Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: White Supremacy

It’s not just the Corona virus — bad theology is killing us

During the last few months I’ve been listening to/reading what Black church leaders are saying. It isn’t pretty. We here in the great USA have made our bed. Now we’re sleeping and dying in it (especially if you happen to be black or brown) whether we like it or not.

I’m a theologian and a follower of Jesus Christ. I care about the so-called guiding principles of government, AND the guiding heart of our government and its citizens. Especially, though not only those citizens who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

The current disaster has been building ever since our forefathers and foremothers arrived or were forcibly brought to this country. Bad theology didn’t cause the Corona virus. Rather, the reality of living and dying in the USA with the Corona virus makes clear what’s been at stake from the very beginning. White supremacy. And, in particular, well-to-do white wealth and access to healthcare, housing, jobs…. This didn’t happen overnight.

The title at the top is from a statement by Reverend William H. Lamar IV, Pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C. Whether you’re a follower of Jesus Christ or not, please read his clear, bold statement. Well worth the few minutes it will take to read it. Just click on his opening line:

There comes a time when being nice is the worst kind of violence.

Praying you’ll have a fruitful day with moments of peace, plus strength to do what’s right.
Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 July 2020
Photo of Rev. William H. Lamar IV found at nbcnews.com

Lest we forget | Wilmington, NC, 1898

I first put these pieces together in February of this year. Why? Because I’m convinced most of us haven’t adequately studied the history of racism in the United States. Outstanding books are available for those with time and opportunity to read them.

Nonetheless, I found these news clips riveting, tragic, and sadly, an echo (in different language) of our current situation. These aren’t editorials about what happened years ago. They’re evidence documenting this tragedy as it unfolded.

If you’re not able to read books about the history of racism in this country, read these old documents and study the photo at the bottom. To learn more about the photo, check out this article about the Wilmington (North Carolina) insurrection and massacre of 1898.

 


© Elouise Renich Fraser, 14 June 2020
Photo and records found at Wickipedia.com

Listening to Rhiannon Giddens

Have you met Rhiannon Giddens? She was recently chosen to become a MacArthur Fellow which includes receiving a MacArthur Genius Grant. You can see a list of all recipients since 1981 at the link above.

So why was Ms. Giddens chosen? Not for anything she had already accomplished, but as an investment in her originality, insight, and potential as a musician. The award has been given out every year since 1981, always to a group of persons with potential in a range of areas. A committee chooses the recipients; there is no application process.

Ms. Giddens is the daughter of a White father and a Black mother. They met and married in North Carolina in the 1970s, just three years after the USA legalized interracial marriage. The song above, accompanied by Ms. Giddens on her banjo, uses two voices. Julie is a Black servant; Mistress is her White mistress. Each verse is in a different voice. This is Ms. Giddens’ way of drawing on her bi-racial identity. Particularly given the history of North Carolina that led to the brutal massacre of 1898.

The song takes us back to 1898 and the moments leading up to the arrival of White men intent on killing as many Black men, women and children as possible. In the last stanzas we learn the truth about Julie and her Mistress.

Lectures and books about our current racial issues are important. Yet they don’t move me or give me as much insight into the tangled mess we’ve inherited than do music, poetry or stories of this depth from artists such as Ms. Giddens.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 April 2018
Video found on YouTube

White Supremacy

I’ve lived in majority White neighborhoods most of my life. I’ve also lived through the drama of early desegregation, beginning with the 1960s. Back then the drama was chiefly about Black and White Americans. However, it now includes other immigrant and refugee populations. Especially those without financial security or steady jobs with decent wages and health benefits.

Despite the dreams and goodwill of many US citizens, things don’t seem to have changed that much. Especially in our cities. But also, increasingly, in the suburbs. Not in the shopping malls, but in our neighborhoods. It’s good to attend a church that’s visibly open to all comers. But even this doesn’t take the place of neighborhoods.

It’s simple. If I don’t have daily contact in my neighborhood with people who don’t look or act like I do, I won’t get very far on my own. I know this, because I now have Muslim, Roman Catholic, and Jewish neighbors. Plus other White Protestant neighbors. I have no Black neighbors.

My attitudes and behaviors are important. Nonetheless, I can’t solve this alone. This a national problem and disgrace, especially given decades-old legislation against discriminatory practices in the housing industry. The problem began early in this nation’s history, and has only become more deeply entrenched as we’ve made ‘progress’ toward what I would call semi-integration (sometimes takes good pictures, but it isn’t real).

Here’s a fact I heard this weekend on a reputable radio station. With the exception of President Obama, none of our recent Presidents took housing discrimination on as the monster it is. In addition, Mr. Trump has further weakened these efforts with his choice of staff, his tweets, his attitudes, and his macho White Supremacy approach to governing.

In other words, we have great legislation and ineffective or nonexistent follow-through. Neighborhoods don’t happen on maps; they happen in hearts and everyday lives. On streets, porches and sidewalks. In back yards and corner grocery stores. We need to rub elbows with each other. Share the news; help with the snow shoveling; watch the kids from time to time. Talk about the weather and then maybe about something more important than that.

Over the weekend I heard an interview that gave me a starting point. A place and way to begin writing about this. So here’s the deal for today. I bring you a quote. That’s all. It gives me a chill every time I read it.

The Anglo Saxon planted civilization on this continent and wherever this race has been in conflict with another race, it has asserted its supremacy and either conquered or exterminated the foe. This great race has carried the Bible in one hand and the sword [in the other]. Resist our march of progress and civilization and we will wipe you off the face of the earth.

Major William A. Guthrie, 28 Oct 1898, in Goldsboro, NC, speaking to a crowd of 8,000 at what was called “A White Supremacy Convention.” From Raleigh News and Observer, 29 Oct 1898. Quotation excerpted from Wikipedia article on The Wilmington (NC) Insurrection of 1989. 

Nuanced for the year 2018, versions of this quote are still filling the airwaves and social media. The question is how to combat this assault on our common humanity and on our increasingly isolated neighborhoods.

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 23 April 2018
Photo found at whqr.org

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