Tag Archives: critical race theory

Liberation & Politics: a racial realist perspective

Uninformed Black Millennial Votes Against His Best Interest

Disclaimer for the audience: This post represents just a small glimpse of my views on politics. It is the first of TWO parts I plan to do; I’ve been a fanboy of electoral politics since I was elementary school age. If you would like to have a conversation about my beliefs or why I supported the candidate I did, I am willing to have a conversation on Twitter or in the comments section, as long as there is no name calling or accusations involved. Thanks!

Growing up, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t affirm women’s equality in the church, and women’s ordination, and that’s growing up in a predominantly black southern Baptist church.  When I was in undergrad, I recall a discussion in the school library with a small group of friends I used to hang out with.  They were evangelical, and strong five point Calvinists with a conservative theological vision of the world, one of hierarchy, law & order. I had been raised a traditional Arminian, free will Baptist, and so our readings of the biblical text were quite different. One day, I tried to explain why I believed in democracy and egalitarianism, and I pointed to the life of Jesus. My early childhood education or secondary education experience did not involve any indoctrination of purist ideology. I had to grow into my faith and into my politics.

        As long as I can remember, I have been anti-war, pro-peace for at least all of my Christian journey. When I look back, I know I have followed politics since First Grade. In high school all throughout I would HAVE to argue every day with a group of acquaintances (I use that term loosely, some would call them bullies)  because they would recite absolute racist garbage from Fox News, and I would have to defend myself and black people, because I HAD to be the representative, right? These aspiring Right wing talking heads just loved to lecture Black people on how terrible black culture was. It was no wonder then that Black voters had a close affinity with Bill and Hillary Clinton for decades. After years of being ignored, dismissed, hunted down like dogs by the Reagan Administration as part of the “War on Drugs,” Blacks finally had A LISTENING ear. We didn’t need a White political savior, we just needed someone to say, “I feel you.” This Politics of being heard, this opening up of difference I think is essential for black political practices. If you notice, its Whites who own and run large organizations such as the American Conservative Union, committed to conservative ideological purity. Don’t get me wrong; ideologies are fine, they are just systems of ideas, but I find it curious why anyone else would go out of their way to police others’ ideas and invest money in doing so. That’s why it’s always bothered me when Whites tell blacks, “you’re doing progressivism wrong” or “Blacks are always looking for a handout,” when we know this is all not true, and in fact this primary election season is evidence of that. Blacks have rejected conservativism because the primarily the racist history of states’ right, and states’ rights today continues to do real damage to communities of color. Each state is a nation unto itself, and power struggles are naturally built into the system, in favor of the majority culture.  At the same time, I for example, have begun to understand the limits of the federal government. The federal government should be there at minimum to protect the rights of citizens from aggressive, discriminatory activity of state authorities. Part of my emerging thought is that cities and municipalities must be free to govern themselves.

It is my belief that People of Color CAN and WILL free themselves from unjust systems, systems that are as of now rigged against their favor. Bernie is right about the corporate driven media, but the media gave the most attention to Trump, even the “progressive” MSNBC. The stats prove that Trump got the most air time of any candidate. The media would cut off Bernie’s or Hillary’s speech, and it’s not fair. But this is because the Media is racist too. The media loves to paste black male faces on the screens for crimes, along with their mug shots, while white mass murders get their pictures from high school yearbooks, and they get called, “a nice, quiet boy.” The electoral system is also rigged, but it’s not rigged against the disorganized, or people who refused to know the rules. The superdelegate system does need to change, BUT Bernie knew the rules. He only joined the Democratic party LAST YEAR. Perhaps if he didn’t have a personality where he abandons his natural allies and had joined the Democrats in 2009, he’d have more friends i.e. superdelegates.  As a person of color, the system IS rigged against us when it comes to lily white caucuses as well. There is no reason for New Hampshire and Iowa to be the first primaries/caucuses every presidential election cycle except white supremacy. The white supremacy in place also has racial gerry mandering in place to deny People of color proper representation, and voter id laws to deny our basic right to vote as citiizens. Yes, all of the system is rigged, and we must continue the struggle vs the racist media, and political system, but also participate to change it. We do not need a lecturer-in-chief who talks as if they are working in our best interest. Only we, as people of color know White Supremacism for the monster it is, and it’s only our job to expose it. It is White People’s job to dismantle institutionalized White racism.

