In this episode, Kurt speaks with Dr. George Yancey, sociologist at the University of North Texas, on race relations.
Listen to “Episode 9: Race Relations” on Spreaker.
Kurt: A good day to you and thanks for joining us here on another episode of Veracity Hill. I’m glad that you are joining us here. We’ve got a great episode ahead of us. We’re going to be talking about a sensitive issue in American society today, about race relations, and in a moment we’ll be joined with Dr. George Yancey of the University of North Texas. He’s a sociologist and he’s written numerous books on race relations and racial reconciliation so I’m looking forward to getting his thoughts on how we in our society should proceed on this very sensitive issue and also to see maybe what some of his concerns and criticisms are of some of the ways that are making it in the headlines on those strategies.
Before we get into the main focus of the show today, I just want to give you a brief, quick update on a few things and so if you’ve missed the past two episodes, we’ve recently talked about the theology of sports when the Olympics was on last month and we’ve also interviewed, we came up with a sub-theme for some shows and we’re calling it Stories of the Journey where we talked with Andy Larsen on his work in outreach to Muslim communities and the work that he’s doing in the Middle East including a documentary on peacemaking and so I’d encourage all of you to listen to that episode.
Last week we had a cool chance to speak with Chris Date of Rethinking Hell and we talked about the doctrine of hell where we just went over a brief overview of the three main positions on that and in the second half of the show we gave him an opportunity to present his view and so I had some encouraging questions for him on that. One of the purposes of my show is I don’t want it to be so much of an interrogation. I’m not here to play gotcha. I’m honestly here for part of my benefit so I can continue learning, but also for your benefit too so that you can keep learning on a variety of issues related to faith, politics, and society as our tagline is all about. If you’ve got any comments or questions about the show, specifically today on race relations, if you want to have your voice heard, give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7843.
That does it regarding past shows. Defenders Media updates. We’re still working on getting the conference material up on the web. We’ve got some pictures. We’ve also loaded those pictures to Facebook. We’ve still got some audio clips we’re working on and especially video that takes a bit longer but we’re hoping to have those up this month. Chris is one of the fellows that helps us with that so he’s actually in the studio today and something that we haven’t done before is to get Chris and Joel involved in the conversation and so we got a little microphone here and so Chris, I want to welcome you for joining us here finally on the show officially.
Chris: Yes. Hello. Thank you Kurt.
Kurt: So that’s Chris and Joel is actually just running a little bit behind. I think he had a flight this morning so he’s coming just about straight here so he’ll be joining us, so we’ve got a microphone for the two tech support guys, get them involved if they’ve got questions or comments or maybe I can throw some stuff back their way from time to time. Again, they’ve been a great help on the show for I guess, this is episode 9 so we’ve done it for a couple of months now. Well hopefully many more months to come.
Okay. So that’s Defenders Media and so just personally, my update. I’m still cranking away on my Ph.D. Part of the reason why there’s been a delay on the Defenders stuff is I’ve been catching up on my Ph.D. work which I’m on a deadline of sorts so I’m cranking away and making sure I devote enough time and energy to that so thank you for those that are supportive of those labors that I’m working on, studying the doctrine of original sin in the so-called Semi-Pelagians, so it’s a lot of fun doing my research, and also thank you for those that have been patient with us on getting that conference stuff up online so hopefully this month we’ll have it ready for you.
Today we’re going to be talking about race relations and if you’re an American you see it all over the news all the time. This past summer especially, probably before that, we’ve had the Black Lives Matter movement has really taken the country by storm, disrupting political campaigns. I know with Bernie Sanders they’ve gone on stage and literally taken it over. So there’s a touchy subject here on how we are to have a just society and to make sure that everyone is treated equal because it seems like there’s a stigma out there, especially with police officers, about mistreating certain classes of people and that does not lead to a just society, so joining me with this here to talk about race relations, not just the Black Lives Matter issues, but beyond other issues as well, is Dr. George Yancey of the University of North Texas. So George, how are you doing today?
George: I’m doing pretty good. How are you doing?
Kurt: Good. Thanks for joining us and for coming on the show today.
Kurt: Relative to my background knowledge, you are literally an expert in the field. You’ve written numerous books. You’ve written or co-authored Transcending Racial Barriers. You’ve written Beyond Racial Gridlock. You’ve got a book Neither Jew, Nor Gentile, Exploring Issues of Racial Diversity on Protestant College Campuses, so you are an expert in the field of race relations. Give us an overview as to the issue, not necessarily the solutions yet, but what do you see some of the problems in American society today on racial reconciliation?
