By REVEREND BARBARA SEXTON
Here's a sad, sad bit of information from the people who brought us the raging rants of Reverend Jeremiah Wright. He's the one who prompted the UCC (United Church of Christ) to sponsor "Sacred Conversations on Race". Only this time it's from a Pastor new to Stamford, CT about the horrible episode she had at a local Stamford store. I will let you, dear readers, draw your own conclusions about what Reverend Cari Jackson had to say about us: http://firstchurchoberlin.org/Portals/664/Newsletters/NN0910.pdf
The quote that caught my eye was: "She opened her presentation by sharing an experience she had had shortly after arriving in Stamford. One afternoon, as she was shopping at a local grocery store, an older man approached her and asked where he could find a particular item in the store. Cari is black, and the man who approached her was white. Being new to the community and that particular store, she wasn’t able to offer much assistance, although she tried. At the same time she quietly raged inside and wondered why the man was asking her for directions. Was it because she looked as though she worked in the store? Did he assume that, because she was black and in a store in a predominantly white neighborhood, she was most likely part of “the help”?
"QUIETLY RAGED INSIDE"??? CRIMINY!!! Is someone trying to SELL something here or something? Did someone think we in Stamford would MISS this? I wonder and I remember what Jesus said:
37"Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke: 6:37-38 (NIV)
I actually am somewhat offended by having my hometown of Stamford, CT and it's peoples presented like this to a national audience. In the 33 years that I have lived here, I have been involved in and seen great strides in race relations and feel that we do a pretty good job taking care of our Elders, as well. Reverend Cari Jackson scares me a bit with her 'rage', truth be told, and I hope I'm just being a little bit too sensitive here. She has only been in Stamford for a very short time and has already drawn her conclusions. She says, "She said that sometimes she thinks she is tired of teaching white people,..." http://www.wtvlucc.org/synod.htm and I, for one, believe it!
12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:12-17 (NIV)So everyone, please do be careful when it comes to asking assistance from strangers in any stores in Stamford. There are plenty of good folks around who will help you willingly and unquestioningly. I don't think Pastor Cari meant any real disrespect to any store employees by (inadvertently?) dissing their positions, but who knows? Hey--I used to work retail in several locations, so watch it there, sister, if you were being a meanie.
Sorry for this uncheerful note of the day, but I just had to write about this. In many of the stores I shop in, as a lone white woman, I am 'the minority' and that's just the way it has been through times more good than bad. I can smile about the first time someone called me "cracker", back when the word first became popular. It was in the context of me helping that person, no less! When my black friend gently told me "it was a bad word and you've been dissed", I understood, just as I understood "whitie" and "honkie" and "Blondie" and "Barbie". "You mean it's because I'm white like a cracker?", I asked. Yvonne said, "Uh, no, it's because you're white, Barb. It's bad like "nigger". Now that, I understood, having been raised by the original 'Civil Right's' parents and their constant admonitions to be kind to all 'regardless of...everything.'
Not until many years later did I learn that the 'cracker' reference referred to slave owners 'cracking' the whip. I'll bet you didn't know that, did you, white people? Slave owners? What the heck slaves did my poor Ukrainian immigrant family ever own?...We were serfs in Europe and working people, for the most part.
But I've risen above my emotions and survived my Stamford experiences over the decades to talk about all this, no hard feelings, no rage, not scared, without need for retribution or to rag on Stamford behind your backs. And here we are in 2010 all getting along pretty well. Or so I thought until I read about someone 'quietly raging' in Stamford. Is there more to it? I would like all 'quiet ragers' to SPEAK UP, for Heaven's sake! TEACH us white people, will ya? Surely we can take it!
I'm used to and actually like the sassiness of Stamford and the incredible ability of it's populace to fight and play nicely when it's all said and done. Our multicultural and multiracial environment is as natural to me as breathing and I am used to it. This is my hometown; we are not populated by bigots and racists and to say so is disingenous and hurtful. I've been involved in some very dicey racial situations over the years--really sharp ones in fact--but I never, ever got 'ginned up' for a perpetual fight. Things may go wrong, but they happen and are often fixable. We survive and move on and we try to do better in the future--IF we are allowed to do so in peace.
That's just the way it's been for us, in my hometown of Stamford and it's what I'm used to and have grown to love these last 33 years. I know Stamford is filled with well-intentioned and good-hearted people, all in all and I regret that Pastor Cari Jackson speaks so disparagingly about us, behind our backs. I'm not sure that she will ever encounter a more generous group, also, anywhere.
But her kind of talk and those like Jeremiah Wright hurts. It really does. If that is their intention, they will have at least partially succeeded, but that success will not last for long. Again and again Christian believers such as myself cling and try to live the words of our Lord Jesus Christ and we're not scared of any conversations, 'sacred' or otherwise. Argue with the following, if you must argue with anything:
34"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Matthew 10:34 (NIV) AND
25"All this I have spoken while still with you. 26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:25-27 (NIV)
With Fierce Hope, Love and Faith, Still--
Reverend Barbara Sexton January 2, 2010
Remember that the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.