May Blog

Good grief.  What a month and year.  This month we will discuss:

 

  1. An opinion piece on how we lead in difficult times.  So few do it.
  2. Quotes for the month.  Slim pickens this month as I was working on a new project.
  3. The book of the month – well that is the new project, a new book.
  4. Some news and marketing for Chesapeake. 

 

Leaders should try and live above the fray

 

If you discover that hell has frozen over and you have validated that as a fact, I can give you the reason.  If hell has indeed frozen over, that means that Bishop John Schol and I have voted for the same political candidate. 

 

I first met Bishop Schol when Chesapeake was doing a major project for the Baltimore-Washington Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He is a hands-on leader and I guess I am also, so we ran into each other a lot.  At least once per month, we carved out an hour to just sit down and talk and discuss stuff.  This went on for several years. 

 

John is about as liberal as you can get.  The last Republican he voted for was Abraham Lincoln and I believe he had to think about that for a while.  However – John never told me his political leanings.  Had he done so, he would have crossed over a line and invalidated his role as a spiritual leader for at least that moment, and if he did not walk it back, forever.  It is okay for me to guess – but if you hold authority over me, do not shove it in my face and dishonor me.  If you do that, you will begin to lose my trust and relationships are based on trust.  Since you have authority over me, I probably will not say anything – I will just quietly tune you out and eventually leave, if I can. 

 

John never let his political leaning influence his relationship with others nor determine actions he would take concerning his job, although at one time, some of that bothered him.  He subordinated his personal political feelings the to good of the whole. 

 

Unfortunately, especially in these politically charged times, we have lost that self-control and discipline.  Loss of self-control can have enormous negative impacts for you personally and for your organization if you are a high ranking official.  

 

If you have ever worked at Chesapeake or know me personally you can pretty much guess how I lean politically; just like I did with Bishop Schol.  But you never saw a bumper sticker on my car and I intentionally tried not to make someone feel uncomfortable because we were on different sides of the political fence.  Perhaps I failed on occasion, but my intent was to not be overt.  To be overt in your political beliefs is to dishonor those who do not feel the same as you. 

 

It is a choice.  You can choose to honor – or you can choose do dishonor.  Please at least try and choose honor.  It really does work out better for everyone.  And I know it requires biting your tongue many times. 

 

Quotes

 

  1. If you start today to do the right thing, you are already a success. John Maxwell
  2. I’m living my blessed life, this race has just begun.  Your mercy, love and grace, Has prepped me for this run.  From Kerry Stevenson’s book “Living the Blessed Life”
  3. Father in heaven, Your written Word says You resist the proud and bless those who are humble.  I don’t want to miss anything You have for me, so please help me.  Help me check myself when I am tempted to think more highly than I should.—Daily Wisdom for Men
  4. Do not take the agenda someone else has mapped out for your life.  John Maxwell
  5. Our dogs, they never talk about themselves, but listen to you while you talk about yourself, and keep an appearance of being interested in the conversation.  Jerome K Jerome
  6. Stay focused instead of getting offended or off track by others.  John Maxwell
  7. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart.  What you say flows from what is in your heart.  Luke 6:45
  8. Everything begins with a decision.  John Maxwell
  9. When we don’t focus on our calling, we feel unhappy and confused with our life.  John Maxwell

 

New Book: “A White Man’s Guide for Racial Harmony – advice for white guys”

 

On May the 8th during my devotional time, I got a ping to write this.  It is the fastest book I have ever written and for a few that have reviewed it, told me it is my best.  However, that is not a very high bar.  Below, I am going to have the Contents and Introduction.  If would like me to e-mail you a copy send me a note and I will do so.  I still have some work to do on it but for the most part it is done.  The plan is to use it for a study guide.  I hope you have me send you a copy (for now it is free) and that you learn ½ as much as I did in writing it.

 

“A White Man’s Guide for Racial Harmony – advice for white guys”

 

                                                             By

                

                                                John Covington

 

 

Contents

 

Foreword

Introduction

The Journey We Will Take With This Book

 

  1. Albert
  2. Robert
  3. The Washington Redskins
  4. Butch
  5. United States Naval Academy
  6. The Greatest Generation
    1. Uncle Joe
    2. Aunt Ruth
    3. Ray
    4. A small Historical View of Racism
  7. Linda & Me
    1. Ed
    2. Lewis
    3. Debra & Ralph
    4. Leigh
  8. Check Your Assumptions – they are probably wrong
    1. My Dog Maggie
    2. Milwaukee Airport
    3. Why Do You Hate White People?
    4. Why Do You Hate White People part two?
  9. What Can You Do as a White Guy to make Things Better?
  10. What Can Our Churches Do?
  11. What Can Our Governments Do?
  12. What Can our Businesses Do?
  13. What Can Higher Education Do?
  14. Summary
  15. Study Guide
  16. Appendix

 

 

Introduction

 

“If you could snap your fingers and make it happen, what would you want white men to understand about racism?” 

