Rather coincidentally I have been on a media fast…It is this time that the media “blew up” with my job in the news, also in this season of media fasting I picked up some books that I have been meaning to read for forever it seems. Divided by Faith – Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. I began my reading in earnest yesterday, when after three days of phone calls un-answered I decided to win a allergist referral from my PCP by camping out in her urgent care practice until I got an appointment, and then my referral. I hadn’t gotten far, I’ve been stopped in horror on the brief survey of the historical nature of slavery and particularly the logic and arguments of evangelicals in favor of it, advocating gradualism etc. I’ve been thinking of the opposition of White evangelicals in the work of the civil rights era and in confronting Jim Crow and the support Trump has with evangelicals, the sad truth of the book’s authors claim, that Evangelical faith has power to motivate people to gain freedom but no power against the societal things that keep people bound… They wrote this years ago…for sure… but how true this statement “Our understanding of race relations, however, remain stuck in the Jim Crow era, leading us to mistaken conclusions-racism is on the wane, and racial division and the hierarchy are but historical artifacts….Rather than incorrectly examine race in the United States using an old standard, we must adapt our understanding and analysis to the new, post-Civil Rights era.
I spent yesterday evening trying to make sense of the arguments of evangelicals of the past for slavery, of evangelicals of literally 40 years ago for Jim Crow and what leads to consistently the wrong conclusion. What personal biases blinded them? What were their chief sins? And most importantly, would I be so blind if I lived then? Do I have any of these blindnesses even now? I find myself aligned with White evangelicals on another gripping issue ..at least in the media these days. That’s honestly uncomfortable company to keep, and particularly when I’m opposed by the same, on the gripping issue that has brought division since the founding of this country. The treatment of black and brown people.
When I eventually saw the doctor, it turns out that I should be carrying an epi-pen with me at all times, and benadryl apparently. How ironic, for my own health, I must buy into the capitalistic nonsense that justifies private entities making life-saving public-needed medicine, and then turns around and jacks the price from $63 to $415, I last heard. I left prescription in hand planning to go the the pharmacy after work (by now after the camp out), I knew however, even as I drove away…if insurance didn’t cover it…I might forgo it, or at the least take a while until I figured out how to get a cheaper version from somewhere else. It struck me that these type of things…wealth, and how easily, or hard groups of people are able to weather crises,…is exactly the difference in a racialized society that the book was talking about, the part that struck me most significantly. I resolved to prioritize getting to the lab for my full battery of allergy tests and went to sleep early and woke at 6:30am to get to a lab early..so that I could return to the Christian women conference I had last minute gotten to attend.
When I walked to the street, I saw with some small distress that my trunk was open.
I reviewed, I got out yesterday, put on the club, rolled up the windows, locked the car since I’d get a ride to the conference, and walked to the pharmacy…so this was a break-in…right, the doors were locked? The trunk wasn’t open right? I catalogue, yes, a bag is missing, but not much, I don’t have much…I went the the drivers side…yes a break-in, all has been searched and strewn everywhere, ok what was taken? Well not the most thorough of thieves…they didn’t find my roll of quarters. Praise God I have a club, they might have stolen the car otherwise…and then the most dreaded…I need to call the police…only because things that belonged to my job were stolen, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it…I call… and the officer instructs me to go to sjpd online and file a report. I had heard the sjpd was personnel limited, but… O.K…I believe it now…better perhaps, I never welcome talking to the cops…
I begin to fill out the report, extensive, particularly as I’m still in the car on my smartphone and trying to assess the damage…I had a thought, I should check under the hood because last time they stole my battery…text my boss, find my insurance policy number…wow there are an awful number of folks walking their dog, I wonder if anyone saw anything? No (police report), I don’t have any suspects…it likely happened… at night/early morning… I wonder if the sun visor is still a good place to keep my insurance and registration? I do because my parents instructed me to never need to reach into anyplace when the cops stop me…and the persistent difficulty in opening my glove compartment might end my life…well they didn’t steal this…so I guess I should continue…wait the dog walker is back!?