Archive for October, 2010
I am white. Actually, I’m shades of white. The white you see on my hands is slightly darker than the white you would see – which you never will – on my thighs. That white – the white on my thighs – is more of a ghost white as compared to the vanilla shade on my hands. Nevertheless, the shade of vanilla and the shade of ghost white still fit under the broader category of white, and as white I have a history, which is not my personal history, but that of my people … which makes it part of me cause I wouldn’t be me without them. We’re violent … maybe a way of saying it euphemistically is that we like drama. Seriously. We’re not the mellow islanders of the Caribbean, nor the chill Tibetans of the East. No, white people like to fuss about territorial lines. We like to make names for ourselves (which God has used for good, no doubt … which we can all point to and say, “Look, we’re not all that bad” ). There’s nothing that creates heroes in white culture like a good war.
People like corporate celebration, like when OUR sports team wins a championship. See, I personally have no effect on the Phillies winning the World Series this year … which they will — by the way. But when they do win, we’ll claim it to be our championship … Philly’s championship; and indeed, it is ours, but we didn’t really put the cleats on and take a bat against C.C. Sabathia. Yet, when it comes to corporate guilt (sigh) , we run away from that idea because “I don’t own a slave”, “I didn’t push the American Indians off their land”, even though we’re living on a people’s land that we unjustly usurped, and have an economy that in its infancy, was nourished by the labor of slaves – our slaves.
Which leads me to the second part of my heritage: I’m an American. I’m proud of this heritage, but, like a teenager questioning his parent, I can’t help but notice our major flaws. Anyways, how many of our American heroes are chill folk? Most of them are heroes because they won at something. Sure, America has been blessed, but we also wiped out the Indians with justifications like Manifest Destiny, enslaved Black people (yeah, we’ve changed but the effects continue … ) and still like to sacrifice our unborn on the altar of convenience.
That Manifest Destiny thing reminds me of another aspect of myself: I’m a Christian. Do you know how much violence and wars have been fought in the name of Christ? Do you know how many wars have been produced by the Church? We’ve had some odd bed partners. For instance, the First Council of Nicaea was called by the Emperor Constantine who wanted the Christian leaders to stop the infighting over doctrinal issues by finding common ecumenical grounds in a minimalistic creed. When the Nicene Creed was adopted, Constantine FORCED the Empire to accept the Creed. How’s that for a pure history? Just like Jesus would have done, right? Sure, the contents of the Church have often been orthodoxy, but the actions have too often been heterodox. Just ask the Muslims … oh, yeah, you can’t ask them because you don’t know any of them. I don’t either, so I guess that makes us both good Christians.
Our actions have often been maleodox. What is maleodox? It’s a word I just made up as a substitute for a well thought out transition from my Christian identity to the fact that I also have an identity as a male. Men love to dominate. I guess its part of our God-given nature, but we too often don’t control that part and so we rape, dismiss and diminish the gender that has been graced with the compassionate and good parts of God’s image. And with that control, we’ve systematically silenced the voice that God has given to act as a balance to our aggressive, controlling and often imperialistic tendencies. By silencing that voice, well, our history speaks for itself. And you can read that history because we’ve written it.
I’m a white, male, American Christian. My history has been told and retold because I belong to the small segment of the winners. It’s the winners that write history. The losers, well, their history is snuffed out because they lost and too often losing has meant their death. It’s the winners that supposedly make history. But, that history isn’t very Jesus like … it’s full of guilt, violence, usurpation and imperialism. We look over the world from a mountain that we’ve built with the bodies, cultures and histories that we’ve destroyed. Sad. I guess I’m sad. In some sense very, very thankful for the opportunities to be a Christian and I’m thankful that I have the freedom to write an article that some people will read and secretly think, “If I were in control, I would silence Mr. Wilde”, yet in another sense, very sad.