Reconciling the Races 'Under God' – Part 2
Craig: There has been much progress since Martin Luther King gave his famous 'I Have a Dream' speech, but we still have a long way to go.
Craig: Where do you see the biggest needs in terms of race relations in the United States?
Michael: It's such a huge, stinky issue. I liken it to a porcupine. You don't know where to grab hold of it because every part is sticky. It's very tough and I feel overwhelmed sometimes, even with the E.R.A.C.E. Foundation, like where can we kind of just go 'boom' and there it is. But there is no quick fix, that's what I've come to find. There is no quick fix. At the end of the day, it comes back to grass roots. It comes back to allowing yourself, and almost forcing yourself to reconcile.
To me, racial reconciliation is going to come about only through a conscious effort on behalf of human beings, period. It's not going to be through osmosis, or through waving to your neighbor across the driveway, 'Hey, Mr. White guy,' 'Hey, Mr. Black guy,' and then driving off. That ain't gonna do it. You've got to consciously leave your comfort zone and get out of where you're comfortable – everybody looks like you, talks like you, walks like you, smells like you – get out of that zone and say, 'I want to get to know this guy.' How do you get there? For most people it's scary. They don't want to leave their building, or their all-White neighborhoods, or all Black-neighborhoods. Their scared to meet people because they don't know, and we fear the unknown. And so all of this to say, education is still the key. And I think the best thing we can do is to be examples. Toby and I always call ourselves 'living integration.' A lot of White and Black kids look at us and think, 'O.K., this works. This is cool.'
Once again, when you've been incubated in this mentality all of your life it's tough to get out of it. But I'm still amazed at the Whites and Blacks who have not experienced integration. And it kind of angers you on one side because you kind of go, 'Wow, the world is such a bigger place than just my little spot.' You can't force people into that area. It has to be a thing that is slowly done and they're educated – they're loved into it.
Craig: Some have said the most segregated place is the Church on Sunday morning. Why is that? Should it be changed? What should we do to change it?
Michael: Well the fact that we have to think about how to change it, because it is, is pretty pathetic. You know, it should not be that way. When I read my Bible, which I hope is that same Bible that you read, it talks about God creating all things, all people – man. To me, the beauty of the human race is diversity. And as my Grandma would say, 'God don't make no junk.' So we're all God's children. Can we get along?
I remember a story my Dad told me about a lady in his cab who was just going on and indignant, and she's talking about when she gets to heaven, if there's any 'crackers' up there, she won't want to be up there. And my Dad said, 'Well honey, let me tell you something.' And this was so much my Dad. He said, 'You don't have to worry about that, because you probably won't be up there.' (laughs) Because you know, she was done. She probably had a hard life, and I'm sure she wasn't a fan of the Caucasian human. But at the same time, it's like, believers are all going to spend eternity together, no matter what race, color, or creed. So get over it, you know? But in the Church it's tough. I go to a church in Nashville that's very integrated. It's deliberately integrated.
Craig: It's a value that they have.
Michael: Yeah, it's a Black pastor, and it's part of their heartbeat. They know this issue is at hand. And I don't pretend to have the answer, other than to ask, 'Do you read the Bible? Do you understand that God spoke to Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles – you know, He hung out with everybody. There's no separation there. It's God's people.
Craig: I was flipping through the channels one day, watching TV, and Cornel West was on C-SPAN. He said, 'Some people talk about the progress we made in the last thirty years. But others would say, that's good, but you've only pulled the knife out half way.' He was saying, there is still so much more to be done. What are your thoughts on that statement?
Michael: I don't think the secular world will understand my point here, but I'm not sure we'll see perfected, if
you will, race relations until Christ returns. It's like anything else.
Craig: Like the Palestinians and the Israelis.
Michael: Exactly. We can keep making strides forward and try our best to educate people. And put the facts out there so that people can make right decisions. But I do believe that it has gotten tons better, and it's getting better every day. You can look at the negative all you want. I tend to look at the positives, because the positives encourage more positives. I look around today and from Condoleezza Rice to the music on MTV – and I don’t at all support MTV's mentality or their vision – but I think that MTV has done more for race relations than anybody else. When you watch MTV it's unbelievable, from the 'Real World', to the videos, to the V.J.'s. The average thirteen or fourteen-year-old White kid in the suburbs, for instance, doesn't think twice about hanging out with 'Tyrone' from the inner-city, or wear Air Jordan’s, or play basketball, or play hip-hop.
Craig: In fact, they think it's very cool.
Michael: We look at it sometimes analytically and try to be adult-like, but the fact is, dude, it's gonna start on that level. It's gonna start in simple, modern culture.
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