30 Days of Anti-Racism: #13 Polarization

Polarization is both a process and an action. Water molecules, for example, are polarized, with positive and negative charges on opposite sides. The earth spins on an axis around two poles. Visible light can become polarized, oscillating in only one plane, through interaction with other substances. Polarization is more similar to homogeneity than diversity. With […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #12 Gerrymandering

Gerrymandering is the practice of drawing political boundaries in such a way as to intentionally create minorities. In secular politics, this practice leads to the convoluted shape of many U.S. congressional districts. The majority party will intentionally draw boundaries to give the minimum number of seats to the opposing party. The following graphic illustrates how […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #11 Redlining

A few years ago, I was enjoying a Quarter Pounder meal with an old friend at a McDonalds located across the street from a Mega-Church in North Dallas. This McDonalds had been remodeled to serve that social location. Its countertops, floors, and other surfaces were polished granite. It featured polished brass fixtures, fine tables and […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #10 The Shell Game

The shell game is a confidence scam often presented as a game of skill. A pea or small coin is placed under one of three walnut shells or cups. The shells are then moved around quickly. Those watching are challenged to follow and determine which shell has the pea. As a tactic of structural racism, […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #9 Paternalism

When I entered seminary at age 22, the average age of a seminary student was 42. That generation gap followed me into conference relationship. After 30 years later, I am just now approaching the “average age” of a UMC clergy member. Many of the relationships formed in this journey were with people closer to the […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #7 Bait and Switch

Like the Big Sell, Bait and Switch seeks to elicit a transaction, but what is given is not what was originally offered. Instead of dressing up a structurally racist proposal in glowing promises, Bait and Switch offers one thing, and then replaces it with something harmful or inferior. While most think of tricks used to […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #6 The Big Sell

Marketing is a form of propaganda that elicits a transaction by provoking a desire for products and services. With churches, marketing can help broaden engagement and connect the church to its mission field. Church marketing takes many forms. Before starting an appointment as a new-church pastor in 1999, I attended a seminar at Duke University […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #5 Revisionism

As we continue this survey of the tactics deployed by structural racism in resistance to institutional change, we now look at the practice of revisionism. Societies are built around common narratives. These narratives simplify, reduce, and communicate shared history in ways that provide the public with role models and an etiology for the structures of […]

30 Days of Anti-Racism: #4 Normalization

In 2001, I conducted a study of the membership, worship, growth, and demographic statistics of over 300 churches within the Southwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. To enhance the effectiveness of this study, I combined internal data gathered annually from each church with demographic information in the context of each local church […]