Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: social controversy (page 1 of 2)

Tell Me About Those Balls (#redcup version)

In honor of RedCupGate 2015, I’ll offer an oldie-but-goodie, (and one of my cousin’s favorite blog titles). Obvi, since the whole #redcup thing revolves around noisy Christians, there could be even more commentary. Like, how first we want businesses to have the right  to refuse to make wedding cakes for people we don’t love because of “values” – yet we want businesses we don’t own to uphold all of our values. (Thanks to my Smart Friend Craig who pointed that one out. He is really smart. And sarcastic. Pretty much my favorite kind of people. Read his brilliant writing about an unrelated topic.)

However, just in case any of my friends have panties all bunched up over this – if you really want someone to know how you feel… stop giving them money. (I, however, will not say no to the PSL. Jesus is in my heart, not on my cup.)


(Originally published September, 2011)

It’s quite evident that I love a good boycott. Give me a cause (Walmart… short skirts… chips in the ice cream… Times New Roman…) and a platform and I shall wave my banner high. However, I’d like to give my fellow boycotters a few lessons in Banning Behavior.

Apparently there are close to a million moms (or, at least an organization of them) who dislike Ben & Jerry’s new flavor. That’s fine, I tend to show preference to Chubby Hubby (who can resist pretzels + peanut butter + fudge?! Such salty/sweet goodness). However, a letter-writing campaign has ensued, trying to force the flavor off the market, taking away the right of the consumer to purchase a batch of Schweddy Balls as s/he would like.

So, my Million friends that are Moms, I say: It’s fine to dislike a product. Put your money where your mouth is and DON’T BUY IT. Purchase Breyers. Or Edy’s. Or give Columbus Cincinnati a little love and go for Graeter’s. If you don’t want to explain to little Frank why the balls are Schweddy, then don’t point them out to your kiddos. Surely you’re not narrating the entire aisle of ice creams and frozen food novelties?

And while we’re this close to the topic, a word on marketing to children… because I read again about the perils of McDonalds and cereals and every other red dye #5-filled food on the market and the regulations regarding such propaganda: it wouldn’t work if parents would simply say NO. Again, don’t buy it. If they don’t have profits, they can’t make the expensive flashy commercials that have your kids whining about the unfairness of life, why they’re so deprived and how you’re the worst mother ever.

Folks, sometimes there’s power in the pen, but always there’s power in the pocketbook.

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The Human Race

I know nothing and don’t pretend to be qualified to write on the topics of race or racism. I’ve grown up as a white woman in largely monochromatic communities that resemble me. In college I became friends with people with different skin tones, but I’ve not maintained those relationships as part of my inner circle. The people with whom I spend most of my time, and therefore those who I become most like, look just. like. me. This is not something I’m proud of and it’s not something I know how to remedy.

My experiences are limited. But here are the experiences, often of others, that are shaping the way I absorb what is happening in our society right now.

Growing up in a rural white community, I had only 2 black kids in my entire school. Siblings, both were gifted – academically, musically and athletically. At one point Terry had a bet going with a friend, a chicken fight to see who would finally break down and cut his hair. In the meantime, Terry’s unruly afro took the spotlight on the basketball floor. A neighboring school decided he looked like Rufio (from Hook) and taunted him with the Ruf-i-ooooooo chant throughout entire games. I cannot speak for how Terry internalized it all; I can only speak from my experience. I grew up in a time and place where it was okay for large groups of white people to taunt a person because of how he looked, which was largely related to his race.  No one stopped those students. No administrators, from either school stood up and said, “you know, it’s not okay to taunt someone because he looks different than you.” They simply expected Terry to let it roll off his back. I’d bet the knowing adults thought it would make him more resilient or stronger or something.

Now, looking back, I can understand if it made him angry. It makes me a little angry – and I was there and I did nothing to stop it either.

My friend E is freaking brilliant. If you don’t have a friend like this, you should get one. When she starts talking about race and socioeconomic inequality, I sit down and secretly take notes. Y’all, she and her husband share as a family value the work of becoming anti-racist.

She describes current racism in America as a moving walkway, like what you find in the airports. The current of society is going in a particular direction and a person’s race impacts how they experience the world. You don’t have to be actively walking on that path to be moving in the direction of racism – our society will move you in that direction anyway. She says that what it takes is people making the deliberate decision to turn and walk against the current of culture to become anti-racist.

You don’t have to fly flags, wear white sheets at night or make inappropriate jokes to be racist. Really, all it takes is a denial of the general undercurrent of our society to be moving in the direction of racism.

That’s not a direction I want to be heading with my family. (If you chant loud enough, perhaps we can convince E to guest post the ways in which she and her family try to live out their anti-racist values. *Begin slow clap*)

My friend Kia is a young black woman currently living in Tennessee. Not long ago she shared on Facebook that she had been driving through rural Tennessee, alone, and needed gas. It took driving by at least 2 gas stations to fill up, because both had on the premises a prominent confederate flag.

I’ve had my own sketchy-gas-station experiences, late at night and in unknown parts of town (ahem, Springfield) where I get in the car pretty quickly and lock the door. Unfortunately, this is simply part of the way I experience the world as a woman. Even with limited similarity in experiences, I cannot imagine having to drive on, not because you’re philosophically opposed to such a symbol, but because that symbol conjures actual fear.