George: I think a lot of people felt that no matter what else we thought about then Senator Obama, that when he was elected president our racial issues would then at least slowly, inevitably go away. We elected our first black president and does this not show that racism is dead and that we would get along with each other? I think the mistake in thinking that way is that the things that created our racial animosity are much deeper than being taken care of with electing a black president. We don’t truck in overt racism any more in the United States. Well some people do. I can’t say 100%, but 99.5%, but we still have the effects of our history of racism, the way it’s changed our social structures due to the lack of chances it’s affected for people of color and until we confront that and have a healthy dialogue with that, we can elect as many black presidents as we want. We still are going to have racial alienation in our society.
Kurt: And so give us, I mean, there are some people that may think that there isn’t, that there aren’t any issues right now and that things are good so can you give us some specific examples. I can think of a few names that have made the headlines, but give us some that maybe we even haven’t heard of.
George: I know that there’s incidents of police shootings and such and I don’t really focus on those as much because any given shooting I just don’t know all the details and who knows whether it was justified shooting or not and so more and more it’s, but when we look at for example, wealth, even when African Americans have the same level of income as whites, they have less wealth. By wealth I talk about things such as home ownership, retirement assets, and this nature, and this is the factor of our history. It’s one thing if you’ve had money in your family for generations. It’s another thing if you just now have money in your family.
There’s an inequalityness there. I’m also not blaming people specifically. I’m saying that this is part of the social structure in our society and these are some issues that we have to figure out how we’re going to deal with in our society if we’re going to really be able to move to where we need to go.
Kurt: So really wealth is an issue there. Something that I’ve kind of thought about I guess maybe when I was back in college was Affirmative Action policy, and I don’t know if this is something that you’ve studied all that much, but do you have any thoughts on that? Does that seem to provide a good way towards bringing about generational wealth? So your concern was that people can make the same income, but generally speaking white people have this generational wealth that gives them a big step forward ahead of other people. So does Affirmative Action, is that a beneficial policy do you think?
George: Affirmative Action, the purpose of Affirmative Action was to deal with some of these institutional problems that are there. Whether it’s doing a good job or not, people can argue, but that was the purpose behind it. My senses right now in our country, there’s not the support for Affirmative Action to really keep the current program going the way that it is and so we need to think of new ways in which we can deal with these institutional problems, but that’s kind of along the lines. Affirmative Action is not built on the notion that people have racism and they hate people of other races and want to hold them down. You have Civil Rights legislation for stuff like that. Affirmative Action is built on the notion that we have these social structures that are holding back people of color and have them intentionally overcome these social structures.
Kurt: Do you generally well-intentioned policy here, but it doesn’t necessarily always lead to good results? Maybe you see that for this particular case. Do you see that in other cases as well?
George: In part what we’re trying to do is make a compensation for what’s happened historically, but also with the realization that we live in a society that has changed and so you can make the argument that we overcompensate then that creates its own problems as well. There’s a balancing act and unfortunately what happens is that the solution is probably nuanced, but nuance is lost in our presidential, not just presidential, but our whole political system in our land, and the loudest voices is rarely nuanced and I think that’s a large part of the problem, why we continue to have racial alienation in our society.
Kurt: Yeah. The soundbite society. You definitely can’t nuance when you’ve only got seven words that makes it all over the news and people take your statements out of context and such and sadly, I want to be careful here because we can’t talk about political candidates, but we can talk about policies and issues, but sadly it seems that a lot of political pundits, they really are just out to get the opposite side, whatever the heck the opposite side believes in. I see it on both sides and I tend to be disappointed in the side I typically associate with because, for instance, with President Obama, sometimes I will see people caricature or take out of context even things he says which I don’t find a problem at all when you look at what he’s really saying but people will take that soundbite and they will run with it for attention and so that does seem to be one of the issues in our society for sure.
George: Yeah. I guess that gets to the larger aspect of our society, that we are so polarized and race is one of the ways we are polarized, but also in other ways we’re so incredibly polarized that we can’t work together. We must think the worst of people that we disagree with and then we must defend things on our side that normally we would not defend, and one would hope that Christians could overcome that, but unfortunately that’s not always the case.
Kurt: Yeah. So there we talked a little bit about sort of political philosophy and politicians, but it goes to another level too. It goes to just a broader social level. Not just political, so one of the things we’ve seen now is the Black Lives Matter movement which has really got a lot of attention in our society. When would you say that that movement began?
