Sunday, December 4, 2016

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

I got a message from a friend yesterday. "They're showing that video at the One Howard event," she wrote.

I was incredulous. After what I had heard from members of the community, I thought that was an extremely poor choice. I wondered if it would cause discomfort for people in the room who had come to the meeting in good faith.

It did. From a women at the event:

I watched the video last week and felt horrified, not entirely just by the video, but also by the reactions- felt like they wanted someone to smooth it all over for them, and he complied.  It felt like all the pain of the victim community got shoved back down so the majority could not feel uncomfortable.  And, that's honestly how we who are minorities have been "trained":  don't ruffle feathers too much...  make it feel okay, even when it's not.  I'm sort of done with that.

I'm not going to link to the video because, frankly, I don't want to give it any more publicity. I wrote about why I feel it is problematic in Friday's post. Dr. David Anderson, pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, and creator of the Gracism brand, made this video and has made much of how many views it has garnered.

I'm not sure he understands how much damage it has done.

One very brave woman in attendance, Renee Grant,  attempted in a quiet and polite way to get the organizers to stop showing the video, but she was rebuffed. 

I stepped up because no one else would. I asked two people to stop the video before I went to the front and did it.

If you are running an event which is meant to promote community healing and you discover that you are doing something which is hurting instead of healing, I think that should be a wake-up call. But a quiet request was not enough. So a small group of women stood up to publicly push back against the message of the video. 

African American business owner Renee Grant stepped in because the situation warranted it. 

And Dr. Anderson called her "sweetheart."

Imagine if the tables had been turned, and Dr. Anderson was pleading to be heard, and she called him "buddy." Or "boy".

Communty member Deeba Jafri:

I just could not take it any more when that video went up. I just started crying. I just felt that the event was just going to turn into a feel-good event for white people without the realization of how much damage these acts are causing in households across our county. So I spoke...

Ms. Grant yielded the microphone to Ms. Jafri. She spoke eloquently, and from the heart. 

Friends, this is not okay. Dr. Anderson and Bridgeway Community Church have a history of being positively engaged in our community but I think we need to stop and take a hard look at where we are right now. Who exactly does Dr. Anderson represent right now?

The County Executive, like HCPSS before him, wants to outsource "race relations" to Bridgeway instead of getting in there and getting messy themselves. As one woman at the event commented, this was a:

...great example of lack of multiple perspectives reinforces bad choices.

That's it in a nutshell. Men in charge don't respect women who dissent. No African American students chosen to be on the panel.* One prominent pastor gets a voice, but where was another perspective, say, that of Janelle Bruce? She would have put students front and center. And she would have afflicted the comfortable, which, in my opinion, needs to happen before we can more forward.

Lack of multiple perspectives reinforces bad choices. And calling someone who is every bit your equal "sweetheart" reinforces patriarchal stereotypes of who is to be dominant, who is to be submissive. 

One Howard? At this moment I'm of two minds about that.

*I hear that the young people who were there acquitted themselves admirably. It's too bad they weren't afforded a greater voice.

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