Some days I hardly look at the Internet or TV so I didn’t expect anything Tuesday when late in the evening I decided to turn on the TV and heard about the issues in Charlottesville, VA. At first, it didn’t register with me what was going on and then slowly, I became more aware that a major event took place. I was a bit shocked only because seeing severe expressions of white supremacy is just not an everyday thing.
Truth is, it is an everyday thing, but it happens with things like bank loans, jobs, housing, and American opportunity in general. Many of the people marching with torches are part of the everyday fabric of society and as Bakari Sellers stated on a CNN segment, may likely be hurting people in a variety of indirect ways untraceable. The resistance to diversity and inclusivity; the disdain for multiculturalism; the feelings of exclusive entitlement to the land and everything in it are sentiments that are more pervasive than people may want to believe.
I was in denial for many years. My younger brother researched the issue of white supremacy in great detail and is an articulate spokesperson on the issue. Yet, until about a year ago, I rebuffed his point of view because I couldn’t see something I didn’t want to see. Unfortunately, he has been marginalized widely for his views but his status does not reduce the clarity of his vision. All that time, over a decade in which he revealed a core reality people ignored about the relationship between the minority and the majority … he was right.
Filmmaker Michael Moore spoke on CNN and the implied conclusion I drew from his discussion with Don Lemon is that greater than 70% to 80% of key voting groups may align with views of white supremacy. That is a striking, sobering, and potentially demoralizing reality. What do you do when you are not naturally part of that voting group and you know at the level of social acceptance that you routinely start off with a disadvantage?
What is truly, deeply tough is when people look to you, as a minority, to share their level of faith in the possibility of looking beyond and past these issues. The persistent expectation to assimilate psychologically. That is tough when you are not in the majority. A person with natural privilege can of course take a position against voices of repression and dominance. Little seems of consequence in that scenario. More difficult is living as a minority striving to stand confidently everyday with the same cultural and social outlook as those unaffected by coarse to polished advocates for social dominance.
I saw video clips of black men being beat by groups of white men. They were like beasts unleashed upon a solitary, helpless victim. I began having flashbacks to earlier decades when protesters for civil rights where forcefully overcome with violence or single individuals brutalized by groups of whites. It was disturbing to see a regression of civil nature centered on brutal assertion of social dominance. You can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and be visited with a similar fate.
The trigger it seems is the discussion over Confederate symbols, statues, and monuments. I once took a mealy-mouthed position in which I said it was disrespectful to overturn these monuments as I strove for empathy with persons wanting to honor history. I realized that I didn’t think deeply enough about that and my own upbringing cultivated in me an appreciation for the confederacy due to public school instruction. You could say I was taught in a way that placed me in a position to identify with North vs. South in a balanced way. Today, decades later, that is not tenable.
Public American facilities should only have symbols that represent the aspirations of the society towards the future. Leaning to the statement, “it is history” is a cop-out. A man in the person of Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee is totally unacceptable as a totem to gaze upon in the form of a statue that exalts such individuals when they sought an agenda that would have perpetuated the continued enslavement of people under force.
These Confederate monuments represent things that are not American. They represent treason to the idea of a unified society, oppression of millions of Native Americans and Africans, and a counter-proposal to the tenants of the Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. Admiring the symbols of the Confederacy is an indirect and tacit approval of those conditions. The presence of African Americans socialized through upbringing into docility and absence of emotion when near these symbols doesn’t negate what they mean as universal symbols of the professed inferiority of African Americans as chattel to sustain a dark economic model.
Upon reflection, America doesn’t have to maintain a vigil over the past. Sure, there were good things that came out of the 18th, 19th, and 20th century. Yet, we are now in the 21st century and the future awaits. Confusion exists of the unresolved arguments for and against the 1960s and 1970s counter-cultural revolution. People exist who have Victorian and nostalgic sentiments leaning in the direction of the 1950s and earlier. They want a more controlled society in terms of having a cadre of elites largely from a single ethnic group set the parameters for life on this planet. Unfortunately, they didn’t learn from history.
China is the longest reigning society that is not an empire. All the empires have fallen. The pattern of the past is that empires don’t hold up. A one-world order founded on the top of the bones of those destroyed in the Middle East; the continued compromise and exploitation of repressed minorities in the West descended from physically, socially, and psychologically conquered peoples; and the attempted harvest of the East proper just is untenable. Great death and dissolution of civilization and the living conditions of the children of the elites themselves await in the quest to conquer all life on Earth. Better to go the other way and foster collective cooperation, unity, and common purpose to build a better life for all.
An island of hate does exist if you are a minority unlucky enough to find yourself among smiling benefactors who may not truly be friends. However, you can step off the island, self-determine a path to a better mental outlook and Christianity is the full antidote to these travails. The evangelical community has a tremendous secular power to help lead the way. Sure, the CEOs and business leaders who are making their voices heard does have impact, but the evangelicals have a great opportunity to shift the direction in a positive course.
People are chanting tonight at a vigil in Charlottesville, VA. Their songs and rhythmic chorus is a heartening symbol. Many of them are young people with the courage to be filmed on TV, the courage to be noticed by people who would silence them, but they still show up and exercise the core of their convictions for unity, inclusiveness, and a hope for a more positive life for all. They don’t hate the haters. They don’t live on the island of hate. The island they live on is the island of Love and that is the island created in the hearts of people who chose to occupy that place instead of the one cultivated by the harsh scenarios of this world. The young multitudes have chosen their place. A place created by God and a place more of us can choose to live.