This is my story. When I think of the nastiness and violent rhetoric of this primary election season, and fellow Anabaptist and Christian thinkers unfriending and unfollowing me because of my politics, I think of the importance of wanting to hear, listening to others’ stories. There’s REAL power in listening, that was part of Jesus’ way. He wasn’t one for always going for the big crowds, shouting, inciting violence, taking advantage of people’s anger (misguided or not). Jesus also hung out with people HE disagreed with, like the Zealot, who probably carried around a dagger. Jesus lived a peaceable lifestyle, but here he is, trying to show a revolutionary another way. Jesus, like YHWH the Divine Parent, prefers acts of persuasion over coercion.  While we are on the subject of Jesus, let me touch on the politics of his followers located in the U.S. real quick. We have on one end of the spectrum, evangelicals committed to institutional conservative politics, whether it is in universities, various media outlets, and conservative conferences. The financial commitment to this ideology, religious conservatism, is a privilege, but it also serves as a COMPETING system against the Church. No doubt many well-meaning conservative Christians would agree that identifying Christ with a political system constitutes a form of idolatry. Evangelicals, statistically have a disdain for the Democratic Party, and much of the Democratic platform, as Alan Noble notes ).

The problem is that conservative evangelicals like Noble is that they presume that the “moral, political, and social fabric of our nation” is raceless.  Take Mitt Romney for example, who is a member of the LDS church, which traditionally was upheld as a heretical sect by evangelicalism; yet, evangelicals voted overwhelmingly for Romney as did Whites. In fact, Romney won the largest margin for White voters in decades.  The difference between what Black Christians consider to be essential to the Republic and what White Christians do is a difference of experiences of racism. In 2000, Christian magazines were noting that White evangelicals were claiming George W. Bush was “God’s man” while Black Christians weren’t so sure, but their votes went to Al Gore.  Conservatism assumes that it must be syncretized with a version of Christendom so that Whiteness can prevail as a nationally prominent social position. The culture wars were never about right versus wrong; they were always about which subset of elite white institutions would determine the direction of the country’s future.   

Lest you mistake that I am arguing that God is a Democrat, there are problems with holier-than-thou religious leftism as well. I would be leery of saying that Jesus would be part of a Brocialist uprising, because that erases Jesus’ particularity in favor of Eurocentrism. Christ is transcendent, and is LORD; he’s not here to be your sockpuppet for Marxism. I think one comes across major problems when one refuses to be honest or reflective about even Democrats/Progressives/Radicals who claim to be the exception to the rules of our purity tests.  We do need to call out the awful foreign policy decisions of establishment Democrat elites, and we also need to criticize the White Supremacy advocated in the name of a nearly all- White revolution. Activists consider themselves so brave when they call Hillary Clinton racist for the 1994 Crime Bill (something she did not vote for, but I digress), but they get up in arms when I talk about Bernie Sanders’ racism. He went from walking with Dr King (his story) to moving to all white Vermont when too many people of color were making their way to Brooklyn. Jane Sanders, Jeff Weaver’s and Bernie’s comments about Southern voters were racist macroaggressions against Black voters and our choices, but radicals go ahead and close your ears. Protestors rallied to decry Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record (much radical) but they didn’t even bother to disrupt a Bernie rally over his Iraq bombing votes in the 1990s, his vote for military action in Libya, his vote authorizing the War on Terror, or his vote and benefitting from poisoning the community of Sierra Blanca, Texas.  Moreover, it’s rather unhelpful to continue to harp on individuals for their racist views or acts; that form of discourse benefits white supremacy because it limits addressing racism to the realm of the personal.  We need to resist pettiness and name-calling in order to ensure that White Supremacism will be confronted as a  domestic and global system.  We can make all the references to MLK Jr. and being a dreamer all we like, but MLK was a DREAMER AND A DOER. There is a difference between being a dreamer, grounded in reality, and being delusional, and not having an actual plan to back up your empty promises.

