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March 2019

Ten Claims that DON’T Prove You’re Not Racist

Ten Claims that DON’T Prove You’re Not Racist 620 330 Corey Leak

There are specific labels in our society that no one wants to be attached to their character. Near the top of that list is the moniker of “racist.” People will go to great lengths to avoid being saddled with that designation. Here are ten claims that don’t prove you’re not racist.

I have black friends.

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This is the most common of all of the false proofs. People faced with the heat of having their racist actions or words challenged site the one black person whose name they can remember to prove that they are not a racist. It’s such an old and tired tactic that in recent years it’s come to be more of a proof of racism than a disclaimer. If you genuinely have friends from different ethnicities, you’re doing them a disservice by trying to hide behind that friendship to avoid sitting with whatever you said or did that offended a person of color.

I helped some at-risk kids.

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I experienced this one a few years ago. I was having a conversation with a woman who was proactively trying to prove to me she wasn’t racist. The funny thing was, I didn’t ask her if she was. We weren’t having a conversation about anything related to race or racism, but she felt the need to start running down her resume of anti-racist behavior. She talked to me about some at-risk kids that use to call her grandma or something like that.

Working in an after-school program, being a big brother or big sister, or babysitting black kids don’t make white people incapable of perpetuating, benefiting from, or participating in white supremacy.

I adopted black kids.

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In the last several years I’ve seen a large number of white parents out with black children. It’s great to see so many black children who don’t have to spend their childhood in foster care, but again, raising black children as your own doesn’t make those parents immune to the disease of racism.

If parents who have taken black children into their home believe that they are unable to be racist, they run the risk of not maintaining the vigilance they will need to avoid parenting their children from a place of whiteness. They will thereby reinforce black oppression in what should be a refuge for black kids who are likely to encounter racism at school, church, or on their sports teams.

I grew up around black people.

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This “get out of racism free card” is rooted in the myth that proximity alone is a cure for racism. I have long been an advocate of being around people different from you. However, if you believe that having grown up around black or brown people has given you a natural ability to be anti-racist, you’re fooling yourself. Some black people who grew up in black neighborhoods participate in anti-black behaviors and ideas.

The mannerisms, expressions, food, and fashion you picked up from your black neighbors didn’t make you unable to hold racist ideas about the capabilities of black people.

I saw Black Panther.

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It was a fantastic movie. Who didn’t see it? Learning how to cross your arms in an “x” and say “Wakanda forever” doesn’t make you an honorary black human, nor does it prove you’re not racist. The opposite could be proven right if you’re a person who felt the need to try and use your ticket stub from that movie as a substitute for doing the actual work of learning to think and live in anti-racist ways.

I listen to rap music.

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Drake from “Degrassi” isn’t vouching for you not being a racist. I’m sure that you feel at home at a JAY-Z and Beyonce concert because – who doesn’t love them some Bay and Jay. It’s cool that you know all the lyrics to the most popular Tupac and Biggie songs and even have a vintage Run-DMC t-shirt. None of that proves that you would be ok with your kid marrying a black girl.

I’m a democrat.

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You stand with the party that 84 percent of black America supports. When it comes to politics, your interests are aligned, but once you leave the ballot boxes with your adopted black kids, bumping Dear Mama, you can still believe that black people earn less overall than whites because they are lazy or that black on black crime is the result of black people being inherently violent.

I voted for Barak Obama.

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For a season of my life, I worked in what felt like the deep south in GA. Before Obama’s first term I was in the office talking with a client. He was an important white client whose business we fought hard to keep. One day as we were getting close to the election, he and I were talking. He started talking about who he was leaning toward voting for. He and I were the only ones in the office, and he looked me dead in my black face and said:

“I have friends who have told me they can’t believe I would vote for a nigger..”

So, yea, voting for Obama doesn’t mean you’re woke, and incapable of otherizing black folks.

I’ve never used the N word.

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Thank God you haven’t. You have no business using it. White people using the n-word with regularity is racist, but it’s not the line of demarcation that separates racist from non-racists. You don’t have to say that black people are n… to believe that they are inherently less intelligent than you are.

I’ve hired black people on my staff.

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In my experience, people who have black people on their team tend to think that they have diplomatic immunity when it comes to saying and doing racist things. I mean, really? White slave owners had black people working for them too. The funny thing is, they didn’t think they were racist either.

Have you ever used any of these claims to exonerate yourself of feeling racist or to shield yourself from being accused of racism?

Why did you feel you needed to?

Fear of Faith

Fear of Faith 660 440 Corey Leak

I shared a quote this week in the wake of the terrible Christchurch shootings – the attack that left 49 families grieving the loss of their loved ones. The quote was short and sweet.

Islamophobia is anti-Christ.

I believed then what I feel now. The quote is simple, beautiful, accurate, and elegant. I assumed that days after the attack of two Muslim Mosques in New Zealand, people would be full of good-will and empathy towards the Islamic faith. I was wrong.

