"I heard a voice from heaven saying, 'Son, let this woman be a bride to you in the restoration of my people. Let her be a mother for these people, regenerating souls through the salvation of spirit and water.'" (Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias)

Friday, March 11, 2016

Seven Quick Takes: White Supremacy Links

1. Rev. Wil Gafney, Ph.D.:

White supremacy in the church doesn’t always wear a white sheet but can regularly be found in the sanctuary. Unexamined whiteness endures in the sanctuary, in the halls, on the walls, and yes even on the altar in the sacraments of the Church, in biblical interpretation, understandings of God, Jesus and ultimately effects Christian identity and its expressions: theology, liturgy and iconography. When the images of God, Christ, the angels, the saints and the faithful are white, and only white, white supremacy is at work. When those images are all that children see, even when their Sunday school and vacation bible school curricula include pictures of black and brown children – because Jesus loves us all – but maintains an unchallenged white norm for Jesus and biblical characters, white supremacy is successfully passed down to another generation.

2. Jennifer Harvey: I’m tired of talking about “white privilege.” It has begun to feel to me like an easy list we can make of all the goods those of us who are white get, a list some of us are trying to do something to challenge. But a list just can’t do justice to what Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s exoneration are and mean. Our situation is far more grave than this.

I want to talk about the toxins of whiteness, the suffocating thickness of white supremacy, the ways in which the genocidal violence that lies at the very heart-center of this nation’s birth and contemporary identity has us all in its grip.

3. A Call to Confession: Racism, White Privilege, and the Church. Many articles at a Presbyterian justice online journal.

4. HuffPo:

Black women and girls should not be killed in jail in America. Not under any circumstances. And the last thing their families should have to do is fight for answers.

Justice has always been biased in this country, but it's a crisis point when a federal judge must order the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to review heavily redacted reports on the suspicious deaths, as one just did in Texas on February 18, so that Bland's family might obtain access to clear documents.

What exactly are they hiding? And why exactly are we tolerating it?

Bland's mother makes a call: "Let's start looking at indicting the system then," and, "let's not let our quest for justice die like they did." Call upon the FBI to open the records and continue to press the Department of Justice to launch an independent investigation into Sandra Bland's death.

We need to use this case to push for changes in the treatment of prisoners and better oversight of the officials in charge of protecting citizens, even the ones behind bars.

5. HuffPo again: These days persons like myself (that is, black and involved in fighting social injustice) are almost constantly giving explanation for the continued contested existence of black life in America and quite frankly, this can be extremely exhausting. Moreover, I contend that given all of the pervasive injustices that continue to threaten black life in America it can be said that simply the act of being black is an exercise of exhaustion. From this viewpoint, you can understand why many in the Black community who've been fighting for justice find themselves, as my Grandmother would say, "sick and tired of being sick and tired."

6. Memphis Burning: Of the dozen or so sources interviewed for this story, all people who are deeply engaged with poverty and inequality in Memphis, none hesitated to bring up Lipscomb by name or to question how “the city” — synonymous with Lipscomb — spends its resources. 22 Two concerns were raised by nearly everyone. First is the disparity between the meager funds spent at the neighborhood level, on CDC programs that assist small businesses and finance home repairs and construction in blighted areas, and the much larger sums of money funneled into big business projects, including for-profit ventures. The second is how the misuse of those federal millions reveals a lack of comprehensive planning.

7. Poor White Support of Trump:

We are depriving the white working classes of their means to give. As we export manufacturing jobs internationally and as we streamline labor with technology, we start moving people to the sidelines. It’s not just that they have less money, it’s that their identity as providers is being threatened. This is why they are often so against welfare. Even if it would fix their financial situation, it would not fix their identity problems. It would hurt their dignity. While the working class is undoubtedly worried about the economy, we already know many will not vote in their economic best interests. They vote for the candidate who promises a return to dignity, and it’s not because they’re dumb. It’s because they care about their dignity more than they care about their finances.

Which, by the way, directly ties in to how they are racist. Not all Trump supporters are necessarily racist, but a fair number of them explicitly are. Normally, when liberals talk about racism, they use “racist” as an end point. “Trump is racist” is, by itself, a reason not to vote for him, and “being racist” is an indicator of a person who is morally deficient.

But, if you don’t take this as an end point — if you instead ask “what do people get out of being racist?” — you’ll start to unravel the emotional motivations behind it. One of the best unpacking of this I have read is Matt Bruenig’s piece Last Place Avoidance and Poor White Racism. To summarize, no one wants to occupy the “last” place in society. No one wants to be the most despised. As long as racism remains intact, poor white people are guaranteed not to be “the worst.” If racism is ever truly dismantled, then poor white people will occupy the lowest rung of society, and the shame of occupying this position is very painful. This shame is so painful, that the people at risk of feeling it will vote on it above all other issues.

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