Three Big Things: Politics, Race and Refugees

Sorry for missing the past two weeks.  I had some internet problems that wouldn’t allow me to get online on my computer, and have you ever tried typing a whole blog post on a mobile phone?  No, thank you very much.  Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about lately:

1. The American Presidential Election
The political geek in me is kind of reveling in the election coverage, especially since I can choose exactly how much I want to engage with it.  I listen to a couple of political podcasts and I read one or two news sites and I read many of the articles and opinions that people post on Facebook, though I try not to get sucked into debates (except when people lie about refugees…that really gets my goat.)

From the people who I met during the first 23 years of my life, I get very conservative information, such as:

  • Why You Should Support Ted Cruz – he’s a real evangelical conservative, he’s been “chosen by God”, it’s your “duty” as a Christian to support a fellow Christian, etc.
  • Why You Should Support Donald Trump – he speaks the “truth”, he’ll make America “great again,” he’ll keep all those Muslims and immigrants out, etc.
  • Why You Should Support a Real Conservative Instead of Donald Trump – usually this is another bid for Ted Cruz.  I don’t think I know a single politically vocal person supporting anyone else.  A few months ago there was a lot more interest in Carson and Fiorina, but that seems to have died down.
  • Why Hillary Clinton is Corrupt and Evil and Bernie Sanders is a Lunatic and Will Impoverish Us All

 From the people I met during the next decade of my life, during much of which I lived and worked and went to church in Portland, I get more liberal information, about three main topics:

  • Bernie Sanders, specifically why people who support him are neither stupid nor delusional
  • Why a Donald Trump Presidency = End of the World  (Not the end of the world “as we know it” but the end of the world…period.  There is also talk of Canadian immigration policies.)  Very recently these opinions have been joined by the Ted Cruz Is No Better chorus.

I do also have a couple of friends very adamantly supporting Hillary, including one who took a year off work to go volunteer on her campaign, but they don’t make a lot of angry noise online.

All this contributes to a very loud, opinionated environment.  I have my own personal political views, and none of those headlines above represents my view or my vote, but I find it all very interesting.

2. Black American Voices

First, a disclaimer: Black Americans and Africans are not the same at all.  Also different from both of those are African Americans.  I don’t use the term African American because I think of African Americans as people like my friends the Khamasis who are actual Africans who are now Americans as well.  The culture of Black Americans and African Americans (according to my definition) are different, although there is overlap because of the environment of having black skin in America.

I got connected to a hilarious black woman blogger over at Awesomely Luvvie because Jaime the Very Worst Missionary linked to Luvvie’s hilarious post about the recent State of the Union address.  The way Luvvie writes is brilliant and hilarious, but I have very few black American friends and I was very unused to the slang she uses.  (It took me a good little while to figure out that “alphet” meant outfit.) I’m used to not understanding 100% of what’s being said to me, so I pressed on to read a lot of the archives and enjoyed every single moment of it.  Then I followed her on Facebook and now get to read all of her many followers’ comments as well.  I’m getting an education.

Here’s my epiphany:
Luvvie and her commenters (who are mostly hilarious black women and a few hilarious black men and a very few white people) are a very unique voice in my life.  I realized how very white my world is while reading Luvvie, because her voice is so starkly different.  Her vocabulary and point of view are pretty obvious chocolate sprinkles on the very vanilla cultural world I’m consuming.  (Although I’m not talking about literal voice, for the past year NPR has had a fascinating ongoing debate about why black radio presenters on NPR sound like Ira Glass, and from the several NPR podcasts I listen to, I can certainly hear their point.)

I know a lot of my friends, especially from Imago Dei, are interested in having a not-so-vanilla world, as am I, and I’m realizing that it’s not just going to happen organically.  We need to go follow some black voices on Twitter and read some blogs and listen to some music and read some books and watch some movies that aren’t designed to appeal to educated, upper middle class white people.  I recommend Luvvie as a great place to start.  (By the way, I just watched “Do The Right Thing” for the first time, and that 27-year-old movie could have been made yesterday…except for the clothes.)

3. The Refugees are Still Out There
Given that the vitriol and conflict over refugees has died down in the political and Facebook worlds, I take it that the Syrian and Iraqi refugees are passing back out of the public dialogue.  While that is bound to happen, since we can’t talk about all the things all the time, it’s tragic, because there are lives on the line.

Here are just a few headlines to remind us all to continue in prayer for safety and provision for refugees and for peace in the Middle East.

Madaya: “Another 16 starve to death” in besieged Syrian town – 30 January 2016
A standoff between government and rebel groups has trapped about 40,000 people in the town of Madaya where no medicine or food is being allowed in, nor are the sick and dying allowed out.  If you want the truth, it’s not hard to find pictures of starving children living off of grass and pet cats.

Nearly 40 refugees and migrants perish in latest Aegean boat sinking – 1 February 2016
Many were women and children, and more than 200 people have drowned in the freezing Aegean Sea since the first of the year.  Nearly 60,000 people fled across the sea in leaky boats during the month of January.  Remember the picture of the body of that toddler who washed up on the shore last year? He has a lot of company so far this year.

Refugee crisis: 10,000 unaccompanied children targeted for sex work and slavery – 31 January 2016
More than 26,000 unaccompanied children entered Europe last year (according to Save The Children) and nearly half of those children have disappeared.  Some of them may have been reattached to family members, but many are suspected to have been abducted into the human slave trade. Even those who have not disappeared have reported being extorted and sexually abused as they seek safety.

God, guide us in prayer and in speech and in action on behalf of our sick and dying and exploited sisters and brothers, daughters and sons, mothers and fathers.

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