Tuesday, April 14, 2009


I published this comment under the previous Easter post despite the fact that I'm not at all a fan of "anonymous" opinions. It seems a bit unfair when our names, faces, and personalities are out there for public scrutiny (by our own choosing) but others can offer a critique of us without returning the favor. But whatever. I'm reprinting the comment here so that I can answer it openly and thoroughly.

Anonymous said:

I find it kind of sad the way that you represent the community you live in. I assume people who know you know that you're joking around. But I'm sure there are lots of people out there who read your blog regularly who don't know you and aren't able to contextualize your observations. I'm one of those people.

I always felt that part of the reason you decided to become part of this community was to help dispel myths about lower income neighborhoods. I feel that often when you talk about your neighbors you're simply perpetuating these stereotypes, and it saddens me.

I've read your blog for some time now, and I've actually wanted to raise this in response to a few posts, and i decided today i wanted to share this.

I hope you won't take this as a slam, but rather as something to reflect on.


Let me start by saying that I don't take it as a slam. There are no ALL CAPS or over used !!!! It is much too thoughtfully written to be taken as an all out assault. So, thanks for that. Honestly, I am more confused by it than anything else. I did reflect -quite literally- I scanned back through a good year's worth of posts; and while I'm willing to admit a heavy bias, I don't see it.

Even more confusing was the connection to the post under which you penned your thoughts. The entire point of the previous post was how misguided and untrue my sons fears and concerns were. The opposite of what I understand your accusation to be.

I'm not sure which stereotypes you believe I have perpetuated. In fact, I had to go all the back to November of last year to find another post in which I specifically mentioned any person or situation directly relating to the neighborhood.

We moved into this neighborhood to love people. I suppose there are "myths" surrounding low income areas but there are also realities. I could have not shared the story of Willie in an effort to dispel the myth of alcoholism in the 'hood but... Willie exists. Alcoholism exists. What would you have me do? Does my recounting of Willie's story have a sarcastic edge? Sure. Perhaps you would offer a more sober-minded response to having a man stand in your living room and ask you (or your wife) to unzip his pants. Consider yourself the bigger person. I figured I had three options in this situation: be scared of it, be angry at it, or laugh about it. I chose laughing. I choose laughing.

I'm guessing (feel free to correct me) that you were put off by my asking if it was smart for my friend to bring white people to her party. Well, here's how that breaks down for me. Most white people would not have asked that question (out loud) for one of two reasons --

1) Fear. If I acknowledge our racial difference it may cause tension. That's not the kind of relationship I have with my friend, Melissa. Or any other friends for that matter. I did not have to be afraid of damaging the relationship by stating the obvious.

2) Arrogance. (unintentional, but still) Of course I don't have to ask if I'd be welcomed at the party. As a white American I am welcomed virtually anywhere I go. I'm not and never have been obligated to consider acceptance as a factor. The same is not true for African Americans. My willingness to ask (even within humor) acknowledges that they have the right to exclude me. I'm grateful that they didn't.

We love our neighborhood. We love our neighbors. We are surrounded by amazing, hard-working, loving, and giving people. There are also addictions, abuses, and sin. To deny either would be to misrepresent our community. To withhold love from any would be to misrepresent our God. The best we hope to do is to serve both wholeheartedly and honestly.

If we have screwed it up by your account -you are always welcome to come and help us out.


Shari said...

Anonymous....You definitely don't know Tim and Amie. They are the kindest, most loving people I know. They moved into the neighorhood, with only goodness and love to share. They look down on no one! They do not look at skin color or riches. Their passion is only to help people that need it and bring the glory of God's love to light. They do not see the addict as a hopeless case, but as someone who needs help and guidance to live a better life in the love of Jesus. Tim and Amie? Yeah their skin is Red....because they are all heart. I thank God every night that they found me and I am so proud to call them friends. And to be Nana to their children.

The Sexton Crew said...

Thanks Shari -just thought I should explain that you've adopted us (and vice versa) before the other grandparents get confused. =)

We love you, too!

T & T Livesay said...

wow. this proves my theory. no matter what you do - there will always be someone to tell you that you're doing it wrong. i have finally come to a place where it does not cause a bunch of tears and hurt - but it took three years. Opinions are like a$%holes. Everybody has got one.
love your not anonymous friend

The Sexton Crew said...

Tara -

I learned how to handle scoffers from the best. ;-) And only a few tears on this one mostly from frustration.

Love you!!

ali said...

sarcastics are often mis understood. we have big shoulders, we can take it :) hugs to Mamoune from Jackson! he still loves watching the video annette made of the 2 of them (in may of 02 i think?)jumping on the bed in the staff apartment singing B-I-B-L-E!!!!!!!! and sticking out their tongues. where did the time go???? love, ali

Drew said...

I agree with Shari. If Anonymous every hung out with you guys even for 5 minutes (which could quite easily turn into 20 without anyone realizing it) They would realize that even the people around us in our neighborhood will join in on the joke and laughter of what goes on in "da 'hood"

Luv ya guys!!!