Thoughts for White Conservatives Who Never Owned Slaves

I’m seeing a lot of defensiveness from conservatives regarding racism. This is understandable, as the Left continues pushing to redefine racism to include things such as breathing and having a job.

But being defensive isn’t helping anyone. Is it really too much to ask that we try to see the world from our Black neighbors’ perspective? To empathize with them? To face America’s racist past?

Here’s a clear example of what I’m seeing. Last week I read an article about Max Lucado publicly repenting at length for his ancestors’ sins of racism. The majority of comments following said things like this:

> My dad said his father was a horse thief…do I need to beg for forgiveness for his sin? If I do, do I get to hear honking cars afterwards?

> Lucado is trying to sell more books. No where in scripture does it suggest you repent of the sins of your ancestors… Slavery and racism has (sic) been present since the beginning of time.

> This is ridiculous. Licado (sic) needed attention and sell books (sic)…..that was 150 years ago…get over it.

Stuff I Didn’t Learn in School
I’ve spent the last few weeks re-learning the history of Black America. I was born in 1960 – ninety-nine years after the start of the Civil War. I thought I knew this stuff. What I’ve realized is that I mostly learned about the good parts – the civil rights victories, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and how America finally got it right. I never really learned about just how bad things were for Black Americans during the 100 years after the Civil War, before the “civil rights era.”

I recently listened to a talk by Bryan Stevenson, attorney and author of Just Mercy. Stevenson carries a lot of moral authority with me because of his tireless work on behalf of people on death row who have been wrongly convicted. He contends that America has never truly come to grips with its racist past, and that this is a necessary step in order for healing to actually occur as a nation. I agree with him.

I suppose most white folks, myself included, have assumed that because equal rights have been established on a policy level, then we’ve basically solved the problem. We live and work next to our Black fellow Americans and we all get along just fine now.

May I ask something of you? I am not suggesting that you need to repent of your ancestors’ sins. Repentance is not the point for you today if you do not hold racist beliefs or attitudes, imo. What I think is in order is that we grieve with, feel with, and empathize with, our Black brothers and sisters. I’ve compiled a brief timeline of post–slavery American history. I think you will find some surprises, as I did.

TIMELINE:
1863 – THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION is issued by Republican President Lincoln during America’s Civil War over slavery. The Proclamation declares that slaves residing in the warring Confederate states are “then, thenceforward, and forever free.” Southern whites insist that Lincoln’s executive order is illegal and refuse to comply.

1865 – THE 13TH AMENDMENT is ratified, formally codifying the Emancipation Proclamation, prohibiting slavery throughout the United States, “except as punishment for crime.”

1865 – THE CIVIL WAR ENDS. LINCOLN IS ASSASSINATED 6 DAYS LATER. Democrat Vice President Andrew Johnson assumes the presidency but proves to be soft in his commitment to implement Reconstruction efforts and to protect newly recognized Black citizens. Among other things, Johnson opposes Black voting rights.

1866 – WHITE MOB VIOLENCE in Memphis and New Orleans leaves nearly 100 Blacks citizens dead, and some 200 wounded, including at least 5 women raped. White police officers contribute to the violence and killing until federal troops arrive.  

1866 – REPUBLICANS WIN A VETO-PROOF SUPER-MAJORITY IN CONGRESS as a result of public outrage over the Memphis and New Orleans attacks. Progressive Republicans embark on an aggressive civil rights program the likes of which wouldn’t happen again for 100 years.

1866 – THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT is passed, over President Johnson’s veto, declaring Black Americans full citizens entitled to equal rights.  

1866 – THE 14TH AMENDMENT IS PASSED by the super-majority, but will require ratification by 28 of the 37 states in order to become constitutional law. The proposed amendment establishes that all persons born in the US, regardless of race, are full citizens of the US and of the states in which they reside and are entitled to the “privileges and immunities” of citizenship, due process, and the equal protection under the law.  10 of 11 former Confederate states reject the proposed amendment overwhelmingly.

1867 – THE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS OF 1867 are passed by the super-majority, over President Johnson’s veto, in response to the former Confederate states’ rejection of the 14th amendment. The Acts require former Confederate states seeking readmission to the Union to fulfill the Acts’ conditions. Former states would be required to ratify the 14th amendment, grant voting rights to Black men, accept federal military rule in the southern region, and draft new constitutions to be approved by congress.

1868 – THE 14TH AMENDMENT IS OFFICIALLY ADOPTED. White backlash, violence, and efforts to maintain white supremacy continue in earnest.

1870 – THE 15TH AMENDMENT IS PASSED – the third and last of the Reconstruction amendments. It states, “The rights of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Subsequently, Black voters turn out in droves and more than 600 African Americans are elected as state legislators. The US Congress adds 16 Black representatives, and Mississippi elects the nations first two Black senators. The new racially integrated Reconstruction governments set about repealing racially discriminatory laws. Instability grows as whites in the South refuse to accept what is happening.

1870-71 CONGRESS PASSES A SERIES OF ENFORCEMENT ACTS, including the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871, authorizing, among other things, the federal government to prosecute civil rights violations as crimes. Republican President Grant supports progressive Reconstruction and provides federal troops to enforce it, as state governments are powerless to stop widespread violence and upheaval.

1872 – THE SUPREME COURT BEGINS ISSUING RULINGS THAT NEUTRALIZE RECONSTRUCTION.
One of the worst is the 1876 United States vs Cruikshank decision. Incredibly, the Cruikshank ruling interprets 14th amendment protections as only applying to state offenses, not against violence perpetrated by individuals, rendering the Enforcement Act useless. Cruikshank leaves Blacks in the South defenseless against white perpetrators so long as they act privately. As a result, anti-Black violence in the South openly increases as white perpetrators act with impunity, knowing that racist state judicial systems and law enforcement will not punish them. This marks the beginning of the end of a mere 10-year period of hope and positive development for Blacks in America, until the civil rights era of the 1960s.

1876 – THE END OF RECONSTRUCTION. The 1876 presidential election ends in a stalemate between Democrat Samuel J. Tilden and Republican Rutherford B. Hayes. The Supreme Court and Congress develop a compromise whereby Hayes would become president if he would agree to end Reconstruction. The “unwritten” Compromise of 1877 resulted in all remaining federal troops being pulled out of southern states, and the agreement that the South would have the right to deal with Blacks without northern interference. This leaves southern Blacks with no legal recourse and virtually no protection, relegating them to an inferior status in a hostile society.

