The Empire Striketh: 5 Faces of Racism & A New Hope
“Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger… anger leads to hate… hate leads to suffering.”- Yoda
In the second installment of original Star Wars trilogy after the Rebel Alliance destroyed the Death Star, The Empire struck back.
- Luke Skywalker was maimed
- Hans Solo was frozen
- Princess Lea is under the power of Jaba the Hut
- Darth Vader reigns supreme
- The Resistance is scattered throughout the galaxy
What seemed like the beginning of certain breakthrough became the backdrop of the advance of evil.
On May 25th, George Floyd was murdered while in police custody over an excruciating 8:46 seconds. This happened in the aftermath of the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery, the killing of Breonna Taylor, and a steady stream of escalating racial violence captured on mobile phones.
The slaughter of George Floyd was the match that lit the torch of a new Great Awakening and national reckoning with American racism. In the midst of protest and pain, the needle began to move.
If that wasn’t crazy enough, the NFL apologized for not listening to Colin Kapernick, George Floyd’s funeral became a day of nationwide mourningand protests resisting racism could be found on every continent on planet earth.
In the chaos of a global health crisis, the 400 year American racial pandemic seemed to be finally cracking.
Then the empire struck back.
A goverment official tweeted, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”. The Breonna Taylor ruling came down. White supremacist groups grew to unprecedented levels and experts warned of coming bloodshed. The Boogloo Boys attacked Minneapolis police. Another white supremicist group, called the Proud Boys used the words of the U.S. President to inspire their followers. Jacob Blake was shot. Kyle Rittenhouse killed two people protesting racism in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was later lauded as a hero and a Christian missions organization raised almost 1 million dollars to pay his legal fees.
Daniel Prude died by asphyxiation at the hands of the police. A U.S. Senator said that blacks can go anywhere in the South as long as they toed a certain political line. Racial violence against Asian Americans skyrocketed to historical levels.
The first Black female Vice Presidential candidate name was mockedpublicly at a campaign rally and later faced other dehumanizing denigrations.
The President of the United States gave an Executive Order banning anti-racist education from federal agencies, then looked to institute “Patriotic Education” in American schools, while sharing a white-washed Christopher Columbus proclamation on Indigenous People’s Day.
Within the last week, racist voter intimidation and terrorizing have sadly seem to become more the norm than the exception.
There is not enough room on the page to chronicle everything.
But as heartbreaking and infuriating these events are, we shouldn’t be surprised.
- The Klu Klux Klan was formed after the Emancipation Proclamation.
- Jim Crow segregation emerged after Reconstruction.
- Blacks were lynched by thousands after the Civil Rights Act of 1875.
- Tulsa, Oklahoma and Wilmington, North Carolina were bombed and burned after Black people began to make forward movement.
- When the formerly enslaved started to build a life on land given to them, it was stolen and returned to Confederate plantation owners.
The roots of the American chronicles surrounding race is a horrible history. It is a history so ugly that many are tempted to turn from it.
To pretend this racism doesn’t exist, didn’t exist, or existed so long ago it has no current impact.
Don’t turn away. Force yourself to look. Look deeply. Be horrified. Be sickened. Be challenged.
But whatever you do, don’t turn away.
Coming to grips with American racism is begin to understand it’s complexity.
It runs on two parallel tracks, one Macro the other Micro, one a large matrix of interwoven mechanisms and the other manifesting itself personally through a collection of masks designed to insulate the wearer from facing its ugly truth.
Macro of Racism:
- Sphere 1- Institutional: Policies and practices that reinforce racist standards. (i.e. FHA, New Deal, redlining)
- Sphere 2-Structural: Exponential impact of multiple institutions upholding racist policies and practices (i.e., society, racial wealth gap).
- Sphere 3-Interpersonal: Racist acts and micro-aggressions carried out from one person to another. (i.e. yelling racial slurs, racial violence)
- Sphere 4- Internalized: The accumulation of overt and covert messages that reinforce negative beliefs and self-hatred. (i.e. the object of racism seeing themselves through the lens of the racist)
Micro of Racism:
- Denial: “Racism isn’t true.”
- Anger: “I reject racism as truth and am willing to attack (physically, verbally, etc) the truth-teller.”
- Fear: “I run from the truth of racism.”
- Avoidance: “I sidestep racism as truth.”
- Ignorance: “What is truth? Racism doesn’t affect me so it doesn’t exist.”
After looking at the reality of embedded racism at the foundation of the United States it is not hard to fall into despair. But there is always reason to hope and to believe for a brighter day whether this generation or the next gets the privilege of more fully experiencing it.
- Calling: To envision a brighter day and a better future.
- Creativity: To bend reality into something more.
- Courage: The strength to advance in love when the Empire tempts us to hate.
- Conviction: To stand in truth when it would be far easier to embrace the lie.
- Compassion: To feel the pain and bear of the struggle of others.
- Community: To believe in the power of us.
- Commitment: To have resolve for a marathon to run our leg of the journey.
Be careful not to drop the baton of hope and stop believing in what is good. Though the uninformed may think defeat is surely around the bend, this is just the set up to an even greater victory.
The dragon of racism’s head will ultimately fall and the heroes of hope will rise.
Dig in, and stay focused.
Hope will trump hate, and light will one day overcome the dark.
It might take a little longer than we’d like, but there is no doubt it will ultimately happen.
Yes it’s okay to be afraid sometimes, but please always remember:
The end of our story has not been written.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
— John Lewis, Freedom Fighter & Good Trouble-Maker