These past four years have been difficult, haven’t they? I say four years because Trump’s entire campaign was a highlight reel of his worst characteristics. It’s been painful to hear him call Puerto Ricans “lazy”, call Mexicans “rapists”, see him throw paper towels at Puerto Ricans after Hurricane Maria, watch him cage children at the border and separate them from their parents, hear him joke about grabbing women’s vaginas…I need not continue. You’ve heard it all, I’m sure.
White Christians love Donald Trump. The numbers don’t lie. Interestingly enough, many white Christians will decry anyone who supports “liberal” ideas as “political”, yet they are extremely political themselves. They just love Trump. Trump isn’t a politician. He’s God’s messenger, right? Most white Evangelicals voted for him. Why? Economic reasons for some. Abortion issues for another. And, let’s face it, some white Christians just downright hate people of color.
Yeah. I said what I said.
I used to find Trump fans quite amusing. Then, I pitied them for their lack of critical thinking skills and narrow mindsets. But, what was once fascinating to observe has now become terrifying as following Trump is expected and even demanded in some churches. Speaking out against Trump and his policies is equated to speaking out against God and the church. Calling out white supremacy, which is what put Trump in office, is met with such vitriol…even from the mouths of pastors.
Just the other day, I shared an article on Facebook that explained how, in the wake of the El Paso shooting, white men were being arrested for trying to enact similar acts of terror in other Walmarts. They were trying to copy the El Paso shooting by killing Latinos or they were content with just scaring the Latino patrons of Walmart into thinking they would be shot.
A white man I know, who is a pastor, claimed that white supremacy wasn’t real and, after I tried to engage in thoughtful dialogue about it, he told me that I was “selling crap.” This is coming from a pastor. My hope is that most pastors are culturally-competent people with a heart to serve the Lord, not people stuck in one mindset/worldview who pledge allegiance to the United States instead of Christ. Wouldn’t the church be much healthier if we committed to having conversations with each other about tough topics rather than aligning ourselves with Republican/Conservative views because we believe they are synonymous with Christianity?
That’s where we find ourselves today. The lines between Republicanism and Christianity have always been blurred, but today these two groups are synonymous. Those who stand in opposition to Republicanism, or even those who merely raise questions about Republican policies, are considered “liberal” and “secular.” And, to the white church, those words are synonymous with “demonic” or “satanic.” Often we’re harassed and labeled in this way in an effort to distinguish us from the “true Christians”, the ones who follow Trump and are Conservative.
Earlier today, I ran into a white Christian woman I know while wearing my Black Lives Matter t-shirt. For me, it is not a controversial statement to say that black lives matter. They do matter. They haven’t mattered to most people throughout history and we should call attention to that while also fighting for change. This change can only come from the heart, I know. Christ does the changing. We’re merely the prophetic voices calling the church to open their eyes to this massive blind spot. But, the white church doesn’t like that. That’s…political. That’s…divisive.
This woman asked to see my shirt, so I got closer so she could read it. Immediately the questions and silencing came forth:
Do you think black lives haven’t mattered?
Oh for sure, because-
You see, I disagree with that. I’ve never cared about someone’s color. I’ve always had black friends growing up.
I’m sure, but there’s a problem in this country that-
I just don’t see it. It’s never been my perspective. I think all lives matter! Black lives matter! All lives matter!
Right. Every life matters. Every person matters. But in this country we have a history of not valuing black lives. It began with enslaving people from Africa and then moved to Jim Crow and we’re still seeing the ramifi-
Well, I just don’t see it. I mean, I think white lives matter! All lives matter! Saying “Black Lives Matter” is prejudiced because you’re calling out one group!
Well, white lives have always mattered. But, I think-
No, that’s not true. During Jesus’ time, white lives didn’t matter because people were oppressed because of their nationality and it wasn’t until the time of the Europeans that white lives mattered. I mean sometimes I think I’m wrong to not support Black Lives Matter, but I just don’t like the liberal media and how they keep talking about it.
PAUSE. WHAT?! We resume…
Well, I have some black Christian theologians I can refer you to if you’d like to learn about someone else’s experience and perspective. They aren’t like the “liberal” media, as you say, and they approach it from a Christ-centered perspective.
You can send it to me but I’m probably not going to read it because I just don’t agree. And if someone has had a different experience in this country, I ‘d recommend they get new friends. We just have to get past this stuff. I’m past it. Most people are past it.
Okay, well I see things differently but that’s fine.
Yeah, anyway, so I just saw that shirt and wondered why you supported that. Anyway, I know we haven’t really spoken much before, and I know this could be a tender subject for you…
Bless her heart. It’s a tender subject for me? Few people are more impassioned than white Christians who are trying to convince you that Trump is God’s messenger and that racism isn’t real. And she’s right. We hadn’t spoken before. That was our first conversation. Rather than getting to know me at all or my perspective on BLM, she immediately shut me down and began rattling off why she was right and I was wrong. She said that I was the one who was prejudiced because I support BLM.
It didn’t seem like she truly cared about what I thought because she vehemently rejected every point that I tried to GENTLY make. She kept interrupting me, silencing me, and telling me that my perspective is wrong. I felt harassed for simply wearing a t-shirt and for holding different views. I was harassed by a pastor for sharing an article on Facebook. It is truly an imperialistic view to believe that your perspective is not merely a representation of your worldview and experience, but that your perspective is TRUTH. That is DANGEROUS. If we as the church cannot cast out the demonic spirit of offense, the spirit of being right, and the spirit of imperialism, we will suffer. The church is heading toward a grave SPLIT. If white Christians cannot put their perspective aside to just HEAR a Christian of color’s perspective, we will find our churches in deep danger as the years progress. Our churches will continue to be segregated. The white church will continue to be associated with racism. It’s not enough to say you’re not racist. Ok. Good for you. You’re not racist. Awesome. But if you do not SEE racism, that’s because you’re white. Beyond that, if you REFUSE to hear someone else’s perspective, that is a spirit of pride and idolatry that will keep you spiritually immature and will destroy the church body. We will remain fractured people who cannot hold different views about anything without minority groups being silenced.
As for me, I’m tired of being silenced. I’m also tired of spending too much energy on folks who do not want to hear me. Folks who use me as someTHING to vent to and correct, not as a HUMAN who will have a dialogue with them. It’s not my job to teach white people that Black Lives Matter. If you don’t see it, you don’t see it. Only Jesus can open your eyes and heal those blind spots. It’s my job to live. It’s my job to love everyone and to help heal the people who’ve been told that they don’t matter.