On Sunday August 7th, 2016 I gave a sermon on the topic of systemic racism. I looked at how systemic racism has been a force that has shaped the city that we live in, as well as the world around us. I also looked at our Biblical call to fight against the evil power of racism in our world. In addition to the sermon I also compiled a list of sources and statistics on the topic of racism.
The video is below and the sources are below that.
Wichita Kansas recently ranked 25th out of the top 100 U.S. cities for being economically segregated. This economic segregation is also closely tied to racial segregation patterns.
This map shows a different colored dot for each person in the U.S. based on the 2010 census data. It can clearly show were people of different races do and do not live. The pattern in Wichita is largely unchanged from what it was in the 1940’s.
The infant mortality rate in Wichita for blacks is about 4 times as high as it is for whites.
Source - Sedgwick County Health Department, “Infant Mortality Health Issue Brief”. Vol II, Issue II, November 2015
Your neighborhood is probably a result of the explicitly racist housing policies from the 30’s-60’s
Here’s a collection redlining maps for the country that shows that racist housing policy. Scroll to Kansas to find Wichita’s
Also, how that housing policy has had a devastating effect on poverty, education, social services, etc…. for generation.
Black people are disproportionately more likely to die at the hands of police than white people.
Sources from “Racism in the United States: By the numbers” – John Green video
On average, black men's prison sentences are 20% longer than white men's for comparable crimes: http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424127887324432004578304463789858002
Black people and white people use illegal drugs at similar rates, but black people are far more likely to be arrested for drug use: http://www.vox.com/2014/7/1/5850830/war-on-drugs-racist-minorities
African Americans are far more likely to be stopped and searched (although the contraband hit rate is higher among white people) in California: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/oct/23/opinion/oe-ayres23
And in New York (where the data isn't quite as good but appears to be comparable to CA): http://www.nyclu.org/content/nypd-quarterly-reports
Those wrongfully convicted and later exonerated by DNA are disproportionately African American: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/DNA_Exonerations_Nationwide.php
Black kids are far more likely to be tried as adults and more likely to receive life sentences: http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2012/06/05/when-to-punish-a-young-offender-and-when-to-rehabilitate/the-race-factor-in-trying-juveniles-as-adults
Black former convicts get fewer employer callbacks than white former convicts: http://www.irp.wisc.edu/publications/focus/pdfs/foc232i.pdf
Emily and Brendan are more hirable than Lakisha and Jamal: http://www.chicagobooth.edu/capideas/spring03/racialbias.html
On that front, this study is also interesting: http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/apl/90/3/553/
and similar results have been found in the UK: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2009/oct/18/racism-discrimination-employment-undercover and also in Australia: http://ftp.iza.org/dp4947.pdf
Also, this news story has some great analysis: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/25/business/for-recent-black-college-graduates-a-tougher-road-to-employment.html?smid=pl-share
High schools with mostly African American and Latino students are less likely to offer courses in Algebra II or Chemistry than high schools with mostly white students: https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/1382484-ocr-letter-disparities.html
This article explores many of the other ways that increasingly segregated schools have negatively affected African American students: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/sunday-review/why-are-our-schools-still-segregated.html?smid=pl-share
And this story discusses the fact that African American students are more than twice as likely to be suspended as white students--even in preschool. http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/03/21/292456211/black-preschoolers-far-more-likely-to-be-suspended
The ACP report on racial disparities in U.S. health care: http://www.acponline.org/advocacy/current_policy_papers/assets/racial_disparities.pdf
This (dated) study is also damning: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3695664
and there's lot of good info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Race_and_health
More info on increasing disparities in life expectancy between black and white people in the US: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1497364/
The most recent polls show fewer white people thinking racism is not a problem than the ones I used in this video (although still a huge divide): http://www.cnn.com/2014/12/22/politics/cnn-poll-racial-divide-justice/
Racial wealth disparity and the role that inheritance plays: http://iasp.brandeis.edu/pdfs/Author/shapiro-thomas-m/racialwealthgapbrief.pdf
Related wikipedia article:
The widening of the wealth gap: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/12/12/racial-wealth-gaps-great-recession/
Sources from “On lives and mattering” – Hank Green video
Black people are 2.5xmore likely to be killed by police. And unarmed black people 6x times more likely to be killed by police than unarmed white people:
(in the incessant debate, claims that if you look into the data you see a very different story invariably cherry pick data.)
Black people more likely to get plea deals with prison sentences:
A more granular study shows that Black people and Hispanics are more likely to have officers use force on them even when they are complying with law enforcement:
Black people face longer sentences for the same crimes in the same situations even when accounting for multiple violations, whether they had a public defender, their economic status, and whether they're on parole:
Implicit bias – We all have implicit bias that we don’t fully understand. “For something like 75% of white Americans it is hard to put the words “Black” and “Good” together.
Another collection of statistics showing that Blacks are more likely to be pulled over than whites, to be the victims of police violence, even when the victims themselves are off-duty police officers, all of which is in spite of the fact that blacks and whites don’t commit crimes at drastically different rates.
