Elements Chicago :: Racial Reconciliation

The following notes were taken from the Elements Chicago event, which took place on Jan 17, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This was a roundtable discussion on Racial Reconciliation with special guests, Soledad O’brien (CNN), Jesse Jackson, Bishop Clay Evans, and Coach Wayne Gordon.

  • What would you say to people about racial reconciliation?
    • With what I’ve studied,
  • We’re here to celebrate the life of Dr. King. What did Dr. King mean to you, to this city, to this church?
    • Bishop Clay Evans – It is hard to describe all that is meant to me and this world in a few words. A man with a mission, who was really guided by the Master, who was sent as Moses was, to the children of Israel. It is so important that we are the salt of the earth. Dr. King became the Caesar for all of us. He was a man sent from God. When I sensed that in Him, it was no problem for me to join up with him. The Lord gave us the color that we are.  I was inspired then, I am inspired now. I would never be where I am today, if it had not been for the ministry of Martin Luther King.
      • There’s a skinship and a friendship. When that skinship destroys our friendship and fellowship, it is sad for any group of people.
      • I didn’t answer your question, but thank you.
  • Coach, you moved into a neighborhood where Dr. King actually lived for a period of time. What has he meant from your perspective?
    • Coach Wayne Gordon – When I was in college I had a poster of Martin Luther King in my dorm room. It said, “If what you are living for, is not worth dying for, then its not worth living for.”
      • That has always been something significant. You must be willing to die for something. Where have I seen the hand of God? And where do I need the hand of God?
      • Dr. King’s dream was that people would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the quality of their character.
      • God told me that he didn’t bring me to be a teacher, but he brought me to be a student.
    • Soledad
      • As a journalist, I see a lot of anger. Anger from people that look at the macro level.
      • We have a long way to go because no one is really talking about that anger. I would like to figure out, how do we get there. A lot of people don’t want to hear it. I don’t know how we fix the problem without going through the tough parts. Until we do that, I do not feel hopeful for a resolution.
  • Jesse Jackson, I’ve heard that this conversation is taken off the table. If you could speak to what Dr. King has meant to you.
    • Jesse Jackson
      • We had a high moment in 2008 when Obama was elected President.
      • We should be post-race.
      • I don’t want to be color blind. I want to be color appreciative.
      • We live in our faith, but we live under the law. He came to change the law under which we live. He got killed by challenging unjust laws.
      • Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Substance involves a fight.
      • When the game is on it is orange/blue vs. green/gold. Ten minutes after game, one group will go north, other will go south.
      • On the field the playing field is even.
      • Dr. King challenged the structure.
      • As long as the field remains uneven, we can never really get along.
      • We need our allies to understand it is beyond culture, and it is rooted in economics.
  • Audience Questions:
    • I work at Cabrini Green Legal Aid. I am saddened Can it be possible to be true racial reconciliation with the current state of the system?
    • Soledad – Two kids get busted for drugs. One white, one black. The white kid got expelled but was allowed to come back and finish exams and graduate. The black kid was expelled and not allowed to
      • There cannot be racial reconciliation when structurally it is so unfair. Because of this unfairness there is a lot of anger.
    • Jesse Jackson – If you make mistakes, but your heart is right, then you seek to address it.
      • White people appraise black people, and it is offensive. Those appraisals determine our market value.
  • Question posed to audience
    • When have you experienced the injustice that we are talking about here?
    • Soledad’s book offers solutions
    • Where do we go from here?
      • We need to stand up. Refuse to move. You don’t have to say anything, you don’t have to do anything. Just stand up.
      • IF everyone said that it was their business, and that they would advocate for black people, and make it their business, then you will have power.
      • We are most powerful when we are unified.
    • Jesse Jackson
      • These stories are the stuff of which good people are made. But this is not just about humans, but it is about principalities and powers.
      • I like the idea of feeling better about doing something, but that is just the first step.
  • It isn’t colored’s and whites anymore. It is “you just don’t fit.” “you need to change your hair.”
  • What does Dr. King’s dream look like in the form of 21st Century vision?
    • Bishop Clay Evans
      • We cannot just become involved for ourselves. It has to be bigger than us.
      • If you just hear it, and don’t become involved, then you are here in vain.
    • Soledad
      • Dr. King would say that he lived to save humanity. Not just save black people, but save humanity.
      • The battle is a human battle.
    • Coach Wayne Gordon
    • We all have to get involved.
    • There are systemic problems. We’ve got to get involved in the Chicago Public Schools.
    • We are all one in Christ Jesus, and we have to quite letting the world divide us.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,