Amazing conversation the one I attended yesterday at Bus, boys and poets at Washington DC. A vibrant environment and one of the most diverse attendants I came to witness since I came to the U.S. It’s strange to say that when I’m living in the land of diversity since what first comes to anyone’s mind is that the U.S. is this mixed bowl of salad, however, what I came to experience was a little different. For me DC was a bowl of salad, but unmixed yet. It’s like having the greens lying at the bottom of the bowl, and then the tomatoes, carrots, and then the cheese and nuts at the top. Sometimes you might find a piece of cheese that made it’s way to the bottom or a piece of carrot that accidentally was put on the surface. But it’s far from being fully mixed, fully homogeneous. The discussions yesterday was so vibrant and full of life. People were courageous and they talked honestly about the racism that is still pervasive in the American lands up to this moment. I had 3 white people and one African American on my table, and I considered myself to be a spectator, a flaneur. The white guy started by telling us why he came to this event tonight. He explained that he is a manager in a company, and he never felt that he discriminated against black people. When asked about the percentage of black people he has under his leadership, he said it’s not as much as the white percentage, but attributed this to other reasons. The guy seemed a little nervous when he said: ” they keep talking about discrimination, but I don’t think it exists, at least for me.” The other white young lady told us stories of her childhood, and her best friend who happened to be an African American. She remembered how her parents never allowed her to stay the night with her African friend, although her friend was allowed to stay with her. She recalled how her friend was occasionally harassed in the streets when they were young in the strict Northern Virginia. The conversations became more and more vibrant as the speaking guests and the authors of the two books “Jesus, Justice and Race” and ” Mobilizing Hope:faith inspired activism” began to tell us the stories behind their two interesting and thought provoking books.Lots of interesting points were raised, but here are some of the points that really intrigued me and thought of sharing here. The first was about the concept of interracial society. The author- Adam Taylor- stated that the case is not about having an interracial society, there will always be different races in the U.S, and the differences between races are undeniable, however the issue here is about having the same access to opportunities in this country. The second was about the role of Christians and churches in activism and politics. Taylor pointed out that although the church isn’t to act as the chaplain for the government, it’s the consciousness of the state. When something goes wrong, the voice has to be loud. He clarified the difference between service and activism, where the latter addresses the root causes behind poverty and injustices in the world. He highlighted the importance of the church being involved and engaged in politics, but not used. A final note from the author which was an “AHA” statement for me: “There has been always confusion between America’s mission in the world and God’s mission in the world.” I believe this is one of the main reasons behind the hostility of so many countries towards the U.S. foreign policies. It’s so ironic that the same American leaders that claim to be looking with an eye of care to the world’s poverty and injustice have failed to deal with the same issues on their home country! Finally, I want to mention that the authors were talking on the stage of bus, boys and poets, where 3 pictures were hanged behind them: The Dalai Lama, Martin Luther King, and Mahatma Ghandhi. Those three pictures invoked a lot of emotions inside of me as I was listening to this inspiring speech.
By mirette.bahgat October 24, 2011