Shortly after I shared the quote on FB, a few people objected to the term “Islamophobia.” I’m accustomed to people opposed to the things I share and write. It’s become par for the course, and I’ve made my peace with that fact. Human beings come from a myriad of different backgrounds, so it’s natural that we won’t all see every issue the same way. I don’t believe everyone who disagrees with me is evil or stupid – at least not all the time. I do, however, find it disturbing when people resist the condemnation of evil.

Several people felt that it was rational and appropriate to have a “healthy fear” of Muslims. Even now as I write this, I’m deeply disturbed, and what’s most troubling is the fact that these objections to empathy for our Muslim brothers and sisters came from Christians. I want to say that I can’t imagine how a Christian could ever believe it’s ok to hold a phobia for another human based on a difference in religious beliefs, but that would be dishonest on my part. Sadly, I can imagine. I’ve been a part of the Christian tribe for a long time. I too have been ignorant as to how my beliefs and the expression of those beliefs can be harmful to the world, and I’m grateful to have been awakened to a different way of seeing the world.

Unfortunately, many people(often Christian)  enter into dialog with others to show how smart they are and fail to listen to the input of others. The problem with approaching social conversations with such an ignorant stance is that people who hold postures like that never grow. I frequently encounter people who only step outside of their echo chamber long enough to tell everyone else that they are wrong. It may seem harmless for people to dig their heels in on their bad ideas about other humans, but some of these ideas lead to real-world tragedies. Here are two of those dangerous ideologies we have to address.

Muslim’s are terrorists who regard all Christians and American’s as “infidels”.

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I found this sentiment nearly unbearable after I shared the above quote about Islamophobia! It’s irresponsible and lazy thinking for any human being to accept such a dull-minded idea as valid. It’s irrational. It’s grounded in a lack of relationship to Muslims who practice their faith sincerely and peacefully all around us. One of the dear men who lost their lives in Christchurch greeted the gunman with “Welcome Brother” before he was gunned down. Yet, somehow Christians found themselves defending the belief that American Christians should fear Muslims. I hope you noticed the profound irony.

A white nationalist gunman murdered 49 human beings in the name of white supremacy, and in the wake of that people were arguing that we have good reason to fear Muslims. Save your time running to google to search for “Muslim beliefs” on the internet. You won’t find the most accurate witness to what Muslims believe from Google any more than you’ll see a great witness to the Christain faith that way. I have read things about Christians in print, social media, and on the internet that did not at all represent my faith or what I’ve witnessed as a Christian. If you really want to find out what the Muslim people in your community believe, ask them.

The idea that there are good reasons to fear Muslims allowed people who consider themselves followers of Christ to show a gross lack of concern or empathy for people from a different faith. Even though those people were suffering worldwide after being the targets of blatant hatred. We have to do better. If you’re not a Muslim or haven’t done an extensive study of world religions, your assumptions about Islam are likely completely misguided, and beyond that they are dangerous. Should Muslim’s now fear all white people because of the evil acts of one?

Which leads me to the second dangerous ideology I encountered this week.

White Supremacists aren’t the same as terrorists

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White people have to stop giving white supremacist terrorists a pass by not naming them what they are. They are terrorists. They have a religion that they believe in sincerely that leads them to hate people outside that religion. Whiteness is their god, and all who aren’t white are their opposition. They intimidate, bully, and even kill in the name of their god. That is terrorism. The use of violence to propagate a political or religious idea is a tactic of terrorists around the globe, and white supremacists aren’t excused as innocent when they use the same tactics.

I understand it can be difficult to believe someone who is from your tribe is evil, but you have to name it! Call it what it is. It’s terrorism plain a simple. The white men in white hoods and the ones who commit evil acts of terror have made up their minds about who they are. It’s time that the god-fearing, justice-loving, advocates of good-will who are also white do the same.

Ask yourself:

Are there any ideas I have about others that are dangerous to their well-being?








I’m Not a Socialist But…

I’m Not a Socialist But… 2000 3000 Corey Leak

I’m not a socialist, nor do I claim to be an expert on what it is. Full disclosure, I know very little about it from experience or study, and my hunch is, YOU DON’T EITHER.

I find it disturbing how many Evangelicals talk about socialism as if it’s inherently evil and satanic. It seems that there is a “group think” going on with people regarding it.

“I’m not sure why it’s bad, but my pastor and most of my friends say it’s bad – so yea, BOOOOOO socialism!!!”


The irony of how Christians have approached this issue is that throughout scripture we find evidence of a way of living together that is characterized by sharing, not competition. Roman imperialism introduced a society where the rich and powerful benefited while the poor and weak suffered. Meanwhile, the writers of scripture condemned the practice of not caring for the widow and the orphan.

Widows and orphans were the most vulnerable in society. The early centuries were overwhelmingly patriarchal, so a child without a father or a woman without a husband were severely susceptible to poverty, slavery, or death. God’s instructions, according to Bible writers, were for the society as a whole to remember and care for the poor. From the first writings of Biblical text to the last, people who believed in the Jewish God were adamant that we should take care of those who can’t provide for themselves. They advocated for the sharing of goods, food, shelter, and whatever else a person needed without grumbling about whether that person should be able to do for themselves.

