Looking for God in the face of racism, hatred and oppression

Crazy Faith Ministries

It seems that God is not particularly concerned with what is being done or what has been done to African Americans in this country.

In spite of our acclamations about the goodness of God, and our tenacious faith, our God has remained silent and has acquiesced to the antics, practices and beliefs of our White supremacist social system.

The acquittal of Minnesota police officer Jeronimo Yanez in the killing of Philando Castile brought shrieks of agony from those who were sure that this time, with the compelling video showing what happened on that fateful day entered into the trial – this time, would be different. It was the same feeling that many had years ago when the beating of Rodney King was shown on televisions all over the world.

But it was not enough. The jurors acquitted Yanez, just as juries and grand juries have given a pass to police officers throughout history. Before there was the capability of videos showing what happened, all we had was the word of a police officer in opposition to the word of individuals who witnessed these incidents. The word of the police officer was always taken; they could and did tell lies about what they did and they could expect to get off.

But the expectation changed with the advent of videos and dash cams. Surely, many thought, those on grand juries and in courtrooms would have to call officers to accountability once they saw with their own eyes what transpired.

It hasn’t changed the tide much at all. Juries, many of which are all-White or nearly White, are stuck in their belief, it seems, that if a Black person gets shot by a police officer, he or she deserved it. They will not budge, no matter how compelling may be the video evidence.

That is troubling in and of itself, but … God. We believe in God, a god who is supposed to be good and fair and just, and we have held onto our belief that God will step in, that God will make a way … and God does in many instances, but when it comes to racism and racist police, God is silent and God lets White supremacy have its way.

William Jones explored a question which many think is blasphemous to even consider in his book, Is God a White Racist? Dr. Anthea Butler, a tenured professor at the University of Pennsylvania, drew the wrath of many when she explored the same question after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the death of Trayvon Martin. She wrote at that time, “God ain’t good all the time. God is not for us … I know that this American god ain’t my god. As a matter of fact, I think he’s a racist god with a problem.”

The pain of those words and of that sentiment is palpable. When a loved one is killed, those left behind want justice. That is human. Surely those who criticize this questioning of where God is as Black people continued to be objectified, dehumanized and criminalized by our society understand that?

But perhaps they really do not. Perhaps the bane of American society and of America’s god is that racism was written into the Constitution and has been supported by the Christian Bible. According to those two texts, Black people are not human, and as non-human, they/we should not expect justice.

It is an issue that in our country and in the Christian world there is a fundamental problem: There is one god which both oppressed and oppressor worship. The belief systems as concerns who God is and what God stands for is different for the two groups; their beliefs do not intersect. That means that the God both groups are claiming to worship does not in fact exist. We do not live in a monotheistic society, but instead have at least two gods, which are diametrically opposed in what they stand for and what they allow. The god of the oppressor believes in and supports racism and sexism and hatred and bigotry; the god of the oppressed abhors the same.

We are looking for one God, a God which apparently has been discarded by the dominant society, forcing oppressed groups to create a god in which they can hold onto. To continue to believe in the goodness of a God which does not exist will not help us survive White supremacy. Doing so, in fact, will only increase a sense of despair and hopelessness and lead to depression and anger.

We cannot hold onto the oppressor’s god. Our God will at least help us to hold on. The God we want does not exist. The true God cannot be dissected and divided as has been done. God, divided, cannot hear the cries of the oppressed. Until we put the God of the oppressed and oppressor back together to form the one God whom we all say we love, there will be divine silence where there needs to be divine outrage and action which prevents White supremacy from continuing its carnage in the lives of so many people.

Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith is a preacher, writer and organizer She is available for speaking. She can be contacted through revsuekim@sbcglobal.net.

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