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On White discomfort

SUSAN K. SMITH | 12/19/2016, 5:24 p.m.
I recently gave a presentation at a seminary on feelings much of the Black community feels in light of the ...

Crazy Faith Ministries

I recently gave a presentation at a seminary on feelings much of the Black community feels in light of the election of Donald Trump.

The audience was ethnically and racially mixed. This place being a seminary, training people for the Christian ministry, I felt it appropriate to be honest and forthright in explaining the feelings and the difficulty in not being able to find much comfort in religion, at least not yet.

The biggest issue for me, I explained, was not that the president-elect has presented himself as racist, sexist and misogynistic. The issue was and still is that so many people support him anyway. Naively, I thought his words, his vitriol, hatred and bigotry would turn people off. I thought that people would be appalled when he said Mexicans were rapists and that they were bringing crime into the United States. I thought they would recoil at the thought of a Muslim registry or at the thought of a wall being built on the southern (southwest) border of the United States. I thought the fact that he bragged about sexually assaulting women would make people sick to their stomachs. I was naive, and I was wrong.

I said that I had trouble talking to, relating to, White people – at least for now – because I don’t know where they stand. That is the honest truth.

I did not say that I believed that everyone who voted for the president-elect was or is racist, because I do not believe that. I believe that the president-elect is racist, however, and I believe he is arrogantly so.

I explained how we in this country have a problem because we will not admit our racism. We will not admit the hold that White supremacy has on us and has always had on us as a nation. I said that we are, in the words of the Rev. William Barber, experiencing a Third Reconstruction. Every time in our history, I said, when Black people got ahead, there was White backlash, first after the first Reconstruction following the Civil War; second, after the Civil Rights era … and now.

It was insulting to many White people, I said, that a Black man had been elected to the presidency – not once, but twice, and that this Black man was living in the White House. Many people, I explained, were heartbroken after Barack Obama was elected and vowed to make him a “one term president.” When they failed in 2012 to defeat him, they merely worked to obstruct everything he did.

I explained that we have a problem in this nation, because our two most sacred documents – the United States Constitution and the Christian Bible – endorse and support racism and White supremacy. Racism and sexism were written into the Constitution, and the words of the Bible leave themselves open to interpretation.

That being the case, I said, we have basically two Gods, the God of the oppressed and the God of the oppressor. We have one Bible with two groups of people – the oppressed and the oppressors – interpreting the same sets of words in dialectically different ways.