Abigail Nussbaum, “Five Comments on The Underground Railroad“
This is only one of the ways in which The Underground Railroad diagnoses white American society with spiritual poverty, a sickness rooted in the need to justify slavery and the extermination of Native Americans. Ridgeway, for example, points out that his father’s “great spirit” philosophy is borrowed (and probably heavily bastardized) from Native Americans, a tacit acknowledgment that even this partial, insufficient version of goodness can only come from outside of American whiteness. In North Carolina, Cora is hidden in the attic of the local station master, Martin (Damon Herriman), whose wife Ethel (Lily Rabe) is bigoted and hostile. Ethel is also a devout Christian, and tries to give Cora religious instruction, never perceiving a contradiction between her bigotry and her claim to moral superiority. But though everyone in the episode proclaims their religious belief, it’s made clear that the primary purpose of their version of Christianity is to justify exploitation and genocide. The result is a psychic wound, a creed that offers its adherents neither a reliable guide to living a righteous life, nor a foundation for moral courage. When Martin and Ethel are exposed, they try to cling to their faith, but it proves pathetically insufficient.
I often get asked how the church can enter into the work of reconciliation, and my response is this: Reconciliation is not possible. Not right now.
I do not see reconciliation on a near horizon when, in our schools, churches and political spaces, we do not talk about the horrific realities of our nation’s history. …
I’m not sure the United States government or the American church cares enough about Indigenous children, Indigenous elders or Indigenous ancestors — or our trauma — to truly tell the truth and take any steps toward these difficult conversations. But my hope is that, at some point, there will be some people within these institutions who will start speaking up so we don’t have to. The work of true solidarity, the practice of true kinship, will lead us toward communities having these conversations, and one day, I hope, toward the American church asking who they have been and who they want to be.
Caroline Matas, “New Patriarch, Same Patriarchy”
As long as the SBC clings to doctrines in favor of women’s submission and against divorce, women and girls will remain in a precarious position regarding how and whether to stand up to men’s abuse of power. Litton undoubtedly represents a softer, more urbane proponent of male headship than the likes of Paige Patterson, Mike Stone, and other SBC stalwarts, but his underlying theology remains the same. Any denomination that puts pressure on women and girls to identify how to be better “helpers” to male “servant-leaders” will continue to foster situations where women and girls must question whether they’re usurping men’s power by standing up for themselves in situations of grooming and abuse.
Hugh Ryan, “When Queers Fought the State and Won”
“The only requirement” for an ACT UP action, Schulman writes, “was that it was direct action, with a goal related to ending the AIDS crisis.” She makes clear that symbolic actions, or protesting for protesting’s sake, is only an option for those who have time to waste. ACT UP actions always had specific, tangible results in mind, and their targets were chosen because they had real power. Because they and their friends were dying terrible imminent deaths, ACT UP embraced simultaneity, freeing each member to work on actions that mattered to them, in the way that made most sense given the material reality of their lives. There was no formal approval process for actions. People proposed ideas at ACT UP’s Monday night meeting, and others joined if they wanted.
My hypothesis is that it is not just the fear of lost power that causes today’s white hysteria, which is currently targeted, absurdly enough, at an arcane intellectual theory. It is, instead, what happens when people who have been lying to themselves for hundreds of years are challenged. We wish to retain not just our supremacy but our innocence. It is the challenging of our innocence that so outrages us.
Those who believe that American Christianity can be a potential break on the slide towards anti-democratic white minority rule are deluding themselves. If white minority rule becomes a reality in the United States, you can be assured that American Christianity will deploy its full arsenal of scriptural justification to rationalize why the godless socialist sinners of Black and brown urban American should be ruled over by the Elect of God. And I’ll give you one guess who that is.