So, when I think of all the times I have been condemned or made to feel guilty because I supported and voted for Hillary Clinton, and all the nasty racist and sexist comments myself and others have had to endure, I go back and think about Jesus. Jesus invites the rich and the poor to fellowship with the Triune God. I don’t agree with any one politician on every issue. Practically speaking as a pacifist, outside of Bill Kreml of the Green Party, there is not really a pro-peace presidential candidate. And when we talk about peace, and issues of violence and nonviolence, we must also talk about how forms of violence intersect, like racism, sexism, transphobia, and homophia are enacted into law and do violence to their victims in the everyday. I think of also honesty, and being forth right in our differences of opinions, and our politics. I don’t think it’s appropriate, for example, for persons to claim objectivity while sharing favorable links of violent dominionists like Senator Ted Cruz, but then claim to be “nonpolitical.” That’s not cool, and disingenuous. It’s dishonest to call one candidate “a warmonger” while your preferred candidate was referred to by local peace activists as “a bomber” .  When I think of honesty, I think of political candidates and their supporters owning up and being held accountable to the candidates’ ACTUAL record, rather than giving in to fluffy rhetoric and propaganda. We do have a candidate who had ties to Wall Street, because she represented the state of New York as Senator. Does that mean Hillary is corrupt? Well, in that case, Bernie is corrupt for being bought and paid for by the sugar industry . We could CHOOSE to look at this information cynically, or we could say that all politicians strive to work on behalf of their constituents (the difference between being delusional ala the former and being a realist, the latter). This would be a more honest assessment of politics rather than saying “everything sucks, everything is rigged, everyone is corrupt BUT MY MAN!” That’s just a small-minded worldview IMO.

The problem this particular election season was two-fold: arrogant persons not wanting to hear any of my story or those of others, even though they claimed to be my friend, and then the other is honesty. The solutions are of course, to be willing to listen to the stories of others, and work to be more forthright in telling those stories. We are entitled to owning our own stories, but we are not entitled to our own facts. I’ve pretty much laid down my cards on the table. #‎DealMeIn #‎ImWithHer, oh and lastly, #‎FeelTheMath!!!

I do get a lot of requests for people to share articles making the case for Hillary Clinton for President, so I decided to share some of my favorites.

June 20th, 1969: Introducing Hillary:  “After Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination in 1968, she worked with black students at the college to organize a two-day strike and a drive to recruit more black students and tutors.”

Hillary Clinton in the Civil Rights Era

Let’s Talk About Clinton and Foreign Policy

Why Hillary Clinton Thrills the Hell Out of Me

A Progressive Case For Hillary Clinton

The Case for Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton Was Liberal. Hillary Clinton Is Liberal.  

If You’re Liberal and You Think Hillary Clinton Is Corrupt and Untrustworthy, You’re Rewarding 25 Years of GOP Smears

Black Voters Aren’t Feeling the Bern; Here’s Why

On Becoming Anti-Bernie

 

Description: Featured image is the Hillary Clinton for America logo, an H with an arrow through it. Inside of it is a  black and white picture of Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1969 with a black WoC Wellesley student organizing for a recruiting drive to get more Black students and tutors.

Saying Farewell to the Angry Black Man part 2 (Rod)

Angry Black Male Living In Post-Modernity

In a recent post, I discussed my bouts with depression as a teenager, and how I all of a sudden “overcame” them and adopted a more cheerful disposition. If a naive understanding of joy was what I let define me through my late teens, it was in my early twenties that I allowed myself to become angry. It was in high school that I played the part of the entertaining Magical Negro, talking about racism in jest as if it were a thing of the past. Public education had taught me well. Race is both story and performance. According to Drew Hart, the Magical Negro is a black person who exists for the Dominant culture, submissive, never to interrogate the dominant culture’s oppressive mythologies and practices. Uncle Remus. Bagger Vance. God in Bruce Almighty. Senator/candidate turned President Barack Obama. The Magical Negro is a production of the dominant culture’s fantasies for the simple maintenance of social supremacy.

WHADDAYA MEAN YOU'RE NEVER READ EZEKIEL 25:17?????!!!!!!

WHADDAYA MEAN YOU’VE NEVER READ EZEKIEL 25:17?????!!!!!!

