Merry Christmas from North Minneapolis (to all my white friends)

I wanted to write something about Christmas and all the conflict about race happening this year. My family celebrations have been free of such conflicts, but my Facebook wall (and many of yours as well) have been HOT with conflict. With this on my mind, I went to the Cub and Merwin’s on West Broadway, north Minneapolis at about 8 o’clock at night. I was one of the few white people in either place, or along the street as I walked in between. I enjoyed a cold rainy night out in my neighborhood, my mind weighed the juxtaposition of what angry white folks were saying on Facebook and what I was experiencing in my ‘hood. There were no angry mobs of black people, but there were holiday smiles. Continue Reading

Ending racism in policing begins with the Red Tent

I was talking to Jose at work the other day about the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the lack of indictments on the police officers who killed them. We both are appalled how it went down. While I’ve experience abuse of power at the hands of the police just a few times, Jose has had many negative, unprovoked, experiences in which the prejudice of the officer was the cause for the encounter and the tone of the exchange. As we talked I tried to make the point that while the officers are responsible for their actions the blame also is also on our culture and the police system that trained them. In part, they only did what they were raised to believe and trained to do. Continue Reading

Slow down and live: The journey to beloved community

I am white. I am male. I am heterosexual. I am university educated – by all these markers I am empowered by society. I have been given a ticket to take the express lane to success and am able to by-pass those stuck in the traffic of life. For those of us in the express lane it is hard to NOT wonder why those in eternal rush hour don’t “…just get in a better lane.” Continue Reading

Power and privilege… to pimp? Part 3

The street pimp, uses his power (physical and emotional) and privilege (access to resources and information) to exploit others for self benefit. While we think of this normally in terms of sexual exploitation and control, pimping the poor and other disadvantaged individuals and classes has been with us for centuries. Continue Reading

Power and privilege… to patronize? Part 2

Power misappropriated becomes patronizing by telling others what they should do without accounting for their needs and wishes. To patronize is to treat others as children, needing to be cared for and unable to make good decisions. However, unlike my friend Manuel, (SEE PREVIOUS POST) many who have less social power (race, class and education) will often not speak up to defend their desires. Often because of internalized racism, lack of confidence, or a fear of losing a resource they need, people will “accept” what they are being told by the person in “power”. Continue Reading

Power and privilege: To empower, patronize, or pimp? Part 1

It was the first real big job he had as a contractor…

Manuel had been working as a handyman getting paid by the hour, but this was a contract; one price for labor and all materials, a contract, a step towards independence in the world of construction. No longer just a laborer but now a self employed contractor. I hadn’t processed all of the above at the time, but my friend had, and our difference in perspective is where our conflict began. Continue Reading

Living with privilege in a world of misfortune

These three words can ignite passions and launch conflict RACE, POWER and PRIVILEGE. Yet through understanding their social and relational impact the door to more just (aka justice) communities can be opened. I’ve seen and felt the passion. I’ve been at the vortex of the conflicts. I’ve also tasted the fruit of justice. Continue Reading