Watching the news and hearing about the repeated acts of violence against the black-american life reminds me of my “enlightenment/introduction” to modern day white supremacy while attending Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS). This enlightenment, it was not the straw that broke the camels back, for me, it was an experience that shattered my perception of the [ontologically] white American Church. It wasn’t their baseless fallacies, conclusions with little reasoning, or the lack of regard for empirical evidence backing their biblical yet [somehow] scientific statements (e.g. creationism); It was their lack of empathy and utter disregard for the oppressed person’s reality.
My question today is this:
“How many more hundreds of years does one need to tolerate, perpetuate, and/or search for hope within a Church that is presently and historically abusive, violent, and caked in the blood of those in which they’ve oppressed, killed, and literally murdered?”
Racism has become so normalized that it’s almost as if we’ve forgotten that the church has written the manual for almost every single form of oppression existent today. For instance, the theology and/or doctrine written in justification for slavery was partially developed at Princeton Theological Seminary. It’s popularly acknowledged on campus that one of the dorms, Alexander Hall, was previously [and allegedly] the sleeping quarters for the Seminaries slaves, while Hodge Hall is named after a theologian and slave owner Charles Hodge. To be clear, the Seminary – a Presbyterian pastoral training ground – participated in the institution of slavery. Again, historically, this makes sense. After all, American Christianity is the birthing ground of white supremacy (i.e. the confederacy).
(Side note: It’s ridiculous that, in the back of my mind as I typed the above out, I fear that acknowledging and naming this oppressive history, and continued systemic bigotry, will result in my life literally being threatened by those at Princeton Theological Seminary, AGAIN! It’s almost expected. Not if, but when it happens I’ll let ya’ll know.)
Back on track, nowadays we have things like The Gospel Coalition, YoungLife, Acts 29 Network, Hillsong, White Pentecostalism, Evangelical “non-denom’s” all the way to Mainline denominations and progressives alike, they’re all various forms of white supremacy, and have all, at one time or another, been strongly tied to unambiguous statements claiming God’s “ordination” and justification of slavery.
Again, it’s the same shit, just slightly different rhetoric and the recontextualization of white supremacy.
When are we going to wake up, and snap out of this imposed “white delusion,” and realize that there is very little difference between white supremacy and white American Christianity, progressive or not? The differences are subtle and far more nuanced, but the outcomes are just as damaging and horrific. How many more lives must be taken? How many more Christian influenced white racist terrorist groups do we need to read about? How many more videos must we see? How many more reports, such as the Ferguson Report, must we read? How many more confirmations do we need in order to admit that progressive, conservative, and anything/everything else in between, is the perpetuation [intentional or not] of White supremacy?
I can already hear the ignorant and uneducated denials of the point I’m trying to make, in order to protect their white sentimentality produced by their theological inanity: “What about Islam?” or “It’s not all Christians!” or “This is ‘reverse-racism’!” or (most annoyingly) the theological jargon that’s a mere obfuscation away and into an entirely different conversation… But, it’s neither my goal or responsibility to cultivate a theological disposition that is deemed acceptable to the white racist person. Their “whiteness” has so far blinded them that they truly believe they somehow have a more in touch opinion regarding the “true” nature of God than the nonwhite person; ain’t nobody got time for that.
The sheer lack of remorse or compassion and the direct disregard of experienced oppression, it is so deeply embedded in the white Christian’s mentality that it echo’s a history of oppressively mind-numbing hatred, and pathological sociopathy. The white Christian American Church is not the oppressed person’s ally, but was, and still is, the oppressed person’s opposition. The “person of color” (POC), but not limited to, knows that freedom is never voluntarily given, but we must not fail to also understand and call out the creative coercion that goes behind the perpetuation of white theological oppression.
For me, upon this realization, everything made sense, and simultaneously inwardly collapsed within. The most insidiously traumatic aspect of all of this was the “numbing silence and moment of [it’s] revelation…” alongside the direct denial, and silencing of those that speak out against the system (i.e. the church).
The white church does not want reconciliation so much as they want unadulterated forgiveness and absolution. Nothing has changed. They want to continue doing nothing, basking in their comfortability and white sentimentality, all while everyone else is suffering.
You’ve been taught that remaining silent is what’s “moral,” that you being actional is extreme/problematic, that asserting your humanity is “not nice,” and that being nice is somehow the same thing as being just. What many don’t know is that they’ve been coerced and silenced by being handed a falsified set of morality, dispositions, and answers tweaked to “perfection” over hundreds of years until it becomes the accepted norm.
This elongated exposure to various forms of their theologically justified racism, misogyny, indifference, ideological bullshit, is the a direct disregard of their humanity (e.g. complementarianism, misogyny, etc.). And that eventually and inevitably this results in spiritual, physical, and emotional disfigurement. Abuse is the norm, it becomes your surrounding, the very air you breathe; you know nothing different, until one day gasping for air, depleted beyond words, you find something unlike anything you’ve known, breathing in a cleaner version of air, and the feeling of empowerment course through your veins.
“The problem faced by problem people is how to be actional. Such people live in a world in which the assertion of their humanity is structured as a contradiction of the system. To assert their humanity, then, is already structurally ‘violent’, ‘unjust’, ‘wrong’, ‘ill-deserved’ and ‘ill-liberal’. How, then, does one set afoot a new humanity when the status quo’s notion of humanity is treated as just?” – Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and Development: A Philosophical Look
This naturally births vital questions [On outing bigots disguised as Christians] that, hopefully, will lead to the fight against oppression, and the realization that the white church is not accepting of you, and never will be about the God-given version of you. The reformation will never be in your favor if you’re a nonwhite, fiscally poor, homosexual, transgender, or non-male – if you’re any single one of these, in their mind, you’re automatically considered beneath them. Again, it’s not as outright or blatant, but it is just as insidious and damaging. It’s systematically oppressive theological disposition has been so far manipulated by those who hold power that it’s virtually lost all it’s meaning. It has merely been reworded and redesigned in order to give them more control, by continuing to deceive the masses.
“As long as a white man does it, it’s alright, a black man is supposed to have no feelings. But when a black man strikes back he’s an extremist, he’s supposed to sit passively and have no feelings, be nonviolent, and love his enemy no matter what kind of attack, verbal or otherwise, he’s supposed to take it. But if he stands up in any way and tries to defend himself, than he’s an extremist.” – Malcolm X
If you want liberation, you have to come to the realization that you’re not going to find it in the same place you experienced oppression. The rules they laid, the disposition they believe, the values they embraced, the lifestyle they live, and the very God-narrative they handed you… You can either a) forever be imprisoned by their theological disposition and oppressive system or b) rebel against the racist white Church, jump ship, completely start over, and unapologetically assert your humanity. Admittedly either/or sucks, but at least one offers the hope of freedom while the other guarantees a life of oppression.
In conclusion, white person, gay-person, black person, Asian person, I once again ask, “How many more hundreds of years does one need to tolerate, perpetuate, and/or search for hope in a Church that is presently and historically abusive, violent, and caked in the blood of those in which they’ve oppressed and literally murdered?”
 John Swinton, Why Me, Lord… Why Me?, p. 97
 Lewis R. Gordon, Fanon and Development: A Philosophical Look