Bettering Structure By Stepping Back


April 24, 2016

We had a busy afternoon last Sunday.  The Democrat’s came to town to work out the next level of delegates for the State and national convention.  Since we were delegates for this first round, Belinda and I figured we should show up.

I am a Hilary guy and argued on her behalf with my neighbors, for a number of reasons.  Foremost, because she is a woman.  It is a simple arguments, but one which has governed other conversations this last year.

In 2017, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will vote for a new General Minister and President (GMP)—think of the GMP of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) like the Pope for Catholics, but a much, much smaller organization.  When 2017 roles around, Disciples will have lived with their first woman (ever) for twelve years.  Moving toward the next GMP takes years and the search is on.  I find my arguments for the next GMP are the same for Clinton.

My argument begins with that calendar like poster on the wall in my second grade class.  Flowing from left to right and top to bottom were pictures of US presidents starting with George Washington.  The poster, other than with a few more presidents is the same that hung on the wall of my children’s class wall, and I assume one can be found on elementary school class walls today.  There is really only one difference between the poster on my wall and the poster today.  My day had pictures of white man after white man after white man after white man after white man, whereas today instead of ending with a white man it ends with a black man.  If Disciples had a similar church poster it would look much the same, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, ending, today, with woman.

A sister organization to Disciples had a similar poster to the presidents, a string of white men ending with a black man.  That was until last year when folk voted in another white man into the role of GMP.  That return to normative white is a problem and the reason I support Clinton following Obama and why I support a woman, person of color, or American Indian to become the next Disciple GMP.

Firsts are great: the first Black president, the first Black GMP, and the first woman GMP.  However, firsts do not change racist and/or patriarchal structures.  Meaningful change only comes with repetitions.  When a white man follows a black man in the role of leadership, you can place a bet that the poster will become, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man, black man, white man, white man, white man, white man, white man.  The same would hold true if a white man followed the first woman GMP.  The problem with a white man following a black man or a woman is that folk have a tendency to think the organization or nation has arrived and no longer need think or worry about gender or race issues.  Structural change only occurs with a string of GMPs or presidents being persons of color, women, American Indians, or LGBTQ folk.

Folk will surely think the intentional non-vote for a radically qualified white man as unfair.  The answer, of course is, it is unfair.  The most qualified people should be considered for positions of leadership in a fair and equitable world.  The problem is the world is not fair or equitable.  Which means, for a while, when offered, our radically qualified white men must take a step back and allow equally radically qualified non-white males to lead our organizations and nations (After all, let us at least admit there is no white male more qualified than a non-white male in our organizations and nation.).  Perhaps not an easy step for white men, but I am fully confident we White men can handle it!

Most importantly, if we make intentional changes today, if white men hold off taking on the top leadership roles in our generation, then, perhaps, when the generation of my white grandson comes into adulthood, everyone can be considered for leadership positions equally because we have created an equitable structure.

I surely did not convince any Bernie supporters to think of Hilary instead.  But we had an interesting afternoon of conversation!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s