George: I think it began with Treyvon Martin. I think that was the shooting that sparked it. I think that would have begun even without the Treyvon Martin shooting. Some other incident would have occurred and that would have developed, I think that’s probably what people point to as starting the whole notion towards Black Lives Matter.
Kurt: Yeah. And it seems to be the case here you have instances where a black person dies as a result of gun violence and let me say specifically if I can without offending people, specifically what often is the outrage is that it’s by a non-black person because sometimes in the suburbs of Chicago I see it all the time on the news, and the local news is interviewing people in the black community and yes, there is outrage, even protests and what not, and the church leaders come together and say, “Hey. We need to solve the gang violence, the issues”, but that stuff doesn’t make national news. It’s the other type. A police officer kills a black person, that’ll make the national news, especially with the advent of social media this stuff is shared all over so that seems to be particularly some of the concerns and maybe, I don’t know if this has again been an area you’ve looked at, cause some of the stuff you’ve done at has been more racial reconciliation within the church, right? And I think in some of your earlier studies was on interracial marriage, but what about police officers? It seems that a lot of people are disappointed because a lot of police officers seem to get off the hook after an internal investigation. Are you sympathetic to those concerns or do you think that the police structures that we have are generally speaking striving for justice approximately speaking? What are your thoughts on that?
George: Well, here’s my sort of approach and we can use this as the issue. There’s other racial issues out there obviously, but we can use this as the issue. I think the solution is not something that I’m going to be able to conceive of in my office away from the streets, away from being a police officer, away from being an African-American who lives in areas, because I live in a suburb now, I make my living in the suburbs so I’m not going to encounter much. What I think the solution is going to come out of is “Can we have a healthy dialogue between different parties?” and by healthy dialogue I mean can we enter into a state where we’re actually listening to where the other group’s coming from and then try to construct solutions that will meet the needs of everybody. What I see on the outside today is almost no effort towards that. People think we talk about race, but we’re really not. We’re talking past each other, we’re talking at each other, we’re not talking with each other, and even when we put pundits on Fox or MSNBC or CNN, they don’t talk to each other. They talk to the people that advocate for them. Here we have a healthy dialogue because we’re not having a healthy dialogue and if we don’t have that and all we have left is fighting with other people and that’s what we’re going to do, so I’m not going to say “Here’s what the police need to do,” or “Here’s what has to happen in the black community,” or anything like that. I think that those decisions need to be made on a case-by-case basis and city-by-city by the activists and those who are in the police force, let the community gather and have honest dialogue. The sad part is I’m not optimistic of that happening anywhere any time soon.
Kurt: So what would be some practical tips you would give people, say just, the average Joe here, maybe we’re not a police officer, we’re not an activist of sorts, but what are some tips that you give to people. You said go and talk to people, that seems to be one thing. How do we talk to people with whom we disagree with and it may not be someone that is a different skin color than we are, right? We may just have different political philosophies.
George: I did talk to an extremist a few weeks ago. Here’s what I suggest. I would suggest doing this thinking “I’m going to solve racial problems.” Maybe if enough people did we would change our atmosphere and we would get somewhere, but here’s something I think we could do. If you know someone that you know you could speak to them on racial issues and you’re very conservative and you know someone who’s very Black Lives Matter or if you really support Black Lives Matter and you know some people who are very conservative, invite that person out to a lunch or invite that person out for a drink or some and then engage in what I would call active listening and what I mean by that is “I want to know how you feel about such and such initiative. Can you tell me that?” And then as you listen to them asking questions you are not to really think about why they are wrong. You don’t have to agree with them, but what you’re trying to do is understand why they come from where they come from and then to really know that at the end of it you would say something like “Okay, here’s what I’m hearing you saying” and then what you….your own words what you hear them saying and then they’ll either say “No, that’s not it.” Or “Yes, you understand.” Now they might want to know how you feel. They might not want to know how you feel. They don’t want to know? You go on and start talking about something else. Talk to them about the Cubs, whatever.
Kurt: Go Cubs!
George: Yeah. That’s pretty good. But at least the next time someone of that political ilk you know what’s driving them and you may disagree with them, but at least we’re not in the position where we have to demonize them and if enough people do this, when we do have dialogues back and forth where we’re trying solutions or to treat others as humans and not as the sort of, I don’t know…
Kurt: Us vs them.
George: That’s something we could all do. If we’re just characterizing people in the worst possible way, that’s active listening. One last thing. If you’re active listening, it means that you don’t have a right to tell them what they can or cannot say, so you can’t say “Well you can’t offer this as your perspective.” That’s their perspective. They own that. That’s their right. So try to listen to how they approach the problem and try to understand where they’re coming from.
