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COLUMN: Racial injustice solution lies within us

[/media-credit] The first session in the two-part series, Hope Fresno, held at The Well Community Church, Feb. 1. The purpose of this event was to make Fresno and Clovis area residents aware of the fact that racial injustice is, still, very much alive and present in the community.

Community meets at The Well for Hope Fresno

Racism: an eternal struggle that has reached out to each and every ethnic group that inhabits our planet. It is a negative psychological outlook on ones physical differences that was conceived in the earliest of times, when the Israelites were held captive by the Egyptians for nearly 400 years.

Throughout history, the world has witnessed as certain ethnic groups have undergone discrimination from other ethnic groups in what seems to be an endless cycle, engulfing all societies.

On Friday, Feb. 6, I had the opportunity to attend the first session in the two-part series, Hope Fresno, held at The Well Community Church. The purpose of this event was to make Fresno and Clovis area residents aware of the fact that racial injustice is, still, very much alive and present right here in our community.

This particular event addressed the long-lasting conflict between Caucasians and African-Americans in America. Five local community leaders, including Pastor Bryson White, Pastor DJ Criner, Pastor Paul Binion, Pastor Brad Bell and Sabrina Kelley of Habitat for Humanity, served as panelists, discussing personal beliefs and experiences regarding bigotry.

The panelists all started off by stating that of all the names given to describe their race, the common preference was “black, of African decent.” They then proceeded to share their own, individual stories with racism, involving them and their loved ones.

A popular theme in their discussions, was how the media distorts details in national events pertaining to racial issues. It was said by Pastor Criner, that the shooting of Michael Brown, which occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, went down in an upper middle-class community, contrary to the media’s portrayal of a sub-par slum.

While this does exaggerate the conditions of the situation, we also have to realize that the media often exaggerates situations, whether linked to bigotry or not. Yellow journalism tactics, first used by the infamous Joseph Pulitzer and William Hearst, exaggerated world events so much; it lit the fuse for the Spanish-American war.

Rarely does the media have interests in either side. Whatever distortions and tweaks are written into a story, are not done out of spite, but usually personal gain. If news stories are told exactly how they happened, there would not be nearly as many people interested in the news.

What about the case of Dillon Taylor, a 20-year-old unarmed Caucasian who was shot and killed by an African-American officer outside of a 7-Eleven? There was almost no news coverage on the incident.

It is very probable that Taylor gave the officer a completely valid reason to open fire, however, this is not the point. The point is that national news networks look for the more attractive story and publicize it all over the country to get a rise.

The media dips into the past mistreatment of the African-Americans and feed into it, turning events that need not be racially linked into nation-wide riots. Had history been reversed and it was the African-Americans that persecuted the whites, I believe the media would follow suit, shedding a negative light on whoever the minority might be.

After a long discussion of misleading news coverage and the police’s use of force in many different scenarios, the panelists concluded their discussion by reassuring the audience that the event was not meant to point fingers or place blame on any individual; only to inform the community of the facts and trying to come up with a solution.

To conclude the night, special speaker, Deth Im, who is Assistant Director of Training and Development for PICO National Network, introduced the audience to his interactive, experimental training activities he would lead the next day.

I brought up many valid points regarding racism in modern society, but his most intriguing statement was that the attitudes and stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions and decisions in an unconscious manner, can be explained by “implicit biases”.

He explained how these biases, whether pertaining to positive or negative outlooks on others, are placed in our brains subconsciously. These thoughts and feelings are provoked, unbeknownst to the individual, by the instincts engraved deep inside by common societal beliefs.

Ever since Adam and Eve first sinned in the garden, humans are imbedded with God-given shame, explaining why it is considered wrong to walk around naked. We do not wear clothes because clothes are better than no clothes; we wear them because society underwent a huge physiological change, in which it became abnormal to be naked in public. This is an example of implicit bias.

Observing the demeanor of each individual panelists, I noticed that the younger speakers were more passionate and outspoken about their opinions. Pastor Binion, arguably one of the most influential religious leaders in Fresno County, was calm and collected throughout the majority of the interview.

Binion, who lived through one of the most oppressive times for African-Americans, the Civil Rights Era, had a slightly different way of thinking compared to the other panelists.

I believe that having grown up in such a hard situation, Binion has witnessed much more of a positive change for his people. The younger panelists, I would assume, have only heard the horror stories passed down from loved ones, sparking anger inside.

Since the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, treatment of the African-American community has steadily improved. Unlike Binion, the younger panelists, although still affected by a white privilege, have not experienced as significant of change in societal behavior.

Binion’s on stage presence and unruffled poise challenged the audience to focus on common interests and apply I Corinthians 13 to living out a tactful and respectful lifestyle.

If I have taken away anything from attending this event, it is this: Racism, no matter the minority affected, has always been and always will be. However, looking at past conditions and comparing them to today, it is safe to assume that they are changing for the better as long as both parties focus on common interests and can listen to one another without getting defensive.

I look at the timeline of the persecution of African-Americans, which began nearly 300 years ago, and compare it to that of other cultures, such as the Jews who have been discriminated against for thousands of years, and it gives me hope that this civil conflict will soon diminish.

Follow The Feather via Twitter @thefeather and Instagram @thefeatheronline. This writer can be reached via Twitter: @namoodnhoj. The Well Community Church can be reached via Twitter: @wellchurch. Faith in Community can be reached via Twitter: @FIC_Fresno.

For more opinions, read the Feb. 6 article, Superintendent speaks: Why FC?. And please check out Hope Fresno unites pastors in racial equality (Video) for more information.

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  • H

    Hannah NaleAug 30, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Mr. Harris walked into bio the other day with a whole new hair style! It was hilarious! all the students were talking about the color change almost all day.

  • L

    Lindsey BiehlerAug 30, 2014 at 2:36 am

    Poor Mr. Harris it looks like they are hurting him. I bet Mr. Harris is regretting his decision a bit. I do gave to admit that he looks a little weird as a brunette.