I can’t believe

I can’t believe September 25, 2014

I don’t want to write a post about Ferguson.

Or racism.

Or even go all-in and nod to my patron saint of womanism, bell hooks by writing about White supremacist imperialist hetero-patriarchy.

Like one of my many heroes from the Ferguson protests:

still protest smiley creek smileycreek, Flickr

I can’t believe people still want to argue about race being an issue.

I can’t believe I still have to be a modern Clare Huxtable to prove I’m not lazy but know all the lyrics to Nicki Minaj songs at a party to prove I’m in touch with my “culture”.

I can’t believe I still have to defend talking about racial disparities, oppression or injustice as a Champion of All Human Dignity because if I raise my voice on #bringbackourgirls or #RayRice or #ISIS or #ClimateChange, I’m being a socially conscious Christian but if I talk about race in an American context, I’m just mainly and myopically concerned with African Americans.

On the other hand, I can’t believe it’s still up to me to talk about things like systemic racism and the criminalization of Black bodies (even after Mike Brown was killed and weeks of protests ensued) because my white pastors “don’t have it on their radar”.

Basically, I can’t believe I still need to bring it up so they know it’s okay to talk about it…. but also be careful not to be to focused on it. Gotcha.

I can’t believe it because I was taught a different narrative growing up. Likely, you were too.

I was taught that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream was that black children and white children join hands as sisters and brothers, no longer separated by segregated schools and lunch counters. Then came the Civil Rights Act, a holiday for Martin Luther King Jr. and The Cosby Show. Though only a segment of African Americans achieved relative educational, societal, and economic success, for a while, it seemed like enough. At least it’s better than it was, better for us than for our grandparents.

I can’t believe the truncated version of Dr. King’s dream anymore. I never should have. It was never just about sharing lunch counters and neighborhoods, at least not completely.

Dr. King spoke out about economic justice for the war, the dangers of rampant capitalism, the brutality and futility of war, rampant militarism, colonialism, complacency of the church, and yes…. he said some pretty memorable things about racism. The complete story was about radical societal change, radical freedom, a really radical dream.

It’s all injustice and oppression. And all appropriate things for a radical preacher like King, following a radical rabbi like Jesus becoming a creative extremist* for love. He spoke from his social location of a Black preacher from the South, oppressed by segregation. His revolutionary words have been filtered down to dreams about racial reconciliation but it’s time we remembered that his true legacy is radical confrontation of “the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism”.

As a woman, an African American, a seminarian learning in an Indigenous context, wife, mother, and spiritual unicorn, I’m going to speak from of my personal social location. It’s all any of us can do, really. The perfect, neutral space of thought is an illusion. It is precisely my social locations that morally bind me to be a justice seeking whole human being.

So, even though I won’t always feel like it, I will be here, hoping to press through the conversations I can’t believe we still need to have and adding my voice to the chorus of those of us seeking justice together. I’ve got some pretty radical dreams and I’m becoming a more creative extremist for love every day.

*Language comes from Letter from a Birmingham Jail.

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