I keep wondering if racism can be eradicated here in America.
I think about it in the context of being an African-American, female Christian theologian who has seen how the Christian scriptures have been violated and vitiated, used and manipulated, to support racism and sexism, and, really, militarism. I wonder if the men, the white men...who put together the Christian Bible were racists and therefore, injected a racist ideology into what were supposed to be the word and will of God.
In this current presidential campaign cycle, I see and hear racism. People keep talking about how Donald Trump's base is "angry," and truly, they are, but it feels like much of their anger is based in racism, and a fear that the white domination of others in America is being threatened. Why do I feel that? Because white supremacists support him. He is singing their song and they love him ...and he doesn't distance himself from their approval.
Bernie Sanders is addressing the anger of people, too, but his tone is not racist. He speaks in a way that includes all who are suffering because of American politics and economic theories. Trump, on the other hand, is feeding the undercurrent, the underbelly of America, those who resent and have resented historically, those who are not white and who have dared demand and subsequently get, rights that all Americans are guaranteed. This element of our society believes, or seems to believe, that only some of us are Americans, and they believe that America is and was always meant to be, a "white man's country." These people are like those who cheered Alabama Governor George Wallace, who declared to a cheering crowd in 1963 in his bid for president that he believed in segregation. "Segregation now. Segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!" His words were literally absorbed by the white crowd, who clearly "wanted their country back." They resented the intrusion of the federal government into their way of life, their white supremacist way of life.
White America has done much to protect its image; history is told from the perspective of the winners, we are taught, and clearly, white Americans have been the winners. We learned little of the vicious racism of white people arriving here from Great Britain, occupying the land which belonged to Native Americans, and exterminating innocent people. We learned that there was slavery but our history lessons didn't get too deep about it; there was no attempt to teach the horrors of that institution. We learned that there was Reconstruction but we didn't learn that white people were angry about the gains made by black people during Reconstruction and that Jim Crow was put into place in order to reverse those gains. We didn't learn about the means white people took to keep black people from voting. We didn't learn about the lynchings that took place regularly; Emmet Till's name was never mentioned. We didn't learn American history. We learned white American history from the perspective of those who were in power.
The fact that the belief in the superiority of white people was the roux in which all of our lessons were learned is mostly ignored; in fact, one learns of the basis of our education only if we get curious about it ourselves. Many white and black people just do not want to talk about "it," meaning "racism." A recent article said that many white people believe that if a person talks about racism, he or she is racist, and there has been plenty written about how difficult it is to talk about it. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2015/03/09/why-americans-fear-talking-about-race-and-how-you-can-lead-the-way/)
So, here we are. While many white people deny that racism exists or that it is as bad as it once was, black and brown people know differently. And because nobody wants to talk about it, we can't get it to the level where intelligent and healing conversation and subsequent action can take place. White supremacy runs through our veins and rears its head as it will, when it wants, with little fear of being shut down.
No, I don't believe racism in this nation can be eradicated. It will be the ruination of this great nation, called "exceptional."