If you don’t already know from the lack of posting, the boy is in town for the weekend.

I’ve been rather busy in anticipation of that, and I’ve been savoring the election win. Now, i know that my elation may soon fade as I realize that many of these folks we elected aren’t half as liberal as they ought to be…but c’mon. We have a little while before the 110th Congress is sworn in. Enjoy it.

On Thursday, we attended a discussion of the movie “Crash” hosted by CORE, an anti-racist group at YDS. And because we take intellectual reflection (and copyright law) seriously…Profs. Tricia Rose and Andre Willis led the conversation afterwards. Briefly, I have to say this. I was at long last relieved to be in a discussion of this movie where I was not the only person who thought it was terrible. As Prof. Rose put it, it was a movie that tries to play on and manipulate people with genuine interest and good will. But with flat stereotypes, nameless characters (think back, and try to figure out if you know them at all, except by the actor’s name), and a theory of race that comes down to “individual acts of meanness, not in invisible systems conferring dominance on my group.”

The gender implications are gawd-awful as well. Thandi Newton’s character describes the sexual assault which is perpetrated against her as an insult to her husband, and questions why he didn’t stop it. And the movie none too subtly implies that even the most sophisticated black woman, given the chance and some booze, will run her mouth to the point of provoking a racialized sexual assault. And if that’s not bad enough, in each of the “redemption” scenes…both of them depend on the racist assholes who did this in the first place. “Saved” by white men who don’t apologize or acknowledge their wrong doing, the choice between life and destruction is put on them…as if they have to chose to not be bigoted in order to live. Oh, noes.

And so Prof. Rose broke it down, and we got to talking about what it would mean to have a movie, or a narrative that actually was serious about systemic racism. There was a real challenge in naming a positive agenda, at least one that could fit into two hours and a Hollywood set. Most interestingly for me, we talked about truth-telling, and the limits thereof. Even while many narratives of race in America are anything but truthful, and disguise, downplay, and dissemble about the magnitude of racism… Rose challenged us to understand the ways in which America was also addicted to the truth-telling as a never ending process, a stuck point of rehearsal and repetition of the pain. With no forward momentum, starting the process becomes a delay tactic when the “process” gets started a new with frightening regularity.

Prof. Leslie added that in models of forgiveness and healing in pastoral care, that the intermediate step between truth-telling and happily-ever-after is change. With the new knowledge one has, something has to change. And right now, one of the things I’m working on changing…is the conversation.

Overall, I was happy for the turnout, that we’d headlined an event with decent turnout and good discussion. One of the things I’ve worried about is making sure we’re not a “do-nothing” org, but rather having the feeling of momentum. But as it’s been raised, it’s extremely important to have extended conversation, one in which the next steps are chosen by consent.

-sly

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