Tag Archives: antiracism

#NeverTrump Evangelicals & Trendy Anti-Racism

The year was 2000 A.D., the Year of our Lord, and the very first November I would be eligible to vote for U.S. President and local elections, but most importantly, VOTING FOR PRESIDENT! The 2000 presidential campaign is a memorable for some people because of all of the dangling chads left in Florida and one candidate winning the popular vote while the other candidate “earning” the most votes from the electoral college. For me, the 2000 Presidential election was one of my first theological lessons on race. In Charisma Magazine, there was a survey taken where the results showed a split between White Christians and Black Christians. White Christians were claiming then Texas governor George W. Bush was “God’s man” as they readied up America for a “revival.” Black Christians, according to the survey didn’t really have a notion of “God’s man” but they did prefer to vote for former Vice President Al Gore.

What was wrong? Were these two groups reading different Bibles? What could have been the difference? One disturbing story out of Texas during W’s tenure as governor was his appalling silence about the lynching of James Byrd in 1998. Black communities were the lone group that decried this silence. Bush’s only response was that his administration pushed for the death penalty but is human sacrifice necessary to restore order? Capital punishment did not take away the hatred and racist practices of groups like the Sons of Confederate Veterans, who mobilized during Bush’s predecessors’ three terms to get the Confederate flag on TX license plates. John William King, one of Byrd’s murderers, was in fact, a card-carrying member of a Neo-Confederate White Supremacist gang. A governor failed to listen to the cries of a marginalized people group, the people then continue to suffer. This isn’t a question about whether or not George W. Bush is racist. The question is, what did he do when confronted with the problem of systemic racism, and the victims of racial injustice? Nothing.

Fast forward to 2016. The world is a different place, it has changed, some for the better, and some for the not-so-good. Evangelical Christians in the post-Bush/Cheney era are more cautious with their words, after all of the negative representation from movies like Saved! And Easy A, they care deeply about their image as not seeming too odd. Although he was from a mainline protestant Episcopalian family, Evangelicals accepted George W. Bush as their very own, but as the markets crashed in 2008, discontent and buyer’s remorse was real in White evangelicalism. Who wants to be associated with an unpopular President anyhow? Not only that, but Black Christians and other religious adherents have found newer voices in the fight over white supremacy in places such as the Southern Baptist Convention. A few weeks ago The SBC has denounced the Confederate flag. My high-school self would have done ten back flips. Last week, the Presbyterian Church of America made an apology for racism, both new and old. , repenting for its failure to ‘ lovingly confront our brothers and sisters concerning racial sins and personal bigotry.” ‘
Another fascinating development among evangelicals in the field of politics has been the loud and resounding “NO!” of the #NeverTrump movement . Alan Noble of The Atlantic put it this way,

“Suppose you believe the presidential frontrunners are unfit for office — so unfit, in fact, that they are a threat to the moral, political, and social fabric of our nation. For the past three decades, conservative evangelical Christians in America have felt this way about Democratic nominees, particularly because of their stances on abortion and, more recently, religious liberty.”

Donald Trump, you see, on positions such as abortion and traditional marriage is just as bad as a Democratic candidate, and what’s worse, is that Trump is opposed to traditional conservative orthodoxy beliefs such as free market capitalism. Drumpf’s political solutions are authoritarian, and his speeches, tweets, and campaign contain overtly racist ideas. The impetus of the #NeverTrump movement is two-fold: one is many evangelicals principled stands for traditional family values, and the other is the objection to Trump’s shock-jock ways, saying racist and sexist things and then back-tracking on them the next day. It’s not really about Trump’s inexperience or his lack of grasp of any and every issue. Whenever they get a chance, #NeverTrump evangelicals take the opportunity whenever they can to differentiate themselves from Trump’s “authenticity.” It’s a new anti-racism, “Trump’s a Bigot!” “Trump is racist. #NeverTrump.”

Never-Trump Evangelicals are not the only persons joining the fight against racism. Bernie Sanders’ supporters love to remind Black people that Bernie Sanders “walked” with Martin Luther King, Jr. Bernie Sanders is against mass incarceration (who isn’t nowadays?), and that the 50 states locking up thousands of Black and Latinx people is the fault of their favorite scapegoat, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yes, you guys, the Clintons were in charge of all 50 state prison systems [ enter sarcasm here]. One BernieBro in a “conversation” this week even had the gall to call me “a Super Predator” as a reminder of something Hillary already apologized for; another BernieBro provided a survey from the Berner circle jerk as “evidence” that Bernie supporters are way less racist than any other voters. That’s exactly why Bernie had all-white volunteer groups recruiting Black voters and held all white rallies at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Even white Hillary Clinton supporters see themselves as forces of anti-racism. If Black people and other People of Color vote overwhelmingly for your candidate, you are now the defender of multiculturalism. Place a picture of Barack Obama as your AVI on Twitter, and now you, too, can be a Social Justice Warrior!