(White guy, sans dog)? Where does he even live? What happened to the dog? He disappears as I open the glove compartment and transfer my papers to it…then realizes I should get my vin and plate and insurance policy numbers from it….I begin the journey of trying to re-open it(glove compartment) before giving up and searching for it on my phone, in parking apps databases. And dog walker comes back…Suddenly feeling a bit exposed, in a car, in the early morning, I lock the doors and notice him trying to stealthily take pictures as he passes. ?? Maybe he is someone that should be a suspect? When he passes at sufficient distance I get out and take a photo of his retreating figure…I continue the report getting to almost the last page when he returns, looking belligerent , openly taking photos. I snap some of his face…a realization of what’s going on…I am being vilified. Black woman sitting in a car in Willow Glen, he assumes I stole it…? Or broke in? Or something…I must be the criminal…because I’m black? I bet he did see the car trunk open earlier and instead of having compassion activated then, suddenly feels convicted to act when a black person comes on the scene…wouldn’t it be ironic that the police who refused to come out when I reported a break-in will likely come out to his call…he leaves, and I soon see the dog…walked by his wife? So yeah he definitely came back specifically to investigate me…and this makes them my neighbors…I wonder if I’ll find my picture on Willow Glen Charm? (The neighborhood Facebook) I completed the police report, adding this new nuance and shaking, drive off…after all this whole incident has taken 40 minutes and i’m far more likely to die of an allergy I’ve yet to determine than police-neighbor incident and I should really get to the lab for the battery of allergy tests if I hope to be finished in time for the resumption of the conference.
I realized as I drive, my hood is slightly open, and the neighbor incident unsettled me such that I didn’t check to see if anything vital had been stolen from under the hood. I thought of the book,their finding that wealthy white, more highly educated people are least likely to say they believe in segregated neighborhoods or that they feel more unsafe if black people move into their neighborhoods but most likely to by personal choice live in the most highly segregated neighborhoods, and schools etc. Why is it that the “neighborhood police” are largely white (Zimmerman etc) and instead of asking common sense questions like “Is this your car?”, or hey my name is “John Doe” “do you live aroundby?” they tend to stalk, and escalate and intimidate and assert their assumed right to inhabit a space above everyone else’s right?….Processing this I signed in at the lab and began to write while I waited to be called. I noticed that since it was now late, there were tons of folks and I would for sure be late for the conference but, finally, my name is called! Just in time (30 minutes later), it’s standing room only!
The labtech? A male, tells me ‘you have so many tests needed…I don’t think you’ll be able to handle them all today, we should call your doctor to find out which ones to do first so come back on Monday’ … (sigh …If you knew the journey to even find the doctor). I argued, not understanding ‘when the doctor ordered all the tests why it matters which ones we start with?’ ‘Yes I understand you’ve been doing these tests for years and you don’t think I can handle them, so let’s do half today and half on Monday’, ‘choose any four, the doctor just wants them done, not that there is an order of priority’. ‘I don’t think the labels misprinting is a sign that I shouldn’t get the tests done’, ‘let’s reprint and do the tests’..For. Five .Minutes. Until he invites me to take a seat, and he will consult with others..I notice that there are more people, some are staring. I wonder why I’ve been the only one in the time I’ve been here that they attempted to discourage? What is it about my gender or race that puts me at risk? that necessitates I must always fight for myself? That causes me to doubt I will ever find rest for my weary soul. I never lose my keys because I know it will never go well for me to need to break-in to someplace I own…I always get a receipt to be able to combat claims of theft. I’m quiet so when I speak I won’t be ignored. I avoid baggy clothes unless they clearly sport the Stanford logo, I keep my papers in the sun visor, I pay my taxes, I register my car, I sit in waiting rooms, I do all the things that are required of me yet know they will never make me accepted in this country.
Running through my head recently has been these these lines from RuNett Nia Ebo’s “Lord why did you make me black” .
Why do people think I’m useless? How come I feel so used? Why do some people see my skin and think I should be abused?
After the full battery of allergy tests, which didn’t take long, (I didn’t faint and was able to handle all of them)…I headed to the conference, the belong conference..the hope being a place where all women would belong…I left with this on my mind –
13 these all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 for people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 if they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. Hebrews 11:13-16
I wonder if slaves brought over the Atlantic found hope in these words when their evangelical masters preached to them, or as they sought to reconcile their faith to their circumstance. I’m still in the midst of my media fast but know as I drive this weekend I’ll sing Page CXVI “I’ve got a home in glory land, outshines the sun, outshines the sun”