Race, Grace, Truth, and Technology

Am reflecting on the comments around Twitter from CNN’s Sunday presentation of Black in America (part 4 of the series). This one is probably one that I should have tilted my head into someone’s home that has cable TV, as the discussion is causing a bit of a ruckus, and just as intense of silence. I don’t like conversations about race. I never seem to hear the side that best fits… me.

Then I read this quote (also on Twitter):

Where are the men who will make dents with the hammers of grace and truth, not technology.? – Jorge Mendoza (@N8Derichsweiler)

Something about that statement incensed me. Something about what wasn’t said in the Twitter discussion of CNN’s program incensed me. I reflected on what I do with Mobile Ministry Magazine… I started to listen to me.

I’ve been hammering at this faith-based point of mobile tech for sometime now. I am compelled by it at some moments, repulsed at it in others. But, if there was any one “product” that I could say MMM has to offer, it would be that perspective that there’s this truth in how we use and understand technology that greatly effects how we relate to ourselves, one another, and our God on a very spiritual level. 

I don’t shy from that kick in the heart that says the very tech that I’m espousing for its benefits has some terrible Golden Calf-type effects along the way. Surely, aside from a few people of whom flower to my lack of speaking other languages, this type of talk about technology isn’t very… normal. Its deep. Its “thinking man’s gin.” Its academic. This thrust of truth is part of my technological toolkit.

Then there’s grace. I don’t handle this part very well. In fact, when I visited a church recently, to be the only non-white person in the room was something finally getting to me. I had to be open to what I didn’t know, and that’s why I was there. They had a piece of life in this area that I didn’t and I was bound to put down my pride and visit life with them. I dipped my toe in grace. I drew from a well of grace. I noticed that the spoon was rusty. Do you know how hard it is to smile when people aren’t sure how you’ll respond to their hello? Grace. This too was a part of my technological toolkit.

And then there’s that meme – to be “black” in America. I don’t know how that is. I’m lighter than most and my travels put me in black, white, Hispanic, and mixed groups often. In the South, there’s another level of disassociation that happens when you can play in all of the sandboxes, when you are seen as both a path-maker and a bridge burner to perceptions that shouldn’t exist anymore.

At least, I don’t want them to exist anymore. 

Its disturbing to be in places where no matter how much truth and grace you pack that you are still sticking out like some kind of festering, itching sore. As if the content of your character needs a better skin tone, watch, dialect, or automotive keychain trinket. I sit in too many places where I wish that it was just grace and truth as core to our character – not replayed memes of a generation that is just booming with scars and tears – finding it harder and harder to dig at what shouldn’t be there.

I dare not be the mobilist, the technologist, who is defined by creating the next API, social network, application suite, or meme for the speaking circuit. I’d rather be, and create opportunities for others to dispense grace and truth throughout our lives as we bend back the weeds towards roads that should be traveled. I think grace and truth are innovation… and this is what I kept hearing as that quote spoke to the very depths of me.

At the time of this writing, I still don’t know the whole of Arrington’s views on minorities in Silicon Valley. I don’t know the glass ceiling. I do know the emotional, social, and financial struggles. I’m not there though. I decided to carve out life in a place where (computer) technologies are seen more as magic and witchcraft, rather than enablers to lives more sustainable and fulfilled by all. I’m planted in the Bible Belt more as a teacher to perspectives than the seller of product. So maybe that’s why my race wants to look more like grace and truth, than black and white.

I’m not opposed nor for minorities getting a hand in moving forward. If the structures of our society makes it less equal for people of equal classes to succeed, then we should address that. I don’t know that this country is ready to give up its classes though. I don’t see those in heavily-handed social powers defining their legacies by truth and grace as much as I see them making thrust and haste as this economy goes further and further south. I don’t get why we can (as mobilists) deny so easily the voices that aren’t English speaking, and prop up the next location-based service, social network tie-in, and extra shiny device designed to die in 24 months. I’m opposed to the falsification of progress where we all are lied to.

If in my race to make this world better, I can hammer our grace and truth, then this is good. My soul might even rest tonight knowing that I passed the kind of stone that’s worth building on. But, if my race is nothing more than a measurement of black against white, then I’m probably not going to end this well. I don’t know how to run in the arguments of hurt while claiming health.

Where are the men who will make dents with the hammers of grace and truth, not technology?

If they were me in my youth, they’d probably have part of an eye in a magazine, another on Hot Wheels, another drawing designs, while the other eye waxed gently towards the people who seemed to overcome race with a sense of knowing how to best use grace and truth to rise above and pull generations with them. Where I used to run, it was both men and women hammering that out. I dare not let the race for me look any different.