Here I will end the timeline, and summarize for purposes of brevity.

In the ensuing decades, especially in the South, a white supremacist society intentionally and often violently terrorized Blacks in order to “keep them in their place.” Despite the fact that equality between the races was encoded into federal law, the notion of white supremacy remained entrenched at every level of white society in the former slave states – in the general population, in the education establishment, in churches, in civil law, in law enforcement, in the legal system, and in state government.

Racial separation and inequality were enforced by many means including:

> rewriting state constitutions and laws, including Jim Crow laws requiring racial segregation

> creating all-white juries to guarantee immunity for perpetrators of racial violence

> physical violence and legal barriers against would be Black voters

> evicting and/or firing would be Black voters and Blacks working for racial equality

> police brutality from officers who were often Klansmen/members of white supremacist groups

> judges who held white supremacist and/or segregationist views

> shutting down public schools to prevent integration, and the widespread creation of all-white schools

> criminalizing peaceful civil rights protests

> sexual violence against Black girls and women

> rioting

> bombings

> lynching

If I may elaborate just a bit on lynching: I had been under the impression, I suppose mostly from movies, that lynching was a somewhat risky and rare phenomenon perpetrated mostly by the KKK under cover of darkness. However, the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) has documented 4084 lynchings between the years 1877 – 1950. These have been verified from news and other sources from the era. There were unquestionably an untold number of undocumented lynchings and assaults as well.

It seems clear that “terror lynchings” were perpetrated to send a message to Black citizens who had hopes of claiming their newly won rights as full citizens and equals. The message was that if you are Black, this can be done to you or your loved ones if you step out of “your place” as an inferior. The message was that a black person accused by a white person is not worth the time and expense of due process in a courtroom setting.

Many lynchings were public spectacles, with hundreds of white citizens and families in attendance. These were not viewed as fringe acts of extremism, but were mainstream events condoned by white society. Sometimes there would be food and drink, and the victim’s body parts would be handed out to the crowd as souvenirs. This was all openly documented by an often sympathetic press.

What is the point of saying these things now?
This is not the America we live in today. It is true that no one alive today owned slaves or perpetrated a racial terror lynching. No Black person living today was ever a slave. But the appropriate response to Black Americans is not, therefore, “so get over it.” For decades during the post-slavery era, Blacks were left utterly unprotected and what was done to them was horrific, to say nothing of the slavery itself that came before. White America must sorrowfully acknowledge this.

Millions of white supremacist Americans worked tirelessly, voted, and rioted to keep Blacks subjugated. The experience of Black Americans today has been shaped by this history. It should also be said that racial terror and discrimination was not just a “southern problem.” After Reconstruction ended, some 6 million Black Americans fled the South to the North, Midwest, and West, where violence and discrimination often followed – in cities such as East St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Tulsa, and Omaha.

Admitting the horror of America’s violent, racist past is a necessary part of national healing and understanding. Doing so is not an admission that America is innately horrible, or that rioting, or the solutions proposed by left wing groups like BLM or M4BL are correct.

But it might help us to understand the anger and frustration. It might help us to understand the eerie familiarity Blacks may feel when a white policeman unjustly kills a Black man and goes unpunished. It might help us to understand how confederate monuments may be seen as celebrations of white supremacy. It might help us to understand why America remains largely segregated, even though overt white supremacy has virtually disappeared from society and its institutions.

It is a basic act of respect toward Black Americans to not sweep their history under the rug. May God give us all grace and understanding to clean house without tearing the house down.

For further reading I recommend one or all of EJI’s 4 thin books: Slavery in America; Reconstruction; Segregation in America; & Lynching in America.

25 comments on “Thoughts for White Conservatives Who Never Owned Slaves

  1. Gregory Markum says:

    Thank you Scott, This is very well stated.

  2. Scott,

    While I appreciate that you’re goal is to help foster peace and understanding, I don’t think you’re assessing the situation accurately. It’s as if you’re approaching the issue with the premise that whites are somehow guilty of perpetrating racial tensions by allegedly failing to acknowledge past injustices, which is hardly accurate.

    Ironically, I think your accompanying graphic is a far more accurate representation of the state of the country, ie., whites extending a hand in peace while blacks resist with a closed-fist, agitating over past wrongs and refusing to put the past behind. It’s that very refusal to accept an extended hand of peace that promotes division and places whites on defense. (Obviously some whites are not seeking peace and some blacks are not resisting reconciliation, so my comments are reflecting the general political atmosphere and not meant to be applied universally.)

    Regarding Lucado, reactions posted to his act of “repentance” are perfectly understandable in light of the fact that he’s in no position to repent on behalf of others. Jesus is in a position to bear the sins of others. Lucado is not, and therein lies the hubris in his (I will assume well-intentioned but misguided) gesture.

    I think part of the reaction of white people who have never owned slaves is that they seem to be the target of retribution. After all, black people and Native Americans owed slaves as well, and yet the focus never seems to be on their need to repent, understand, empathize, pay reparations, etc., which strikes white people as entirely arbitrary and vindictive. It’s this vindictive double-standard that aggravates whites, and justifiably so.

    The reality is that white people are simply too busy today fending off actual systemic racism perpetrated against them via affirmative action policies, or being asked to pay reparations for a sin they never committed to people who were never slaves, or protecting their homes and businesses from BLM-supporting rioters and looters, or having to defend themselves in the class or workplace against false charges of racism, or having to tolerate unending “education” classes on how racist whites are, or having to deal with bullies in schools and communities where they are the minority, etc., to have to deal with the past. Until this attack on them ceases, it’s unlikely they’ll take any time to consider events over half a century ago that have no bearing on blacks today who live in the most free and accommodating-to-them country in the world.

    You wrote:
    “What I’ve realized is that I mostly learned about the good parts”

    Having been born in 1965, I share the same sort of experience. However, things have reversed since we were kids. Students today are taught mostly (as Dennis Prager describes it) a proctologist view of America. Students seem to learn nothing but the bad things about this country, and given that the mostly patriotic media that I grew up with is now pretty much a cheerleader for globalism and takes the same anti-American approach to history, it is entirely moot to ask people to learn about past injustices. Americans get that 24/7 from media, Hollywood, schools and woke businesses. There’s no end to having to hear about how terrible America has been, so no further lessons are necessary.

