I’ve Been Thinking: Thoughts on Racism, Oppression, and the Kingdom of God

silhouetteI’ve been thinking…
…about how racism compounds the already complex nature of original sin. Of how, because of sin, humans already have a tendency to exploit and abuse one another. On our worst days, and under the right circumstances, we can all be lured into sin and take that which belongs to another. But racism validates it. Racism legitimizes it. Racism makes stealing, genocide, rape, and murder okay. Racism systematizes that oppression, making it that much harder to pinpoint and break. Sin, thus, is not only committed by racist individuals but by anthropomorphic structures that do not think or feel, breathe or feel in order to serve the interests of rich and powerful white men.

I’ve been thinking…

about how racism dehumanizes people of color in so many ways. We struggle to find employment and when we find it, it does not pay a livable wage. Without family sustaining wages, we fight to put healthy food on the table. No matter because we lack decent stores that shelve those healthy foods in our communities. And yet, convenience stores and fast-food chains line our streets along with the check cashing place. And if by chance, we ‘make it’ and get an education, buy a home out of the hood, and do well by the standards of this world, there is no guarantee that we or our children will not end up back in the place we desperately tried to escape: oppression. Someone else, usually white and most often male, feels the need to make decisions that should be ours to make. We cannot live where we want to live, send our children to the schools we wish to send them to, or stand up for ourselves without someone corrupting our narrative or taking the microphone away from us while we speak. At every turn, we seem to be duped and plotted against. Where does freedom exist?

I’ve been thinking…

…about how they keep terrorizing and killing us. Whether at the hands of a power-hungry cop or a self appointed vigilante, our bodies are under constant siege. It does not matter what we are doing, it does not matter what we are wearing, it does not matter who we are worshipping, it does not matter how old we are and definitely not how educated we are – on an hourly basis we are targeted and on a daily basis, we are discarded like waste. It’s maddening and it’s simply exhausting. 400 years of this. When will the storm end?

I’ve been thinking…

…about how much violence exists within our own communities. So much blood has been spilled of our own sons and daughters by our own sisters and brothers simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, wearing coveted status symbols or for being connected to the wrong people. Internalized hatred and shame is trapped in our bones, and that hatred we can so easily project onto others, usually those who live, work, or play within proximity to us. We compete with each other, turn our backs on each other, shame each other, and even exclude each other from life and community even though, truthfully, we are all we have. How can we unite together, putting our differences and opinions aside, in order to go head to head with the demon that is racism? Together we stand, divided we fall. 

I’ve been thinking…

…about internalized racial superiority perpetuated by many white people. Many whites have adopted and hold on to an identity of ‘better than,’ one which they are willing to protect at all costs. In order to protect that identity, they label immigrants ‘illegal,’ Muslims ‘terrorists,’ black people ‘thugs,’ and anyone who dares to ask for help ‘lazy’ and ‘entitled.’ And then they pass policies to back up their rhetoric, all the while demanding their rights to free speech and gun ownership lest someone challenge their twisted ideology. Politicians race to say the craziest, outlandish thing in order to rile up their base ignoring the fact that if they did half of the things they promised, we would all be screwed. Truth of the matter is, none of us will be free, none of us will find justice, until whites themselves are free and healed from the lie of superiority that they have internalized for so long.

I’ve been thinking…

…about how in our pursuit for justice we are sometimes only really committed to our own personal liberation instead of the liberation of all of us. We want racial justice but are not willing to challenge capitalism and corporate greed because as much as these systems hurt us, they benefit us, too. We refuse to call the American Dream a nightmare because we still want a piece of it, believing that this is what justice means. However, even in a case where we had unrestricted access to that dream, who pays for it? Whose blood is spilled to secure it, whose family destroyed to maintain it, whose land devastated to sustain it? If not our own lives and our own families, surely those of our sisters and brothers overseas. Our foreign policy has devastated whole communities in lands far away, but what costs them much benefits us a lot. We cannot accept this, we must reject any notion that suggests we should.

I’ve been thinking…

…about what it will take to dismantle racism and white supremacy. We cannot move into a future free of oppression and pain, using the same tools and the same tactics that have gotten us here. We cannot keep building on a foundation that was designed for our failure; instead we need new governance, new theology, new economics, and new sociology. The time is now for new wineskins in which to pour the sweet wine of justice, peace, love and solidarity.

I’ve been thinking…

…about what is the spiritual moment in our nation. As much as racism is a political strategy it is also spiritual. What is going on outside of the realm of this world that we cannot see that is yielding the current results? What is the Kairos, or opportune, moment upon us? How will a deeper understanding into what the Spirit of God is doing in this season in our nation strengthen our ability to dismantle racism.

I’ve been thinking…

…about how we cannot dismantle racism without the intervention and power of the Holy Spirit. While we intend well, we simply cannot fight this intense battle without God. Because of our imperfections and our tendency to pervert justice, we need the Almighty God to go before us. We need God to empower us with the ability to prophesy against this evil system of injustice and call forward the fullness of His Kingdom, where death will at last be defeated and racism will finally be put to rest. That our hearts would rejoice and remain expectant for that day. Marantha! Come quickly, Lord!

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