Don’t get me wrong. It is good that people are not only recognizing that racism still exists in the U.S., but also that they are getting bold it in calling it out. I want to go back to the basic premise of Noble’s piece for a moment, the idea that Donald Trump, like Democrats past and present are threats to the “moral, political, and social” fabric of our nation in the mind of White evangelicalism. Probably from a majority culture perspective, the U.S.’s social fabric may have been at one point stable and perhaps picturesque, perhaps a time before legalized abortions and the LGBTQIA movement. As a racial realist and a Christian realist informed by history, the nation’s fabric was sewn by enslaved blacks laboring in plantation fields and built on death of children and the destruction of families of African and First Nations descent. No social or religious construction of social cohesion that glosses over histories of oppressions can have any integrity. The failure of a more honest perspective from #NeverTrump Evangelicals is part of the reason why their denunciations of Drumpf ring hollow.

On one hand, conservativism blames “individualism” “the sovereign individual” (right?) for today’s problems and various groups requesting their individual rights, but on the other hand, conservatives address the issue of race and racism as an individual sin. The PCA is repenting for individuals who had racial prejudice; the SBC is protesting the Confederate flag now in the year 2016 because one individual, Dylan Roof murdered nine Black persons in a historic black church. The conservative camp stresses individual, interpersonal acts of addressing racism because racism is more about personal bias because of conservative institutions’ and thinkers’ commitment to rugged individualism.

I’ve made the case elsewhere that White Supremacy is a social disease, it’s an institution that involves practices and systems and is not easily explained as simply individual prejudices. Donald Trump is more than just a demagogue, the rise of Trump is a symptom. Donald Trump simply took advantage of antiBlackness, racial animosity, and xenophobia that was already being pandered to within Conservative institutions. Drumpf is the crazy uncle that conservatives don’t want at the dinner table. Conservatives brought him to the table, now they are upset because they have to be responsible for him.

Like I said in one of the previous paragraphs, conservatives, like any other group, are more concerned with optics. It looks awkward when there are #allwhitepanels discussing race or #allmalepanels discussing gender at evangelical events. Some younger evangelicals may have hope that if conservatives avoid this awful news site, or we keep all the crazy uncles like Donald Trump or a Douglas Wilson away, sprinkle a few token minorities, they can make conservativism more appealing to outsiders. That may be a temporary solution, but it does nothing to solve the real issues of social inequality. Did it ever occur to conservatives that perhaps it’s not extremists that’s the problem, but maybe it’s just the ideology and institutions themselves?

Progressives from the majority culture also seem to have a difficult time understanding how systemic racism works. There’s a local seminary that sees itself as progressive and forward thinking and it even had a chapel service dedicated to Black Lives Matter. However, semester after semester, the school’s population gets more and more culturally homogenous. Green Party Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein, who some people have claimed is an anti-racist, “more peaceful” (not pacifist, I mind you) alternative to the Democratic Party, celebrated Brexit while Green parties in the U.K opposed it, she and her followers patted themselves on the back for attending an all white Juneteenth celebration, and now blames “Clintonism” for the rise of Trump. Stein, who markets herself on social media as a “white anti-racist ally” is just really showing her real cards, as someone co-opting the labor of People of Color all the while, in her actual praxis, promoting color-blind racism.

A leading socialist magazine Jacobin, like Stein, continues to promote a narrative of white saviorism, contending that anything but racism is responsible for Brexit and Trump. Forums such as Jacobin have been known downplay the importance of identity politics, preferring to make class as the one marker that counts and thus making them just as susceptible to White Supremacy as their conservative counterparts. For white progressives, socioeconomic status operates as a substitute for the conservative’s “social fabric” or the “natural law” of the land, an all-encompassing concept meant to promote cultural hegemony and a suppression of difference.