From - http://www.benjerry.com/whats-new/systemic-racism-is-real
African-Americans are 2 as likely to be unemployed
Black students are 3 times more likely than white students to be suspended for the same infractions
One study found that 67% of doctors have a bias against African-American patients
Black drivers are 30% more likely to be pulled over
Blacks are shown 18% fewer homes and 4% fewer rental units than whites.
Whites control 90% of the wealth in the US, African-Americans control just 2.5%
Blacks make up 13% of the general population but 40% of the prison population.
There is massive difference in whether or not we think that racism is still a problem in the U.S.
A new Pew Research Center survey finds profound differences between black and white Americans in how they view the current state of race relations and racial equality and in the ways they experience day-to-day life. Specifically
1 Whites and blacks are split over the current state of race relations and what progress Obama has made on the issue. About six-in-ten blacks (61%) say race relations are generally bad, while about equal shares of whites say race relations are good as say they’re bad. Overall views on race relations are more positive now than they were a year ago, following the unrest in Baltimore over the death of Freddie Gray, a black man who died while in police custody. Even so, the public’s views of race relations are more negative now than they have been for much of the 2000s.
Following the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president in 2008, many voters were optimistic that his election would lead to better race relations. Today, about a third of Americans (34%) say Obama has made progress on improving race relations, while about three-in-ten (28%) say he has tried but failed to make progress. A quarter say the president has made race relations worse and 8% say he has not addressed race relations. Blacks are far more likely than whites or Hispanics to say Obama has made progress on race relations (51% vs. 28% and 38%, respectively). Among whites, Republicans are particularly likely to say the president has made race relations worse: 63% of white Republicans say this is the case.
2 About six-in-ten Americans (61%) say more changes are needed to achieve racial equality; 30% say the country has already made enough changes. There’s a big race gap on this question: 88% of blacks and seven-in-ten Hispanics say more changes are needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites compared with 53% of whites. Some 38% of whites say the necessary changes have been made.
About four-in-ten blacks (43%) are doubtful that the country will ever make the changes needed for blacks to have equal rights with whites. Just 11% of whites and 7% of Hispanics share this view.
3 By large margins, black adults are more likely than whites to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites across key areas of American life. For example, 64% of black adults say blacks are treated less fairly than whites in the workplace, compared with 22% of whites who say the same – a 42-percentage-point gap. Blacks are also considerably more likely than whites – by margins of at least 20 points – to say that blacks are treated less fairly than whites in dealing with the police, in the courts, when applying for a loan or mortgage, in stores and restaurants and when voting in elections.
Blacks are also more likely than whites to say they have experienced unfair treatment because of their race or ethnicity in the past year. Some 47% of blacks say someone has acted as if they were suspicious of them and 45% say people have acted as if they thought they weren’t smart. About one-in-ten whites report having these types of experiences. Blacks are also more likely than whites to say they have been unfairly stopped by police (18% vs. 3%) and that they have been treated unfairly in hiring, pay or a job promotion (21% vs. 4%) in the last year.
4 About four-in-ten Americans express support for the Black Lives Matter movement, but blacks are considerably more likely to do so than whites or Hispanics. About two-thirds of blacks (65%) say they strongly or somewhat support the movement, compared with 40% of whites and 32% of Hispanics.
Among whites, Democrats and those younger than 30 are more likely than others to say they support the Black Lives Matter movement. Fully 64% of white Democrats express support for the movement – roughly equal to the share of black Democrats (65%). By comparison, 20% of white Republicans and 42% of white independents say they support it.
Similarly, six-in-ten white adults younger than 30 express at least some support for the Black Lives Matter movement, compared with fewer than half of whites who are 30 or older.
Among blacks, there is stronger support for Black Lives Matter from those younger than 50: Roughly half of blacks ages 18 to 29 (52%) and 30 to 49 (47%) strongly support the movement, compared with 32% of blacks ages 50 to 64 and 26% of blacks ages 65 and older.
5 Across several measures, black-white gaps in social and economic well-being persist. Blacks lag behind whites in homeownership, household wealth and median income, among other indicators. And these differences remain even when controlling for levels of education.
Long-standing racial differences in family structure also persist. Today, non-marital births are more than twice as common among black mothers as white mothers, and black children are nearly three times as likely as white children to be living with a single parent.
At 11:45 on Thursday night, July 14 I was out at Camp Mennoscah. We had just finished up our campfire and late night activity time. As I was preparing to go back to my cabin the director came running up and said, “you need to call your wife.” I already knew what was happening. Three weeks before there were indications that she was at risk of beginning preterm labor. A week after that there was a procedure to slow the process down. When I got a phone call, I knew what was happening. She was on her way from Hutchinson to Wichita with contractions that were very close together. Less than 24 hours later, at 6:06pm we welcomed baby Benjamin Isaiah Stucky into the world. Although, if you want to know how much of a surprise he was, you can just note that it took us another 18 hours after his birth to finally decide to call him Benjamin.
