white area. However, through our precious granddaughter, I see the same surprising benefit: through her presence, our congregation and community are learning racial acceptance. Our God is indeed an educator!
I am thankful for Dr. King. He had a dream. His life accomplished much. I had a dream when I started out on this education venture. God had a bigger purpose. I am eternally grateful.
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
Kristie Anyabwile, is a mother, blogger, and pastor’s wife in Grand Cayman.
Her post today is a reminder that everyone has a story. I never met her grandfather, but I expect that he probably looked like an ordinary man who worked hard to support his family. That’s what he was. But that’s not all that he was.
Her story begins:
In July of 1991, an elderly white couple drove their pickup truck into my grandparent’s driveway. The old woman sat in the driver’s seat, trying to console her distraught husband. As my grandmother pushed her walker toward the vehicle, the old man, through uncontrollable tears, cried, “My brother’s dead! My brother’s dead.” (read the rest)
Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
These are some books I have found helpful or inspiring.
Carl Ellis, Free at Last? The Gospel in the African
In my experience, this 1996 book continues to be the best way to grasp what has happened in the American Black experience.
The Wall Street Journal is probably right in calling this “possibly the most far-ranging, information-rich analysis of our seismic racial shifts.”
Noll is unparalleled for balanced and nuanced, illustrative, original historical research and analysis.
Steele’s burden is that some black leaders have leveraged white guilt by means of nurturing a victim mentality among blacks and, and some white leaders have exploited this guilt to implement programs that have the opposite effect of freedom and prosperity.
Williams gives an anguished exposition of Bill Cosby’s speech of May 17, 2004, that insists there are personal and cultural issues the black community must deal with, without discounting the structural realities of racism.
Michael Eric Dyson, Is Bill Cosby Right?: Or Has the Black Middle Class Lost Its Mind?
Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir
Two moving glimpses into the new theological situation of a growing African American movement.
Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment” (John 7). Jesus said that to people who saw him as a plain, poor Galilean and were astounded at how he could teach. “How can this man know so much, when he hasn’t had much education?”
I heard this as a very helpful reminder. Probably all of us have questions we need to ask ourselves repeatedly to shake us into looking deeper than outward appearances. The questions I ask myself are questions for one particular white woman. Those will be different than the questions any particular black woman, for example, will ask herself.
Some of my questions to me?
- When I see a kid in sagged pants, do I feel disgusted? Or do I remember some of silly ways my own sons dressed, driven by their own culture?
- When I see a big man with dreadlocks, is nervousness my automatic response? Or do I remember how many times I’ve looked at my own children and said, “It’s just hair”?
- When I see a young woman pushing a stroller, do I try to discover if she’s wearing a wedding ring? Am I more likely to do that if the woman is black than if she’s white?
Yes, color is part of who we are, and our cultures have shaped us in significant ways. But compared to our core that is eternal–skin color is a shell. It reveals nothing about whether we want to do God’s will and thus know that Jesus is true.
I have to go beyond first impressions, beyond a person’s color or hairstyle or marital status, to know whether that person seeks God’s glory. That’s when I’ll know whether that person is true and whether I’m with a brother or sister in God’s multi-racial family.