Recently the President of Lipscomb University, in Nashville, TN, hosted a Latino meal for Latino students at his home. The President served them fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice.
The next evening the President served the African-American students (7% of the student population): BBQ ribs, BBQ fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens, cornbread and mac & cheese. The center pieces included stalks of cotton with cotton bolls attached.
When students asked the President about the choice of centerpieces, he said they were a fall theme. A student said it reminded her of her slave ancestry. He replied that “it is just cotton, everyone wears cotton, so how can one be offended?” and walked away.
The next day he issued a huge apology, also having spokespeople state that the centerpieces were the same for the Latino students, and that the choice of menu was just the food service rotating meals.
Really? So it was just a coincidence that the Latino students received fajita steak, tacos and Spanish rice? And the very next night the African-American students received fried chicken, collard greens, cornbread and black-eyed peas? Seriously? Either that is a HUGE coincidence, or the President is lying. In fact the president didn’t lie, he just refused to answer the question, when pressed, mentioning brownies and cookies, and “two or three different kinds of meats”, leaving the impression that they didn’t specifically cook an African-American meal.
Cedric Duncan, a former student, said in a Facebook forum: “they were fed cornbread and collard greens which, after working alongside lipscomb catering, i know that is pretty unusual for them to make that.”
And if the President of Lipscomb University is lying about the menu, could he also be lying about the centerpieces? Not that he personally chose the menu and the centerpieces, but someone did. Someone who was trying to be nice, but doesn’t realize they are racist, like most Christians in the Bible belt. Nobody thinks they are racist.
This is familiar territory for me, having grown up in the Churches of Christ. People in the Churches of Christ are weakest in the area of shame issues, racism and emotional honesty.
In addition to these gaffs, the students had been invited to the dinner to let the President know how they were experiencing Lipscomb University. Only they were never given a chance to say anything. They just had to listen to the President talk and talk about himself, his wife, and David Lipscomb. No listening. In his apology he stated he wanted to “engage in more conversations with students at the group and individual level.” Yeah, like they already had even one conversation? And these students would want to have more conversations with him?
So the students were pissed.
In the ensuing brou-ha-ha all the racism of the Church of Christ came trotting out in various Instagram and Facebook posts by Lipscomb students and alumni: “How could you be offended?” “Cotton is cotton, everyone wears cotton.” “They were being nice to you. Say, thank you.” “Everyone eats collard greens and black-eyed peas.” “We are raising a generation of crybabies.” “Slavery ended a long time ago. Get over it.” Etc.
That last one got me to thinking. When did racism end in the United States?
1772–a British judge brought about the conditions that would end slavery in England.
1776–The United States declared independence from Great Britain partially because Great Britain wanted to end the barbaric importation of slaves. Most of the signers of the Declaration of Independence were slave owners (41 out of 56 signers), including George Washington (who owned 317 slaves).
spawning of the Disciples of Christ, Christian Church and Churches of Christ. Lipscomb University is named after one of the founders of the Restoration Movement, David Lipscomb,
one of the least racist members of the movement, who preached against slavery, and inspired several to free their slaves.
1881–The Confederate States secede from the United States because the United States was becoming increasingly hostile to slavery.
1863–Abraham Lincoln frees the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation.
1860s–The Ku Klux Klan is formed amidst Reconstruction, to keep blacks from integrating with whites, among other things. Intimidation is the main form of enforcement.
1946–The last public lynchings of black people, tickets were sold to some lynchings (before 1927), trains were chartered, picnics on the lawn before the lynching in the early afternoon, and family photos were taken with the dead body hanging in the background, and postcards of the event were sold.
1955–Blacks begin to sit in the front of the bus.
1954–The Supreme Court rules that segregation of schools is unconstitutional.
1960s–Black people march for the right to register to vote, and to serve on juries. Black people begin to sit down in whites-only lunch diners.
1967–Martin Luther King is assassinated. White people laugh and rejoice. Blacks weep or riot.
1970s–The Supreme Court forces busing of students to achieve integrated schools. Whites respond by moving out of cities into white suburbs.
1972–Nixon and Ehrlichman despair of the hippies and the blacks who would not vote for Nixon. They devise a plan to intimidate and imprison hippies and blacks: the War on Drugs.
1970s–Church of Christ colleges finally admit black students, because of the threat of segregated colleges losing their federal non-profit status. This resulted in the loss of some of their donors who opposed integration.
2000s–Videos begin to appear on the internet, of police roughing up, and sometimes killing, seemingly harmless blacks: school teachers, college professors, nurses, etc. Not a single police officer is found guilty of misconduct.
2008–First black president of the United States is elected. Angry opposers insist he is Muslim, and born in Africa. Trump calls for his long form birth certificate.
2013–Black Lives Matter movement begins to counter the treatment of blacks by police.
2017–Trump refuses to endorse the Black Lives Matter Movement, instead he encourages the police to rough up their suspects.
2017–Lipscomb University hosts a stereotyped meal for black students, complete with fried chicken, black-eyed peas, collard greens and cornbread, and lectures the black students on how anti-racist the university’s founder was.
So when did racism end in the United States?