    You wrote:
    “the appropriate response to Black Americans is not, therefore, “so get over it.””

    With the exception of elderly blacks who lived through the Civil Rights era, there are no blacks today who have anything to “get over” where injustices in post-slavery decades are concerned. Perhaps the appropriate response should rather be, “Those past events were terrible, therefore what”? Unfortunately, the “therefore what” all too often turns out to be, ‘Therefore white people owe black people (fill-in-the-blank)’, to which white people naturally go on the defensive because they owe no one anything merely because the other person’s skin is darker. The problem therefore is not white people being unempathetic. The problem is with those who agitate and cause division because of past events which, while terrible, can never be undone, and for which no one today is responsible, nor should they accept culpability. White people all know how bad things were for blacks of the past; how can they not know when they’re constantly reminded? So being told to spend time meditating on it or constantly acknowledging it as if it can change the past or if they must do so as a debt to be paid makes little sense.

    Regarding injustices in the decades post-slavery you wrote:
    “White America must sorrowfully acknowledge this.” and “Admitting the horror of America’s violent, racist past is a necessary part of national healing and understanding.”

    First, why must only “white America” sorrowfully acknowledge this and not also black America and Native American America since they, too, owned slaves and exercised bigotry against blacks (while black people may not be “racist” against other blacks, they are certainly oftentimes bigoted against them, something that continues to this day and of which I’ve seen many times first-hand)?
    Second, where has white America today denied these past injustices or remained silent on them? It’s as if a solution is being offered to a problem that doesn’t exist.
    More importantly, what form is this acknowledging to take? If you ask the agitators, it takes the form of reparations, bigoted affirmative action laws, white people prostrating themselves in self-humiliation and asking for forgiveness, etc. Again that’s simply not going to happen (except for the foolish few who actually do prostrate themselves and beg forgiveness for something they never did from people they never harmed). Appeasement will never satisfy the agitators. They earn a living agitating and promoting racial tension and they’ll never allow the past to remain in the past, lest their golden goose stop laying golden eggs. Booker T. Washington wrote: “There is another class of coloured people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs – partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.” Washington wrote that in 1911. If this agitating has existed since then, what makes anyone think that appeasement of any kind will suddenly end such agitating today? And note that Washington wasn’t laying the problem of persistent racial tensions at the feet of white people, even though he lived in a time when racial injustices were still occurring. The difference between then and now is that systemic racial injustices against blacks have disappeared while the race-hustlers remain.

    You wrote that “Admitting the horror of America’s violent, racist past”:
    “… might help us to understand the anger and frustration.”

    While I can understand feeling anger when hearing about an injustice, past or present, I don’t understand how a long past injustice against another can cause anyone in the present any frustration. Frustration is something felt usually when being presently hindered in some way. This country bends over backwards to accommodate blacks in every way, to the point of perpetrating systemic racism against whites to help blacks advance. If there’s anything holding back blacks today, it isn’t events from over half a century ago. And if anyone ought to be frustrated, it’s white people and non-white Americans who feel frustrated that race-baiters and agitators won’t allow racial healing and instead stoke division.

    Finally, where Christians are concerned, the only Biblical principle we have is to forgive and forget past sins, not dredge them up as a source of constant agitation and division. For the record, I’m not suggesting we don’t learn from the past, but the agitators and race-baiters use it as a cudgel to beat down white people today in an attempt to perpetrate the same bigotry about which they’ve ostensibly learned nothing. That is hardly a way to mend race relations. The actual way to mend race relations is for people to learn from the past, put it behind them, and move forward.

    That’s my two-cents. As always, I apologize for my lengthiness.

    Blessings,

    Frank

    • Rod Lampard says:

      As always. A brilliant, well thought out and considered response.

    • Frank, as always I appreciate your insight and Frank-ness.

      Allow me to try a different angle with you, as I think we are talking past each other. I think this because you seem you be arguing for a lot of things on which I already agree with you. (I probably won’t resist addressing just a couple of points with which I disagree, however).

      Look at it this way. Above all else, my commission as a follower of Jesus is to love (God and) people. I am a political conservative because I think it is the most compassionate course to take, as far as politics goes. I think love entails actually DOING something that HELPS people, as opposed to doing something so that I can feel good about helping people. In limiting the role of government and, instead, enabling freedom so that people of character can do good, conservatism is worth promoting. I suspect you are with me so far.

      I think it was in the G W Bush years that the term “compassionate conservatism” came into common usage. As though conservatism needed a facelift. But it kinda did bc liberalism had become equated with caring and compassion, while conservatism was seen as mean and heartless. The Left always uses the language of compassion: justice, equality, community, inclusion, caring, etc. The irony is that Left-wing policies are usually exactly the wrong prescription, and even worse, the Left seeks to use the power of the state to impose its harmful “compassionate” opinions onto the nation. But people buy it bc of the compassionate language.

      (The most outrageous example imo is the phrase “reproductive freedom,” which, if you were an alien hearing the phrase for the first time, you might assume means “freedom to reproduce,” since that’s what it says. When it actually means “freedom to kill one’s offspring.” Pointing out such contradictions doesn’t seem to help.)

      But this also seems to work in reverse. Conservatives could solve world hunger, but without compassionate language, and especially if the problem solvers are making a profit, it would be seen as exploitation. This may explain why companies are falling all over themselves to donate to BLM. Because…Black lives matter; which of course they do. But will BLM make Black lives better? No. It is exactly the wrong prescription.

      My point is that conservatives tend to suck at marketing. Either we forget to mention, or we think it’s self evident that ideas that correspond to the shape of reality are compassionate, because they actually help people. For instance, holding up as an ideal the idea of children being raised by their married biological parents.

      But I am of the opinion that we can win people over. The Left is imploding. It’s becoming intolerable. It has become self-righteous, judgmental, bigoted, pro-censorship, closed-minded, intolerant, irrational, and mean – all of the things that the “religious right” was accused of back when I was in college. But people will not come over to conservatism, or far more importantly, to Jesus, if we are not viewed as loving. In fact, I predict our own children will reject our worldview if they do not see it as the most compassionate option. We have to spell it out.

