a mystical möbius — curating facts, ideas, text, and media to create a contemplative space.
Note: “Picking-up after an Apocalypse” is a brief mini-series of themed posts for a mystical möbius. This piece (part 2) begins cataloguing social justice indications. Last week: ‘Picking-up after an Apocalypse (part 1),’ was an election debrief.
I have rape-colored skin. My light-brown-blackness is a living testament to the rules, the practices, the causes of the Old South. —Caroline Randall Williams
Obviously, the finer qualification written there under her byline, “Ms. Williams is a poet,” was true. I invite you to apply aLectio Divina-like approach to your reading of Williams’ Confederate Monument article from this past summer. —For instance, give the piece three close readings in which you allow it to speak it’s truth to you noting which word, sentence, or passage strikes you most significantly with each reading. At the end of each reading, before moving on to re-reading the article, contemplate the meaning and significance of that which struck you most profoundly. Finally, contemplate the three most significant pieces in relationship to each-other, with the entire article, and with current events.
So, since last June, we have experienced a presidential campaign in which the incumbent made no bones about it and plainly put White supremacist, classist ideology on the ballot. The president dropped any pretense of subtlety, “I’ll save your suburbs from being invaded.” I heard voter advocate Stacy Abrams echo what I’d heard many Black leaders saying going into November 3, “Our survival was on the ballot.”
Now, over seventy-three million (and still counting) Americans have invested their vote in the Republican candidate for president. The president expanded his voting base by eleven million votes. But for JoeBiden [one word] getting five million more votes, the president’s vote tally would be a new record for the number of votes received by any presidential candidate. Fifty-seven percent of white voters cast their votes to re-elect the president. The share of votes the president received from white women increased. The polls had it almost totally incorrect. Certainly, no “blue wave” developed. Why? What happened?
A challenging explanation
Last week [11/7] Ms. Williams published a new opinion piece in the NY Times that plainly speaks truth to power. “A Loving Chastisement for America.” The piece penetrates the present post-election/pre-inauguration moment with a deeply insightful yet plain take that I pray history (read: white society) learns this time. The article explains why the president received so many votes, and the explanation, while loving, is very difficult to hear. I offer the same counsel as above, please adopt a repetitive, contemplative approach to your close reading of the new Loving Chastisement article. I’ll begin with a very startling line:
“The polls failed last time, and they failed this time, in part because they can’t tell you what so many Black Americans know and live every day: that so much of white America is deeply racist, in ways that are impossible to quantify but that are nevertheless felt, and that bear out in the vote.” —CRW
We must grant his consistency
The first chip this president intentionally placed in his political portfolio was birtherism. Then, the gold-escalator event that marked his actually throwing his hat into the ring for the 2016 presidential race was placed squarely on the shoulders of a xenophobic attack on Mexicans. This was soon followed by a xenophobic proposal to put a border-ban on all Muslims seeking entry into America. Of course, we recall “I don’t know David Duke,” “s#1+hole countries,” “fine people on both sides” in Charlottesville, and that “racial sensitivity training is racist toward white people.” No trouble finding an extremely cynical throughline in Donald J. Trump’s political posturing over the years. Perhaps most damning is the fact that overt, militant White supremacist racists proudly report they believe this president has their back. Like birtherism, the election “FRAUD” gambit is designed to make a presidency illegitimate—this time, President-elect Joe Biden’s presidency. More than just JoeBiden’s presidency, the “Stop the Steal” political technologies (created in 2016 by Roger Stone as a grift) that the president is using also serves to make democracy itself illegitimate. That’s a significant and dangerous facet of Trump’s pose, but, what of his “base?”
And the president’s supporters?
I’ve written here on several occasions that the MAGA coalition is far from a monolith of identical Trump supporters. I’ve also spoken quite plainly about very problematic factors and factions of the MAGA coalition. While, as I’ve written, I do not feel that racism is a conscious driver of the vast majority of the president’s supporters, our legacy of White supremacy in America does form a not-consciousdriver in most white people.