My goal for this essay as an intellectual exercise was to push for the idea that anti-racism just isn’t some fad; it’s a long-term labor of love that requires us to act and maybe react on a daily basis. In addition, as one of my friends has suggested, anti-White Supremacist praxis and an ideology can operate within contrasting systems of power, which I would include religious communities, established institutions and publications on the Right and Left, and even institutions of higher learning. Anti-racism efforts are at least three centuries old so the key is to have one eye on the past, and one eye on the present. Ask yourself, “where did the idea that this culture or that culture is inferior to mine own? Where did this cultural norm come from?” If your predominantly White institution is seeking to be more “inclusive,” think of which barriers in that place make it less hospitable to People of Color. Whether you see yourself as radical left or traditionalist right, there is anti-racist work for you to do. As for the fascist threat that is Donald Drumpf , for me, there is one viable #NeverTrump movement left, and it’s #ImWithHer.

An Open Letter To White Allies

Rebecca Lujan Loveless is a multi-ethnic girl from Maui, Hawaii. She lives with her husband Josh and kids Gavin, India & Kingston in Orlando, Florida. She loves writing, cooking, reading & traveling the world.

Dear White People,

Try, please, please try to read this post without defense. Take a deep breath and know that I am not personally attacking YOU. I don’t know you. I don’t believe you are a bad person. Talking about racism is NOT about you as an individual. In fact, I actually believe that we are all made in the image of God and that our truest selves are good, curious, compassionate people. So if you can read this while laying your armor down, I really believe that the grace in you will respond to these words like a shot of epinephrine. Take a deep breath now…

In recent weeks there has been a lot of information being passed around about systemic racism, classism and the privileges that creates those systems. It seems for the past two years, social media posts and hashtag trends have tended to address race and racism. My newsfeed and timeline have been flooded with a lot of white people gently tiptoeing into a conversation that actually goes on ALL THE TIME, just not in most White-dominated social circles. One Facebook friend even said, “the last time this was brought up was when Trayvon Martin was killed.” In this friend’s dominant culture perspective, he hasn’t had to listen to the outrage in Chicago/Texas over the murder of Sandra Bland,in Ferguson over the murder of Mike Brown, or the criminalization of Marissa Alexander or the breach of justice of Eric Garner or the horrors Denise Brown and her 4-year old grandson experienced or the throngs of black and brown bodies enslaved in our mass incarceration system.

It seems that the #BlackLivesMatter movement has sparked cautious conversation amongst white people around the idea of being an “ally”. This term, while not new in the realm of racial equity, seems to have become a buzzword lately as white people try to figure out what to do with concepts that conveniently have been hidden from their viewpoint. The idea was birthed out of a well-intended place that dominate culture should consider issues of race and side with people of color. In and of itself, being an ally can potentially be beneficial for both parties involved by strengthening their fight against their common enemy. However, as a white person, YOU represent the enemy. YOU represent the system that keeps minorities out of reach from opportunities so that you can succeed.

Now, I know you might be thinking right about now. You may be saying to yourself, “All lives matter” and “Not All White People.” You may be thinking that you don’t fit into this category because you’re not a White Supremacist like the KKK and you believe in equality and all that. I get it. I do. But what if I told you that your self-preservative thinking might be part of the problem? So if you are setting up your arsenal right now for why you aren’t racist and how you’re an “ally” because you have black friends or you have a half-Asian cousin, this next part is for you (FYI: statistics show that this is a lie a vast majority of the time anyways).

Being an “ally” is really only another, more dressed-up version of White Savior mentality that inadvertently says that PoC can’t experience equity without white allies sticking up for them. Being an “ally” is rooted in the reality and faulty belief system that white people have always been and therefore, always will be at the center of what is good and right and moral and just. Being an “ally” often means that white people get to say what is or isn’t racist, sexist, classist etc. Being an “ally” puts YOU, your actions and convictions at the center of making things right. It’s just another path on the same journey that keeps minorities on the margins, voiceless until we give them permission to speak.

In my own personal life, over the past several years, I have been coming to terms with my own deeply-seated racism and my ignorant complicity with all kinds of systems of oppression. This is a terrifying and heart-breaking realization to go through. Believe me, I had the instinct to run from this realization. To dismiss it as “I didn’t know so it’s not really racism”. My own self-preservative predisposition was to listen to well-meaning advice of my loved ones to “not be so hard on myself”. But if I didn’t give myself the chance to sit in the discomfort of what I was taught and subconsciously believed and lived out, I would never have had to opportunity to begin building a new belief system from scratch. A belief system where it was necessary to where PoC can freely do the educating. As a result, I have sought out education by and relationships with PoC who have graciously and many times sternly, with righteous anger, helped me see how very ineffective ally-ship actually is.