      As evidence, I urge anyone reading this to visit the “official WalkAway campaign” on Facebook. Be sure to read the “About” tab, and spend some time reading the testimonies – people telling their stories of leaving the Democratic party. Most tell of asking an incorrect question and getting attacked for it. Many POC tell of family members telling them they are no longer Black, Hispanic, or whatever. It’s approaching a half million members now. Started by a gay man.

      Regarding this post, I reiterate, “It is a basic act of respect toward Black Americans to not sweep their history under the rug.” You may not understand “how a long past injustice against another can cause anyone in the present any frustration” but I can testify that it does. It is a losing enterprise to try to tell someone they shouldn’t have the feelings they have. Empathy establishes connection. That’s what I’m attempting to do.

      Please note that I have NOT “approached the issue with the premise that whites are somehow guilty of perpetrating racial tensions by allegedly failing to acknowledge past injustices.” I’m simply advocating for education and empathy.

      I neither defended nor criticized Lucado. My point was to condemn the attitude of making light of what Black Americans have suffered; the “get over it” response.

      You contend, “White people all know how bad things were for blacks of the past; how can they not know when they’re constantly reminded?..”

      No, they don’t. I think Americans are largely ignorant of history. Maybe it’s different in CA, but my sense is that in much of the country, white Americans don’t think about race all that much. They don ‘t have to. I think white people pretty much thought things were fine until a few minutes ago.

      You continue, “…So being told to spend time meditating on it or constantly acknowledging it as if it can change the past or if they must do so as a debt to be paid makes little sense.”

      I’m simply pleading for an open-eyed, sorrowful acknowledgement, which is only appropriate. If you’ve already done that, then you’re done. I’m not saying whites today are personally responsible. I’m not arguing for personal repentance, or for debt paying, “except to love” (Ro 13:8).

      Love the Booker T Washington quote.

      Question for you:

      In past posts I have written on the tragic history of the relationship between the gentile church and the synagogue. I think it’s a story with which the vast majority if church going gentiles are unfamiliar. Most gentiles today no longer hold to an anti-Semitic theology, and they like Jewish people. However, the “forgotten” oppressive past is not forgotten by most Jewish people, and continues to be a barrier, keeping them from embracing their own Messiah. As with the Black history issue, I think it is a past that needs to be acknowledged and grieved over. Does doing so change anything?
      I think so. If nothing else, it changes how I say things. It keeps me from taking their hurtful history lightly. It gives me the platform of not being ignorant of something that matters deeply to them, thus giving me a connection to them. Experience has borne this out.

      Do you think I’m also assessing this situation inaccurately? Why or why not? The two seem very similar to me. Thanks, bro.

      • Greg says:

        This addendum was more helpful, to me, than the original post (or better: in conjunction with the original post). Thanks Scott. The Jewish/gentile church example is very useful, although I’m wondering if more jews could quote Martin Luther from the 1600’s than blacks quoting George Wallace, but that’s probably not relevant.
        Scott you are an amazing example of both compassion and truth fused together. Unusual, rare, Christlike. More later, maybe.

      • Scott,

        I hear your heart and I know it’s totally in the right place, and you’re also correct that we mostly agree on everything, so maybe I’ll address areas where I’m not certain what you’re advocating and it’s probably the areas where we continue to get hung up.

        You wrote:
        “But I am of the opinion that we can win people over.”

        As a matter of what’s possible, of course I agree with you. And certainly we ought to deliver our messages in the most winsome way so that the message isn’t stymied by a poor delivery. However, style ought never to trump substance, and here’s where perhaps we’re speaking past one another.

        Some truths are hard truths so that there’s no way to candy-coat them. Perhaps the best example of this is the gospel itself. While we may be faulted for poor delivery, certainly Jesus can’t be accused of poor delivery, and yet they still crucified Him. The point being that while we should be respectful and loving, we’re not responsible for how our message is received.

        This brings me to your comment that:
        “conservatives tend to suck at marketing.”

        While I think there’s a sense where that’s true, I think that upon examination, the reason why we often seem to stink at marketing is because we don’t stoop to the deceptive ploys the Left use in promoting their message, tactics which may be very successful at winning over people who are easily manipulated by emotion and bias, but tactics which are nevertheless questionable. Whatever the Left has in its toolbox for winning followers, it doesn’t include respect, kindness, tolerance or empathy to those with a differing opinion, a commitment to truth, etc., of that I’m certain (as always, I’m speaking in generalizations with respect to our current political climate).

        I’m assuming this issue of how conservatives deliver their message was to set up your point that:
        “It is a basic act of respect toward Black Americans to not sweep their history under the rug”

        To sweep something under the rug is a deliberate act, and herein is a point on which I think we differ. Americans have had the ‘America is an evil, racist, misogynist, imperialist nation’ mantra shoved down our throats for decades such that it’s difficult to take seriously the claim that anyone is attempting to sweep past wrongs under the rug. And given that this propaganda is ubiquitous in education, the media, and politics, it’s not something that could be said to be a regional phenomena either (even if in one’s personal circles it may or may not be something one encounters). Even Rod knows of what I speak, and he’s half a world away. Nor is it necessary to know every detail of every past injustice (most of which, as has been pointed out, the average black person knows nothing anyway).

        Now it may be the case that non-black Americans have heard the drum-beating for so long that we’re sick and tired of it and we don’t want to hear it any more. But expressing our weariness at the constant reminders is in no way equivalent to sweeping it under the rug. The dead horse has been beat for far too long and its time for burial is past due, nor can Americans be blamed if their weariness of having the past thrown in their face is interpreted as indifference.

        You noted:
        “It is a losing enterprise to try to tell someone they shouldn’t have the feelings they have.”

        While that may be true for some persons, the current #Walkaway and #Blexit movement is a testimony that some people can see through the propaganda (I’m not referring to the history of past injustices as “propaganda”, but only its use as a manipulative tool for political or pecuniary ends… though the 1619 Project is, in fact, purely revisionist propaganda). But here’s where I think Rod’s advice about building personal relationships is where real and honest dialogue takes place, and where, while we don’t want to be dismissive, we also don’t want to be enablers. People need to be told hard truths. There may be a way to say it nicely or it may require brutal bluntness, but the truth nevertheless needs to be said. However, saying it within the confines of trust is more likely to yield a positive response because those doing the hearing will know that we have their best interest in mind. That said, in a public forum, one isn’t able to build relationships with strangers, so the truth may appear dismissive or unfeeling, but that’s just the nature of an impersonal medium.

