I lived for most of my childhood in Northern Virginia. I always heard stories about the blatant racism on the campuses of the boarding schools and universities in the Southern part of the state. That violence was on display last night in Charlottesville, Virginia. When it was time for college, I tried to escape to schools in the north, but the truth is, white supremacy knows no geographical location. On the campus of my idyllic women’s college in southern Massachusetts, I knew women who so feared my black body that they refused to speak to me or look me in the eye. As a minister, I have endured home visits monopolized by racist and sexist language. My fellow Christians have made every attempt to diminish the value of my life because I am a young black woman. I stand in solidarity with the clergy gathered this weekend in Charlottesville, united in faith that despite the hate and fear that have characterized American life from its inception as a nation, the love of God overcomes all.
Finding Hope Amidst Bigotry
These past few years, I have started to earn a modest living by preaching and teaching about light, hope, peace, and the power of love.
I write, and speak, and teach, and preach, and study about an intangible love that I know exists. I know it exists because it has redeemed me, and it has redeemed generations of other faithful people.
Because of this love, we have hope, and if we have this hope, we can keep moving forward although this world so often makes us want to turn around. This world gives us a million reasons to bury our heads in the sand and to just wait for the end. But, this love. This incredible love helps us. This love breathes new life into dry bones.
But there is no peace. I am loved by the Prince of Peace. I am known and understood by the Prince of Peace. But, there is no peace.
In the freest nation in the world, we fear for our lives. Women and children have no peace. Gender non-conforming folks have no peace. Lesbian and gay people have no peace. Trans folks have no peace. Poor folks have no peace. Muslims and Jews have no peace. Folks with black and brown skin have no peace. And if we find ourselves at the cruel intersection between any two of these identities, there is so often, no justice and no peace.
We live in the shadow of white male superiority, and it is killing us. It has young white men marching the streets, no longer in white hoods, but with faces fully exposed, filled with unrighteous indignation. The streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, crowded with young white men shouting racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and homophobic epithets at those who counter them.
And, the police are there. But there is no tear gas. Protesters are not slammed to the ground. Protestors are not arrested. They are protected by the power of a bigoted nation. And a President who can tweet all day to demean women he sees on his television screen . . .
The face of this movement for “white lives” is shamelessly exposed. And, in some perverted way, it is the face of us all. It is the face of every one of us who see racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and xenophobia play out every day and averts our eyes. It is the face of every one of us who are shocked and appalled by the state of our nation but does nothing to correct the behaviors and attitudes of ourselves, our families, and our neighbors. White supremacist thought has burrowed itself so deeply into our psyches that we do not even know how much control the disease has taken in our lives. We need to name this enemy, and we need to fight back, here and now.
Because we still have this love. And this love gives us hope.