Each time the issue of racism is mentioned, tensions immediately run high, reason is thrown out the window, and emotional outbursts run rampant. Even though a lot of effort has been done to fight it, the devastating consequences continue to this day.
In this book, Dr. Tangumonkem challenges the status quo and presents a perspective that is both provocative and inspirational. Contrary to what you hear from those stoking the flames of racism and fermenting hate and bigotry, we are not at the mercy of racism. In fact, he dives deep into history to explain why the tendency to be racist is present in each one of us, regardless of skin color. The good news is that the victory has already been won — all we need is to live it out. When we stare right at this supercharged issue with fresh, unfiltered eyes, a seismic shift happens. Perhaps, the light at the end of racism is in sight.
The book Racism, Where Is Your Sting?: A provocative look at the beginning and the end of racism by Dr. Eric Tangumonkem is a wide-scoped exploration of racism based in a theological foundation. Before you feel unsure if you can handle the chastization on such a triggering topic, give this book a try. This book is accurately housed under an “inspirational” genre, lessons are emphasized in italics throughout the text and repeated motifs and mantras solidify the inspirational messages from chapter one to chapter seven. While there is critique on many human actions, (and there will be moments where you may feel stung,) Dr. Tangumonkem always brings us back to a premise of light and hope for our future.
The book begins with scripture analysis, and the grounding anchor throughout involves explication of The Bible. When Dr. Tangumonkem says “a provocative look at the beginning” he’s not hyperbolizing. The discussion does start with a look at the Original sin of Eve and Adam, and jumps into ‘the first murder’ of Cain with Abel. The book also ends with a chapter on embracing Christianity and even goes as far to leave his personal email to reach out for resources, should you want to dive into religion more. The title of the book is a biblical reference, as well, as a modification of “O death, where is thy sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57). The message underlying states: by eliminating racism ideology and language, the mere notion of racism will fall at our feet. As it should.
The detail of how this was written by someone who was born and grew up in West Africa, and moved to the United States gives authenticity and a well-rounded perspective on the subject. The arguments presented are balanced, Dr. Tangumonkem holds everyone globally accountable, and even mentions “what the popular Kenyan law professor and advocate for the eradication of corruption on Africa said, ‘The blood of ethnicity among the African Christians is stronger than the blood of Christ.’ This is a very sad reality that must change.” This is not a Anglo-TV-Evangelist just trying to hammer his beliefs into you through text.
The target audience are presumably Christian, however, the arguments displayed throughout are valuable regardless of your level of religious involvement or knowledge. Dr. Tangumonkem does “highlight the fact that the focus has not been for you to join a religion or to become religious.” If you don’t prescribe to any or a different religious belief, that’s okay. I highly encourage you to read this book anyway with a “Beginner’s Mind” approach. I also encourage you to read (not gloss over) the scripture discussed in Racism, Where Is Your Sting? as there are logical gems supplied through biblical evidence:
...racism and Christianity are not supposed to appear in the same sentence because you cannot be a Christian and racist at the same time. There is only one human race, according to the God of the Bible. Therefore, it makes no sense to even think that there is an inferior race that needs to be looked down upon. Let this scripture settle this race issue once and for all. Paul, the apostle, was writing to the church in Rome and here is what he told them: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV).
For many of us, the conversation between racism and religion is uncharted territory. Let this fact be the fuel you need to read without judgment and absorb the thesis in its entirety. Feel free to question the vehicles of evidence and scripture in this text, but pause as you catch yourself doubting or questioning. Write that thought down to explore further after you’ve completed this book, or let that question dissipate.
Although Dr. Tangumonkem’s anchor is The Word, Racism, Where Is Your Sting? also includes other reputable voices into this conversation as quoted epigraphs at the beginning of chapters including Jordan Peele, Marianne Williamson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela. Likewise, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela as utilized as examples to further illustrate points made.
Parallel to any effective persuasive argument, Racism, Where Is Your Sting? opens the conversation with definitions of racism, ethnocentrism, and tribalism for clarity. The conversation includes a Deconstructionist approach to classifications of grouping peoples and their arbitrary meanings, and often reflects on the terms society recognizes as “a social construct that is false... [Where] that idea that the use of color to classify humans does not have the right intentions. It is a tool of discrimination, subjugation, and control.” Racism, Where Is Your Sting? goes beyond textual evidence and touches on five senses, mass media representation, and even examines a range of time periods and countries/varying situations where injustice occurs. Racism, Where Is Your Sting? tackles the topic of Trump, and of necessary outrage for how Chinese people view darker skinned people. It calls on history, current events, anthropology, and theology to create a cohesive argument from the beginning to the future-end of systematic and societal racism. There are practical and every-day-enactable tips, for example: “You can help by stop calling people black or white. Call them by their name, and this is good enough.”
Racism, Where Is Your Sting? takes no sides, chastises all with wit; “If we insist on doing our own thing and forming churches that do not reflect the diversity in our communities, then we are setting up country clubs, not churches.” The text singles not one group out, but all humans out, as being inherently bad, and this gives us drive and strength to adhere to this call to action we share as the human race: “To know each other and dismantle some of the prevalent stereotypes, there is a need for all people to interact with each other under different circumstances.” There is knowledge and understanding to be gained from reading this book. It is empowering to believe if we can change ourselves, we can truly change the world, and there is inspiration and hope to be found by adopting the mantra that there is a need for “internal transformation, not external legislation.”
Ultimately, Racism, Where Is Your Sting? succeeds in presenting a digestible navigation of such a negative topic. Dr. Tangumonkem offers a pretty simple solution: work on yourself and others with gravitate to your orbit, and will eradicate racism with you: “This book is about you as an individual, not about the government, institution or organization. I mentioned that the governments, laws, and organizations are the other players in this issue, but the main thrust of this book has been YOU.” Even if you are not a believer in The Good Word, this book is a necessary piece of the puzzle to eradicate racist behavior and language.
REVIEWED BY Kristiane Weeks-Rogers
Racism, Where Is Your Sting?: A provocative look at the beginning and the end... https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082D16PD5/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_C8W7Db4PRJMXP via @amazon