28 August 2008

Please Help Me.

I don't pretend to be any sort of an expert on racial matters. The few times I see people speaking "non-standard English" I literally *cannot* understand them. Literally. There are very few black, Hispanic or "other" races among my very small circle of acquaintance. So when someone says something about black "culture" or whatever, I feel I have nothing of import to say.

What I *feel* like saying is that all these people are Americans just like me and should be treated exactly alike... that we need to quit making a big deal about who is what colour for EVERYONE's sake. But then again, I see such very differing opinions on this matter, and I cannot disparge someone on another side of the affirmative action argument on a personal level. They have their reasons for feeling it's a good idea.

Anyway, a comment was left on my blog about the various races, and I'm in a quandry. I feel that God created Adam and Eve and all the people came from these two people. Therefore, it's impossible for there to be an inferior or superior race. Yet, it would be rather asinine of me to assume there is no difference. Obviously one group is more likely to get sickle cell anemia and the other is more likely to have skin cancer. So there are BIOLOGICAL differences between the races.

You *do* see where I am going with this...

I can't say we're all the same. More that, do we need to belabour the point that there ARE differences? I think we should all be treated equally and let the chips fall where they may. Though, I'd like everyone to stop keeping track of where the chips are falling. Everybody quit counting chips, please. If God is God, there should be enough chips for everyone.

Perhaps I have put off having a discussion on this issue with my middle children because I don't know what to say. It never came up with the big kids! But gracious if right in the middle of Doctor Dolittle, it doesn't mention "niggers" and "red" people. They're outright spoken of as "stupid" people, and yet here Bumpo the Prince is going to Oxford? (Um, ok.)

I don't want to get sickly multicultural on my children JUST for the sake of being "nice" that way. To me, that would be paternalistic or self-destructive (you pick) to give the idea that all cultures are of equal standing in the world. But I do want to be fair and even-handed in my own criticisms and commendations. I've pointed out, even within the book, about the distrust the animals and the Africans feel about the people from the "Land of the White Man" because they are very greedy and don't respect the land. Doctor Dolittle seems to be the exception.

The children would like to know why people are different colours. I have no clue what to say. I used to be able to say things like, well, because his ancestors came from Europe, or Africa, or whatever... But on this issue, I can't see an explanation in the Bible, and to me, Darwin is totally out. I guess I just have gone through life *not thinking* about where all the people came from, but the children don't seem to forget. They keep asking. I guess I have run out of ways to evade the question! I want to give a fair explanation, but so far, the ones I've run across haven't been God-honouring and/or written on a level I can understand.

Suggestions?

6 comments:

  1. Origin of the Races: A Book by Luke

    I'll keep this short (I hope).

    My understanding of this situation is thus: We have various skin colors due to evolution. But Micro-evolution, not Macro-evolution. Just as God created the first dogs, and then Noah took two dogs on the Ark, we now have all these other breeds. This is what Darwin saw and wrote about in his work: Micro-evolution... a species adapting and changing to make other versions of itself: Poodle, Spaniel, Sheltie, Boxer...

    Similarly, from Adam and Eve we have, as humans, changed in our various environments. You can see this even in family lines: My parents look a lot like their siblings, I look a lot like mine, but my sisters have had kids who look a lot like them and their husbands, but no longer much like me at all.

    Micro-evolution. Proven, factual, and Biblical.

    This is vastly different from Macro-evolution which is the idea of Neo-Darwinists that one species can turn into another. That is totally unscientific, and has little/no grounding in science.

    Clear as mud? I have more theories and ideas on this, but this, I hope, covers the basics.

    My two cents.

    ~Luke

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  2. Don't get me started. I am so over the whole *race* thing. I am over the *you did this to us* & the *it's not fair.* Over it. Life's not fair. I'm of Scots descent. You ever read what the English did to the Scots ...or the Irish... or the Welsh? You ever hear what The Normans did to the Saxons, The Huns to 1/2 Europe, the Mongols to China, The Sythians to Russia, the Romans to whoever upset them, the Egyptians to the Jews? I am NOT accountable in the grande scheme but I am accountable for my personal interactions & people are people, all deserving of being treated with dignity & respect. OK, the soap box is free.

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  3. Mrs. C, I'm with you on his issue. But the fact of the matter is that, like most things that corrupt us, money is at the center. There are whole bureaucracies built on the idea that racism is alive and well, despite the fact that almost 80,000white folk gathered to worship Obama last night in Denver. What will happen to the thousands of employees at the EEOC if we put this issue to bed? Not to mention the private organizations such as the Urban League and NAACP. You get my point.