One of the more well-known examples of how followers of Jesus shared is found in the book of Acts. The writer tells us that the first followers of Jesus sold their possessions and lived together. At one point in the story of the early Christians, we read:

“No one among them was poor since those who owned lands or houses sold them and turned over the proceeds” Acts 4:34 CJB

In the following chapter of Acts, a man and his wife are struck dead, presumably by God, after withholding some of the proceeds from the sale of their property. There is no indication from the scriptures that anyone was forced to contribute, but it seems that these first century Christians were pretty serious about sharing their goods with each other for the benefit of the whole community. So it strikes me as odd that so many modern Christians are hostile to the idea of socialism.

The hostility towards socialism has lead to scathing critiques and unnecessary mischaracterization and hatred of people who support the idea. It bugs me every time I see a new meme belittling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who seems to be a good young woman contending for a better society.

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We shouldn’t have to agree with her politics to avoid disparaging her intelligence. Human beings should be able to discuss the flaws and merits of both capitalism and socialism without one person leaving the talk as the intelligent victor and the other the stupid loser. But perhaps that’s a by-product of a society built on competition. There always has to be a loser.

Am I suggesting that America should adopt socialism over capitalism? Not at all. As I said already, I’m not an expert. I am suggesting that Christians especially should ease up on the bashing of people who advocate for a system of government that helps us better take care of the poor. Who knows if socialism would work in America now or in the future. That’s beside the point. We should be open to all possibilities that can help make our communities more just.

We’ve just seen a glaring example of how a society built on competition can lead to people with wealth, power and privilege to rigging the system in their favor.

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Yet, many people demonize socialism because of poor people who will take advantage of the system. Americans take advantage of capitalism every day. We have a culture that rewards people’s status and high-born birthrights. Meanwhile, that same culture leaves people with poor heritage and lineage to scratch and claw for the little they can reach. Yes, some Americans have made meteoric rises from the most impoverished parts of the country to achieve massive wealth and notoriety. That doesn’t mean the system is working.

Again, I am by no means an expert on politics. I’m not a political columnist, nor am I a supporter of one party over another. I believe that we need to be smarter about how we talk about our world. We need to be more compassionate about how we talk about other people, and we need to be more open-minded when we consider the complexities of a blended society.


No Justice No Peace!

No Justice No Peace! 608 369 Corey Leak

The other day I was taking my youngest daughter to school. One of our rituals on the way to school is for one of us to pray. It was my turn to pray, and as I began praying, I remembered the family of Stephon Clark. It had only been a few days since the DA determined that the police officers involved in his killing were not guilty of any crime. I was a couple of sentences into my prayerful lament when my daughter almost ritualistically exclaimed: “No justice no peace!”.  After I said amen, she asked me if I knew what that phrase meant. I answered her. But before I tell you what my response was, there is something important you need to understand.

It’s challenging to have to explain to your daughter why people who look like her have to endure the hardship of racism in 2019. This is at least the 4th time I’ve had to explain to her why a black man was killed and why the people responsible for his murder weren’t held accountable for his death. One is already too many, but FOUR!!!

My youngest is 13, which means we’ve had about 5-6 years of her being socially aware enough to ask questions about what she is seeing and hearing. Let that sink in.

“No justice no peace!” She chanted. As if she knew intrinsically that was the anthem of injustice. How many times must she have heard those words cried out in protest of the depreciation of black bodies? She asked: “Do you know what that means dad?”. I told her I did. I asked her what she thought it meant, and she said: “When there is finally justice, we will be quiet.” I’m often fascinated by how my daughter answers questions about issues like this. This time was no exception. Children’s perspectives are often more rich with meaning than that of adults. I needed to sit with what she said for a few days to process how she saw the world. What did she hear in this simple phrase? What can I learn from what she sees?

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When there is finally justice we will be quiet. The protests and the resistance will stop of course, but not because the resistance is the problem. It takes injustice for there to be resistance to it, so naturally, if America drops the “in” there wouldn’t be loud cries in the streets for justice. If Stephon Clark’s weren’t murdered for having natural human reactions to being startled, there would be no need for athletes to take a knee. If we lost the distinction of black and white that divides us into haves and have nots, then there would be no more “angry black men and women”. Many Americans are agitated by the noise responders to injustice make, but fail to recognize that you only hear thunder BECAUSE there was lightning.

If you want to live in a world where no one marches in the streets shouting and crying out, or a world where athletes and celebrities no longer use their platforms to bring attention to trampled civil rights, join the resistance. Help those of us drawing attention to the ills of society. Resist the urge to demonize the victims rather than hold the guilty culprits accountable.

The moral response to injustice is a symphony of great noise. It is not silence or acquiescence. Peace is not the absence of struggle when there is evil in the world. Peace is the result of courageous people doing their part to rid the world of the evil that disturbed it. If you want to rid the world of the noise, say it with us: NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE!!! Because until there is finally justice, we won’t be quiet.

RIP Stephon Clark

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