Tag Archives: radicalism

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.

Grumpy Old Men (& Women): When Tenured Academics Lose Their Edge

And a Digression to Sir Winston Churchill

Roland’s latest post on Terry Eagleton (former socialist turned Christian left liberal) expressed some sentiments I have been contemplating lately, especially when it comes to theologians and a-theologians in the academy.  I see a pattern, and one can see it in the work of Karl Barth, for example, that when one is an outsider to the establishment, she tends to make “more noise” so to speak.  The critique of the culture seems so much more fundamental to a scholar struggling to survive than it is for one, who say, perhaps has just earned tenure. For some, it may ring true the words of Winston Churchill, which some Christians may take as gospel, “Show me a young conservative and I will show you someone with no heart.  Show me an old liberal and I will show you someone with no brains.” With all due respect, Churchill is of course wrong on both counts, or at least this quote cannot be taken universally.  In fact to be liberal is literally to be generous in Scripture, so one would think with Christian maturity at least on an individual, personal level, one would grow more liberal with age, sort of like evangelist Billy Graham.

Roland is right, about the tenure, process; that it is inherently conformist and pro-establishment. I know I am risking my words being used against me someday, and it is my hope they are.  Especially when it comes to academic guilds, some establishment professors, seeing the lack of space in a discipline may, for example, have calls for papers for one particular session only for the students to find out the session is really an advertisement, I mean, forum, for a book written by established, tenured scholars.

I think that when scholars are at their best and brightest, just right out of finishing their dissertations, setting the world on fire with a certain hostile, almost Manichean (absolute good/absolute evil) polemic versus the status quo, it is primarily because literally, their livelihoods are at stake. The desire to exist in a terra nova (the scholar’s dream becoming accomplished) may be perhaps the driving force for this early radicalism.  However, once settled in, complacency often sets in.

Like Roland, I can only hope this does not happen to me.