The Growing Diversity in YTH Culture
There is a pause on the coverage of race relations in the news cycle now. At least a little. As we wade through the details on the teenagers from the Catholic school in Kentucky and until we hear the rest of the story on Jussie Smollett, the African American Gay man who was allegedly assaulted in Chicago. However, pause in the coverage of these does not mean that there is a pause in the occurance.
So, in this pause, let me parenthetically say that I see the growing diversity valuation and identity work that is going on in the youth culture today.
What Is The Next Story?
What will the next great story read like? Who will write it? Will it be a story of reconciliation? A story of reparations and support of the minority? Maybe some teenagers and their intentional relationships standing up for what is right? Or a team of basketball players hugging and crying on the floor of the State Championship game in front of thousands watching?
Let me say it clearly. There is racism in our world and here at home in the United States. And yet there is also a growing intergeneRACIAL gracism in our world and here at home in the United States. A diversity valuation. And the two are living side by side in our culture today in 2019.
The Barna Group completed their historic study of the Millenial and GenZ set with findings that are very encouraging. Among other things, 44% of Mills/GenZ say they interact regularly with people who do not share their identity racially or otherwise. This compared to only 25% of their Boomer parents and 20% of their elder grandparents (Barna Trends/Impact 360 study, page 107).
Over the past 2 years, the racial tension and the anger that has been presented by the media narrative has been out of control. It seems that when we have reported escalations of events, everything becomes explosive in America. And yet there is a growing diversity movement. Where is the balance?
I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist because it's quiet. Or that it only exists during media hyperbole. It is obvious that we have a long way to go before we are 'a more peaceful union'. But this current media pause on racial tension and anger is welcomed. Maybe what we need more of is the solution and not the problem. Afterall, we get what we promote.
For now, a rest. At least until it happens again in the next few days and the investigation into the latest incident with Mr. Smollett and the teens from the Catholic school in Kentucky give us the facts. And not because the issue has gone away. But maybe because we are dealing with it at the felt local level.
Let’s hope that our activists are not only waiting for the latest incident to act. But that they are living in reparations daily in Anytown, USA. There are so many things that can be done on the daily to fight against racism and hate crimes. Where we deal with our sins together locally without the promotion of a national spotlight that doesn’t even have all of the news and information.
Could race-relations improve quicker because mis-information isn't fueling the problem? Could race-relations improve quicker because they are not being parsed by talking heads and their opinions far removed from the actual event? Could race-relations improve simply because the racial tension and anger isn't in the forefront of our minds?
Here are a couple of terms that I want to define, and ultimately, promote. Now, remember that I'm not saying just because racial tension and anger are not on the evening news, that racism has gone away. And it doesn't mean prejudice is gone and our progress is complete. What I would like to ask is, ‘What are we doing in the calm of the storm?’ How are we promoting reparations?
America must be doing life as much as we can in an inter-geneRACIAL existence. Let me define that. We need much more than multi. Multi only says that there are many present. What we need is Inter. Inter says that there are not just many present, but, they are inter-related. Maybe we should be dealing with racial tension and anger at the micro-event level on the daily.
And this is the strength of intergeneRACIAL living. In educational settings, and corporate settings, and social media settings, and government settings. When we are inter-related and in community with each other, we are doing diversity valuation and reparations at every level and all of the time.
I have said many times on this blog and live across America in my meetings, that the younger generation in our country deals with racism much better than the older generation. I hear it from thousands of teenagers on a regular basis across the country. In urban and rural settings. In sub-urban and religious and non-religious settings. I hear a younger generation doing 'Identity Work' and 'Ethnic Identity Development' without the mis-information of the national media.
But how long is that going to last? It will last as long as they grow up with angry and bitter adults who will not report a better story to them! How badly I wish the narratives of healing and love and respect were being told. How badly I wish that we were living in intergeneRACIAL relationships. We need to hush the people who want to tell the negative. And silence the racial inequality and disrespect with a tsunami of racial quality and respect!
Identity Work Among Teens
I heard a student the other day in Sacramento say that she sees color! That color is a beautiful thing to recognize. And a young man came up to me and said that his team at school is a melting pot. And he loves it. I realize that these two stories are anecdotal - proving my point with a small sample. But, I see this weekly across America and it must be promoted.
Maybe you’ve seen my post of my grandson who was hugging and playing with his African America stranger in the park at age 3. Oblivious to the narrative in America. And, it is no secret to those follow me on social media to see the photo at the MOA (Mall of America) of the diverse group of boys who were walking around the Mall together and having the best time of their lives. As I followed them - trying not to creep- I cried. And prayed. That these boys would not grow up like the rest of us and hate one another. And I prayed that my grandson wouldn’t grow out of hugging someone who is non-white.
The term 'Identity Work' that was introduced a couple of years ago by Lecrae in an interview with Truth's Table (https://overcast.fm/+IkU79eRbY/), is a very important topic. This phrase is a harken back to the term 'Ethnic Identity Development' from the racial tension in the mid-20th century. With Lecrae's loosened ties toward white evangelicalism, John Piper encourages us that this is a positive move for race-relations in the Christian community. I concur completely.
I reference Lecrae's stance to define his role in Christianity as part of the growing solution to the race-relation and anger narrative. That, like Lecrae, all of us need to solve how we feel about racism and ethnic definition on our own with the people around us. Not through a media narrative. Even if it results in rustling the tribe that we do life with. For Lecrae that might look like less church vans attending his concerts. Now, I'm sure Lecrae wouldn't mind that less church vans attended his concerts if it meant that he would attract a more diverse crowd. After all, isn't that the point of the gospel?
The Next Great Story Of Gracism (James 2-3)
I hope and pray that our children do not grow up with the racist tendencies of the generation before them or the media narrative that is happening all around them. We should all be writing the diversity narrative around us. Every day. The narrative of Gracism. That is simply the reverse of racism. It is love over hate and not the other. It is diversity valuation. It is honor among all humankind through daily deeds that become a snowball effect on our neighborhoods and then an entire nation.
It is James 2 and the work against personal favoritism that is called out as sin. It is showing mercy over judgment and love over hate. And it is James 3 that sends a clarion call for the tongue to bless and not curse. And to walk in empathy with someone we may not understand.
Let's not leave the next story to people who are writing about anger and judgment. Let’s tell the story of the younger generation. I believe they have the next great story on the growing gracism in America.
We should all think and react in love and acceptance daily. To step up our personal narrative of unity and diversity at the park or at the mall or at work or at school. To step up our local narrative of unity and diversity in the face of ignorant comments and through intentional conversation daily. Because we all must define how we feel about red and yellow, black, brown and white every day in California and Minnesota and New York.
Why? Because if we are in a media silence on the issue of racial tension and anger right now in America, it probably won’t last. So maybe the next news report will be a positive one of the growing intergeneRACIAL relationships and the identity work of gracism in this younger generation that is bringing healing to one of the most hurtful sins of our nation's history.