Tag Archives: Cornel West

RE: White Supremacy And Beauty Pageants: Cyber racism & Nina Davuluri

Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism

Anti-Racist Action banner from Art Against Racism (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Right now, you’re probably like, oh no, not another POC whining on the interwebz because of a few racist tweets. They are just “tweets” after all, nothing more. #amiright? Rather than “whining,” POC in the USA should be celebrating and not give into the “negativity!”

First of all, it must be grand to never have had to encounter racism for yourself. Why don’t you take multiple seats, and check your privilege. Victories when it comes to representation (winning pageants, etc) are always ambivalent at best, so there should both be joy and critique to go along with it.  Representation is not enough.  The challenges to white supremacy must be ever vigilant in the struggle to debunk white supremacy where-ever it rings its ugly head, and in this case, it’s both in the definition of what it means to be an American, and white supremacist definitions of beauty that have been readily embraced by the general populace and the media.

I believe that an engagement with Cornel West’s Prophesy Deliverance would be fruitful here, particularly his first chapter outlining a genealogy of white supremacy.  From the Renaissance Era on, European pseudo-scientists and phrenologists appealed for a return to the Greek ideal body of blue eyes, round chin, horizontal forehead, and Graeco-Roman noses defined the faces of white people as the faces of conquerors.  White supremacy starts with hierarchal classifications of bodies that are first catalogued as fact, and then put into practice by way of conquest and discriminatory public policies.

Fast forward to today, with the white supremacist media, where talking heads can get away with promoting racist views of what it means to be an American like CNN’s Todd Starnes. What makes a white woman from Kansas more American than an Indian-American woman? Oh, that’s right, the color of her skin! Miss Davuluri is a USA citizen, which is a requirement for this “scholarship” program, so what exactly is a real American? Am I missing something here? Or did I already say it [white supremacy]? It is not the tweets of individuals who just happened to be bigots that are the problem. Bigotry by persons is not the problem. Systems, institutions, and racist mythologies that justify them are.

I leave you with a quote from a post I did on Pageants and US American politics from almost four years ago, pretty relevant today eerily:

“What is more disturbing than Palin’s or Prejean’s involvement in an ambiguously moral event that parades as a scholarship contest is the Church’s views on the value of human bodies, and which human bodies are valued. Are American temples of God’s Breathe more valuable than Afghani or Iraqi temples of God’s Breathe? Are there certain human bodies we are more likely to execute via the electric chair or go to war with simply because of the color of their skin? American politics, sadly enough, has become not about what a person stands for or has voted for, but what a person looks like, who that person appeals to. Do we trust governors who claim to be conservative because he looks the part, but has never once voted that way in his career? Do we elect a progressive politician who promises to rule from the “center” when in reality he nominates radicals to her administration? This is the real tragedy that the pageantry in North American politics has become. Because looks can be deceiving.”

The Pageantry of North American Politics: Palin, Prejean, and Priesthood

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Cross And The Giving Tree: A Guest Post #NewTown

“Jeremy McLellan is a writer living in Charleston, SC.”

young lynching

The past has been a mint
Of blood and sorrow.
That must not be
True of tomorrow.
Langston Hughes


On December 28th we remember the Massacre of the Innocents. Much like Holy Saturday (the awkward middle-child of Lenten Season) its significance is often skipped over by American Christians. And for good reason: there is no Easter morning on December 29th. There is no cause and effect in view here and we see none of Yoder’s cross-and-resurrection that transforms the emplotment of the world, for the Massacre of the Innocents comes after the Incarnation. Stanley Hauerwas is fond of joking that there is no felt ram in the corner of the storyboard to let us know that Isaac will be spared, that these deaths will have a larger meaning that can outstrip their tragedy. God is with us, Jesus is born, and the long night of suffering and exile is thought to have passed. Do our hearts not swell this season as we sing “Born a king on Bethlehem’s plain, and gold we bring to crown Him again, king forever, ceasing never, over us all to reign”? Is our faith not quickened by the prophet as we ask “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming, from tender stem hath sprung”?

And then suddenly , a late frost. A madman tears children from this world, while a young child barely makes it out. A sword pierces the souls of the mothers from whom these children are snatched. I have no doubt that Jesus grew up with this knowledge, aware that the wrath of Herod and the towers of Siloam fall like rain on the just and on the unjust alike. He and his family knew of those missing Jewish boys when he vanished in the Temple during Passover. Years later, he came back to his hometown synagogue to worship with those he had known as a little boy, but this time it was not honor that his elders were owed. Instead, he reads from Isaiah and begins taunting them for being Jewish exceptionalists. In turn, he barely escapes a lynching.

The secret of Newtown is there is no Secret. In the wake of such tragedies, metaphors fail us. We must resist making children like Jessica Rekos ciphers for lost innocence or the American experience. Neither the Jewish boys in Bethlehem nor the Gentiles in Connecticut were collateral damage or “the price we pay for our freedom.” There is no narrative that can hold the deaths of Jack Pinto or James Mattioli within a larger story.

We must, like Rachel, refuse to be comforted. We must hold our anguish in our arms as a mother holds a child. We cannot paraphrase Tertullian and say that in becoming a child, God became all children, nor join with WEB Dubois in evaporating the particularity of a child’s death through abstraction into the black experience. For God did not become all children. He became this child, as this child. These children were not spared in death from Dubois’ vision of “being choked and deformed within the Veil.” They were choked, they were deformed. One child’s body had eleven bullets.

I too pray for deliverance from the scourge of mass shootings, that we would beat our AR-15s into ploughshares and our Glocks into pruning hooks. I know that it’s complicated, that the history of guns runs not just through Littleton and Newtown but also Oakland and Charleston, where armed black veterans stemmed the tide of lynchings. As Akhil Reed Amar writes in the Washington Post, “If guns are outlawed, only Klansmen will have guns.”

Yet I also know that “praise God and pass the ammunition” was the slogan of Judas, and though Jesus could have called down legions of angels like most of his childhood friends had hoped, he instead gave himself freely to the same powers that continue to claim our little ones, surrendering himself at last to a death that had been waiting for 33 years. I tremble for this nation when I reflect that God abhors violence, that if the white church in America keeps beating its ploughshares back into swords, the axe that is laid at the root of the tree may come anon.

As in Nazareth, our leaders and elders who have promised the peace of Judas through the proliferation of firearms deserve not our respect and deference but our contempt. They are the ideological sons of those who murdered the prophets on the lynching tree. Bonhoeffer reminds us that “No peace is peace without the forgiveness of sins,” and a nation at peace through fear of retaliation is a nation at war. Though I pray the Lord’s Prayer each Sunday with the rest of the American gun-loving faithful, there is this nagging thought that when the Day of the Lord comes like a thief in the night, it will be our victims who will be delivered from us.

They will say it is not for Caesar to beat our weapons into ploughshares. Fine. Let us do it ourselves.


Cornel West to join the faculty of Union Theological Seminary

This may put UTS back on my hot list of places to go for a PhD, both James Cone and Cornel West, a few years before they retire. Hopefully, West goes back to his black theological roots (in terms of research).

Read it from the New York Times:

Cornel West Returning to Union Theological Seminary