• black lie [blak lahy] – a lie told to hide wrong-doing and to protect the liars from the trouble likely to arise if the full truth were known about a core secret of secrets.
• A half truth is a whole lie. –Yiddish proverb
• “There are always people willing to put [what’s perceived as] their special knowledge at the disposal of the dominant group to facilitate the tightening of the chains. They are given positions of prominence, and above all a guarantee of economic security and status. To love such people requires the uprooting of bitterness of betrayal, the heartiest poison that grows in the human spirit….” Howard Thurman (parenthetical phrase added)
A couple months back I posted the following on Facebook:
“Please understand that putting a “black person” in front of a camera that parrots racist, uninformed, ahistorical, & oppressive views does not fool us. It does not transform bigotry & willful ignorance into righteousness & intelligence either.”
This post was inspired by the onslaught of folks who justify problematic positions & views concerning race, class, & injustice in America by amplifying the voices of people of color who hold similar views. It’s an old play from the playbook that seems to be much more prevalent & disheartening in the age of social media. Like clockwork it happens when a black person posts a video on Facebook either documenting a “sweet encounter” with police, or chastising his or her people for not “caring” about black-on-black crime, or brilliantly parroting the colorblind, I’m an “American” first, pull yourselves up by your bootstraps rhetoric that some folks salivate over. It doesn’t take long for these videos to go viral and for the people who posted them to be invited to share their “expert” opinions on national television. Even sports analysts like Stephan A Smith, who spend very little time wrestling with history, sociology, and economics become the “exceptional negroes” who “get it”. Once a minority has “co-signed” a portion of the dominant culture’s ill-informed views it makes it 10x harder to penetrate their conscience with truth.
Racially illiterate conservative AND liberal black men with large news media platforms like Don Lemon, Juan Williams, & Allen West have an intoxicating effect on their constituencies. They are like a STRONG hallucinogen that makes bigotry & willful ignorance look like righteousness & intelligence to those who cannot bear to look at the grim realities of racism in America. They are “weapons of mass manipulation” used to delegitimize & scapegoat movements seeking to undo REAL injustice!
Recently, I read a piece written by black conservative political pundit Allen West.In it, he rightfully seeks to condemn the hate-filled rhetoric of a self-proclaimed “black-supremacist” while wrongfully making the assertion that the misguided man represents the black lives matter movement. (WATCH VIDEO HERE)
Before I go any further, let it be known that I believe that “black supremacy” is neither a good, godly, or fruitful response to the 400 year legacy of white supremacy. Hate cannot drive out hate & it would take centuries of pillage to even come close to repaying an “eye for an eye” the atrocities committed on the bodies of people of color in the Americas. All that said, let us not be fooled by Allen West’s intellectual dishonesty in this piece. He is stoking the fear & apathy of his constituency & falsely trying to connect this hate-filled man to the “black lives matter movement”. All movements are imperfect & should be fairly critiqued. However, its irresponsible & inflammatory to say that this lone man represents the thoughts, goals, & intent of a WHOLE movement.
One would need to look no further than the 2nd video shared in the article to disprove West’s erroneous claims. The “black supremacist” clearly says that he believes “the black lives matter movement wasn’t enough.” In essence he says that attempts to non-violently appeal to political power through protest was an ineffective strategy. Two very obvious conclusions can be made from his comments:
1) In saying that black lives matter activism was/is not enough he is distancing himself from the movement.
2) He is calling for a distinctly DIFFERENT kind of movement. In doing so he is admitting that the idea of “picking off police officers” & “open season on white folks” is in no way, shape, or form a part of what the Black Lives Matter movement is about!
But that type of honest analysis would be like scratching chalkboard within the echo chambers that are conservatism AND neo-liberalism. While racism can regularly be found dripping publicly from the mouth of conservatism, neo-liberalism is just as deadly as it gives mere “lip-service” to the poor, the working class, & people of color. The “flavor” of racism doesn’t matter a whole lot. Once digested it has the same sickening consequences.
I am deeply grieved by & for people of color who sell their souls for a big platform & become puppets of the American empire. The rapid fire of “half truths” & BLACK LIES (pun intended) that spew from their mouths help protect the racially unjust status quo of America. In many ways, they are what the tax collectors were to 1st century Jews. Jewish tax collectors were members of an oppressed group but chose to side with the oppressive Roman empire in order to achieve “success”. They put their individual prosperity over the collective liberation of their ethnic group. As someone who is committed to being conformed to the image of Jesus I am challenged to STILL LOVE THEM! They are in need of forgiveness, liberation, & reconciliation much like Zacchaeus was in the Gospels. Howard Thurman’s words in “Jesus & the Disinherited” have been extremely helpful for me in this pursuit. Of the tax collectors & the call of Jesus to love them he wrote:
“It was they [tax collectors] who became the grasping hand of Roman authority, filching from Israel the taxes which helped to keep alive the oppression of the gentile ruler. They were Israelites who understood the psychology of the people, and therefore were always able to function with the kind of spiritual ruthlessness that would have been impossible for those who did not know the people intimately…..
To be required to love such a person was the final insult. How could such a demand be made? One did not even associate with such creatures….
All underprivileged people have to deal with this kind of enemy. There are always people willing to put their special knowledge at the disposal of the dominant group to facilitate the tightening of the chains. They are given positions of prominence, and above all a guarantee of economic security and status. To love such people requires the uprooting of bitterness of betrayal, the heartiest poison that grows in the human spirit….
To love them means to recognize some deep respect and reverence for their persons. But to love them DOES NOT mean to condone their way of life.”
While vigorously contending against their lies we cannot allow their internalized oppression to stop us from loving them or anyone for that matter. The Way of Jesus is no easy task & demands that we be supernaturally empowered by the Spirit. Baptism in The Spirit should create an insatiable love for God & neighbor expressed through passionate worship & the pursuit of reconciliation (vertical & horizontal) & justice. We will hit brick walls at times as we labor to this end. As much as we want to see EVERYONE get it, we must understand that some people are addicted to their own MIS-education.
It does not matter how powerful & compelling your arguments are. You can put forth a thorough statistical, historical, & theological analysis & do it all with a spirit of gentleness & humility but it will not matter. As one dear sister in the struggle put it, they will look for “that ONE black person saying other black people are wrong and crazy for thinking racism is alive and well.” They are attracted to misinformation like a moth to a flame. They exchange sobering truths for intoxicating lies. Inhaling the opium of deception they hallucinate & see a world where there is no injustice & oppression to be concerned over. It matters not how many cell phones, surveillance videos, & body cameras capture unspeakable brutalities that communities of color have talked about for centuries, “seeing they will not perceive.”
This is not merely a problem of flawed logic or bad camera angles. It is a problem of the heart that causes them to suppress the truth in unrighteousness. As a result, “justice is turned back, and righteousness stands far away; for truth has stumbled in the public squares, and uprightness cannot enter.”
Yet, we who believe in the revolutionary call of Jesus cannot relent in our worshipful pursuit of reconciliation and justice!
Bear your crosses well!