Like millions of people around the world I was up late awaiting to see who would sit on the Throne of America as the next president of the United States. Before California’s polls had closed, it was quite clear to me who the next leader of the empire would be. I fell asleep. Within a few hours, my wife, already distraught with the thought of a particular candidate becoming the recipient of the throne, shakes me awake to witness what was made obvious to me prior to falling asleep. Much to my wife’s surprise, I was unmoved by the news, and immediately proceeded from my couch to the bed. When I got up, I felt different. My wife’s mood was different. The feelings of the world appeared to rest on my shoulders:
Anger. Frustration. Hopelessness. Denial. Jubilation. Hope. Approval.
The disposition of my wife caused me to pray. Turning to social media, all of the sentiments above outlined my Facebook timeline and Twitter feed. I paused. After listening to Charlamagne Tha God’s “Donkey of the Day” segment on Power 105’s The Breakfast Club, where Charlamagne, after awarding the day’s Donkey to America, he laments, “What does this mean for our nation? I truly don’t know!” I began to ask myself a question I’ve had to revisit several times over the last few years: “Where do we go from here?” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. asked this question in 1968, and it appears that all of our answers and solutions from that point have only been temporary fixes to a bigger problem.
America was built on colonialism. If this is news to anyone, they clearly slept through history class. Each time we look at the American Flag we should be reminded of this fact. Colonialism is made possible by conquering and submission: Take over land occupied by others, and make its inhabitants submit to a set of rules, laws, and standards for living to ensure those inhabitants understand what group is in control. More often than not the colonizers are met with resistance from the groups that are oppressed. What next…?
Protests and violence.
When the oppressed in a colony are fed up with the empire, they protest and/or rebel. They band together with the meager resources that have been allotted or available to them and seek justice. Sometimes it’s violent like Nat Turner’s rebellion of 1831. Other times its non-violent like the protests led by Martin Luther King and others during the Civil Rights era. The oppressed is forced to use all measures against the dominant culture because their survival is threatened. Survival is not to be confused with existence. To exist in bondage is like death, while dying in quest of survival is liberating. In both cases, however, the oppressed seek justice by their own means. In the great empire of America, history has shown us that the oppressed meet injustice with protest. Adversely, the oppressors meet protest with violence. The oppressed are seen as disruptive to the empire’s way of operating and have to be silenced by any means necessary. Thrown in prison. Unfairly sentenced. Beaten and murdered. Silenced. No justice, no peace… Where are we going from here?
The elephant in the room.
This year’s election revealed how race is the most divisive social construct in America. CNN’s political commentator Van Jones spoke directly to the hearts of the oppressed in America when he called President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign and eventual victory a “white-lashing against a changing country.” This white-lashing, as he explains, is the need for whiteness to be the norm against the canvas of ethnic change happening in America. Some whites, especially those threatened by racial difference, have conspired the idea that much of America’s real issues are caused by the non-whites, and only through excommunication, extermination, elimination, or assimilation of the “other”will this country be able to return to its former glory: insert “Make America Great Again.” Secretary Hillary Clinton sought diligently to make the country “Stronger Together” but her racially charged past is one of the things that made it difficult for some to say, “I’m with Her.” Both candidates evoked racial tension, as well as other disagreements, at the mention of their names. And while both candidates are white products of the empire, only one was capable of sitting on the colonial throne. His male whiteness with no experience was better suited of the empire than all of her experience could ever be. This empire is designed to thrive from white, male dominance. It will crumble by it as well.
The empire is not the Kingdom.
As a black male in America, I have always understood the racial dynamics of this country. Early in my childhood, I understood my skin condition was a problem for many whites. As a Christian in America, I was taught that we are all created equal by God and no one person was greater than the next. Preachers and Sunday School teachers quoted Galatians 3:28 from the Bible religiously, but my reality told another story. My reality told me that blacks were incarcerated at greater rates than whites, sentenced longer for similar crimes, and considered guilty before proven innocent. Reality revealed black and brown bodies executed by law enforcement at disheartening rates. Reality revealed that no matter how smart, athletic, or wealthy, my blackness would be a threat to some. Christianity as I knew it was another tool used to either deny my blackness for some ill-practiced ideal or used to coerce my ancestors into submission and assimilation. Christianity in America chose colonialism over Kingdom.
The Christian narrative begins with a proclamation: “The Kingdom of God has come…” This proclamation is a challenge to the empire controlling the land where Jesus is born. Jesus and his people are oppressed by the empire. Jesus understood that his skin condition, religious and social identity, and message were a threat to the empire. Why? The Kingdom thrives on justice and liberation while the empire thrives on capitalism and oppression. The Kingdom is a place for the poor and the rich to commune at the same table, eating the same meal, drinking from the same cup while seeking to aid one another in life’s troubles. The empire says one’s value is in their position, prestige, power, and privilege. The Kingdom acknowledges ethnic difference as a blessing of God in God’s beautiful creation. The empire sees ethnic difference as a threat to be suppressed unless it agrees with the dominant culture. The empire says love yourself at the expense of your neighbor. The Kingdom says “Love your neighbor as you love yourself…”
The race for the Throne of America didn’t expose anything new about this country. Racism has always been here. It is woven into the fabric of this country. Sexism in this empire isn’t new. The ultimate glass ceiling that could have been shattered only reflects the cracks put in it by Shirley Chisholm, Hillary Clinton, Jill Stein and others. Hatred and division were intensified. These are all symptoms of the empire. Where do we go from here? Hopefully toward equality and understanding. This can only happen if we reject colonialism, seek justice, fight for peace, and love each other through our differences, because of our differences. This is not a suggestion toward acceptance of Christianity. At its best, Christianity falls short of the Kingdom. Humanity has proven we are incapable of total equality, poverty eradication, and justice for all. It is, however, an appeal to push toward the ideals of the Kingdom of God until the Kingdom of God is fully realized.