I’m not racist, but…

Sometimes, the comment section is the best bit of this blog.

Whether it’s someone who’s received bad treatment in an ACE school going on a huge rant or an ACE supporter saying I’m a “true retard“, or someone saying, you know, something intelligent, they’re always good.

Like this, which came in yesterday morning. First, some context. This was in reply to my How ACE is Racist post. That post quotes a couple of ACE PACEs which contain some quite unjustified racial commentary. Two of the quotes (written in the 80s, when South Africa was under apartheid) argued that if black people were given the vote, the South African economy would be destroyed.

So it was a delight to read:

“So, have the blacks destroyed South Africa in the 18 years that they’ve had power? It certainly seems so! Our economy is down the tubes, our Rand is effectively worthless, no international investment thats worth mentioning, civil unrest, and so on and so on…. The government figures that are in “power” are milking the people for every cent they can in order to live a life of fatcat luxury… Starting to remind you of another country, or countries, in Africa? Many black South Africans will also tell you they lived better lives under the “Apartheid Regime”, certainly not saying that we should go back there, but then again, Einstein’s definition of insanity is; “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

My children are on the ACE program and frankly, they dont even notice any “segregation” in their learning material. ACE is certainly a whole lot better than the public “government” run schools… I dont trust what the government wants to teach my children, and the quality of education in this country today is shocking to say the least! Reminds me of an ancient joke with a punchline that goes; “give him another chance!”

Whats your REAL beef with ACE? Your blog smells of an agenda against ACE.

My 2c, from someone LIVING in South Africa with children on the ACE program.”

In these days of political correctness, it can sometimes feel (at least to a privileged white guy like me) that the war on racism has been won, so it’s important to be reminded that there are still racist pieces of shit still out there.

On the other hand, my all-time worst church experience actually had nothing to do with Accelerated Christian Education; it was in a church run by some white South Africans who were racist, ignorant, bullying, and wholly unpleasant people. I frequently have to remind myself that they were just nasty individuals, and you can’t generalise about South Africa from them. And then along comes this guy to reinforce my stereotype.

I should explain. In 1998 or 1999, the church I attended hosted a “family fun” evening, when members of the congregation performed party pieces for entertainment. The pastor’s wife suggested that I should mime singing along to the Sister Act 2 version of “Oh Happy Day”. And she insisted that I do it blacked up. 

For some reason, I went through with this. I think it was even recorded, but mercifully that tape’s never surfaced. If it does ever show up, that’s one video I won’t be posting to YouTube.

My most vivid memory of preparing to go on was the same pastor’s wife muttering, as she smeared jet black paint onto my face, “I hope no one thinks this is racist. Oh well, if they do they’re just narrow-minded, eh?” Then she spun me around and marched me towards the stage.

I remember thinking But this is racist, isn’t it? I don’t know why I suppressed that thought. I think I thought, Well, I know I don’t mean to be racist, and I thought the pastor’s wife couldn’t be racist or she wouldn’t have mentioned it. The pastor’s youngest daughter later informed me that it was wrong for couples of different races to marry, “because their children would get bullied.”

The Happy Day performance is now the single memory that haunts me the most from my entire time as a fundamentalist. I think it’s because I should have known better. Yeah, I was pushed into it by church authority figures, but I was 13 or 14. I should have been too old for that bullshit. But I was educated in ACE, where Africans were “blacks” who ruined economies. Two black kids went to Victory while I was there, and neither stayed very long.

After the performance, I felt disgusting. I remember my Dad (not really a racist, but wholly ignorant on such matters) saying it was “very funny,” but, “What happened to your dancing? You could have put a bit more energy into it.” I couldn’t think of anything to say in response. I hadn’t even wanted to be there. I just gave him a teenage grunt.

I say all this just to show fundamentalism’s relationship with racism is extremely complicated. On the one hand, there are racist scum like these guys, and on the other hand, the Pentecostal movement (of which my church was a part) originated from black Americans. And the same pastors who got me to black up would encourage the congregation to listen to T.D. Jakes.