    As for how you deal with this issue with your kids: be honest, and search your own heart to make sure you aren't imparting seeds of bias and division based on your own past experiences. I'm 37, and I know even I have encountered more discrimination in my lifetime than my kids ever will. So I must be careful. That said, the world will never be totally free of racists (or misogynists or religious extremists, or those who discriminate aginst people with special needs...you name it) so we ned to be honest about those things as well. Balance is key, but most importantly teach your kids to respect everyone and not make snap judgments about anyone based on the way they look, their socioeconomic background, etc. That we are all created in the image of God and should be respected accordingly.

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  4. Thanks, Luke and Terry! I thought about that before, Luke, and when a new race of people pops up through micro-evolution, send me a link ok?? But of course I see no other *biological* explanation, and yours is the most scientifically plausible I've heard about yet.

    Terry, left a comment and some sniffles on your blog. Thanks again.

    And Ganeida, I'm with you on your perspective because I've read about your "Sorry Day" in Australia. I'm sorry you have to have such a spectacle, and on an annual basis, too, sounds like.

    That being said, it IS true that the aborigines were grossly mistreated. Instead of a "Sorry Day," though I would rather see a celebration of how the people are going to get along and build ONE AUSTRALIA with Vegemite and justice for all. But not being Australian, I don't get a vote on that. I can't even sing "Advance Australia Fair" properly. It's about as difficult as the "Star Spangled Banner," and you just wind up mouthing the words and hoping the person next to you doesn't notice. :]

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  5. Oh, I'll join in. :) Mind you I'm not saying this is the way things are...no one really knows. But it is interesting nonetheless.

    Noah had three sons. I think Ham is supposed to have gone to Africa (Hamidic), Shem stuck around in the Middle East (Semitic) and Japheth went off to Asia, beginning the roots of the three major races and the three major language branches.

    I can't say much about the races, but the languages are interesting. English, for example, is a Germanic language, a family of languages whose roots can be traced back to Indo-European, where other European languages and Sanscrit come from. The histories of these languages are well-researched, and it is hypothesized by linguists who are not Christian that place the origins somewhere in the Middle East. Other languages have not been as extensively researched, but it is assumed that they are related in similar ways, with African languages going back to a single ancestor and Asian languages going back to a single ancestor.

    Don't know where that puts Native American languages, but it does demonstrate a possible answer.

    If you are interested in the topic, I have a bunch more I'd gladly email you.

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  6. Well, I am going to teach my kids the story from Genesis, that we are all descended from the same two humans, which means that separating humans into different races doesn't have any basis in biblical truth. Separating people into racial groups cannot be scientifically supported either. There simply is no "set" genetic makeup that give humans value and worth that can be tied to skin color or eye shape. To say that a disease is more common among one group of people than another, doesn't give the idea of race scientific backing. There is a difference between ancestry and race.

    That being said, race is an idea and ideas have power. What we as an individual or a nation believe about race affects our behaviors. Racism is real. And, I can be guilty of it. Yes, me the mother of all non-white kids. I have been a Christian for many years; I have read my Bible... but, I also grew up immersed in a culture that presents race as something real. I have to be careful to examine my thoughts and behaviors to make sure they line up with biblical truth.

    [What I *feel* like saying is that all these people are Americans just like me and should be treated exactly alike] But are they? Do banks and lending institutions still practice redlining? Wealth accumulation in my family has been directly tied to property. Do non-white Americans have access to this wealth? When social security was first initiated there were occupational exclusions (agricultural workers and domestic servants). At the time these jobs were mostly held by non-white Americans. Are there still inequalities in the way subsidies are distributed? Is there an explanation besides racial inequality to justify the disproportionate number of non-white prisoners? Non-white children in foster care? Etc. I am still a student of the impact of racism. But, I am not ready to say uncategorically that institutionalized racism doesn't exist and that we now all live a color blind society. At the same time, I do not believe that affirmative action programs necessarily accomplish the goal of creating "equality."

    Race is not the same thing as culture either. I do expose my children to other cultures. It is part of my commitment as a parent through adoption. But, most of what is culturally true of a people group cannot be learned or experienced through listening to their music, acknowledging their holidays or eating their food. It is what we all talk about and obsess over, but culture more specifically has to do with how a group of people thinks and behaves. We call it socialization in the US and those of us who homeschool try desperately to let others know that our kids are being taught the "right" things. It has to do with personal space, eye contact, a societies view of the role of women and elderly, how we value education, our country, etc.

    There seems to be quite a bit of overlap or blurring of the ideas of culture and what I think of as worldview. I think worldview is how someone answers the questions: how did we get here, who is God, what is the meaning of good and evil, what is history and is it being directed by a higher source. Those things, my "religion," will be taught in my home as absolute truths. And, while my older kids will learn about other people's worldview, they will not be presented as just another path to God.

    Yet another entry I had to think about before I could pluck out my answer ~

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)