The Culture of Whiteness

RubyA 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

Martin Luther King, the Beloved Community and the Socialist Idea

obery hendricksA classic from theologian Obery Hendricks, re-posted from The Huffington Post (May 2, 2014).

I speak the password primeval…I give the sign of democracy; By God! I will accept nothing which all cannot have their counterpoint of on equal terms.
Walt Whitman

Recently on The Huffington Post I explored Martin Luther King’s rejection of capitalist logic and his endorsement of Democratic Socialism as an antidote to the ills and injustices inherent to the capitalist system he so fervently opposed. These include capitalism’s subordination of human welfare to the pursuit of profits; its transformation of greed from Christianity’s Third Mortal Sin to the preeminent capitalist virtue (based on a selective reading of Adam Smith); and its rejection of the biblically-mandated responsibility to “love your neighbor as yourself,” i.e., to care for society’s poor and vulnerable. In addition to the consternation that I would dare to use Martin Luther King and “socialism” in the same sentence, a number of readers also seized on King’s endorsement as confirmation of the old charge that he was a Communist sympathizer. Continue reading

Tone Policing

Oluo

PC: SeattleSpectator.com

From The Sun Magazine‘s brilliant interview with Ijeoma Oluo author of the recently released So You Want to Talk about Race:

Tone policing is when someone disputes a statement by focusing on how it was said, not on its content. It’s when you’re told to “calm down” or “be more ladylike” or “be less emotional.” The person who’s suffering has to express their experience in a way white people will accept before whites are willing to listen. You all think you’re a better judge of what’s proper than black people are, and that you have the authority to deem our complaints invalid. Your comfort level is more important to you than stopping the brutality we’re facing. Continue reading

An Indivisible Pedagogy and Theology of Somebodiness

rubyAnother brilliant epistle from the front porch of Ruby Sales

On this day as we remember King please accept this gift of recapitulation, restoration and remembrance of a southern African American story.

Every year I listen in absolute horror as White liberals rob King of his connection and roots to the Black South. His are deep roots as are mine that extend all the way back to the first organized non-violent southern freedom grassroots movement when members of the community of enslaved Africans ran away. He and I descend from enslaved ancestors who fashioned a radical and liberating Black folk theology in southern fields where they were forced under state sanctioned violence to labor like beasts of burden to enrich the economic lifestyles of southern Whites. In the heat of those fields they carved out a theology of pragmatic optimism that blended their transcendental impulse –ancestors’ aspirations — with transactional acts of resistance and accommodation towards citizenship. The folk impulse of our enslaved ancestors radically departed from the White transactional view of us as property to our transcendental view of our being children of God and therefore legitimate heirs of the promise of democracy.
Continue reading

The Gangsterization of Our Politics

barberFrom William Barber’s recent comments in a Democracy Now interview:

Before all of the latest news, Judge Kavanaugh, first of all, was being put forward after McConnell in the Senate held open a seat for over 420 days, in a way that we had not seen since the Civil War. They literally denied a president his right to nominate someone and for them to have a hearing. This was the same Judiciary Committee that denied two African-American women a hearing to be appointed to the federal court, the 1st District—Eastern District in North Carolina. So the process was bad from the beginning. Continue reading

The Norm

DiAngeloFrom Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism (2018):

Racism is the norm rather than an aberration. Feedback is key to our ability to recognize and repair our inevitable and often unaware collusion. In recognition of this, I try to follow these guidelines:

1.   How, where, and when you give me feedback is irrelevant—it is the feedback I want and need. Understanding that it is hard to give, I will take it any way I can get it. From my position of social, cultural, and institutional white power and privilege, I am perfectly safe and I can handle it. If I cannot handle it, it’s on me to build my racial stamina.

2. Thank you.

The above guidelines rest on the understanding that there is no face to save and the game is up; I know that I have blind spots and unconscious investments in racism. My investments are reinforced every day in mainstream society. I did not set this system up, but it does unfairly benefit me. I do use it to my advantage, and I am responsible for interrupting it. I need to work hard to change my role in this system, but I can’t do it alone. This understanding leads me to gratitude when others help me.