MLK and a Post-Election Lament
Tens of millions of Americans voted yesterday to elect a president who has declared openly racist comments against Latin@s, African Americans, and Muslims, as well as the most misogynistic and sexist statements one can imagine. It is now an undeniable truth that America is not “color-blind,” and that racism is alive and well in the United States. We are in a new era of civil rights.
The Bible teaches that we speak and act from the overflow of our hearts (Luke 6: 43-45). Today, tens of millions of white Americans have declared through their vote that their economic entitlement is more important than the humanity of their Latin@, Asian American, Black, and Muslim neighbors. They were willing to overlook the blatant racism of Donald Trump, and the profound destructiveness of his proposed policies towards immigrants and People of Color for political promises of the American Dream.
And yet this is nothing new in American history. The decimation of Native American communities. Standing Rock. The conquest and centuries-long exploitation of Mexicans and Latin@s. The recruitment and disposal of Asian Americans. The scapegoating of undocumented immigrants and Muslims. Use and abuse. Throw away when politically expedient--as long as a privileged racial sector can get their “American Dream.”
The profoundest blasphemy is that so many of Trump’s supporters claim to be Christian: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/09/exit-polls-show-white-evangelicals-voted-overwhelmingly-for-donald-trump/
As I grapple with these many deep emotions, I found solace in the wisdom of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “Letter from A Birmingham Jail.” https://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html
Although everyone likes to claim Dr. King—from civil rights activists to opponents of affirmative action-- he was not popular in his time. In fact, most of America did not support him or the larger movement to desegregate the United States. The same is true of the undocumented immigrant and Black Lives Matter movements, today.
At this 3 a.m. hour in the early morning of our historic election, I think of Dr. King’s words:
“I have traveled the length and breadth of Alabama, Mississippi and all the other southern states. On sweltering summer days and crisp autumn mornings I have looked at the South's beautiful churches with their lofty spires pointing heavenward. I have beheld the impressive outlines of her massive religious education buildings. Over and over I have found myself asking: "What kind of people worship here? Who is their God?”
Just this summer I travelled the length and breadth of the United States, and I wonder, what kind of people worship in the evangelical Christian church in America? What impressive buildings their mega-churches have. What well-conceived Sunday school curriculum they have developed. How could they support Donald Trump? Who is their God?
I reflect also upon these other words of King:
“…I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice.”
I must also confess that I am deeply disappointed with the millions of Americans who claim that we now live in a post-racial, “colorblind society.” I’m sure that if you asked most whites who voted for Trump, they would say that they were not racist. (And, of course, Trump also had the official endorsement of white nationalist organizations as well). They would probably say that racism is mostly a thing of the past. Sure, there’s individual instances of racism that still happen from time to time, but racism is no longer pervasive in the U.S., either on an individual or structural level. These are the “white moderates” of the 21st century. They claim to not be racist but at the same time do not see how their vote for Trump may destroy the lives of millions of Latin@s and People of Color.
The following prophetic words of King also deeply resonate with me at this late hour:
“But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.”
The white evangelical church’s overwhelming support for Donald Trump has set the witness of the church in America back 50 years. It is now dismissed by millions of young adults and People of Color as an irrelevant racial social club with little meaning for the 21st century. They are disgusted. I am disgusted.
In response, we say: Our loyalty is to Jesus who championed the lives of the most marginalized of society (Matthew 25: 31-46).
Our vision is the biblical vision of the Beloved Community, “when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believed. In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being ‘disturbers of the peace’ and ‘outside agitators.’ But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were a ‘colony of heaven,’ called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be ‘astronomically intimidated.’”
This is who we are. Get ready.
P.S., to keep in touch about future Jesus 4 Revolutionaries organizing events and activities please connect with us on Facebook and/or Twitter:
If you are in the L.A. area, we'll be having a post-election "Liturgy of Lament," tomorrow, November 12. Please email me for the address: email@example.com
When: Saturday, November 12th 5:30 at in South Central L.A.
Potluck: Bring some food/bring a friend! (We will also have J4R t-shirts available for $15/ donation...we want to use the proceeds to fund safe space meals and support for undocumented students)
Other upcoming dates: 11/21 Guardian Angels Training with Alexia & Guillermo (reply to erica if interested) 12/10 December J4R... Road trip with us to the Border Posada! Mark your calendar...more details & carpool info to come! (We will have to leave that morning!) https://www.facebook.com/events/322544481442899/