ACE are even more confused. Before I got this idiot’s comment, I was thinking about retracting my claim that ACE is racist. They have definitely printed some indefensible things about minorities, but it’s more complicated than straight up racism. I don’t want to stir up false charges when there are plenty of genuine, serious failings with ACE.

According to Paul F. Parsons’ book Inside America’s Christian Schools, in the 1980s ACE actually refused to sell their materials to segregated schools. At the same time, the PACEs depict segregated schools in cartoons. It’s a bizarre mixed message. The PACEs also depict William Wilberforce as a godly man who saw that slavery was wrong because he read his Bible, while ungodly people still owned slaves. Historical accuracy… who needs it?

Oh, and by the way, Captain Racist:

Whats your REAL beef with ACE? Your blog smells of an agenda against ACE.

Of course. It would be preposterous for my real bone of contention to be ACE’s endorsement of apartheid. I hold my hands up. You got me. What can I say? I tried so hard to hide my bias against ACE in my 90-odd blog posts in which I carefully enumerate my disputes with ACE, but somehow, you saw through it. Well done, Sherlock.

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About Jonny Scaramanga

I grew up as a Christian fundamentalist in the UK. Now I am writing a book and blog about what that's like, and what fundamentalists believe.

Posted on November 29, 2012, in Accelerated Christian Education, Education, Faith Schools, Fundamentalism, School of Tomorrow and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “Your blog smells of an agenda against ACE”?

    GOSH, JONNY. YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN MORE TRANSPARENT.

    “My children are on the ACE program and frankly, they dont even notice any “segregation” in their learning material.”

    That would be how indoctrination works. FFS…

    • Just because all the blacks in the paces attend Grace Baptist and all the Whites attend Highland Baptist does not mean that the paces encourage segregation. In fact, the members of Grace and Highland are good friends and frequently hang out together.

  2. The pastor’s youngest daughter later informed me that it was wrong for couples of different races to marry, “because their children would get bullied.”

    That’s a very… interesting argument, but one of a kind I’m sure I’ve heard before.

    Why do you think ACE are and were so “confused” about this?

  3. aaahh, morning sunshine… thank you for your kind words (sic).

    It’s a real pity that you dont live in South Africa and experience the day to day racism that still exists in this country, albeit that it now comes from the other side! But then again, there’s no such thing as reverse-racism, just racism. The blatant corruption that exists in government and the way the general populace is milked for every penny. The crime that exists in every space, 85 year old granny’s getting murdered in their apartments for a mobile phone; motor vehicle accident victims getting robbed whilst lying bleeding and injured on the side of the road by “passer’s by”… YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT’S GOING ON IN SOUTH AFRICA! All this whilst the SAPS are sitting at the desks sleeping, with loaded firearms lying on the table in front of them….

    I am a white, middle aged, male person, married with 3 children, doing my damndest to eek out a living in a country where the black person is given every work opportunity (even though that person is nowhere near qualified for that position, and paid an insane amount of money to sit on his/her backside and read the paper all day!) South Africa is going to the dogs (words spoken by none other than Mr Tokyo Sexwale himself at a press conference two nights ago in Johannesburg!!), this country reeks of communism where the ruling party only considers itself and its members and destroys everything around them for a buck! Mother Russia and Nazi Germany all over again… There’s Einstein’s insanity definition again….

    I have many “black” and “coloured” friends and we get together regularly and inevitably there’s a discussion about what’s going on in our country on a day to day basis. They are just as frustrated as I am with the blatant racism exercised by the government and their cronies.

    Your comment: “In these days of political correctness, it can sometimes feel (at least to a privileged white guy like me) that the war on racism has been won, so it’s important to be reminded that there are still racist pieces of shit still out there.” is very valid, as you just confirmed that you are as racist as you claim me to be. Allow me to burst your bubble a little, racism has been around forever and probably will be around forever, in some form or another, It’s pie in the sky thinking to hope that the war on racism has been won.

    Right, Rant Off… back to the point at hand.

