weekend, ESPN fired an editor who posted
a racially offensive
headline about NBA player Jeremy Lin; the
network also suspended an anchor who used the same term. And taking the Lin
coverage as a starting point, SNL produced a parody mocking a media double standard: stereotypes about Asian
Americans are acceptable, but stereotypes about African Americans are
Lin media storm exposes the myth of a colorblind society. As much as we want to
believe in meritocracy, equality and individuality, we rely on racial
assumptions to make sense of the world and those around us. In many cases, the
assumptions carry real consequences.
About 15 years
ago I was a guest at the annual meeting of theAssociation of Christians Teaching Sociology. In one session a professor reported on a
student's project. Taking the Century as a barometer of mainline Protestantism and Christianity Today as a barometer of evangelicalism, his student
compared the respective responses to the civil rights movement. The student
found that the Century was very hospitable toward the movement and that CT was critical of
it. (Full disclosure: At the time of this ACTS meeting, I was working for
Since ACTS is comprised
largely of evangelical scholars, there was some hanging of heads in the room.
Evangelicals, they agreed, had been on the wrong side of history, not to speak
of the wrong side of justice.
Before there was Barack Obama, the first black president, or Hillary Clinton, the first female nominee for president from a major party, there was Shirley Chisholm—the first black person and the first woman to run for president and the first African-American congresswoman. She announced her run for the presidency in 1972 with the slogan “Unbought and unbossed.” Although her candidacy was short-lived and she is largely forgotten, younger generations of African-American politicians consider her an icon. Chisholm also started the Congressional Black Caucus. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,” was Chisholm’s philosophy. She died in 2005 at the age of 80 (BBC).