I’ve recently come across this interview with Nigerian pro-life activist Obianuju Ekeocha on BBC World News which made my #CracksInPomo senses went haywire. This blog’s mission is to point out the cultural paradoxes that “crack” through postmodernity, and “Uju” is flashing red on my radar.
So what is it about this video that is making my pomo senses tingle like a wasp sting? Go watch the video yourself.
…And once you watch the video, you can read my thoughts.
What’s amazing to me is how Uju smacks the presuppositions of progressive PC ideology right in the face. Rooted in a vague adherence to cultural Marxism, this ideology du jour makes subverting the current order of power its main mission. Blacks must claim their power from whites, women from men, homos from heteros, third world from first world, etc.
The ultimate protagonists in this process of subversion are the ones who embody multiple oppressed identities at once—a phenomenon known as intersectionality. Good luck trying to argue against someone whose identities intersect—they automatically win. Whoever has been more oppressed than you has more access to truth.
This is where Uju comes in. She’s African. She’s black. She’s a woman. And she’s…pro-life? According to this ideology, she should be reclaiming her power from western colonizers, from white people, and from men. But her vision of what it looks to reclaim her power from these oppressors isn’t exactly “orthodox.”
It’s fascinating to watch progressive evangelists spread their message outside of the West. They claim to be reversing the evils done by racism, sexism, slavery, and colonialism…crimes against humanity which have be perpetrated in a particularly disturbing way in Africa. Considering how much the West has trampled over the backs of Africans, are these progressive ideologies powerful enough to lift them up from under the Western man’s foot?
I was first exposed to cultural Marxism at my elite (Jesuit) university. My classmates’ adherence to its doctrines was ultramontane—they never dared to question its infallibility and were ready to anathematize anyone who challenged them. Many of those classmates came from diverse ethnic backgrounds. I can’t say the same about their socioeconomic backgrounds, though.
The ideology for which they were willing to give their lives claims to stand in solidarity with the poor. But as I started looking more closely at its roots, I discovered this claim to be a mask for its elitist origins and aims.
It turns out that the philosophies that undergird progressive ideology (cultural Marxism, deconstructionism, performativity theory) don’t come from the hood (and by hood, I mean locales inhabited by oppressed persons). Nor are they fully embraced by the hood. Rather, they come from elite Western universities…which are places that have been and largely continue to be closed off to non-elites (as well as non-Westerners).
After finishing undergrad, I ended up teaching in an inner-city Benedictine high school, which welcomes a mix of black American, Caribbean, African, Latino, and Brazilian students (and a couple of random white kids for good measure). While most teachers tend to be moderate liberals, I was surprised to find little talk of microagressions and the heteropatriarchy. It turns out that my majority minority students don’t find these ideas to be very much relevant to their needs and daily experiences.
When they walk into class, few of them are thinking “how is this teacher going to use his white privilege to oppress me” or “how dare you use that type of language to police my black body?!.” Instead, they’re concerns range from the normal “is this teacher going to be boring” and “can I ask him to stay late after school to help me study” yo more dramatic things like, “I wish my dad would come back home” or “I wish I didn’t have to worry about ICE snatching my parents in the night.”Instead of feeding them with ideologies that will “liberate” them from oppression, the teachers seek to get involved in the actual struggles they are going through. Are you struggling with reading because the crappy public schools didn’t teach you grammar? I’ll stay late to tutor you. Are you worried about dad’s immigration status? Let’s call up the alumnus who became an immigration lawyer. Is the sadness caused by having an alcoholic father distracting you from my math lesson? Let’s go down to the counseling center so you can talk to one of the psychologists about how you’re feeling.
We don’t indoctrinate them with ideology. We accompany them. Why? Because this is what Jesus would do.
I find it funny that most progressives’ accuse Christianity of being the religion of the white oppressor. In reality, its principles provided the philosophical underpinning for the Civil Rights Movement.
Can one really claim that the principles that Martin Luther King Jr. relied on really came from the white man? Well, if you ask most progressives, whose immanentist worldview refuses to acknowledge the possibility of their being a transcendent realm, yes. It’s a religion of oppression. But if you look at Christianity (and the other Abrahamic religions) on its own terms, you’ll see that MLK’s ideas came from that other realm, which stands above and outside earthly, human (even white male) power.
A theistic metaphysical worldview more readily lends itself to the needs of actual people living in “hoods”—to those who struggle, suffer, or are oppressed—precisely because its claim to “power” transcends (and often condemns) all forms of worldly power and domination…especially ones that perpetuate structures of oppression and sin. So in this sense, the Civil Rights Movement was more “from the hood” than Black Lives Matter will ever be.
The more I talk to some of my former classmates, I start to see the elitist agenda behind their “mission” rearing its ugly face. When talking about the religious practices of the people they are trying so desperately to liberate from oppression, they sound like parents belittling their child’s imaginary friend. “It’s so sweet that they still walk down the street carrying the Virgin Mary statue!” “Oh look at that cute little grandma praying her rosary!” (Some exclamations I remember while on a mission trip with them in Latin America).
When it comes to their religiously-based moral views, the responses are not exactly as “sweet.” “I feel so bad that these women still believe in gender roles…if only they knew.” “That’s ridiculous that she has six kids and won’t get on the pill! When will she get with the times?”
It’s hard to stand in solidarity with people you are constantly looking your nose down on. People say that you’ll never understand someone’s struggle until you step into their shoes. I’m convinced that you’ll never understand their struggle until you are willing to step into their metaphysical worldview.
This is Ekeocha’s concern. Good-meaning Westerners insist that Africans deserve “basic human rights” like contraception, abortion, and gay marriage. But when will Westerners start asking where their understanding of humanity and rights came from?
Both she and Pope Francis have been warning developing countries of ideological colonization. Unlike earlier forms of colonization, it claims to be “down with the people,” but just like those earlier forms, it ends up keeping “the people” down.