The 'Elephant' Nobody Is Talking About In America

In our culture in America right now, there is an "elephant in the room". It is the issue that no one wants to talk about. The elephant is obvious. It's everywhere. You can see it everywhere and it cannot be hidden. We don't want to talk about it either. Yet, black people see it. Hispanics see it all the time. And the Hmong that I know are drawing attention to it. And, yes, even white people understand how prevalent it is. What I am talking about is obvious if we are willing to recognize it. "The elephant in the room" is the honor and respect and equity movement that I see thriving in the young people of America. And it could be the solution right in front of our eyes.

Let me preface my blog with this:

As emphatically and clearly as I can say it, "Racism is wrong. Partiality is cruel. Segregation is evil. Preferential treatment isn't honorable." Racism is specific to racial prejudice. But racism has its relatives that encompass so many sectors, such as the preferential treatment of people because of their economy, social status, religion, gender, and even humanity. Racism is not only wrong from a historical and cultural base, racism is wrong from a spiritual and moral perspective also.

Is The Bible Really A Source Of Racism?

Before we cover the crux of this blog, let me address one area related to racial tensions. Many point to the Bible and Christianity as incubative and elementary in shaping racism over the centuries. However, a thorough hermeneutic will prove otherwise. The bible and Christianity does not justify partiality in any form. What some think was a popular form of slave service in the OT, actually crossed more than racial lines. And, with a flurry of NT support, we need to see that the preferential treatment of anyone, regardless of their race, social status, or economic makeup, is quoted by James, the brother of Jesus, as “the sin of partiality” (James 2.1-9). And, aside from so many other texts, even the last visions of bible history under the anointing of the Holy Spirit include every tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping together for eternity under the name of Christ (Revelation 5, 7, 20, 21, and 22).
America is experiencing turbulent times because we have a problem with race, economic, status, religious, and even gender relations. We have these issues because of many great problems and causes. Of course that greater problem is sin. But, let me also say that one of the major reasons we have this problem is because we have created it ourselves and won't let it go away. What are we looking for? I really believe "the elephant in the room" in America today is not what we are talking about. But, it could be the solution.

With that clearly said, this blog is a warning to all of us that we might be missing the real "elephant in the room".
The Elephant In The Room: The Young People In America 

What I am talking about is obvious if we are willing to recognize it. "The elephant in the room" is the honor and respect and equity movement that I see thriving in the young people of America. I'm sure it won't be popular, but, instead of criticizing a culture that is broken by partiality, I want to take a few minutes and celebrate the wins that I see in American youth culture. If you will look around the room you can see it. It's obvious. It all depends on what you are looking for. I see the 'elephant', do you?

1. The elephant we don't want to talk about is that most young people don't care what race, economic, social status, religious, and even gender you are in their relational or social circles
  • For 30 years I have worked with young people in urban and rural settings. In these settings, there is a great hope. You can tell me all about anecdotal stories of hate and the 'plague' of racism that some say infests American life. Oh, it's there. Please don't think that I am naive about that (read the beginning of this blog again).
  • But, we must help this 'plague' be smothered by young people who don't care about what color their best friend or what race their neighbor is or how much they make or where they work or how they worship.
  • What do we want people to hear? To believe? To think? Maybe we need an overhaul of the media. If sensationalism sells, tell us about the sensational feats of a diverse generation of young people on global missions fields, in soup kitchens feeding the hungry, and in causes for the oppressed in their own cities and towns all over our country.
  • It doesn't make sense to me that our media actually re-produces what they air. Sitting in battle rooms across our nation should be producers and writers and editors feeding hundreds of stories of sacrifice. Maybe we need a new network with features like "Youth Crime Going Down", "More College Students On Justice Trips Than Ever Before", "All Races Sitting In To Support Equality", or, "Entire Class Shaves Head For Cancer Patient". And the most recent response from South Carolina, "Charleston AME Ministers Forgive Shooter.
2. The elephant we don't want to talk about is the many young people in our culture who do not care what the talking heads crying 'racism' think
  • The younger generation is ready to heal. Anger doesn't heal. An older generation needs to set aside their personal issues that were forged in a painful day and proclaim to this generation the healing power of love and honor. 
  • Check out the social media pages of teens dancing together, rapping together, singing together, and laughing together. And from Chris Singleton, the teenage son of one of the slain Emanuel AME church members, "I know over time we are going to be alright. Love is always stronger than hate". He was standing in front of the cameras with several of his white teenage friends. These are the out-takes we should be promoting.
  • South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, on the Charleston AME church shooting, "Racism has not been eliminated, but, we have made so much progress. We hear too many dragging us back to yesteryear. We shouldn't try putting that racial label on so many of us because it is inconsistent with the experiences that so many have in America today."
  • How long are we going to embrace injustices from the past and feed our children with hate or prejudice or preference? Our promotion of past racial problems only serves to fuel the performance of the future racial acts. There are many other stories of healing that should be told. Can we choose to heal and not hate?
3. The elephant is the athletic team that has grown beyond the race issue and embraced diversity years in advance of a culture that is slow to fall in line 
  • Learn from the deep friendships that are modeled in competitive situations in both the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Teammates of all racial, economic, social status, or gender who would die for each other on the field, the court, or the street.
  • Millions fill athletic stadiums across America on a nightly basis and celebrate diversity from the stands to the sidelines.

4. The elephant is that there are thousands of stories of unity and healing that have not been added to the plethora of negative stories that are being told daily
  • Isolated racism, drunkenness, divorce, terrorism, or ignorance doesn't create a meme of all. I've met many people who continue to return to McDonald's even after their order was messed up or they didn't receive commendable service. Would that indite every McDonald's restaurant? Why then would the belief or the actions of a few condemn an entire nation? 
  • I can tell you more stories of healing and unity than you can show me stories of hatred and inequity. It all depends on what you are looking for and what is being promoted.

Who Are We Listening To?

"The enemy are those who are stoking the flames of division", Dr. Ben Carson. I know that most of the younger generation does not care what ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX or CNN has to say anything. But these networks feed the internet and the rest of culture that will sooner or later filter down to the youth culture. About 40% of Americans are under 30 years of age. That is somewhere around 130 million people. And they do not care what the media reports about what activists or politicians have to say about racism or anything else. And this simply means that this whole sector of our American society isn't hearing the rhetoric of an outdated and too often opinionated media.  

Because the US wants to ban travel to Liberians (remember not every Liberian is black) to America for fear of the Ebola virus, or, a white police officer shot a black teenager, or, a Hispanic man killed a black man, or, black teens attacked a white girl, does that make America racist? Of course not. It only tells us that we have racism in America. The existence of racist traits in a few do not create a meme that is out of control and ultimately damns an entire nation. 

We must open our eyes to see the emergence of a generation practicing honor and respect and unity and equity. Every sociological study done in the past 4 years has shown a major trait of this generation is that they are much more group-oriented and positive than the last 2 generations. Maybe it's time we introduce the elephant in the room and stop denying the impact that young people in unity can have on our nation. The narrative of an angry generation who won't let us forget the past, but, drive city after city into a racial frenzy isn't working or healing. It is dividing even more. Maybe we need to identify the movement of honor that could have one of the great civil rights impacts upon our nation that we have ever seen.