 

That is a question I asked several of my black friends.  Their answers are one of the reasons why I am writing this book.  My heart breaks for the men and women that are black that I call my friends and loved ones.  They are my friends and loved ones and when they are hurt so am I.  These are issues of right and wrong --- issues of justice and injustice.  You and I as white males must do what we can to help.  Perhaps the answers my friends gave to this question that was asked in June of 2020 can help motivate and prod us.  Here are some of their answers and I have recorded more in the Appendix:

 

  • For them to just realize it exists.  Most white people do not think racism exists today.  All the owners, coaches and administrators today in the NFL are white. You mean to tell me that do not have any black people qualified? 
  • White people like to say, “I cannot be a racist; I have five black friends.”  They see good blacks and bad blacks.  The good blacks are their five friends.  The bad blacks are all the rest of the black people.”
  • My 17-year-old son wanted to go out on Halloween with his white buddies.  I told him no, he could not go.  I was afraid if they did some mischief and he was running away, he would be shot.   When he goes out at night, I do not worry about him being in an accident, I worry about him being pulled over by the police.
  • The KKK marched in our Christmas parade and showed up at my youth football games.  I have been pulled over by the police for no reason and followed.  I graduated from high school in 1997.
  • The work to end racism in America is not someone else’s problem.  It is an American problem and to address it is just as patriotic as the flag is red, white and blue.
  • Empathy is the key to all of this—the ability to imagine one’s self in another’s place and then asking the question—is this okay?  Is this acceptable?  And if the answer is no, then have the courage to change it.
  • Not all black people think the same and no one black person can speak for the entire group.
  • To recognize that privilege and bias does exist in society. It is not the fault of all whites that privilege exists, it’s a systemic and it has festered in the fabric of our society for decades. 
  • To realize there can be two different experiences for whites and blacks in many different situations.
  • Many of your black employees are exhausted, scared, crying in between meetings, putting on a performance, and mentally checking out.

 

 If you are like me, you have used the phrase “I am color blind,” when referring to your approach towards racism.  Please join with me and stop saying that.  Because you and I both know it is not true.  Race matters.  Color matters.  Gender matters.  Age matters.  They just do. 

 

Jeremiah 1:5a; “Before I made you in your mother’s womb, I chose you.  Before you were born, I set you apart for a special work.” 

 

All of us are unique, we have our own special identity.  Part of that identity is race, color, gender, age and a multitude of other things.  Perhaps you are a veteran, or a trombone player – part of the package that makes up your identity. 

 

Although we each have a multitude of things that help identify us – they are simply facts, we select only a few as our self-identity (how we view ourselves). That self-view, may change given different situations.  If I am at a gathering of chemical engineers, then my identity as a chemical engineer oozes near the surface of who I am.  Later that day, when I go to a church meeting on prison ministry, that chemical engineering identity slips down on the lists, and my identity of being a Disciple for Christ goes up a few notches. 

 

When I consider who I am, being white, is way down on the totem pole.  My gut feel is that this is the same for most white men.  Yes, I am a white male, but it is not something I often consider.  I wonder if men of color often consider their race.  I will leave that hanging out there for you to ponder and perhaps answer.  If the answer is yes, do we need to consider this in our relationships with others who are not like us? 

 

My brothers, this is going to be a book discussing racism.  My first audience is white men.  If you are a black man and get a hold of this – well, I hope you enjoy the read but my suspicion is that you already know and are aware of what I am saying.  If you are a woman then you are prohibited from reading this book (I am just kidding). 

 

My wife Linda asked me why I was writing this book.  “Because I think God told me to and I want to be obedient.”  Linda thinks I am crazy; however, I choose not to self-identify as crazy. 

 

Most of the books I have seen on racism are written by liberals, women, pastors and academics.  Do those perspectives relate to the ordinary white male?  Do terms like white privilege, white supremacy, institutional racism resonate with the average white male?  Probably not.  In fact, they probably do more to alienate the white male and push us further back into our shell of silence. 

 

I want to end this Introduction with a poem from my friend Kerry Stevenson, who is now an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee.  Many of his poems are written surrounding specific events.  This poem was written after Alabama’s National Championship in 2017, as they were preparing for a scheduled trip to go to the Trump White House and several of the black players were struggling with going on the trip.  Kerry wrote this poem as one of the responses to this resistance by some of the players.  Enjoy:

 

                     What Color?

 

What color? The person that comes to lend a hand.

Does it matter?  If they care or if they understand?

 

A child doesn’t judge people on color, you see.

It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re the same color as me.

 

God made all of His creation, and He said it was good.

Did he mention a color?  Use His example, we should.

 

The dream is still alive and should come from within.

The content of my character, not the color of my skin.

 

                 What Color?

 

To treat everyone the way that God treats you.

To love and forgive should be easy for us to do.

 

How do you make me feel?  Does it depend on my shade?

And the color of my skin, shouldn’t make you afraid.

 

                      What Color?

 

All that’s in Heaven’s hands shall be right.

Brothers and sisters praising, no color in sight.

 

               What Color?

 

Our aim here on earth should be,

To love and respect all, the truth sets us free.

 

             What Color?

 

On God, we should all still depend.

His perfect love the same with the difference of skin.

 

Tone, shade or color is not where it begins.

But we shall all learn to live, with the skin that we are in.

 

Do a self-evaluation, which the kids, they will show.

How do you treat me and make me feel?  What color, you know?

 

(Poem from Inspirations in Life by Kerry Stevenson)

 

 

News Items

 

  • Chesapeake is sponsoring John Maxwell’s Live2Lead on October 9th at the Bryant Conference Center.  Contact us for details on table sponsorships and tickets.  Steve Harvey is one of the speakers.  He has quite a story.
  • Each week we a providing a “WorkKey’s Workshop” via zoom.  Although most employers in Alabama require some sort of WorkKeys testing, very few actually understand the benefits.
  • We are working on some exciting projects one of which is working with several local police departments to help profile specific jobs within the department. 
  • The weight loss program is exactly on track for the year -- barely.  June is a key month.

 

Remember if you want an email version of the entire new book – pop me a note. 

 

John