And yet, even as the Magic Black, I still played another role: that of the Angry Black man. This guy did not show up too often, but he normally appeared at about 2:30pm each day during fourth period, just in time for U.S. Government class. It was in this class that I would be regularly harassed by (I kid you not) a student from San Diego who identified as a Skin Head. Every day our arguments were intense as I had to endure microagressions, white supremacist taunts about the inferiority of Africa, and color-blind racist talking-points directly borrowed from Fox News. At one point, we as a class were in the library, and this skinhead wanted to go to fist-to-cuffs with yours truly. I was alone as the only Person of Color, a number of my white classmates would take this guy’s side. I would have to fend for myself each day, striving to succeed academically while white supremacy was literally breathing down my neck in the desk behind me.

I can identify the precise moment when I decide to let the anti-colonial Angry Black Man within me out of his cage. It came precisely after September 11th, 2001, and it was a turbulent time for my faith journey. I was just not getting used to the college environment, the white privilege & cultural hegemony of the Greek system, nor the bevy of misogynist jokes that I came across. To top it all off, I was very distraught over the pro-war prayers that a campus charismatic group I was a part of was praying. The moment came at a meeting of religious studies majors and professors in that department, I was asked my opinion about what I thought was the problem with the “War of Terror” and it took me no less than 15 seconds to briefly give a scathing critique of Neo-colonialism without having read any Liberation theology or critical theory. From then on, I “earned” the reputation of being the Angry Black Man. I was the outspoken dissenter, I was the Oncoming Storm opposed to what I perceived to be the corrupting and dominant forces on campus. When I campaigned for Vice President, the school newspaper called me passionate. The thing about being Angry all the time, like any other emotional imbalance is that, it will take a lot out of you. I am speaking from my own experience, and so without appropriate self-care practices, I just gave up. My rep even among white Christians, and even among a number of Black student was that of THE controversial Angry Black Man, so I tried for a few years to change myself so that I could be liked. I was tired of being singled out.

Once more, however, the Angry Black Man emerged. I graduated college, and I had gone through a year of seminary, and after initially reading Black Liberation theology, I was pretty lukewarm to the concept. I was just leaving “Cage-stage Calvinism” and yeah, after moments like a fun-filled game night turned into a display of infuriation between “emergent” Arminians and myself (again, flying solo), I became somewhat aloof to focus on my studies and started my journey as a Trinitarian and an Anti-racist thinker, in large part due to a life-changing course on the book of Exodus which emphasized both Jewish and Black Church’ perspectives. I developed an inquisitive side, and even as I asked questions dispassionately, I was still portrayed as the Angry Black Man. As a ThM student, one Brogressive colleague continued to accuse me of being “violent” and promoting violence because I dared question the assumptions of the Enlightenment. Even after graduating with my Masters, I still ran into this image of Angry Blackness. Once, I had an essay accepted, and then rejected because my writing on critical race theory and religion was considered to be by the editors too angry, far too critical, and not given to brogressive notions of color-blindness.

Oh, but there is much money to be made off of the backs of the Angry Black Man! Whether it’s a paleo-Confederate-supporting fundamentalist church-goer who wants to paint me as the Angry Black reverse racist heretic or the self-serving allies that Morgan talks about, trying to prove how much more “radical” they are. Entire brands can be built on persons who view themselves as nonconfrontational, as civilized, and as full of grace, at the expense of marginalized folks, and those people whom society will always label as inherently violent.

If I may go back to Drew Hart’s post on ‘Renouncing The Magic Negro urge‘:

“The “Angry Negro” merely needs to question in any capacity the path of assimilation as an option for their life. Basically the “Angry Negro” does not fit into these dominant cultural spaces well. They straighten their backs, uphold their human dignity, and affirm their own community’s insights, wisdom, and ways of being in ways that causes friction to those that take for granted that black people should be happy and content, since they have access into these inner circles that were originally intended to systematically advantage white people in society. That the cost of losing oneself in pursuit of the American Dream is not valued to some people, seems to be taken as an offense to many people in the dominant culture. Rather than taking time to really listen and have a human encounter filled with questions and curiosity, empathy and patience, dialogue and even disagreement in pursuit of growth and understanding, most situated within dominant culture have been more tempted to find reasons to dismiss those that refuse to live lives playing by hegemonic rules. The label “Angry Negro” is an outright dismissal of anything someone says, without trying to first seek understanding, by matter of fact that they fit this caricature.”