I have become increasingly interested in being a co-conspirator in the fight against oppression [in this case, against PoC]. The difference for me is that I can stand back and support my minority culture friends who are leading the battle and rely on them to know how to do it in a way that makes sense to them. It de-centers ME and puts PoC at the rightful helm of the cause of justice and equity.

Some would say that even the term “fighting” for justice is counter-active to peace. I disagree. MLK says, “Peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice.” You cannot have actual peace, real-long-lasting-soul-pervading-unexplainable peace until you get at the root of what is disturbing that peace. Conflict isn’t the absence of peace but it is often the path we tread towards it.

White Christians, can we let our minority culture brothers and sisters lead us? Are we humble enough to admit how we’ve participated in their oppression? Are we courageous enough to plumb the darkest parts of our hearts and see how we’ve participated in hate? Can we take a listening posture, and hearing about how negative stereotypes effect the lives of People of Color while confronting our own biases, seen and unseen? Can we feel the sorrow of that, without running away, until it compels us to true repentance? Can we openly, honestly admit our wrongs so that we can begin the long path towards justice and reconciliation?

If you like the idea of being an “ally” then go talk to ten people of color and ask them how they feel about you being their “ally”. Listen. Really listen. Dig deep into the recesses of your self-control and let people of color tell you what that means to them. I believe having actual conversations with actual people who actually experience oppression would be very eye-opening for dominate culture to experience.

I truly believe in all of humanity being made in the Image of God. Let that infinite worth by the power of the Holy Spirit rise up in you and let it lead you to reveal the things hidden in your heart that maintain our White Supremacist culture and may She guide you to persevere in the dismantling of racial oppression. I believe in you.

With heart-breaking and bold love,
Rebecca

essay originally posted here.

hope and patience

“The Christian must be assured that God is fighting against it [suffering and evil]. God must be an enemy of all those who in “sloth” put up with evil. Hope, then, as seen in the minds of the slave preachers, is not patience but impatience, not calmness but protest.”

James Hal Cone, Black Theology and Black Power, inspired by the words of Jurgen Moltmann in his Theology Of Hope.

English: Resurrection of Christ

English: Resurrection of Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his work, ToH, Moltmann points to hope in the Resurrection of Christ as a starting point of doing Ethics and theology. There is a great difference between people who are filled with hope (and act on it), and those who do not. Here, I am not referring to bourgeoisie notions of hope in middle class stability. For Moltmann, and Cone, and for myself, this hope is grounded in Christ, and the New Creation. We discover a picture of the New Creation in Revelation where persons from every tribe, nation, and tongue gather together to worship Jesus. White Supremacy as a grotesque Anti-Christ system is one of the bodies that seeks to resist the New Creation. Ultimately, it is my hope in the New Creation, and the King, Jesus the Messiah that drives what seems to be my “impatience” and the dismantling of White Supremacy. When one talks about patience, it would be best to discuss first what are they waiting for, what are their hopes?

What I have learned the past several months is that I need to maybe start writing about what I hope for more often. I’ve learned that I have an angry, rational, scientific side that has comes with a “the devil may care” attitude, and its shown itself when I write on topics such as racism, rape culture, or ableism. I have also learned that I have a more pastoral, hopeful & encouraging writer side that I do not rely upon too frequently. Part of my planned New Year’s resolution will be to work with both sides more evenly in 2014.

The other impetus for this post is my re-reading tonight of James Cone’s Black Theology and Black Power, and catching somethings I hadn’t before. Cone says “To know is to be responsible.” While Cone is discussing white persons and the history of white supremacy, if knowledge means responsibility, this means that it is everyone’s duty to be anti-racist. Now, many will still claim ignorance as an excuse, and may even say it is the job of Persons of Color to teach them about anti-racism. But this is an impossible position for Christians who desire to be anti-racist. Why? Because in the New Testament, we are taught that all burdens are to be shared in the community (Galatians 6:2). No one individual or group of people should have to have such a great task put on them. On the other hand, many POC and white persons have intricate understandings of how racism functions as an Anti-Messiah, sinful system. Just as holiness and the sharing of burdens happens in the context of community, so should anti-racism happen in the context of what Cone calls “creative discipleship.”