Friday, October 05, 2007

The Chief and the Tree

I received an email this morning inviting me (and many other students) to a Town Hall meeting this month to discuss sterotype themed parties here at UIUC.

This leads me to wonder: how has getting rid of the Chief at UIUC solved any racial issues?

Getting rid of the Chief seems to be about as effective as cutting down what some referred to as the "white" tree in Jena, LA.

Take it or leave it, this is how I see it:

1. A problem is noticed.
2. The problem seems too big or incomprehensible to solve at once, but the public demands action.
3. To quell murmurings, a school administration takes action in a highprofile (but useless) manner.
4. Congratulations abound from some quarters that "the problem is taken care of."
5. The problem continues because the action taken does nothing to alleviate the situation.

On the UIUC campus, I have yet to see that abolishing the school mascot has improved anything. I believe that those calling for his removal at the Town Hall meeting on the UIUC campus were simply pushing to see what they could accomplish by complaining loudly enough.

In changing such a highprofile aspect of the school, I believe school administrators were trying to show publicly that they are willing to make changes on this campus.

A similar motivation might have led the school administration in Jena, LA to cut down the "white tree" on the school grounds. While concerned parents were not holding town meetings pressuring the school to cut down the tree, the administrators might have hoped that such public action would send a positive message.

But are the Chief and the tree simply decoys that we have conveniently directed our emotions against?

Is there a deeper, more fundamental problem with our thinking that is leading to white/black divisions in our society?

With the Chief gone, it is harder to say that the school supports racial profiling. With the tree gone, no more nooses can be hung from it. But have these public amputations done anything to change individual hearts and minds? Do these drastic and largely useless actions indicate that many school administrations have no solution to racial profiling and racial conflicts?

Pummelling highprofile decoys will not alleviate problems. The core problem must be addressed. "Racial" unification cannot be based on evolutionary principles or baseless appeals to love your brother: it can be based on Christ's love and God's purpose.

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