Friday, July 01, 2011

To follow up on a post from yesterday, it was put to me whether culture rather than race explains the data on evangelicals and interracial marriage attitudes. I can't say; I didn't study the poll. [Then why'd you use it to bash evangelicals?--ed.] Because it's easy, and they deserve it. [You are one.--ed.] That may well be true. Anyway, my first sense is that most of the media can't research itself out of a wet paper bag. Nor does anyone actually have any idea what an "evangelical" is. Besides all that, I still say that evangelical church culture (read: "white") is more racist than not. You're still weird if you date or marry interracially. Even if noone would say it outright (and plenty would). And I'm mainly speculating about St. Louis, Missouri here. That bastion of Southern pride. [sarcasm]
Whether we can use "culture" as a valid filter for exclusion in the romantic pool depends on what we mean by it. Values? OK. It is really important to agree on most if not all of those. But one could easily use it to exclude people based on skin color, and with "plausible deniability," as they say. But we've got more questions to ask. Which cultural expressions are intrinsic (or perceived to be intrinsic) to the non-white identity? The intrinsic ones, are those judgments valid? Would this render those practices beyond refermation or criticism? (It certainly seems like many of us [whites] are disallowed from making such judgments.) At the risk of sounding like a deconstructionist here, can we validly accept a hierarchy of goods a la St. Thomas, if everything we put at the top is white and European?
The other elephant in the room is that we know we're mostly talking about Black culture here. Granted, it's not cool for anyone to date outside their "race," but this is the one that causes the most trouble, it seems to me. I could be wrong.
Alright, I admit it: I had two moments in my adulthood where I was confronted with my prejudices here. The first was during the Bush presidency, when Condi Rice (a black woman) was our Secretary of State. MSNBC was obviously flummoxed; I mean, what do we do with this person? Anyway, they interviewed Condi's best friend, an extremely well-credentialed history professor at one of the universities in New York. She began to speak, and she talked "white." Perfectly. I looked away, just to test if I was hearing what I wanted to hear. Nope. And I was stunned. It wore off, but you get my drift. When was the other time? Oh, crap, I forget. I hope a certain type of speech is not the test for authentic "blackness," because speaking as a white guy, I do judge people to some extent on how they speak. It's not as though I can't speak, oh, let's call it ghetto slang. I used to translate for the teachers in school. Side note: In my experience watching white people interact with black people, whites don't listen; they interrupt, they don't exhibit patience when confused. I've heard people utter entire sentences that the other person didn't hear or take account of, because of their condescension and inability to speak the language. That's not to say we shouldn't strive for some standard form of English, but I hate when communication fails. And people are people, made in the image of God, even if we determine in the end that some are beholden to an anti-intellectual (and destructive) culture. Wait, what is this post about?


Anne said...

Wow. My Jamaican (Evangelical Christian) sister-in-law would be so angry if she read this :)

When I have a moment I'll type up the reasons.

Jason said...


I'd be thrilled to hear that she hasn't suffered at the hands of evangelicals, BUT my usage here is "Black=black American."

Anne said...

As you know, young sir, my reputation as "she who cannot resist a debate" is at stake for at least one more week, so....I'm not debating, okay? I’m just sharing some information :)

Here are the points that my sister-in-law has shared with me:

- She identifies herself as Black.
- She regularly receives ridicule from fellow Blacks for marrying outside her race and her culture. She does not receive ridicule from "evangelicals.”
- By 'culture' I and my sister-in-law meant “social strata” as well. To marry above or beneath one’s class. So, an impoverished family doesn't usually marry into a wealthy family (just think of that vise versa). This is partly because, for one, those two classes don't usually intersect each other at any point in their lives. (Church is the ultimate exception, but even a dad going to like the idea of his daughter dating the dude who can't seem to get a job?) I'm tempted to expand this further but I think you get my point.

Parting thought: You said "can we validly accept a hierarchy of goods....if everything we put at the top is white and European?"

I think we talked about this already but allow me to repeat: this is the wrong question to ask. In fact, this question is racist if you think about it :) The right question should be something like "Is all that European stuff any good?" and, well, a lot of it is...I have great admiration for work of all those dead white guys :)

I remember my sister-in-law ranting whenever she heard journalists ask "Can a Black man be president?" It's the wrong question, (Comrade).