Tag Archives: racism

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.

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.

Black Churches Burning: A Brief Look

It has been over a month since the vicious attack on Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina. In the immediate aftermath of this event at least six other predominantly African American churches in the South caught fire. In fact, just last week at Houston’s Fifth Ward Missionary Baptist Church was significantly damaged by fire. Although arson was not the definitive cause for all these fires it is difficult, to brush these incidents off as merely coincidences would be a mistake. The truth is the United States has a long history of racism, and included in that is a history of White Supremacists burning Black churches down: see this timeline. The way we discuss these occurrences is largely symptomatic of the discomfort that many feel when discussing the issue of race in relation to social problems.

For many who can recall some of the darkest times in American history the very notion of a church burning is very ominous. Church burnings have most often been associated with racialized violence and an attack on one of the treasured institutions in many African American religious traditions. It dates back to before the Civil War and has continued through various Civil Rights periods and into the present. One of the most famous cases of church burning occurred at the 1963 bombing of 16 Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. This particular attack killed four African American girls and helped to mobilize a nation against racism. By 1995 church burnings became such a concern that President Clinton set up a church-arson task force and even passed a law to increase the sentencing for arsonist who targeted religious institutions. Although the task force was short lived before it was disbanded in 1999 it had completed investigations into 827 incidents where churches were burned. Since the task forces disbandment it has been much more difficult to get a good estimate of the amount of churches that have been intentionally burned. Incidents are now reported to the National Fire Incident Reporting System. More often than not most cases are classified as “suspicious” until they can officially be ruled as intentional fires, despite the difficulty in determining this.

For the most part someone has to make abundantly obvious their intentions or the perpetrator must be caught with evidence that supports arson or hate as the main motivations for this crime. It is easy for White Christians like The Gospel Coalition’s Joe Carter to dismiss Black Christians’ concern for domestic terrorism when it comes to church burnings. Church buildings are viewed as sacred places, as spaces designed to confront racism in the midst of a racist society. The White Church’s history of shielding itself from the suffering of Black people and black churches is tied up with the long history of White domination. Needless to say it is challenging to say  at the least to classify many church fires as either arson or racially motivated crimes. However, this does not mean that church burnings have not been closely linked other forms of racial violence in the past. It does not take away from the peculiar timing of the recent church burnings that has coincided with a hate crime that made national headlines perpetuated against the oldest African American Church in the South.

The burning of churches has often been seen as a close relative of two other symbols linked with racial violence and Christendom, namely the burning of crosses as well as the raising of the Confederate flag. These particular symbols have been both directly and indirectly associated with hate crimes in America. There are many arguments that are made to disassociate one of these symbols, the Stars and Bars from its ties to the racist ideology. However, to not discuss race with the Confederate flag is to deny the logic that many supporters have historically used in carrying the flag. It may be true the Confederate flag has not been used as symbol of racism and hatred in every context but it is also true that in far too many incidents it has been. Similarly, it is possible that recent incidents of “suspicious” fires in black churches may not all be arson but the fact still remains far too many in this country’s history have been. Thus it becomes even more important to not disassociate these issues from race. If we continue to not have an open and honest dialogue about race, then incidents like Charleston will continue to be seen anomalies rather than what they are at the present: the norm.