Poor Blacks Should “Go Back to Mississippi”?

I have been saying that what we are seeing in the conflict fault lines in America involves more than just Race. It involves economics, class, education levels, political affiliations, ideology, cultural differences, “way of life” issues, and other demographic divisons. Really interesting comments at the end of Rod Dreher’s post on Eric Garner related to policing and gentrification (wealthy people moving into areas and displacing poorer inhabitants) and keeping urban areas accessible and nice for the new money moving in:
A comment from Bobby:
I was recently riding the train in Chicago. After an annoying black man was escorted off the train by police, I overheard a young woman say the following.
“I don’t understand why they’re still here. We don’t have low-skill manufacturing jobs for them anymore. If they’re not going to conform to societal expectations, it’s simply time for them to go back home to Mississippi. It’s much easier to be poor and have no skills in the country and in a warmer climate.”
We’ve long since stopped trying to address the problems of urban poverty. The goal now is to contain it and to isolate it to a few neighborhoods that lie far from places where respectable people go. And whether we admit it or not, we’re not simply asking police to keep us safe; we’re also asking them to make sure that the refugees remain invisible when they step outside of their refugee camps.
ME: Is “go back to Mississippi” the equivalent of white Southerners saying that blacks should “go back to Africa”? Unreal.
All of this relates to how I hope we can do church at Gateway in East Montgomery based on the gospel and its implications. The church is the only place that people who are different from one another ethnically, racially, culturally, and socio-economically can come together because of a core unity found only in Christ and a command to put the interests of others ahead of your own. If the church cannot get this right or refuses to try, then we should not be surprised that the world is breaking up along these lines.
There ARE systemic issues that exist that keeps people segregated and that silos up resources and opportunities. Are these issues all racial? No. They take lots of different forms and manifest according to Race, Class, Economics, Education, and access to power. We should not be surprised. Life has always been this way. The Bible describes it well.
Peace/Shalom is needed, which only happens through the reconciling power of the gospel as people seek to lay down their own lives and “way of life” and consider the interests of others. Community involves what we share in common and how we live together. Jesus enables us to do that by leading us to care about others and what they are going through and not just about ourselves and our own prosperity/way of life.
For more on this and how the Way of Jesus is so much better, check out my recent book, When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus.

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