I am writing this article a week and a day after he was born, which, just so happens to be the first day that I was allowed to hold him. I have many wise and knowledgeable medical professionals in my life. I am fully aware that, even though Ben is doing very well at this point, that having a baby at 24 weeks means a future that may very well include a good bit of difficulty. At the very least, we are looking at months in the NICU. Months that will be filled with good days and bad days, steps forward and steps backward. Beyond that there are a whole host of issues that our family may have to overcome in the coming years. There are reasons to be overwhelmed, but interestingly I am finding myself relatively ‘even keel’ at the moment. Sure, there have been many moments of uncontrollable crying, but I am feeling more stable than I was expecting to be.
As I’ve reflected on why this is, I think part of it is due to the fact that this is not the first round of difficulty related to our children. After a very long and difficult struggle to even get pregnant in the first place, late in the pregnancy for our first child we learned of potential complications that might have ended in tragedy.
At several points during our previous struggles I had numerous people tell me that we were so “strong” or “courageous”. It was an interesting thing to hear because I don’t remember feeling that “strong” or “courageous”. Looking back on previous ordeals, as well as looking at our current one, there are a couple of things about the nature of courage that has become very clear to me.
The first is that courage is cumulative. I once heard a quote that said something to the effect of, “Courage is not something you get before you go through a difficult experience, it’s something that you get afterwards.” True courage comes after making it through a painful and difficult experience and realizing that you can in fact survive it. It’s then, when you face a new challenge, can you enter into that new challenge knowing that you are strong enough to survive it?
The other thing that I’ve learned about courage is that courage and survival are different words for the same thing. What seems like extraordinary courage from the outside, is really just a matter of facing the challenge that is set in front of you and simply making it through another day. It’s not an act of bravery, it’s merely what must be done.
The final thing I’ve learned is that God is present through everything that we might face. While this might seem like the thing a pastor should say, it’s not something that I would have always said, particularly in the midst of my most difficult moments. When I say that God is present through everything, what I mean is that God is there even when it feels like God is absent. I have had moments where I truly thought God had abandoned me. It’s only through looking back that I’m able to see how God was at work through it all. And again, it’s these past experiences that allow me to see God at work now, even in the midst of serious difficulty.
The truth is that every one of us will face some sort of challenge or difficulty in our lives; a challenge that will re-quire what looks like incomprehensible strength and courage to others. What is also true is that each of us can and will face those challenges with courage that comes by facing what we have before us for that day. A courage that looks more like survival, and faith that carries us even when we feel completely alone.
As you walk into my office I have an odd piece of art-work hanging in my doorway. It’s a painting that a friend, from a long time ago, painted for me one summer when I was doing an internship in Evanston, Illinois. On the bottom it has something written in the ancient Greek
language of the Bible, and above it there is a cross. At the base of the cross is a snake and at the top are two doves.
The painting is an interpretation of one of my favorite Bible verses, which is Matthew 10:16. Partway through Jesus’ ministry he sends his disciples out on a short missionary journey. It’s a training mission, so to speak. When he sends them out he gives them some instructions. He also says to them, “Look, I am sending you out like sheep amongst the wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents yet innocent as doves.”
This particular verse continues to be one of my favorites, although it has been important for different reasons at different points in my life. At times this has been an encouragement in my academic pursuits to under-stand the Bible more deeply and intellectually. At other times it has been an encouragement to clearly understand that not everyone will be receptive to the Gospel when I share it with them.
This week, however, I have been pondering the significance of the part that says, “be…innocent as doves.” As I write this I am part way through the week of helping with vacation Bible school. Every morning this week I have had the blessing to lead singing and lead the Bible memory verse time with a group of children ranging from 3 years to about 5th grade. Watching the kids play, learn, sing and interact with one another I am reminded of the important innocence of children. I am reminded that children are born with an innate sense of hope and joy and love for other people.
Watching the children I am also reminded that innocence often implies a certain ignorance. Innocence often means a lack of awareness; awareness of the difficulties and pain that this world can bring, awareness of how humans can and do hurt each other, awareness that suffering is a reality of our existence. In fact, we even use the phrase “a loss of inno-cence” to describe a time when someone became aware of the difficult realities of the world.
Perhaps it is this connection between innocence and ignorance that is most intriguing to me about what Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew. On one hand Jesus is telling us to be wise as serpents, to see the world with clear eyes, to know the world as it really is in all its glory and its pain. On the other hand, Jesus tells us to be as innocent as doves, to retain that disposition of hope and joy and love that can be so easily crushed by the world. Jesus is telling us to be innocent, but not to be ignorant. It’s an interesting tension. It’s a tension that I don’t think we should seek to resolve primarily because it’s a tension that has something to teach us.
A few chapters later, beginning at Matthew 18:3, Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the King-dom of Heaven. So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Yes, our job as followers of Jesus is to continue to grow into mature Christian adults. It’s a task that takes a lifetime. As a part of that task we are to continue to plumb the depths of our world, our faith and our own souls. At the same time, however, Jesus would remind us that our mission in this world, and maybe even our entrance into heaven, requires hanging onto the innocence of a child. It means hanging on to that love, joy and hope that are a God given part of our spirit when we are born. We are to be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.
Each month for our newsletter Pastor Alan writes a short article on a variety of topics. At times he will also create a video version of the article.
First Church of the Brethren
Sunday School: 9:30am