    Every single education system will have its faults, ACE included. It’s up to me as a parent to ensure that my children understand what is being taught and to ask YHWH’s discernment to know right from wrong. I’m having a beef with ACE myself at the moment as my son refuses to “pledge allegiance to the flag”, which is one of the tasks in a PACE that he’s busy with. My family and I will ONLY pledge allegiance to YHWH and Yeshua, and NOTHING else. ACE says that if he doesnt complete the PACE and we refuse to make him do so, then we will not be allowed to continue with the program. One of the fundamental reason why we chose homeschooling over public schooling was the freedom to FIRST honour YHWH and Yeshua before anything else. YHWH expects me to stand up for my fundamental beliefs, just as He does you.

    Understand also please that the “modern” church’s agenda actually has very little to do with Scripture! If it did, then why do they all “celebrate” this pagan, sun-worship feast called christmas? And then why do they celebrate this pagan, sex-worship feast called easter? Satan will candy coat anything to make you believe that it’s right and it’s christian! Where in SCRIPTURE is the nativity scene? Where in SCRIPTURE does it outline Satan Claus? How does the “church” get THREE FULL DAYS from Good Friday to Easter Sunday? Perhaps these are more important issues to discuss than an issue which you will never win, or even hope to think has been won.

    In my family, teaching starts and ends with Scripture! If, at some point, I start to feel that ACE no longer is healthy teaching, then I will move on. It’s also pretty much assured that the next one will also have it’s faults. It’s not about the faults, it’s how I react to them and deal with them that matters. This I can also only do with the Grace of YHWH and the Blessing of his Ruach to guide me. There’s the crux of it all.

    I have to give you one thing, you stand up for what you believe in and fight for what you believe is right in your mind. If anything, that is honorable. Whether you and I share a common belief is irrelevant, but I do respect you for standing up for what you believe in.

    May YHWH’s richest blessings be upon you today!

    J

  4. Ho hum…isn’t it strange how small they become when confronted with the sensitive issue of ‘rascist’. No smoke without fire.

  5. You took me to back to the Missouri state convention 1984, my first ACE state convention. I was watching performances and trying to not look like I was just staring at the girls, which I was definitely doing. A girl did a poem I can still remember a little. She had obviously put in a lot of time on it. The name of the poem I should remember but don’t. It was about god calling death to go and get a soul. Her performance gave me chills. It was clear that she deserved first place and I was looking forward to seeing her perform for everyone with the rest of the first place winners. But the black girl did not even place.

    • Back in my days at ACE, I corresponded regularly with someone who worked at ACE headquarters in Lewisville, TX. He hated it too and we kept each other sane.

      One day I emailed him and said, “I’ve noticed some stuff in my PACEs that seems racist to me. Have you seen anything like that?”

      He shot back (obviously this is not a direct quote because the email in question was 13 years ago), “Definitely. When I started here there were some black guys, but now they’ve all been fired apart from the janitors.”

  6. “The pastor’s youngest daughter later informed me that it was wrong for couples of different races to marry, “because their children would get bullied.””

    I’ve heard a variation of this ‘argument’ recently from a University flatmates brother in regard to same-sex couples adopting. His reasoning was that because of homophobic bullying it shouldn’t be allowed. He never seemed to comprehend that rather than avoiding giving the bullies any ammo we should instead be eradicating homophobia which is ridiculously easy – let them spend time with homosexuals so they can realise that they’re no different from any other member of society beyond their sexuality. Instead this guy, who was a lovely person in areas that didn’t touch his religion and when subjects of conversation did he became an overbearing bully, thought that doing such a thing would be infringing religious freedom.

    I wonder to this day how he could turn out like he did while his sister was, and still is, a genuinely good open-minded person who managed to shake off her childhood indoctrination.

    Anyway thank you for an excellent blog.

    • Thanks for your comments. I completely agree on the bullying issue; it’s bizarre how people try to find more palatable defences for their bigotry. The truth is that the pastor I knew was a racist, and the guy you know sounds like a homophobe, but rather than come out and say that, they’ll find another excuse. That’s kind of heartening actually; it shows that society is positive enough that those views are generally unacceptable.

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