A reminder, this week we are looking at a quote each day from our “Westwood Reads” book, “The Myth of Equality.” Join us on Zoom for a discussion on Thursday of this week at 7:00 p.m. Even if you have not read the book you are welcome to join.
“In order to justify colonialism, an idea like white supremacy was needed. The concept that whites were chose by God and superior to people of color, who were less intelligent, less deserving, and savage, was born out of this need. White supremacy provided the political, social, and religious permission to claim lands not previously governed by “Christian” white people and to conquer, exterminate, and subjugate the allegedly inferior races found there. The African slave trade and the brutality toward, indeed genocide of, the people inhabiting the Americans (and elsewhere) were licensed by an unholy union of nationalist and religious zeal.”
Yesterday we talked about white privilege –the idea that as a white person I am born in the middle of the river –that there are certain hurdles and barriers that are removed for me just because of the color of my skin. But white privilege must come from somewhere –some idea/ideology has to be its foundation. White privilege comes from the ideology of white supremacy.
We learned in our reading that history teaches us the idea of white supremacy is economic. Chattel slavery was good business. But there had to be a reason for it that went beyond capitalism. So the idea that people of color were “less than” and slavery actually “helped” these individuals began to be espoused. The thinking was it was perfectly ok to enslave Africans because they were barely human at all.
Unfortunately, many Christians bought into this ideology and baptized it –believing that God created a racial hierarchy with white people at the top. This idea took root in America and was an especially powerful argument. It infected the society (and the church) and we are still seeing its effects. (For a book that offers a deep dive on the origins of white supremacy I would suggest “Stamped From the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi.)
At the beginning of my ministry I served in a church in the city that was the capitol of Georgia during the Civil War –Milledgeville. The pastor I worked with told me that just a few years before I came, the church had a copy of its by-laws behind the pulpit so that if a black person came down during the invitation to join the church the pastor could pull out the by-laws and “legally” postpone the decision on membership to a time in the future –a time which would never come. This was 1996.
It’s easy for us to dismiss, I think, the idea of white supremacy. After all, we are not the ones walking around with torches chanting “white power.” We no longer believe that God created a hierarchy with white people on top (at least I HOPE so!) And yet, I wonder how our own thinking and actions have been impacted by this ideology? It seems to have infected everything for a very long time.
I believe our job is to try and recognize the results of this ideology and call it out when we see it –to say that Black Lives Matter because for so long they have not –and to remind the world that the answer to white supremacy is the basic and wonderful idea that we are all God’s children –period. As Paul put it in his letter to the Galatians:
26 You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.
God forgive us for failing to fully live up to the standard you have set for us. Remind us this day and everyday that ALL people are created in your image –that we are all one in Christ. Help us to see the results of white supremacy –and help us to be fierce opponents of it –this day and every day.