Isn't it easier to call this man an Angry Negro rather than listen to what he actually has to say?

Isn’t it easier to call this man an Angry Negro rather than listen to what he actually has to say?

Rather than listen and hear out marginalized persons as HUMAN BEINGS, many times, members of the dominant culture in a desperate attempt to control the narrative, depict their conversants in a negative light, using tropes that are continually used to silence dissent. The Angry Black Man, The Angry Black Woman, the Angry Korean Professor. These are all stereotypes used time and again to deny the full humanity of Persons of Color [the same can be applied to women,gender: Angry Shrill Feminist, etc]. The Angry Black Man [SIC] is a false Myth inherited by People of Color from White Supremacist narratives. Just as Christena Cleveland pointed out that the StrongBlackWoman traps Black women in an essentialized view of Black womanhood, so too does the Angry Black Man represent a hegemonic masculinity defined by racial violence.

In conclusion, if I may, I want to go back to my friend Tristan’s post in part one:

“The Blackness of ancient Egypt is a means of dismantling ‘civilization’ – a concept so dear to the White gaze. It cannot fathom a role where it is not in power. When we refuse to fit or compromise ourselves for whiteness we are uncontrollable (e.g. militant, angry). Whiteness can only see its de-centering as an act of reverse racism because they cannot fathom a world where they do not control us. You see, the only ‘peace’ and ‘balance’ for the White supremacist is one where people of color know their place, or else they are nothing but angry savages in the chaotic realms of otherness.”

The dominant culture has a two-pronged approach to the Exodus narrative: on one hand, the anti-oppression value of the story of the mid-wives and Moses is devalued. The lives of Moses, Miriam, Zipporah, Aaron, and Joshua were all treasured by enslaved Black Christians because the Invisible Institution could identify who Pharaoh was. Pharaoh does not like being exposed for who he is. The way of Pharaoh is forcing the oppressed to construct brick buildings with only batches of straw, take them away from their land, destroy their families, and then turn around and shame their subjects for becoming angry. The other part of the dominant culture’s appropriation of Exodus is to still make claim to the Exodus as cultural territory. When you think of the Ten Commandments, Charlton Heston comes to mind, yes? And in the latest saga of cultural appropriation, Ridley Scott’s Exodus: Gods And Kings not only has a basically all white cast, the Persons of Color who are included as cast members? Well they fit the very essence of the uncivilized Angry Black Man trope: thieves, servants, assassins, lower class citizens. Why is this the case?

The Exodus as White Cultural territory becomes one of several key pieces of the origin of Western Civility Civilization. Without the Exodus, the Puritans could not claim to be the New Israel, and they could not in turn name the First Nations peoples as the Canaanites waiting to be conquered. In order to sustain the the myth of White progressive innocence, the economy needs a guilty party; a party that is perpetually enraged, someone who is destined to be the prisoner-victim of the nation-state. This is the legacy of The Angry Black Man.

Saying Farewell to the Angry Black Man part 1 (Tristan)

Angry Black Male Studying Black Antiquity

abm antiq

Image found on Pinterest

Tristan Samuels is a MA student in Egyptology via the Near East Studies progam at the University of Toronto. His major research centers on race in antiquity and the relationship between Kemet (ancient Egypt) & Nubi‎a.

I’m a Black male university student born and residing in Toronto: a city that thinks multiculturalism is anti-racism (oh the fallaciousness). I’ve have a Classics BA and I’m currently studying Egyptology in an MA program. As the subtitle indicates, I study Blacks in the ancient record through these fields. In Classics, I was able to write a BA thesis on Greek and Roman perceptions of Black people and I saw much enthusiasm for my work at conferences. In Egyptology, I have a professor who has no problem acknowledging that the ancient Egyptians were Black/African. In addition, I have a professor that shows interest in my application of critical race theory.