        You wrote:
        “I’m simply advocating for education and empathy.”

        Americans for decades have been educated about how evil they and their ancestors were/are, so it’s not clear how much more we need to endure. If a person isn’t empathetic simply from a knowledge of slavery, I’m not sure what more will change their attitude. In fact, I suspect this overdose of daily reminders of their alleged “white privilege” only enures most white Americans such that it’s likely to have the opposite effect you’re seeking.

        Regarding the “get over it” response, that’s not necessarily equivalent to “making light of what Black Americans have suffered”. Certainly an uncaring person could mean it in that way, but for those who are tired of being told they’re racists or ex post facto guilty of the sins of their ancestors, that may simply be a way of expressing an end of their patience with race-based rhetoric. On this point, white people are far more deserving of empathy because, unlike today’s black person, today’s white person is actually undergoing systemic bigotry and not merely upset over something that happened to someone else over half a century ago.

        You observed:
        “I think Americans are largely ignorant of history. Maybe it’s different in CA, but my sense is that in much of the country, white Americans don’t think about race all that much.”

        While I think it’s true that Americans are largely ignorant of history and certainly most of us may not be familiar with the minutia of every past injustice, I would be willing to bet that 99 out of 100 adults know about slavery and probably Jim Crow-era type laws. As for not thinking about race that much, I suspect it’s on many people’s mind every day because the media won’t allow us to forget or ignore it.

        You wrote:
        “I think white people pretty much thought things were fine until a few minutes ago.”

        Well, given that slavery and Jim Crow ended before most of us were born, there’s no reason to think otherwise. In fact, before Obama was elected, I hadn’t encountered much racial tension since Roots was broadcast on television in the 70’s.

        You wrote:
        “I’m simply pleading for an open-eyed, sorrowful acknowledgement, which is only appropriate.”

        It’s this kind of thing that I’m simply confused about. Certainly I think racial injustice is wrong and terrible. But I’m not sure how this open-eyed, sorrowful acknowledgement is supposed to be expressed. Sure, I can feel sorry for victims of slavery or segregation laws, etc., but they’re not alive so I can’t tell them I feel sorry for them nor can I help them. I’m also not going to tell a black person today that I feel sorry for their ancestors (unless we happened to be having a conversation about slavery and such, and then I might express that I feel sorry for those victims, but I’d say the same thing about anyone of any color who suffered in any way. I mean, I’d tell someone I felt sorry to see a bird hit by a plane if the conversation made its way around to it. I feel bad for a lot of things, but I don’t express such feelings on demand as if I owed just anybody a confession), because I think that’s as stupid as a black person telling me he’s sorry that black people were looting at the L.A. Riots. He’s not guilty and I’m not a victim, so such a confession is pointless and unnecessary.

        Regarding Jews:
        Christians today go out of their way to be friends to the Jew and to support Israel, so I can only surmise moderns Jews who don’t like or are suspicious of Christians are either secular Jews who live in a liberal echo-chamber and don’t listen to conservatives at all, or they’re religiously isolated and have been taught to be suspicious of evangelizing as something that is attacking or diluting their religion/culture.

        But keep in mind, Jews were antagonistic to Christians (even Messianic Christians) since the birth of the church, so hostility toward or mistrust of Christians by Jews isn’t entirely based on historical injustices. Even the scriptures tell us they’ve been partly blinded for the sake of the gentiles, so we’re dealing with a spiritual issue here. And these days, Jews who like Christians seem to be religious, conservative Jews like Dennis Prager, Ben Shapiro, Mark Levin, etc. And they didn’t become friends with Christians because Christians did any apologizing or grieving about the past. They’re friends with Christians because they’re conservative and can see that (1) most Christians are supportive of Jews and Israel and (2) we share common values.

        So as far as your assessment of the Jews’ view of Christians, I can only say that it’s likely there are some Jews who do hold grievances over historical injustices. However, like members of any group of people, Jews are individuals and probably represent a spectrum of attitudes toward Christians, so you may be right on some counts and wrong on some counts, but I have no idea of the percentage of any who fit any particular view.

        Blessings,

        Frank

        • Frank, (Sorry for the delay – I’m under a big deadline this month).

          I want to say that I really appreciate the push back. I think this is exactly the kind of conversation that needs to happen. Reading your response has been clarifying, and has helped me to understand that I need to do a post connecting the dots. I’ll give you a preview, since probably hardly anyone is following this conversation at this point:

          I’m pushing for a third way. I think that both the Left’s and the Right’s narrative about race and America are out of balance. I think I need to connect 3 points:

          1) Our US founding documents and constitution are brilliant. They are not innately racist, sexist, and evil. The US was not founded on Racism. The US economic system was not built on slavery, (though the South’s economy was). It has taken some time to bring American society into correspondence with the ideals the founders stated, but we have done it
          .
          2) The Left is falsely re-defining racism, to the detriment of all races. I insist that this is a critical point. More on that in a sec.

          3) The Left is propagating a false racial narrative to the detriment of Blacks; especially poor Blacks. The left takes the very real racist beliefs and atrocities of the past and attempts to map them over onto the present. It incorrectly uses current racial disparities as evidence that racism is currently everywhere, holding Blacks back. In doing this, the Left exploits Blacks.

          The Right tends to minimize past atrocities in order to present the most positive possible picture of America. This is a mistake. It is ultimately a good thing to understand the societal evils and injustices that a government rooted in Judeo-Christian principles has overcome, (and still needs to overcome in some cases.) It is essential for the Right to acknowledge America’s injustice done to Blacks in order to move forward with a better, equally true narrative.

          You say we are constantly reminded of our racist history, but this is true only in a very limited sense. Progressives must keep such reminders shadowy and vague because the clear, documented history is so damning to the Democrat party. The widespread, unpunished violence perpetrated against Blacks by southern white Democrats are on a par with Nazism, and I never make that comparison lightly. Republican failures pale in comparison.

