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There Is An "Elephant In America's Room"

Jeff Grenell
In our culture in America right now, it is "the elephant in the room". It is the "big idea" that no one wants to talk about. The elephant is so obvious. It's everywhere. And no one wants to admit it. You can see it everywhere and it cannot be hidden. We don't want to talk about it either. White people understand how prevalent it is. Black people are as vocal about it also. Hispanics are pointing to it. And the Hmong that I know are drawing attention to it. 

Racism is wrong. Partiality is cruel. Segregation is evil. Preferential treatment isn't honorable. Because it encompasses so many sectors. It is more than preferential treatment of the races. It is preference for economy, social status, religion, or gender, or otherwise. This blog is a warning to all of us of not seeing "the elephant in the room".

The bible does not justify partiality in any form. The argument of what became a popular form of slave service in the OT crossed more than racial lines. And, with a flurry of NT support, we need to see that the preferential treatment of anyone, regardless of their race, social status, or economic makeup, is quoted by James, the brother of Jesus, as “the sin of partiality” (James 2.1-9). And, aside from so many other texts, even the last visions of bible history under the anointing of the Holy Spirit include every tribe, tongue, and nation worshiping together for eternity under the name of Christ (Revelation 5, 7, 20, 21, and 22).

America is experiencing turbulent times because we have a problem with race, economic, status, religious, and even gender relations. We have these issues because of a greater problem though. What are we looking for? What are we willing to see? I really believe "the elephant in the room" in America today is not what we are talking about. However, it may not be what you are thinking.

What I am talking about is obvious. "The elephant in the room" is the honor and respect and equity movement that I see thriving in the young people of America. I'm sure it won't be popular, but, instead of criticizing a culture that is broken by partiality, I want to take a few minutes and celebrate the wins that I see in American youth culture. If you will look around the room you can see it. It's obvious. It all depends on what you are looking for. I see the 'elephant', do you?


1. The elephant is the many young people in our culture who do not care what the talking heads crying 'racism' think

  • The younger generation is ready to heal. Anger doesn't heal. An older generation needs to set aside their personal issues that were forged in a painful day and proclaim to this generation the healing power of love and honor. In 1987 I was deeply hurt when someone said something really stupid about a Hispanic friend of mine. I understand that nobody was killed or beaten. But, it hurt deeply. And I can remember when I told someone that my family (grandmother) was African/Native-American and the response on their face. I wasn't shot at or beaten. And, it hurt deeply. And just this week, I was walking on the streets of Minneapolis and I approached 3 young adults and a teenager. When I said hey to them and asked them a question they told me that white people are f***** up. I told them that I couldn't disagree with them, but, not all white people are f***** up. After they laughed we had a great convo. However, because of those situations, I don't believe that everyone hates Hispanics or African/Native-Americans or white people either. Why would I waste my time with ignorant responses? I have moved on. 
  • How long are we going to embrace injustices from the past and feed our children with hate or prejudice or preference? There are many other stories of healing that should be told. I choose to heal and not hate.

2. The elephant is that most young people don't care what race, economic, social status, religious, and even gender you are in their relational or social circles

  • For 30 years I have worked with young people in urban and rural settings. In these settings, there is a great hope. You can tell me all about anecdotal stories of hate and the 'plague' of racism that some say infests American life. Oh, it's there. Please don't think that I am naive about that. Especially in older generations. 
  • But, this 'plague' is being smothered by young people who don't care about what color their best friend or what race their neighbor is or how much they make or where they work or worship.

3. The elephant will never be seen unless a main-stream news media will tell us that it is there  

  • I know that most of the younger generation does not care what ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX or CNN has to say anything. But these networks will feed the internet and the rest of culture that will sooner or later filter down to the youth culture. About 40% of Americans are under 30 years of age. That is somewhere around 130 million people. And they do not care what the media reports about what activists or politicians have to say about racism or anything else. And this simply means that this whole sector of our American society isn't hearing the rhetoric of an outdated and too often opinionated media.
  • What do we want people to hear? To believe? To think? Maybe we need an overhaul of the media. If sensationalism sells, tell us about the sensational feats of a generation of young people on global missions fields, in soup kitchens feeding the hungry, and in causes for the oppressed in their backyards. 
  • It doesn't make sense to me that our media actually re-produces what they air. Sitting in battle rooms across our nation should be editors feeding hundreds of stories of sacrifice. Maybe we need a new network with features like "Youth Crime Going Down", "More College Students On Justice Trips Than Ever Before", "All Races Sitting In To Support Equality", or, "Entire Class Shaves Head For Cancer Patient". 
4. The elephant is the athletic team that has grown beyond the race issue and embraced diversity years in advance of a culture that is slow to fall in line

  • Learn from the deep friendships that are modeled in competitive situations in both the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Teammates of all racial, economic, social status, or gender who would die for each other on the field, the court, or the street.

5. The elephant is increased acceptance of mixed marriages both in culture and in the church

  • A small part of this argument is the fact that the stigma that popular opinion was against mixed marriages is now disappearing. The inter-racial marriage rate more than doubled from 1980 to 2008. What used to be rare is now more common.

6. The elephant is that there are thousands of stories of unity and healing that have not been added to the plethora of negative stories that are being told daily

  • Isolated racism, drunkenness, divorce, terrorism, or ignorance doesn't create a meme of all. I've met many people who continue to return to McDonald's even after their order was messed up or they didn't receive commendable service. Would that indite every McDonald's restaurant? Why then would the belief or the actions of a few condemn an entire nation? 
  • I can tell you more stories of healing and unity than you can show me stories of hatred and inequity. It all depends on what you are looking for.
Because the US wants to ban travel to Liberians (remember not every Liberian is black) to America for fear of the Ebola virus, or, a white police officer shot a black teenager, or, a Hispanic man killed a black man, or, black teens attacked a white girl, does that make America racist? Of course not. It only tells us that we have racism in America. The trace existence of racist traits in a few do not create a meme that is out of control and ultimately damns an entire nation
 
Please understand that I am not saying that racism or partiality in any form does not exist. If you are thinking that right now, you need a mental reformation and framework adjustment. Listen deeply to these thoughts. If you stare at a kaleidoscope you will see kaleidoscope. Open our eyes to see the emergence of a generation of honor and unity who see the hope of a nation unified in unity and honor.

Every sociological study done in the past 4 years has shown a major trait of this generation is that they are much more group-oriented and positive than the last 2 generations. Maybe it's time we introduce the elephant in the room. And stop denying the impact that young people in unity can have on our nation. The narrative of an angry generation who won't let us forget isn't healing. It is dividing even more. Maybe we need to identify the movement of honor that could have one of the great civil rights impacts upon our nation that we have ever seen.