THE STRUGGLE FOR A NEW AMERICA – II

For those who do not know my heritage I am Ghanaian by birth and moved to the United States about 16 yrs ago. In the US I have never been able to escape being mistaken for a Nigerian, Caribbean American or African American among a whole host of origins and associations. I have no qualms about this because I do not believe my heritage defines who or what I am. Our genetic heritage outside of the social associations and restrictions that it may imposes upon us does not define or determine who or what we are, or become.

In Charlottesville today there are violent protests between groups on two sides of a perceived racial divide. What makes this situation so sad is that we are fighting among ourselves over the social construct of race. A social divide that we have created and reinforced over centuries to determine allocation of resources and opportunities. Slavery in the Americas is one of the most extreme forms of this social policy. I use the word policy because in those times our laws supported this practice. Today though not supported by law it still exists deeply entrenched in our society. Our society has evolved from slavery into a social system that fosters racial bias with whites at the top of the hierarchy and blacks at the bottom with Asians, Jews and Hispanics somewhere in the between.

Over the ages several writers and philosophers have come out with several theories that try to propagate the belief in white supremacy. Historical accounts that accentuate white supremacy either by design or happenstance have tended to be promoted at the expense of other groups. This has created a strong believe among some white Americans that the resources of this nation should be their one of their inalienable rights at the expense of other groups. This is probably the driving force behind the protests in Charlottesville, VA. I was not surprised to hear David Duke a former KKK leader and a strong supporter of the trump campaign for president comment yesterday on the protests in Charlottesville.  “This represents the turning point with the people of this country, we are determined to take our country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That is why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he is going to take our country back and that is what we are going to do”[i]

 Duke’s statement most likely reflects the beliefs of most of the right wing protesters in Charlottesville. When David Duke mentioned taking his country back I could only cringe at his words because, I know a group of Americans who should be singing that tune. The riches and resources of this country have been divided and shared over the years. Historically slavery and post slavery Jim Crows laws have always ensured that the sharing has almost always been unequal with Black Americans getting less of the pie.

Today if there are any groups of Americans who deserve to be taking their country back, it is Native Americans. Unfortunately today Native Americans are a minority on this continent. The sacrifices and contributions of all the various racial and ethnic groups  to the greatness of this country needs to be recognized.

Today I raise a shout to all our, Latino, White, Asian, Native American, African, Jewish and Arab brothers and sisters who are standing side by side in defense of Unity and progress. Today as we mourn the protesters who died at Charlottesville ‘I say you are all great American heroes’. You stood for what America stands for, and you will be remembered by posterity.

 

References:

[i] CNN Politics; Stories worth watching; http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2017/08/12/david-duke-trump-charlottesville-protest-nr.cnn accessed on 8/12/2017

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The struggle for a new America

On a flight back home from Seattle, Washington last month I had a conversation with the lady seated next to me about the political situation in America today.  She happens to be white and since I am black man and happened to live in Baltimore I believe it was only natural that issues related to Black Lives Matter came up in conversation.  She had the impression that the Black Lives Matter Movement was trying to limit access to their struggle by non-blacks.  Before I continue though I must state that; I am in no way a representative of the Black Lives Matter Movement and as such any explanation given in that conversation was only based on my beliefs.  Well my response to her observation was that on account of the history of black oppression in American which happens to continue in a different form today people of African descent tend to harbor some learned distrust of whites. The movement was most probably worried that over involvement by non-blacks will dilute the cause of the movement or possibly diverts its focus. This situation is in no way unique to the black lives matter movement.

In the early days of the feminist movement in America males were totally excluded which makes sense in a way for women.  If you do not have a vagina you cannot understand what a woman feels and as such cannot be a real supporter.  Early in the gay rights movement in the 1960s lesbians and gays did not initially consider each other as allies. The movement has come a long way because now we hear of the LGBTQ Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer which is the composite term for individuals who do not fit the normative male female cis-gender stereotypes that we have been taught to be the norm.

 Immigration issues have come into the forefront of the political agenda in America today and many undocumented immigrants are living in fear of deportation. This has given birth or really a new lease on life to a movement that is growing right under our very eyes. The Sanctuary Church Mission;  this is movement is based on the a clause in our immigration policy that prevents Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials from making any efforts aimed at arresting individuals from sensitive sites such as places of worship, hospital and schools to ensure access to these sites by undocumented immigrants[1]. While this appears a reasonable clause what it means is that for an individual at risk of deportation to avoid deportation they must remain at these sites. Since November 2016 with the election of President Trump the number of churches declaring sanctuary status has doubled [2]. These churches are really doing what their religion teaches.  Christians who actually read their bibles know exactly what the bible says about immigration. I will have to mention the names though of some important Christian leaders who are on the other side of this struggle. Franklin Graham son of Billy Graham who unfortunately sounds more like a politician than a Christian Leader says this is not a bible issue [2]. The other great name in the Christian community who supports the Trump administration immigration policy is Jerry Falwell Jr, President of Liberty University a non-profit Christian university located in Lynchburg Virginia [2].  In a prior blog post I quoted Matthew 25 vrs 34 – 40 to show the total lack of any biblical support for the views of these “Christian” leaders [3].  Fortunately most of our Christian pastors and community churches know what they should do in such a situation.

Today’s struggles which appears to have divided America into the us versus them, is just part of larger wave of change that is sweeping over the world.  The world has gotten smaller and we are all having to deal with beliefs and ideas that are very different from what our parents taught us.  Humans have always held self identity as a very important attribute of our humanity. In this context any idea, behavior or belief that fails to fall in line with our acquired sense of self can be very threatening.  We all hold on to beliefs that do not work for us because we have been told that without those beliefs we are totally lost.  I must admit that as a person who had struggled most of my life to shed off some of my held belief systems and ideas, you do really feel lost when you realize those beliefs are wrong and you have to give them up. All too often rather than abandon our beliefs we look for validation from other sources so we can go back to the safety of our old belief system.

Some white Americans today are struggling with a belief system that has been propagated over the years that America is a white country. Unfortunately when one looks at this in a different way one could say that America has to remain white because increasing minorities will create a third world America if I could use that term.  This is the belief system that made the slogan “Making America great again” resonate with many Americans, in this case mostly white Americans.  What most of these Americans heard candidate Trump say was ‘making American white again’?  It is therefore no surprise that the immigration ban and current immigration enforcement happens to be targeted towards mostly non-white immigrants. Please let us all examine the beliefs that we hold dear to our hearts as closely and clearly as possible and ask ourselves this question “What do I really think of a person who has such a belief?”  

Bibliography

1.       Jason Hanna; CNN; February 17, 2017, Can churches provide legal sanctuary to undocumented immigrants; accessed from  http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/17/us/immigrants-sanctuary-churches-legality-trnd/ , on 4/1/2017

2.       Joel Baden; Washington Post; February 10, 2017; Acts of Faith; Franklin Graham said immigration is ‘not a Bible issue.’ Here’s what the Bible says,  accessed from, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/10/franklin-graham-said-immigration-is-not-a-bible-issue-heres-what-the-bible-says/?utm_term=.e0a854522103, on 4-1-2017

3.       Leonard Sowah; Improvng Healthcare one person at a time March 1, 2017; My brothers Keeper -Healthcare in Trumps America, accessed from, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/02/10/franklin-graham-said-immigration-is-not-a-bible-issue-heres-what-the-bible-says/?utm_term=.e0a854522103 , on 4/2/2017