          The tropes that the Left continually harps on are not the same historical facts that I would like to familiarize people with. It is in the interest of the Left to keep people, Blacks especially, in ignorance because the Democrat party has a terrible history, including some recent history, of hurting Black people. Not the least among these is the fostering a victimhood identity among Blacks.

          To re-visit the definition of racism, from my previous post:
          I still insist that the dictionary definition is correct, and necessary. Otherwise 1) people like Kendi and DiAngelo can foist their malignant notions that racism is everywhere, and that (2) all whites are racist by virtue of being white. 3) Furthermore, this false vision of racism leaves Black America with the incorrect and disheartening impression that most of America is currently racist and stacked against them; that no progress has been made. Maddening.

          I wonder if part of the reason you don’t like the dictionary definition is that it doesn’t allow you to call Affirmative Action a racist policy. But it isn’t. The fact that a policy favors one race over others doesn’t make it racist. Affirmative Action is a form of reparation, intended to make up for past inequities. That’s not racist. (Not to say it’s good policy, either). For example, it’s also not racist for a company to exclusively produce hair care products for Black people.

          You have described my motivation well here, “… saying it within the confines of trust is more likely to yield a positive response because those doing the hearing will know that we have their best interest in mind…” This explains my talk of “sorrowful acknowledgement.”

          But on this, I say the jury is still out: “…That said, in a public forum, one isn’t able to build relationships with strangers, so the truth may appear dismissive or unfeeling, but that’s just the nature of an impersonal medium.” Again, I may be naive, but I think and hope this is possible to some extent, and I believe I have had some success in reaching through and making a human connection with hostile participants at times. That’s my hope anyway.

          • Scott,

            No problem with the delay. I’m swamped as well, and certainly obligations need to be met.

            Your three enumerating points are spot on.

            I’d like some clarification on your claim:
            “The Right tends to minimize past atrocities in order to present the most positive possible picture of America.”

            I’m assuming that’s merely a generalization, but I’m interested in knowing how you arrived at that belief, because it’s not something I’ve ever encountered. I would agree that conservatives don’t adopt the Left’s proctologist view of American history, and conservatives certainly push back at revisionist presentations of American history. However, pushing back against false or overtly negative narratives isn’t equivalent to minimizing facts.

            You wrote:
            “You say we are constantly reminded of our racist history, but this is true only in a very limited sense. Progressives must keep such reminders shadowy and vague because the clear, documented history is so damning to the Democrat party.”

            I would agree that not every single atrocity nor even perhaps the depths of those events may be widely known (and certainly democrats want to hide their own culpability in past as well as present injustices toward blacks, their current abortion holocaust against unborn blacks being far worse than slavery or any other past injustices), however, what is in fact known is sufficient to remind everyone ad infinitum of past injustices perpetrated against blacks.

            You suggested that the neo-definition of racism is necessary to avoid the following:

            (1) The “malignant notions that racism is everywhere”. A proposition is either true or it is false. Those who make the claim that [systemic] racism is everywhere bear the burden of supporting their view, dictionary definitions notwithstanding. Until and unless they provide sufficient evidence or argument, we’re not obligated to take their claim seriously.
            (2) The view that “all whites are racist by virtue of being white.” Again, no redefinition of ‘racism’ is necessary to dismiss such a view. Sans sufficient evidence, such a view does nothing more than reveal the prejudice of its promulgators.
            (3) Your third point essentially suggests that black Americans will accept the prior two points. But if they do so, it has nothing to do with dictionary definitions and everything to do with the media and academia which are under the control of the Left.

            You ruminated:
            “I wonder if part of the reason you don’t like the dictionary definition is that it doesn’t allow you to call Affirmative Action a racist policy”

            I actually had to go back and re-read the definition you presented in one of your previous posts to understand your thought here.
            Since I don’t think affirmative action policies are based on a belief that non-whites, women, and those engaged in sexually deviant practices are better than whites, men, or heterosexuals, I don’t think such policies are racist on that basis.
            However, they are bigoted and prejudiced against whites, men, and heterosexuals and, ironically, implicitly racist against non-whites while also expressing latent prejudice toward women and those engaged in sexually deviant lifestyles. With respect to the former attitude toward whites, men, and heterosexuals, it’s bigoted to disfavor them when they’re better qualified. It’s also prejudiced because it assumes something about them merely because of their membership of some group. This prejudice exemplifies the Left’s marxist tendency to embrace identity politics which sees only monolithic groups and not individuals.
            With respect to affirmative action policies being racist, misogynistic, and prejudice, such policies tacitly assumes that non-whites, women, and the sexually deviant are incapable of achievement based on merit alone without being handed a position they didn’t earn nor deserve. Even further, as Thomas Sowell notes, companies that do not hire based on merit are also hurting themselves because they’re not getting the best work for their money. So in the end, there’s absolutely no one that benefits from affirmative action policies other than the virtue-signalers who feel good about themselves.

            You suggested:
            “Affirmative Action is a form of reparation, intended to make up for past inequities.”

            Like the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. However, no amount of good intentions excuse an injustice. Hitler wanted to make Germany better for Germans. A thief wants to make life better for himself. BLM/Antifa thinks destroying the property of innocent business owners is somehow supposed to make up for police brutality. None of these attempts to do good on behalf of one group justifies bigotry, prejudice, or racism toward other groups. Nor are the injustices perpetrated by affirmative action policies justified under the pretext of reparations (reparations which are undeserved because those to whom it is aimed were never victims of those who pay the price to satisfy some misguided view of social justice).

            You argued:
            “it’s also not racist for a company to exclusively produce hair care products for Black people.”

            You’re quite correct, that’s not racist. Therefore what? I’m not sure how this serves as an argument for affirmative action policies. Obviously no one views such a situation as racist because products and services are offered by companies on the basis of there being a demand, not based on merit. Moreover, white people are not banned from purchasing products for black people if they so desired.
            What makes affirmative action policies so heinous is that they’re systemically codified in law and not left to the discretion of the employer. When it’s exercised at the discretion of the employer (so that the employer can hire or not hire someone on the basis of any skin-color or sex they prefer), then it’s outlawed as discriminatory. How then does endorsement of anti-white discrimination by bureaucrats and racial agitators magically make it morally acceptable?