However, I have been characterized as an angry black person. The most direct was in an introductory course for Near Eastern archaeology which was really the first time that I got a true understanding of what I was up against. The professor was a Syro-Mesopotamian specialist. I argued, in my essay proposal, that the ancient Egyptians were African/Black and, in turn, the Nubian rulers of Egypt (ca. 800 BC) should not be called ‘the Black Pharaohs’. The portrayal of the Nubians as the bonafide Black people of antiquity means an imposition, deliberately or subconsciously, of ‎whiteness onto the ancient egyptians. Ex: calling those Nubian rulers “black pharaohs” sneakingly implies that the indigenous Egyptian rulers were “white”‎. A good example of this is the New national Geographic rise of the black pharaohs documentary on the Kushite/Nubian dynasty. My professor, framing himself in a ‘progressive’ sort of way, accused me of “racism in reverse” because I brought up race. However, I never made the claim that Ancient Egypt was superior because it was a Black civilization. I simply said that the ancient Egyptians’ identity is misinterpreted because of Eurocentric racialism and that Black identity is more complex than treated in Egyptological literature. So, I sent him a response e-mail clarifying my intentions – I got no response. So, I let my writing do the talking. I made sure to include a comprehensive section on
white privilege and white normativity. I got 92%, but that does not eclipse the bigger problem: A Black Male challenging epistemology is treated as a threat.

blacks in antiq

Image from Amazon.com

My issue in Classics has come through publishing issues. I had submitted a work on the Herodotus, a famous Greek historian, perception of Black bodies to a joint British-US journal. The first readers, there were two anonymous readers, said that I needed to revise which I certainly agreed. However, some comments troubled me. Reader A felt I just needed slight additions but suggested my tone was inappropriate because of this comment: “McCoskey’s approach is sound for the most part, but she underestimates…”. Reader A felt that I was treating McCoskey as a grad student. I just specified a particular problem in her work – why the tone policing? They shouldn’t *know* that I’m black per se, being that I don’t have to disclose my identity, but I believe it was assumed because of my essay’s subject matter. I take it as ‘okay, but remember your place Negro’. Reader B argued that I was being anachronistic in calling Herodotus racist. More specific, this reader thought that Herodotus accusing Black men of hypersexuality and describing them as having black semen “unlike other men” did not constitute racism. Apparently, I was being too simplistic. It is quite disturbing that this explicit sexualizing of Black men is not understood as such. I seriously wonder if the reader believed one or two of those stereotypes. While I got a 2nd attempt, these response are very problematic.

The 2nd reading was done by one referee and yielded interesting results. Itwas 3 or 4 days after I resubmitted – that is fast. The reader, which was clearly a different person, strongly disagreed. My critique of classical scholarship’s handling of Herodotus & Blackness was dismissed as “mud-slinging” – I’m just a real angry black person I guess. I was also told that I didn’t “get” D.E. McCoskey’s book, Race: Antiquity and its Legacy (I.B. Tauris, 2012), even though I wrote a published review on that very piece. In fact, I cited that review in my essay, so that the reader could go to it for further discussion of her mishandling of Blackness. I guess to him I don’t have the intellectual capacity to critique her. This reader also accused me of playing the race card. So, this reader definitely assumed that I was Black. I never once accused any scholar of racism and, in fact, two of the classicists that I critiqued are Black. It was very clear to me that the reader was polemical and saw my work as a threat to his white supremacist fantasy.

I responded to the editor to notify him that I appreciated the second opportunity, though I found the review perplexing. He, definitely a white male, responded telling me that he is a professor and that I needed to “learn some manners”. I could hear a ‘boy’ at the end of that sentence. I responded stating that he was in no place to make such character judgments about me and emphasized that I simply disagreed with the reader. His only response “I’m not a doctor” – I had referred to him as “Dr.” Again there is this sense that Black bodies are animalistic/savage in need of taming.

god remain grk

Image from Amazon

While I’ve grown up race-conscious, I’m starting to really understand the depth of anti-Blackness in a way I never understood before – something only experience can teach you. No matter how logical the arguments you put forth, your resistance is a threat. The Blackness of ancient Egypt is a means of dismantling ‘civilization’ – a concept so dear to the White gaze. It cannot fathom a role where it is not in power. When we refuse to fit or compromise ourselves for whiteness we are uncontrollable (e.g. militant, angry). Whiteness can only see its de-centering as an act of reverse racism because they cannot fathom a world where they do not control us. You see, the only ‘peace’ and ‘balance’ for the White supremacist is one where people of color know their place, or else they are nothing but angry savages in the chaotic realms of otherness.