Scriptures: Since When Had Racial Terror Not Been Our Canon?

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With renewed tensions in Ferguson Monday night after the vindicating verdict for white police officer Darren Wilson on the shooting death of unarmed eighteen-year old Michael Brown, the question on the minds of many is: where is America heading in race matters?

Police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown on August 9, 2014, in Ferguson, Missouri. Witness reports range from consistent to damagingly contradictory. Michael is dead. The only hope for the living is justice. But then, this is America, and you are welcome to the land of race.

Flames and fires and violent protests occupy the attention of city and state officials after 9P.M. Monday night.  Twelve jurors—nine white and three blacks—have decided that there was not sufficient evidence to charge officer Wilson for shooting dead Michael Brown.  No sooner had the news reached the streets than prison cells embrace new inmates.  And America watched on, with her not quite innocuous justice system.

The United States of America is the greatest economy around this planet.  Our mouths were filled with pride to mention that we would be partakers of the Canaanland experience.  Much of what we knew came from western media frenzy and marketing strategy; the media menu excluded mention of staggeringly disproportionate and unjust prison statistics, racial inequality, or acute impoverishment in black–and white–communities.   We knew it as God’s own country, where in God we trust was guiding principle.  The word of God–commonly and reverently referred to scriptures–control every aspect of life.  There was no doubt in our minds that the only reason this nation became great was because  the leaders close walk with the supreme deity, God.

We were right.  For centuries, the word of God provided guide to slavery in America.  This word of God formed a near indestructible, and fortified economy around human innovative wickedness.  To be clear, this word of God was revealed to white America.  To the extent that the word of God could only be revealed to, understood by, deployed by, and narrated by whites, the heavens approved it as justice.  Little wonder then that even after abolition of slavery on January 31, 1865, a decision which became ratified on December 6, 1865, in what has come down to us as the 13th amendment, black lives in America worth far less than those of white people.  Similarly, black communities seem to have learned higher dimensions of self-hatred.  Although propelled along mutual distrust, mistrust for the American system and a drown in the memory of the unending past–and mutinous present–mostly shape black thought.

     This greatest country, like Nigeria in African political economy, does well in setting double standards.   America genuinely sells peace, justice and foreign aids to nearly every country in the world.   James H. Cone calls this type of transaction hypocrisy.   America knows too much, including the need of every other country, but white America needs help with fathoming its deeply cut race bias.     Cone was not alone.  Before him, several prophets were sent to America.  For example, the Bible which white America reads–as partially as they could–manages to state:

      1And I said, Hear, I pray you, O heads of Jacob, and ye princes of the house of Israel; Is it not for you to know judgment?

      2Who hate the good, and love the evil; who pluck off their skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones;

      3Who also eat the flesh of my people, and flay their skin from off them; and they break their bones, and chop them in pieces, as for the pot, and as flesh within the caldron.

     These words came, not from Martin Luther King, or from Tu Pac; they are not even the words of Barack of Obama, whose executive powers affords him to liberate not a few enchained lives.   But they are words from one of YHWH’s prophets.   At a critical time in the history of the people, Micah was a prophet, social activist, and critical voice.   His sole mission according to him was “to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.[1]

     As much as America knows how to dish out injustice and racism, white America also knows how to stifle the voice of God’s prophets. Hence, this voice called Micah’s would not be heard in America. After all YHWH’s prophets are expected to be tortured, silenced, and killed by the empire! White America would, therefore, be in self-contradiction should it decide to READ Micah out loud to itself. The mirrored image from such reading would be devastating to the social and political psyche of an oppressive system. It is possible for such returning image to visualize John’s apocalyptic representations of monsters and beasts. That is not good for the privileged.

   081214-national-Anonymous-mask-hackers-hacking-group-threatens-ferguson-police-in-wake-of-shooting  Readers of scriptures recollect that John did not take a pilgrim’s journey to Patmos. He was sent there. Similarly, America’s situation when it concerns race relations speaks about a dire need for an oppressive regime to remain sacrosanct. Calls for change regardless, memory, which does not fail, teaches us the words of a wise man: “the journeys ahead is long” and rough.

Nothing good comes easy. Justice for black persons in America will not come easy, or cheap. Lynching trees in America did not stop overnight. They were not rooted out outright either. Many of those trees which served as theatres for the lynching of black bodies produced seeds which over the years have cloned themselves into more frightening figures, even as conduits of history as memory. In the same vein, officially slavery ended with the 13th amendment, do did racism—for the naïve reader—end with the coronation of black King Obama in America.

Nathan Deal, Governor of the state of Georgia commented during the midterm elections campaigns. He stated, in agreement with the imbalance in justice system, that his tenure has been working to reduce the unjustness of the prison demography.[2]

 

 

[1] Micah 3:8

[2] Governor signs third leg of criminal justice reform (from http://gov.georgia.gov/press-releases/2014-04-13/governor-signs-third-leg-criminal-justice-reform accessed November 25, 2014)

CREDITS: Featured image: “Anonymous” from bet(dot)com.

 

Article Categories:
Fundamentalism · Heritage · Humanities · Memory · Modernity · US & World

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