            Finally, I’d like to raise an issue that hasn’t been discussed yet. Slavery and past injustices toward blacks and minorities has been recounted all of my life. And yet, no amount of acknowledging of past injustices ‘solved’ anything way back then. But we’re constantly getting new generations of people. If we ‘educate’ Americans today, what’s to prevent the next generation of agitators from insisting that past injustices be dealt with? After all, those future generations haven’t been “apologized to” nor received reparations. So at what point does all of this acknowledging, and apologizing, and paying for past sins we never perpetrated stop? I suspect that Booker T. Washington’s quote was as true for today as it was back then and will continue to be true in the future so long as there’s power, money and fame to be gained by racial agitating.

  3. Rod Lampard says:

    I can’t add anything that Frank has already said. Only to say that I hear what you’re saying, and see it’s point. Coming from a place of suffering – some of it generational – it would be easy for (far too easy for me) to slip into a place of blame for that pain, and live in a perpetual state of bitter anger and entitlement (as some in my family extended do). This only continues the cycle of dysfunction. Translate this to the African American context, (which I’ve read, watched, studied & follow closely – because I empathise with the depth of their sorrow), I see any form of subjugation or genuflecting as harmful, not helpful. Honest conversations need to take place, but that has to happen through relationship – community, individual engagement – not legislation, propaganda, extortion, or guilt. I suspect some of the black community would be deeply offended if I suddenly walked up to them and apologised for having something they didn’t. For assuming that my life was better than there’s. I see that approach as being one full of contempt. I’d rather engage on that level of suffering, forgiveness, shared sins, and the triumph of Christ through the human story. I think that’s pushing back towards true reconciliation, towards a theology of the cross, away from a theology of glory. We raise up Christ together, as we are raised by Christ to newness of life: Romans 6:4. There’s solidarity in suffering – an equality of opportunity can be reached if the other is truly heard, and allowed to be heard; regardless of melanin.

    • Thanks for the thoughts Rod.
      I think you get at the heart of what I was trying to say here:

      “Honest conversations need to take place, but that has to happen through relationship – community, individual engagement – not legislation, propaganda, extortion, or guilt.”

      I think that’s spot on. I think “suffering with” and “feeling with” is a life-giving response, and in my experience the honest conversations you speak of will never happen if we are seen as uncaring, and probably rightfully so. I don’t think there is a shortcut if we intend to create a culture of life. Legislation cannot change the human heart.

      Also this: “There’s solidarity in suffering – an equality of opportunity can be reached if the other is truly heard, and allowed to be heard.”

      That’s what I’m advocating. You mention Romans. The phrase “walking in newness of life” happens to be a key phrase (and desire) for me. Later in ch 12 Paul says,

      “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
      Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

      I think followers of Jesus need to learn to excel in this. That’s what I’m working on.

      • Rod Lampard says:

        👍🏻 I was writing a piece yesterday and used the term “eye-to-eye” relationship, putting that against the Radical Leftist “eye-for-an-eye” disintegration of relationship, which seems to me sums up a lot of this. We need to push back to the eye-to-eye dialogue, away from the eye-for-an-eye monologues. (My flow-on developing thoughts, anyway).

  4. Ken Gauthier says:

    Well studied and well stated, Scott.

    What is hard for people to understand on all sides of the issue is that this is a problem that can only be solved by making one significant, fundamental change to our culture as a whole. We have to get rid of the need to be designated superior to others and recognize that no mortal human has the authority to do so. Period. At work and everywhere. This is the poison that has plagued our nation from the start. It is what caused poor whites who could never afford slaves to lay down their lives in defense of slavery and their imagined position of superiority over someone/anyone. People will reflexively say ” But we are not equal. Some people are smarter, stronger, faster,prettier, etc..” While this is true, the problem is with the assumption that this makes them worth more, more important, and more worthy of a good and happy life. To anyone clinging to this assumption, I pose this challenge: Go to the Special Olympics and tell a competitor with Downs Syndrome to his face that he can never be as good, important, worth as much, or as worthy of a good and happy life as any of those productive citizens watching in the stands.I hope to never know anyone capable of such an act.

    In a free and democratic society, our daily lives must be free and democratic, not just our official government. When we cease striving for superiority and authority over everyone from our wives, to our neighbors, to whatever those other people are over there, only then can we begin to realize the proper intended use of our representative democracy as a representation of ourselves and not an authority over us. It can then function as it was originally designed to function. Justice liberals and minorities are just as poisoned by this mindset as everyone else, as they strive for superiority and worthiness by pointing out and punishing those “evil oppressors” all around without ever offering any real remedy as it might undermine their positions of importance, and authority moral and otherwise.

    It seems to me that the only way to create real, positive change is to change the way we do business. As our economy is at the core of our daily lives, it needs to match the values that we espouse when describing our system of government. We can either strive to be free and equal, or we can strive for superiority and authority over others. We simply cannot do both simultaneously. It is unreasonable to expect good and healthy results from continuing to live two diametrically opposed sets of ideals at once. A free market economy need not be authoritarian and predatory. A reverence for authoritarian, predatory hierarchies poisons every aspect of our society and keeps us all out to get one over on those around us. This is as true for BLM as BMW.

    My daughter asked the other day “If everyone just stopped and agreed to implement the demands of all the protesters, what could they possibly ask that would solve the problems once and for all?”.
    I have to admit that it caught me off guard and I had no answer. After much study and deliberation, this is my answer.

    Just my two cents.

    Miss you, Scott.

    • Greg says:

      You lost me ( not hard to do, I don’t fucus well)
      Who is currently ” deemed superior”
      Who even wants that designation ??

      • Yeah, I find claims of racial superiority an unlikely scenario as well. While I’m certain there are a few small-minded people who actually fit the classic understanding of “racist”, wherein one actually believes their skin color to be superior to another, I find it difficult to believe that there are many such people out there.

        I think what we’re more likely to see is simply bigotry, wherein people simply have a negative bias towards others, not based on beliefs about being racially/ethnically superior, but out of prejudice, malice, ideological differences, or any number of other reasons. Even where skin color is a factor, I don’t think it has anything to do with ethnic superiority, but is more likely due to others being different. What I mean by that is, if everyone on the planet looked exactly alike, sinful persons would still find something different about others to dislike or use as a basis of separation. It’s this notion of “the other” that may drive such irrational bias.

