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Culture Friday: Thinking Christianly about race


WORLD Radio - Culture Friday: Thinking Christianly about race

The recent subway situation between Jordan Neely and Daniel Penny reveal broader tensions within our culture

From right, attorney Donte Mills; Jordan Neely's father, Andre Zachery; attorney Lennon Edwards; and Neely's aunt Mildred Mahazu appear at a news conference in New York City on Friday, May 12, 2023. AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

NICK EICHER, HOST: It’s the 19th day of May 2023. Glad to have you along for today’s edition of The World and Everything in It. Good morning, I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. It’s Culture Friday.

Joining us now is Samuel Sey. He’s an up and coming blogger, podcaster, and commentator. He’s a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and the newest contributor to WORLD Opinions.

Samuel is making his first-ever appearance on Culture Friday. Samuel, good morning.

SAMUEL SEY: Good morning. It's an honor to be with you guys.

EICHER: I am so glad you’re here. Now Sam had his first column for us about a month ago a very personal column in which he made the point that there’s no such thing as an “interracial marriage.” He wrote, “My wife and I are not an interracial couple. … We do not have an interracial marriage—just a marriage.” He went on to say, “Though I’m black and my wife is white, … There is only one race in our marriage, not two.” Samuel, the subject of race is near and dear to you. Just by way of the listener getting to know you a little better, can you talk about why this subject is a passion of yours?

SEY: I'm so passionate about this topic, because I've seen how the issue of race has divided so many people that I know, including many of my own friends, who even share the same so-called race as me. Because the issue of race has been used—as it has been used for centuries in our society now—has been used to divide people. And now through critical race theory and woke ideology it's really dividing people, families, friends, churches, and as we know, in our society. So I think it's extremely important that Christians address this issue with Biblical truth. And in the article, one of the things I wanted to do is, is that, I'm married to a white woman and in many ways, our marriage has become controversial to some people, because of critical race theory. And we've received a lot of comments about our marriage. And I think it was very important that I address this issue from a Biblical point of view—to really teach what the Bible says about this. The Bible does indeed say that we are one race. And then even more than that, if we are in Christ, there is a unique race, biologically in the human race, but then even in Christ, there is a holy race as 1 Peter 2:9 says. So it's really important that we understand this because our society has been divided up through this.

EICHER: So, Sam, let’s talk about this sad situation on the subway in New York City, and you have a fairly predictable left-right breakdown of people who say...

Or one group of folks who say the Marine, Daniel Penny, a white man, is a hero. And another group saying the homeless man Penny placed in a chokehold, a black man who eventually died as a result of that, that the homeless man, Jordan Neely, is a victim of racism. 

How do you go about analyzing this, from a Christian perspective? … Because I think when Penny’s manslaughter trial gets going, we may be facing—I don’t know if it’ll be on the scale of the George Floyd case—but we could be in for some difficult days.

SEY: Yeah, I have similar concerns. One of the things that I always remember in this is that, you have a lot of people in our society who are going to immediately defend one person because of their political beliefs, or even because of their skin color. And it's important that we remember that the individuals—at least the most prominent individuals in this case—are people who are made in the image of God - first. Therefore, we are required to love them both. So God has commanded me to love Jordan Neeley. And He's also commanded me to love Daniel Penny. And we need to remember that you don't necessarily have to choose a side between the two of them, you can just choose to obey what God has said when it comes to love. 

Now, what does that mean? That means we have to—in love—rejoice in the truth. We don't have to necessarily pick a political side. So when I look, at least what has been presented so far, it is that Jordan Neely was being hostile, erratic, and he was threatening people on the train. He has been arrested 42 times. He had outstanding warrants against him. It's come out that he had attacked three women previously unprovoked on trains before. And also, even the freelance journalist who recorded the incident, mentioned that there were a lot of people who were deeply concerned for their safety when he was there. And that he had said that he did not mind going to jail, or going to jail for a long time, right before he was placed in the choke-hold by Daniel Penny. 