Kurt: That’s good because some of the things that I’ve tried to think about as someone who’s just, I studied philosophy as an undergrad. One of the main fallacies that often times occurs is a straw man fallacy where people will set up a fake ID or a straw man and attack the straw man instead of really understanding what people are saying so it seems like we’ve got a lot of straw men out there, we’ve got caricatures and we need to listen to people so that way we can understand exactly what they believe and then you make a good point about reiterating and articulating what exactly it is that they believe and so that way there’s understanding and that’s a good start. Right? When you have a common understanding it’s a good start to progress, to finding a good long term solution and to reconciliation and then yeah, you make a good point there about we’re not to tell them where they went wrong, at least right then in the moment. Right? So as someone who does apologetics, apologetics is both a science and an art and the science is the arguments but the art is the listening and the understanding where people are coming from and knowing what to say and when to say it so really talking about these social issues we can depend upon our training as small a-apologists and that’ll come in handy for those discussions.
George: I just think by doing this and creating an atmosphere where we understand one another when issues come up we’re going to be able to deal with them, because right now we can’t deal with them. I have no confidence in any group dealing with racial issues right now. I know I’ve watched approaches, be it conservative or liberal and how they approach the issue is “Can we beat down the other person and get our way?” Until we move away from that we are going to continue to have this racial animosity in our society.
Kurt: This has been great If you’re listening right now, you wanna have your voice heard, you’ve got a question for Dr. Yancey here, give us a call. The number is 505-2STRIVE. That’s 505-278-7483, and if you’re a little bit shy and you don’t want to have your voice heard, there also is a chat box. If you click on the show there and the speaker icon, I think you have to create a log in, that’s the downside, but then you can comment there on the shows and we’ll see your chat messages as well. Dr. Yancey. This has been great. I want to continue our discussion after a short break from some of our sponsors.
Kurt: Thanks for sticking with us through that break. I’m here with Dr. George Yancey and today we’re discussing race relations, ways that we can improve the conversations that we have with each other and for looking at the things that we see in our society today on the news and how we should think about them whether they are good things or bad things and how to move forward and Dr. Yancey, before we continue on, we’ve got a segment of the show called Rapid Questions and this is a segment where we ask short lighthearted questions and we’re looking for fast responses. Are you prepared for this?
George: Okay. Are you going to psychologically probe me then?
Kurt: Yeah. It’s nothing self-incriminating but they’re lighthearted questions, so I’ve got to get the game clock up here so it’s a minute long and we’ll see how many you can get through in that time. Here we go!
Kurt: What is your clothing store of choice?
Kurt: Taco Bell or KFC?
George: The Bell.
Kurt: Excellent. What song is playing on your radio these days?
George: Switchfoot, Everlasting.
Kurt: What’s your favorite sport?
Kurt: What’s the first thing you buy at the grocery store?
George: Usually bananas.
Kurt: What is your spouse’s favorite holiday?
George: Probably Christmas.
Kurt: Do you drink Dr. Pepper?
Kurt: Have you ever driven on the other side of the road?
George: Not on purpose.
Kurt: Would you drink a Dr. Pepper if it were handed to you?
Kurt: What’s your inner shake flavor?
George: My what flavor?
Kurt: Inner shake. A milkshake. Milkshake flavor.
George: I guess strawberry.
Kurt: Strawberry. Nice. Awesome. Well, thank you for participating in Rapid Questions.
Kurt: It’s a great little way for people to learn just a little bit more about you in a fun, maybe a bit kooky way. If we ever meet, I’ll have some bananas for you so that way you don’t have to get them at the grocery store.
George: The store always buys bananas and so that’s why I buy them first. I probably have to buy them first because you can’t keep them very long.
Kurt: I’ve got a two and a half-year-old at home and she likes to eat bananas and then she doesn’t and then when she doesn’t then my wife makes delicious banana bread so we go through bananas.
George: That’ll work.
Kurt: So you go through those as well so I understand. Okay, so we’re here talking about race relations. We talked in the first half of the show we spoke a little bit about Affirmative Action policy and political commentary, but then you also gave us some very nice practical ways that we can sit down with people with whom we disagree with and attempt to understand each other and that’s a good starting point for moving forward on the issue because sometimes the political change isn’t going to bring the change. Sometimes it does over generations. I can think of segregation for example, political change brought about good long-term change, but that took generations. You know? It didn’t happen right away and so sometimes the change has to be us and so we’ve got to take the first steps here at the local level just talking with people one-on-one, taking them out to coffee or getting them a bite to eat and talking about these issues and listening to their perspective to help us understand and move forward on that.
So in this second half what I would like to talk to you about any get your thoughts on is the safe space, the Black Lives Matter movement and the safe space, the college campus atmosphere. Let me just start off with a vein here. I read an article that talked about how some people were calling for segregated dorms because they wanted a safe space. I forget which campus that was at, but did you happen to come across that article and if so that strikes me as “Oh my gosh!” It’s like we’re taking a step back in racial reconciliation.
George: Yeah. I saw that headline. I’ve not actually read the article so I don’t know the details of that. If it happened in the University of Texas I would probably speak out against that. Here’s what I think Christianity brings to this discussion that people go on to realize, and you being in apologetics you probably can appreciate this. If you really boil it down, on a certain dimension there’s two ways of looking at the world. Even humans are perfectible or we’re fallen, and Christians say we’re fallen whereas when you look at humanism, it says we are perfectible. If we’re perfectible then ideally some group will perfect itself and they’ll be able to determine rules that will be good for all of us, but I don’t believe that as a Christian. I believe that groups, even groups that have been victimized, such as African Americans, that if they were in power they would victimize others and to me this is an example. ….others, but it’s kind of rather foolish to talk about segregated dorms and safe places and such. I think that’s really more about power than it is about really furthering the cause of race relations and because of that, I think that’s why we need to have a certain amount of humbleness to look to other people. The solution is not to be found in any particular group. The solution has to be found in people having some sort of safeguard because they have to listen to other individuals finding solutions together because we’re not perfectible in the sense that we get enough education we’re going to figure it out on our own. We are fallen creatures and we do have a sin nature that makes us create solutions that give us more power even at the expense of others so in that sense that means it runs both ways, in essence I think Christianity missing something in the debate, because the debate is really played on the ground of humanism which tends to believe that we’re just ethically alright, people will do what’s right, and we can trust people that have been victimized to do what’s right…other individuals and that I simply do not believe to be the case.
Kurt: We’ve sort of got a broad category there that the philosophy here is under the guise of humanism or perhaps secularism. Are there different philosophies even within that camp for how to deal with racial reconciliation on college campuses? Are there sort of sub-categories or specific philosophies that you can provide for us so we can more easily identify them?
George: My sense is that individuals who tend to approach this from a secular humanist perspective, there are some voices that go against the grain, but they tend to be very small. The general principle is that marginalized need to be empowered and empowering marginalized groups is going to be the solution because they’ve been victimized, we’ve got to give them the power no matter what and so what they want, we must find ways to give it to them. I almost want to say within reason, but some of the ways that I’ve seen causing at or towards groups who’ve been marginalized seem unreasonable in my opinion. There are some people who are have a more humanist perspective that may put some limits on that, but I at this point in time, I really have not seen a lot of that. When you see the students across campuses and the administration basically with some exceptions of course not holding the protesters very responsible, we see them shutting down other speakers and very little pushback on that then my sense is that that’s just a general perspective of these individuals at this time and I think it comes from the fact that there’s a belief in humanity in that these people have been victimized, if we give them power they’re going to now be on equal footing and they’re not going to misuse that power so you believe that humans have a perfectible nature. If you give any group too much power, even the group that’s been victimized and know what it’s like to be victimized, they’re going to victimize others because that’s who we are.
Kurt: Instead of justice there will be revenge. Is that what you’re saying?
George: I think history is replete with that occurring. Yes.
Kurt: Interesting. Yeah. It is a tricky issue. We’ve seen college campuses respond in different ways. Of course there are some that are creating these safe places. There was the protest at the University of Missouri and I think there was something going on at Emerson College, but then you sort of get the opposite. There was a video online of Ohio State, there was a sit-in and one of the administrators came in and said “If you’re not out of here by 5 A.M., you’re expelled.” I’m summarizing, but that’s pretty much what he said, and then the University of Chicago just recently since the start of the school year I guess a couple of weeks ago, they sent out a letter saying that there’s freedom of ideas at the school and so they essentially weren’t going to tolerate the protests of sorts.
George: Those were exceptions, but yeah, I do know both of those exceptions, and those were good exceptions to see, that the words, look you know, this is gonna a free speech area, but if you look at surveys, young people are more and more likely to reject free speech. They want speech that conforms to what they believe but they’re very willing to support speech that challenges what they believe and that’s an unfortunate feature that we just have to acknowledge at this point, but I did see that video and I said “Well, good.” Martin Luther King was put in jail for what he did. Now I believe in what he did and I think he confronted the situation much more
Kurt: Constructively maybe.
George: Justifying his actions much more than some of what I see because I’m not a believer in the concept of safe spaces, especially ideologically, but he went to jail. He paid the price that was there. If people want to protest the price you pay is you can get thrown in jail and if your cause is right enough, then over time you can win out, but you don’t see that very much today.
Kurt: Interesting. I’m going to play a clip for you here from Morgan Freeman. Maybe you’ve heard this, but for those listening, maybe you haven’t. So here he gives his, this is a one-minute clip on his solution to solving the race problem so I will go ahead and load that up here and hopefully there won’t be a YouTube ad.
Reporter: Black history month you find…
Morgan: You’re gonna relegate my history to a month? What do you do with yours? Which month is White History Month?
Reporter: Come on.
Morgan: I’m Jewish. Okay. Which month is Jewish History Month? There isn’t one. Oh. Why not? Do you want one?
Reporter: No. No.
Morgan: I don’t either. I don’t want a Black History Month. Black history is American history.
Reporter: How are we gonna get rid of racism?
Morgan: Stop talking about it. I’m gonna stop calling you a white man. I’m gonna ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.
Kurt: So, there we have, and I know he’s spoken on other topics within the category of race, but here his solution is to just stop talking about it. I guess maybe you’d call this perhaps color-blindness. Right?
George: This would be a more color-blind approach towards in, and there are some blacks that take the color-blind approach. Most blacks don’t, but there are some that do. It’s a much more popular approach among European Americans than Africans-Americans. I think that people of that approach, they deserve to have their say on what we should do as well. We all need to be a part of that conversation to understand where they’re coming from. The solution is not to be color-blind, but it’s not going to be as radical as, something we can all agree upon. Until we have that dialogue, we can’t find that.
Kurt: So what do you see as some of the shortcomings of this strategy?
George: Morgan Freeman can speak for himself. Part of who I am is black. I can’t be color-blind in that way. I’m raising a kid. I think part of who he’s going to be is black. There’s a history to that. Being black has affected my life, it’s shaped my life and so to tell me to just ignore is not realistic and also when we look, I gave you the example as well, we’ve had a history where European Americans, and not all European Americans, I know there’s some poor whites out there, I’m not saying you’re white and you get the spoiled card and things like that. I would not say that because there’s some whites who’ve been down in their luck and I’m very very sympathetic to that, but there is advantages to that and for us to be color-blind all of a sudden right now is to ignore those advantages that many whites have had without taking any sort of step to see whether or not we can at least reduce that advantage, so for me personally a color-blind approach is not adequate for dealing with racial issues. Any solution we have to come up with would not be one based on color-blindness.
Kurt: What are some other strategies? The color-blindness seems to be one strategy. What are the other options for approaching this issue and feel free to speak a bit more academically here in terms of maybe you’ve come up with camps, you’ve observed different approaches. What might those be?
George: I kind of boil it down to about four different approach that people talk about. There are exaggerations, they’re not exact. There are variations of them, but color-blindness is definitely one of them. I also talk about anglo-conformity types of approach where people argue that the way we deal with race relations is that people of color learn how to succeed just like how people did and so we train them to see the similar way. There’s also talk about a multi-cultural approach where basically we focus in on honoring all cultures and especially cultures of color, minority cultures, giving them respect they’ve been denied, and then I talk about white responsibility model and this is probably what you see a little bit more in Black Lives Matter with whites are the problem, whites need to get their act together. There’s a model which people totally cannot be racist and things of this nature are a much more radical type of model. So those are the four basic approaches that I’ve talked about in some of my writings.
Kurt: Yeah and maybe we’ve seen of the shortcomings to the white responsibility, that fourth model.
Kurt: Something I’ve just read in the news about is multiculturalism specifically with respect to Germany and I know Germany is a different culture than our own, but they’ve had an influx of Middle Eastern immigrants and Angela Merkel has even gone on the record saying that multiculturalism has failed and part of that’s because some of the Middle Eastern immigrants aren’t even teaching their children how to speak German. They’re teaching them how to speak their native tongue so there’s a failure of assimilation and so that’s something I’d like to talk about in the immigration debate is assimilation. That often goes neglected and so that’s been an issue in Germany. In terms of how that might apply to us today I mean what do you think? Do you see shortcomings of the multiculturalist approach?