        In fact, I think that feelings of superiority will more frequently be found in class distinctions than that of ethnicity or skin color. I’ve probably encountered far, far more people who had a college degree or some elevated social status who felt themselves superior to myself and others because of their education or station in life than I have actual racial supremacists.

        And while I agree with Ken that a free market cannot operate in an unprincipled manner, I don’t think change begins in commerce. Frankly, as a Christian, I can only subscribe to the Biblical view that change must begin as transformation in the human heart by the gospel. Outside of God, there is no objective basis for moral notions, so any claim that we have a moral duty toward others, whether in commerce or in racial relations, must be predicated on a commitment to God as the source of those duties and all that such a world view entails.

      • Thanks Ken. Greg and Frank, I think Ken has a valid point that the superiority mindset is an issue. He spells it out here,
        “…Justice liberals and minorities are just as poisoned by this mindset as everyone else, as they strive for superiority and worthiness by pointing out and punishing those “evil oppressors”…

        I think he’s referring to the fact that political discourse is now impossible because it now is no longer just a disagreement among well meaning people, but has become (superior) us against (evil) them. The Left’s penchant for declaring moral emergencies based on their opinions is an example, imo. In this way the Left can justify the shutting down of discourse and overriding the system because “there’s no time for that – people are suffering injustices now!” Such “superior” thinking requires that there be a (morally) inferior enemy.

  5. Greg says:

    While I appreciate the efforts to know and remember all of history, I’m not connecting the dots the way you are , Scott. Most Americans are fairly ignorant about anything that happened in the 1800’s, many are not sure who fought the Civil War, or who the major players/ generals were. I’m not at all convinced that some kind of residual angst from the 1800’s or even from the 1960’s has led to the frustrations and anger we are seeing.
    We’ve mentioned it before, but the main player , for all of us imo, is not past events, but present beliefs. In this case, if I feel and believe I have a right to feel angry about something, or frustrated, I will. Maybe those feelings have followed facts, maybe my emotional state is part of being human. Or…. And on we go pursuing possible explanations as to why diners in Rochester cannot have a peaceful lunch or dinner: there are multitudes of examples available to us here.
    Kudos to pushing for listening and empathy, but a lot of what is being spoken, and believed, is just not true, or not true enough( the ” epidemic” of police violence)

    • You raised a good point, Greg. I find the general public is woefully ignorant about history, so that if the race-hustlers were not constantly pounding the drum, most blacks today wouldn’t know anything about past racial injustices at all beyond the general past existence of slavery, so it would hardly have any emotional affect on them. This again demonstrates that the largest contributing factor to racial tension are the agitators like the MSM who turn every police shooting into a false narrative of “racist police” in order to stoke division.

      I recently also watched Biden’s recent outing wherein a young black woman lamented about conditions in her neighborhood while she also complained about gentrification. Her ignorance of economics led to false beliefs that also agitate the problem. Turning a slum into an economically successful town requires a considerable investment that needs to be recouped, and as Thomas Sowell points out, there are no solutions, there are only trade-offs. Either a poor town can remain run down, or it needs to be built by investment that leads to gentrification. You can’t have it both ways.

      • Greg says:

        You brushed upon an important tangent, Frank: it’s difficult to have a coherent, constructive conversation when everything is being used ( by both sides) as a blunt object in an election year street fight. Rarely is a nuanced, fair to both sides presentation given or asked for.
        To Scott: an unsettling theory of mine, just a theory: no amount of compassion and empathy can bridge an expanse willfully built by deception. I know truth can be made into a weapon, but we need large amounts of truth and compassion wrung from humility.
        I’m fearing dark, dark times..

        • Well, if you really want to be nuanced, we’d have to wade in to philosophical territory.

          I’ve given it some thought in the past that part of the problem is our God-given gift of learning by induction. Humans are pattern-recognizing creatures and we form generalizations from the repeated phenomena we experience. So when police see enough criminals dressed or acting in a certain way, they start to infer that anyone dressed or acting that way may pose a potentially grave threat, whether or not it’s fair to any particular individual. And when black people see real or perceived police brutality enough times, they start to form generalizations about the police which may or may not be fair to any particular officer. It’s this inductive practice of forming generalizations that, for good or for ill, leads to stereotypes and prejudices which exist because they do have some basis in fact.

          The reality is, it’s unreasonable to assume that people would or could discard their intuitive use of inductive reasoning, so there will always be assumptions made on all sides. The thing is, while we may not like such assumptions, they’re not unreasonable, irrational or necessarily based on bad motives. It’s just the nature of our cognitive functions. It’s an insurmountable problem because, unlike natural phenomena, humans are volitional beings and their behavior can’t be universalized like inductive generalizations about laws of physics and chemistry (I’m sure behaviorists would differ with me, but that’s another issue).

          The thing is, even if we tried to hold our intuitive presuppositions about others in check and realize that we’re all individuals with free will and not determined by any outward criteria, I’m not sure that would be the best solution. If someone from a baby-sitting agency knocked on my door and looked like a Hell’s Angel biker, it may seem unfair to assume the worst of him, but would I be unreasonable to refuse his service because I make my child’s safety a priority over this stranger’s feelings?

          The truth is, because stereotypes and prejudices are based in fact and we intuitively know this, I don’t see an end to conflicts raised by our assumptions and misjudgments about others. Perhaps it’s just part of living in a fallen world.

  6. Greg says:

    Scott: As a thin guy who does not read enough (unless you count KC Chiefs blogs), I NEED the push towards life altering reading. I have put the 4 thin books on my short list. I’m one of those whose knowledge of history , in this case the history of black Americans and social justice is iffy. Your post does beg the question on how to go about cleaning house, what needs cleaning, what needs to be pitched because it’s beyond help, whet steps are really helpful. And on we go. The police situation is tough because the context is often (NOT always) someone who is wanted on a warrant, often (NOT always) beligerant and resisting arrest, and often (NOT always) high on something. This does not invalidate your points about what has set the table the last 165 yrs or so.
    Solid writing, as usual.

    • Greg, I’m still making my way through them. Not sure if I’ll read all 4 as there is some overlap, but I have certainly learned a lot.
      If I knew the answer to the cleaning house question I would tell you. For now I feel certain that it’s never wrong to default to love. For me that means pursuing relationship and emotional healing with whoever is willing in my corner of the world.

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