So I think it's important to understand that it's not like this, you know, as has been said by some people that, that Penny just went out there to try to harm this person. That just doesn't seem very likely. Plus, there were also two other people who were with him to restrain him. One of them was apparently another black person. So it seems to me that Daniel Penny was doing what he thought was best to protect the people on that train. And the second-degree manslaughter is a difficult issue when it comes to whether it is fair or not. Because oftentimes, even if somebody means well, if they act recklessly—and I’m not saying that he did—but if they act recklessly, it is necessary for them to be charged for that. And I think it is not necessarily unfair for there to be a trial over this. The problem is, will there be a fair trial? And there has been indication that this might not be the case, because of already how it's been presumed that because he is white, and because Jordan Neely is black, that it was because of racism when there's absolutely zero evidence of that.

REICHARD: I want to ask you about recent news out of San Francisco, about reparations. Most recently, that city’s task force on reparations recommended giving a one-time, $5 million payment to any eligible black person. Apparently that’s for displacing black families back in the 1960s and 70s from certain neighborhoods.

The state’s reparations task force is more modest, if you can call it that: a sliding scale that tops out at $1.2 million for older black people. 

More modest reparations have been established in towns like Evanston, Illinois. 

The underlying argument is reparations will close the racial wealth gap or otherwise make up for past discrimination.

Now as a lawyer, I can see legal entanglement galore. What if you just moved there this morning? What if your own ancestors weren’t forced out of a place? Not to mention assessing damages. How is that even measured? 

What do you say about reparations, Sam?

SEY: I'm really concerned about this for legal reasons, and also just again, more division in our society. You know, the thing with reparations is that some people are pointing to the Nazis and how there was so-called reparations for the victims of the Holocaust. There was also so-called reparations for the victims of the Japanese who were also put into internment camps in the US.

The problem is, I say “so-called reparations” because it was actually restitution. It was the actual victims of the Holocaust and the Japanese victims of the camps across the US. They were the ones that received the restitution for what had happened to them. With this, this is mostly going to be going towards people who were not the actual victims of, of redlining and all that. So that creates a lot of problems. 

Plus, you know, historically there have been different kinds of reparations, in a sense, across the US. We tend to forget that LBJ's great society was actually framed as a form of reparations for black Americans across the US and that was a disaster. And I am not convinced that this will lead to a different outcome. I think this will make things worse. 

When you consider what's happening across California, even when it comes to illiteracy rates across California, for black students, how is that going to help black students? How is that going to help the current issue? How's it going to help with fatherlessness? Crime? And then even when it comes to what about the wealthy black celebrities in Hollywood who will receive a lot of this, a lot of the so-called reparations? And then how is that going to affect the poor white Californians who will be made even poorer while the black elites get even wealthier? 

You know, I'm from Ghana, where we had a huge role in the slave trade—Ghana. To this day, there are about 35 so-called slave castles in Ghana. Actually a lot of my tribal ethnic people, which is the Fante, were made slaves by our rival ethnic group, which would be the Ashanti's. So Ghana is a very poor nation already. If reparations is as just as people claim it is, what about Africa? What about Ghana? Should Ghanians pay reparations? As in the Ashanti's who played a role in the slave trade? Should those who are already poor right now, should they be forced to pay reparations to the descendants of the people that they sold as slaves? Or what about even in Ghana? Right. So my people the Fante’s, who were sold as slaves by the Ashanti's, should they also receive reparations from the Ashanti's in Ghana? In what is already a poor nation. Right? If it wouldn't be right in Africa or in Ghana, it shouldn't be right in America as well. It is just inherently unjust.

REICHARD: Sam Sey is a blogger, podcaster, and commentator, and a contributor to WORLD Opinions. You can find more of his writing at Sam, thank you so much.

SEY: Thank you. 

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