The New Jim Crow Challenge

by Don Johnson, Zion UCC, Gresham, OR

I am not sure this is actual history or not, but I remember reading that at an abolitionist meeting a proslavery white man shouted out to Sojourner Truth, “You are nothing but a flea to me.” She answered, “You are right, but I am going to keep you scratching.”
My favorite editorialist is Leonard Pitts, and in a recent editorial he challenged people to read a book, The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. He is even offering to buy the book and ship it free to people who promise to read it. I decided if it was that important to Mr. Pitts, I could buy the book and read it on my own.
Now I am challenging others to buy and read this book, especially people raised in a racist community and family, as I was. This is for those of us born into a “higher station” in life than others. We were born white, male, straight, and in a progressive country. (God gave us a very easy hand to play in the game of life.) Ms. Alexander is giving us her views on history and social justice from an African American’s point of view–something I feel I need to try to understand, or to realize how African Americans and other minority groups feel about the political system and society in general in our country. I can never say I know how people of other races feel when they are denied rights that should be “God given,” because I have never been in their shoes. But I can try to educate myself about their opinions and work for social justice for all people.