“Conscious drivers” and “not-conscious drivers,” what’s that about? Well, for my purposes here it’s essentially about an opening to reconciliation. I have stated clearly that I do not know if the president is consciously, intentionally racist like David Duke, for instance. In a generous moment I am even able to consider the possibility that the president is really just pathologically classist and not intentionally racist. There’s little doubt that the president has a serious anti-poor-person bigotry. This is the point at which the notion of systemic White supremacy seems to escape the grasp of the president and his supporters. When one denies systemic racism it does make it possible to miss the intrinsic connections between racism and classism. The president’s “s#1+hole countries” may in fact reflect his unapologetic social Darwinism/classism and only incidentally implicate his not-conscious racism through the systemic connection that he, of course, denies.
First, recall Williams’ words: “…. so much of white America is deeply racist, in ways that are impossible to quantify but that are nevertheless felt, and that bear out in the vote.” It’s the “that are nevertheless felt, and that bear out in the vote” that apocalyptically reveals the systemic White supremacy space.
Former president Barak Obama addresses the dynamics in recent remarks associated with his new book, A Promised Land, when he writes about the power of birtherism:
“It was as if my very presence in the White House had triggered a deep-seated panic, a sense that the natural order had been disrupted. Which is exactly what Donald Trump understood when he started peddling assertions that I had not been born in the United Sates, and was thus an illegitimate president. For millions of Americans spooked by a Black man in the White House, he promised an elixir for their racial anxiety.” —BO
Williams’ description of White supremacist racism is revelatory: “…. in ways that are impossible to quantify but that are nevertheless felt, and that bear out in the vote,” and identifies the reason that many of the anti-CRT advocates we talked about last week (part one) are so desperate to deny the existence of systemic White supremacy. This shadow (blindspot) reflects their ELP viewpoint (“eighteenth-level perspective,” see Ashes, ashes we all fall down and The three hardest words) and that viewpoint’s failure (in human terms) that are well described by inverting the wisdom of this Brené Brown quote:
Those caught in an ELP and unable to grok empathy will always find a narrative to sustain their cynical vision. Presently, the president’s tantrum-like protestations are coalescing around a merger of his election fraud story with the Confederate “Lost Cause” narrative for those in the MAGA coalition who are fueled by White Christian nationalism (whether consciously or not-consciously).
Spiritual growth ~ developing empathy
Some weeks ago [6/21/20] I introduced to this blog a recent work done by Bob the Tomato. Well, actually, a work done by Phil Vischer, the co-creator of Veggie Tales (and the voice of Bob the Tomato) and his Holy Post team. I feel knowing the facts often helps with our personal spiritual work in gaining empathy and growing in compassion. In “Hate-fighting imagination” I wrote:
If you’re still not sure you understand how White supremacy became systemic, structured, and institutionalized, and still not sure why Black Lives Matter protesters are so angry, let Bob (Phil) break it down for you. Please don’t hide your heart from this as you watch:
Vischer received lots of questions after his Race In America video went viral so he did a follow-up Holy Post video that helpfully treated the most common questions that had come up about it.
Finally, Vischer offers a primer on how/why Christians tend to vote by race and party.
And all I can offer now is a loving reproach: The Republican Party, whatever else it means to be, is the home of virulent, violent white supremacy. Self-respecting people of all colors must abandon it until such a time as it chooses to excise that hatred. —Caroline Randall Williams
Next week: Come and see.
[this post approx. 1,650 words (7 min. read) + video media]
I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?
“My house is out of the ordinary That’s right, don’t wanna hurt nobody
Some things sure can sweep me off my feet Burning down the house
No visible means of support and you have not seen nothin’ yet Everything’s stuck together [Talking Heads’ way of saying ‘systemic‘?]
And I don’t know what you expect staring into the TV set Fighting fire with fire
Ah … Woo
Burning down the house” .
Note: I moved away from stadial/stage theory in August of 2021. This piece is not rectified except for this graphic: