16 November 2008

Welcome to the postracial America!

It is rarer than it should be that I feel convicted about the academic bubble in which I live my life. One stark reminder that I need to pay more attention to the world: major stories only manage to penetrate my conscience once they hit the New York Times or The New Yorker. That was the case with last week's female ordination and excommunication story.

Today comes another one. I'm just staggered that I hadn't heard about it until now. Arsonists burned down the future home of the Macedonia Church of God in Christ, an African-American congregation in Springfield, Mass.,  on the night of November 4th. The building was still under construction, and therefore unoccupied, but it is just the kind of thing that takes your breath away. While we were all celebrating American progress...

The story is particularly jarring to me since it happened in Massachusetts. This is a state whose very name epitomizes liberal values. 62 percent of the state (and 59 percent of the white people) voted for Obama. It will always be important for Americans (and especially Northeasterners like me) to remember that racism wasn't invented in the South and overcome in the North. Another good reinforcement of this point comes in the form of the new documentary, Traces of the Trade (which Liz has been somehow involved with, when she's not farming). I haven't seen it yet, though I know the Anglican House of Studies here at school watched it a few weeks ago and I heard positive reviews. It tells the story of a prominent Rhode Island family who made their money trading rum for slaves in the late 18th century.

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