From Bill Wylie-Kellermann’s recent release Principalities in Particular: A Practical Theology of the Powers That Be (Oct 2017):
In the struggle for racial justice the recognition of “institutional racism,” that insidious structural element far beyond personal prejudice, was a huge step toward seeing racism as a principality. Ironically, however, the liberal preoccupation with its institutional character would prove progressively blind to its overpowering spiritual dimension. The African American freedom struggle, founded under SCLC’s early banner, “To Heal the Soul of the Nation,” tended to become more and more a civil rights movement with a largely legislative agenda. In the several decades since Stringfellow’s address, the legal apparatus of our American apartheid has been all but dismantled. End of racism, right? No. We ignore its spiritual reality at the peril of our national soul. And there is no force in our history that has proven more relentless or devastatingly resilient than white racism. It is empirically a demon which again and again rises up transmogrified in ever-more predatory and beguiling forms, truly tempting our despair. The frustration we suffer is not unlike that of the disciples who were gently upbraided by Jesus, “This kind can only be cast out by prayer and fasting.”
In a New York Times Magazine interview, Bryan Stevenson was asked, “What would the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. think of America if he were alive today?” This was his answer.
When he found out that one in three black male babies born in this country is expected to go to jail and prison, when he saw the level of poverty, when he heard some of the rhetoric that we frequently hear, I think he would be heartbroken. But I also think he would be excited that if he called a meeting, thousands would come. And that’s what has to happen, even without Dr. King — that we have to be willing to make that commitment so that we can create a world where if Dr. King emerged, he would be so proud to say his dream has finally been realized. We’re not in that world yet.
Bryan Stevenson is the author of Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (2014) and the co-founder of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (informally known as the National Lynching Memorial).
From Benjamin Madley’s An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, quoted early and often at last week’s Bartimaeus Kinsler Institute in Southern California.
…federal lawmakers expelled California Indians from mainstream colonial California society and relegated them to a shadowy legal and social status between man and beast. This was not preordained. In each phase of legislation, anti-Indian views prevailed over more sympathetic voices, each time pushing Indians farther beyond the bounds of citizenship and community. Through a succession of laws, legislators slowly denied California Indians membership in the body politic until they became landless non-citizens, with few legal rights and almost no legal control over their own bodies. Indians became, for many Anglo-Americans, nonhumans. This legal exclusion of California Indians from California society was a crucial enabler of mass murder.
From a Bill Moyers interview with Ibram X. Kendi, the author of Stamped From The Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (2017). Kendi was asked what five books should be mandatory reading (once readers were done with his book).
I think that it really depends on what they’re interested in. But I think books that are critical in understanding the popular sort of discussions that we’re having now that have to do with race injustice. Of course, there is Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, which I think really takes the reader through understanding how much of a problem the death penalty is, how much of a black problem it is, and how virulently racist the policies and operators are within that — in Alabama and other places. Continue reading
An excerpt from Tada Hozumi‘s brilliant piece “The Key to Healing Whiteness is Understanding Cultural Somatic Context,” originally posted on the Selfish Activist site last month.
Intellectualism itself is a white colonialist pattern. It’s only natural that whiteness can’t be solved through brain wrangling. Usually what happens is that the intellectual quality of systemic analysis often leads people to burn out, usually with their micro-aggressing behaviors intact. Continue reading
By Wes Howard-Brook
Three, young, powerful, brash women of color have come down upon the Capitol and left the old while folks there sputtering in their wake. The most well-known—so much so that she already can be recognized by her initials, AOC—Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY)—has blown the doors off Congress by daring to offer her “Green New Deal” vision. The other two are both Muslim women, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar. Tlaib and Omar have strongly promoted the international “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction” campaign to pressure the Israeli government to withdraw from West Bank settlements. Continue reading
A Ruby Sales Ted Talk? Hell yes. This is just an excerpt. Watch and listen to the entire talk here.
Now that we’ve touched the hurt, we must ask ourselves, “Where does it hurt and what is the source of the hurt?” I propose that we must look deeply into the culture of whiteness. That is a river that drowns out all of our identities and drowns us in false uniformity to protect the status quo.
Notice, everybody, I said “culture of whiteness,” and not “white people.” Because in my estimation, the problem is not white people. Instead, it is the culture of whiteness. And by culture of whiteness, I mean a systemic and organized set of beliefs, values, canonized knowledge and even religion, to maintain a hierarchical, over-and-against power structure based on skin color, against people of color. It is a culture where white people are seen as necessary and friendly insiders, while people of color, especially black people, are seen as dangerous and threatening outsiders, who pose a clear and present danger to the safety and the efficacy of the culture of whiteness. Continue reading