George: All of the approaches have their shortcomings. None of the approaches, I’ve just critiqued the club line approach, I’ve critiqued all four of these approaches and multiculturalism has its shortcomings as well. Despite its intentions what usually happens is we do start favoring cultures. The intention is that all cultures are equal, but the reality is all cultures are not equal. Are we going to say that Nazi Germany culture is equal to our culture? I don’t know anyone who would say that and so we realize that and so that becomes very problematic. There does need to be some degree of assimilation for a society to, I mean, you just used one. Learning the language. Whatever language that is, we have to be able to communicate with one another so any one model and my argument is no one model is going to be adequate and I would even go so far as to say that all these models tend to neglect the whole aspect that humans have a sin nature and people are going to misuse whatever model there is to their advantage and distort it and that’s why neither, but the key is communication, trying to figure out solutions that everyone buys into and not just impose our particular solution on other people who don’t want it.
Kurt: So would you say that we sort of, there are the four models, are you proposing that we sort of need a mixture of a little bit of both or that we just need to, the first step is understanding each other and that’s the way forward, but like you mentioned in terms of all four of those models, they all fail in some respect so how do we move forward then if these models don’t work? Is it some combination therein? It’s the love of Christ that leads us on. Is that really the only solution here?
George: I mean as a Christian, I think the whole solution is Christ in us living it out like we should, but we know that not everyone is Christian and not all Christians do that so practically we can’t rely on that and that’s why I guess what I would say I propose in my writing this fifth model, what I call a mutual accountability model. What we have to do is communicate with one another and find solutions, and the solution might be more of one’s model than the other, but it’ll be a solution that we arrive at through dialogue…
George: Through healthy dialogue, not a dialogue in which you can’t bring that in here, you have to accept my solution and because we’ve arrived at the solution we have…. The color-blindness model. We impose color-blindness without giving buy in to some people of color. You’re gonna spend the rest of your time denying people of color who do not want this model. On the other hand if we impose white responsibility model without buying in of whites we get fighting back from whites and it’s not going to walk so we can bits and pieces of some of these models and maybe a lot of one of these models but people will say “We can accept that and other races can accept that”, then everyone’s working together to try to solve it rather than some people working trying to solve it with others working to sabotage it.
Kurt: Yeah. It sounds like a good strategy where like you’d mentioned we all have a buy-in and we’re all invested into it but the only way we can get there is through an understanding, through dialogue, talking with one another and coming up with solutions that we were all willing to take, even if it means we’ve got to be stretched a little bit, right? Maybe we’re outside of our comfort zone on some issues here and there, and interestingly enough even in politics that’s kind of the way it gets done. Everyone sort of gets a little bit of a piece of the pie, but something we haven’t seen all that much in politics is compromise. It’s just been more of a polarization for the past several years now so hopefully on this issue we won’t see polarizing and hopefully we can come to a peaceful solution, have there be a harmony, and you know, that way we’re going to have a more just society. So, Dr. Yancey, I want to thank you for coming on the show and talking about the issue. I know this hasn’t been your most recent issue of research. You’ve been looking at sort of a Christian acceptance or response in academia? Tell us just briefly a little bit about what you’ve been doing in that area.
George: Yeah. For the past few years I’ve been looking at what’s called Christianophobia. I started out looking in academia and documented that conservative Christians are more likely to be rejected than any other religious or political group, but some of my latest books have been looking at Christianophobia in general in our society and who tends to have it and how it manifests itself and my argument has been that, to understand some of what’s happening in our society we need to understand that Christianophobia is behind some of it. Not all of it, but some of it. Just like to understand some of what’s happening in our society, there are racial issues, maybe not overt racism but at least a history of racism and racialized structures. We have to understand that. Same thing with Christianophobia. It’s not exactly like racism. I don’t want people to leave here thinking “Oh, he thinks…..No. I’m not saying that. What I’m saying is it’s a really very real phenomena and so we as Christians need to be aware of that and maybe adjust how we’re approaching things in our society because of it.
Kurt: That’s’ really great because there are a lot of Christians that are not in academia, they’re making this cultural observation, and perhaps their voices are just rejected or neglected because people think “Oh those silly Christians. They’ve always been part of the power structures”, so for them to claim that there is a mild form of persecution in this respect often just goes without any weight and so for someone like yourself, a sociologist, an academic, who’s doing the research, and you’re essentially confirming our cultural observations to a degree, I’m sure that’s encouraging for some people so carry on I say, carry on.
George: If anyone wants to learn a little more about that, pick up my book Hostile Environment and in there I research the other books if you want to read some of the more academic stuff but that is a readable book, it’s by intervarsity press, and work on that.