That symbol doesn’t represent to Kia the “rich history of the south.” It reminds her that she is not welcome because she is black.

Two of the most dangerous words in our language are “we” and “they.” When those arise in conversation, my warning flags go up. As I’ve attempted race conversations in the past, those words are used. Some people want to point out the way “they” act – violence, rioting and the like. Yet when white cops get violent with young, unarmed black girls, or a white teenager open fires on unarmed black church-goers, we just say “he’s crazy.” We treat it like an isolated event, even when a scroll through the newsfeed of the past 2 years says otherwise. That cop didn’t become crazy in a vacuum. He learned these attitudes and beliefs from somewhere, namely the larger society. I’m guessing he had more people in his life snickering at his racist jokes than telling him that they weren’t appropriate.

I was recently driving to a friend’s house in an upper-class neighborhood. It was a beautiful day and many of her neighbors were out doing yardwork. One of her neighbors was black. I thought to myself, this is what I’ll miss: black neighbors who live similar lives to white neighbors.

Where we are moving, there is very little diversity. My children’s primary experience of black people will be when we leave the community, specifically if we’re in a service role. But I don’t want my children to learn that black people need our help and white people live in the nice houses. When much of our experience of racial differences comes when we visit pockets of people who are different from us in all ways, not just in race, I’m not sure we make any progress.

I want my kids to have black teachers, black doctors and black bankers. I know people balk at affirmative action, but until the highest paid roles in our country represent our racial make-up we need to create space for those opportunities to exist.

Does this mean seeking out black professionals in my own life? Is it wrong or okay if I choose to do business with them because they’re black? Does choosing someone based on race actually take us in the reverse direction? Am I allowed to ask these questions publicly?

I hesitate to post this publicly. It’s a sensitive issue and I’m not known for my sensitivity. I’m positive I’ve said things wrong. I’ve portrayed an unfair picture. I know I will get, “yes, but…” pushback. But I also know that sitting by silently won’t change anything, either. I’ve been reading and following the #saysomething campaign and I see other white, female writers who feel as unqualified as I do to write anything about the black experience in America.

But, as a friend recently told me, it’s better to say jumbled yet well-intentioned words than nothing at all. The willingness to fumble my way through it is my best attempt to do the right thing.  I don’t have answers, but I know silence won’t bring about change when it comes to race issues in America.

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What I was trying to say was…

I’ve inadvertently been walking through the book of Matthew lately, around the place where Jesus gets ready to head to Jerusalem and be crucified. Yesterday was Jesus reminding the sons of Zebedee (and their mother) that in his kingdom, the first will be last and the last, first. I can see by the bold header that tomorrow is the day Jesus comes to Jerusalem as a King – aka, Palm Sunday.

Wedged in here were this morning’s 5 verses:

[box] As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!” Jesus stopped and called them. “What do you want me to do for you?” he asked. “Lord,” they answered, “we want our sight.” Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.[/box]

Another healing story. They’re everywhere in the gospels. If Jesus wasn’t preaching or teaching, he was healing. A dead girl here, blind there. The lame guys at the pool. The one on the mat that interrupted his dinner party. Part of me wasn’t to surprised to read it and, honestly, my first instinct was not to give it so much thought.

Then I remembered how the Biblical writers didn’t toss out pithy blog posts, unlike yours truly. It was written with a purpose. Even more, things like time-order weren’t always the utmost priority. The way in which something was written gave it as much meaning as the words. So why would Matthew toss in this story, here, about a few blind dudes on the side of the road?

Was it about the place? They were leaving Jericho, on the way to Jerusalem for the Passover. Because the feast was a big deal, I’m guessing was a large percent of Jericho was also making the trip. Was it about the timing? Right before the big feast. Between a major, major lesson on servanthood in the Kingdom of God and Jesus’ walk to his death.

Or was it his company? “The crowd” is referred to numerous times, even the subject of sentences. The Crowd followed him out of town and was the first to hush the men alongside the road. It was only after making a bigger scene that Jesus heard them and responded. He called over – so they weren’t close.  I wonder if he could even see them.

Yesterday’s post stirred up all kinds of unintended thoughts and feelings. What I tried to say couldn’t be heard through the noise of healthcare, personal (or corporate) liberty and my love (and need) of the IUD. It was poorly done on my part. This morning’s reading is what I was trying to say.

On the way to live out the most important act of his life, Jesus didn’t loose sight of how his Kingdom operates. It didn’t come only through big, sweeping events but rather one by one and two by two – and those people either following him or returning to the village to tell others.

I have to wonder if Matthew tossed in these 5 verses because he knew the propensity of Jesus’ followers to get swept up in the march toward the capital, the excitement of a pending Kingdom reign, and we forget to look alongside the road. The largeness of our agenda ahead looms too large that these voices crying out for help – well, we just don’t have time for that. We have Kingdom work to do.

Changing the world is hard work. I’m thankful for the co-laborers in the trenches, each with his or her avenue and platform. In its own way, I believe Hobby Lobby is trying to live out its (their?) version of kingdom work, even if I don’t fully agree with certain aspects. What I was trying to say yesterday was that HL, as well as you and I, need to make sure we’re not hushing the blind on the side of the road who cry out for help in an effort to follow Jesus to the cross.

And perhaps, in this case, that means not leaving women without an IUD.


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