Kurt: Great. So there’s Hostile Environment and if you want to read more check out the books that Dr. Yancey here has. You can go to his web site. It’s www.GeorgeYancey.com and you’re also on Facebook and Twitter so people can follow you on those social media sites as well. Thanks again for joining us.
George: Thank you.
Kurt: Alright, so yeah. This show today we talked about different approaches to race relations. We initially talked about sort of a political issue, Affirmative Action, at the beginning in the first half of the show and then we talked about Dr. Yancey’s practical ways for us to engage with people so I’d encourage you to go back and listen to that, to his tips, on what we can do right now to move forward or to start to move forward on the issue. Then we also talked about the Black Lives Matter movement and his thoughts on that, on the college atmosphere that’s happening today, and then at the end we sort of got a breakdown of the four philosophies on how to deal with racial reconciliation and he gave us some criticisms, constructive criticisms that he had about those approaches and he had an alternative model which maybe that’s the way we’ve got to go is through that all buy-in approach.
Again, thank you Dr. Yancey for joining us and for giving us helpful tips and advice on that and also I want to encourage you to keep going on the research there on the Christian reception in academia.
Since we’ve opened up the peanut gallery shall I say we’ve got Chris and Joel, we’ve got a microphone set up. Chris said hi earlier. I’m curious what are your guys’ thoughts? Do you have any thoughts on this issue, on race relations?
Chris or Joel: We live in an area of Chicago where it’s about 50/50.
Kurt: Hispanic and Anglo.
Chris or Joel: and I think more recently it’s moved over to 60/40 in our town.
Kurt: Who’s got the 60?
Chris or Joel: Hispanic favor. So being here, I am not Hispanic, but obviously this is a people group I want to be able to talk to and reach and even though there’s not as strong locally, we haven’t seen this as I guess pronounced racism or if it makes national headlines, there’s a desire even within the brotherhood of the Christian faith to be connecting across cross-cultural boundaries because even if there’s no tension or racial tension in that area, it can be hard for different cultural backgrounds to want to mix even if they’ve got that commonality of Christ so it is an issue even within the church and I’d love to be able to, I think Dr. Yancey is a great resource to kind of explore how we can reach across to our brothers and sisters of different cultures no matter what culture we’re coming from.
Kurt: Yeah. Especially the case if you live in a town like West Chicago where it’s so easy to start reaching the street to use a figurative term. I mean here we’re in downtown West Chicago and most of the storefronts are owned by Hispanic businesses, you know. By the way, if you can hear him that’s Joel, he’s joined us. He came in a little late. You were off. You flew in this morning.
Joel: Yes. Yeah. I had a red eye from San Francisco.
Kurt: Oh red eye. Have you got any sleep? No sleep. No sleep. But he’s made it here today. It’s good to have the crew back. They were off last week and I was missing them. Chris. I know something you’ve been thinking about recently and we’ve chatted about is violence in the Old Testament.
Kurt: We’re running short on time here now but just to give you and our listeners a preview, we’re gonna in the next week or so we’re gonna be interviewing Dr. Paul Copan on that and he’s written a book, a couple books actually. Is God A Moral Monster? is the more popular level and then Did God Command Genocide? Hopefully you’ll look forward to that and now to you listening that will be a pre-recorded interview. He’s unable to do an interview on Saturdays, but with that I want to encourage you to send me your questions. If you have any questions or comments about the supposed genocide commands in the Old Testament where God tells the Israelites to go kill everyone, to wipe out the women and the children. How can YHWH, if He’s supposedly all-loving, if He’s good, how can He do that? How can He tell the Israelites to kill everyone, including the women and the children? So we’re going to be talking with Dr. Paul Copan on approaches that Christians have had to understanding that and then hopefully Chris that will be a good show for you, a nice benefit.
That does it for our show today. I’m grateful for the continued support of our patrons, so those are people that are just chipping in 5 or ten bucks a month making this happen. It takes a lot of work producing these week after week and I’m thankful for the patron support and if you’re interested in becoming a patron, chipping in just a little bit, there are some benefits there to doing that. You can go to our web site, test.veracityhill.com/patron and I’m also thankful for the partnerships with our sponsors, Defenders Media, Consult Kevin, The Sky Floor, Rethinking Hell, The Illinois Family Institute, and Evolution 2.0. Thank you to the tech team, they’re back, Chris and Joel, and to our guest today, Dr. George Yancey, and thank you for listening in and for striving for truth on faith, politics, and society.
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