After Reconstruction – the “first” Reconstruction that occurred after the Civil War, there was a furious rush by white supremacists to put things “back” to the way they were. There were plenty of people who were angry beyond words that slavery had been abolished. They were more furious that African Americans had gained rights as American citizens, including the right to vote and hold office. The ascendancy of African Americans to the status of “citizen” rattled people; the mere thought that they might think they were equal to whites was too much for many to bear.
Thus came the first “deconstruction,” where whites sought to put blacks back in their place. One of the first “rights” of African Americans to be attacked was the right to vote. White Americans realized that if African Americans could vote, they could change the tone and tenor of American government forever. They worked to get “their” country back. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1868, and unleashed a wave of domestic terror which rivals any foreign terrorism of today. In 1868, the “Red Shirts” drove elected officials in Wilmington, North Carolina, out of office, and burned down much of the city. It wasn’t just thugs who participated in the deconstruction; plenty of white lawmakers participated for years in the undoing of African American citizenship and the erasure of their rights.
Entire African American communities were destroyed by angry whites, insecure and unsure of their privileged status in this country – with no one held to accountability. Scores of African Americans were lynched as a part of the reign of terror waged by white gangs roaming freely through the South. Literacy tests were put into place; black codes were established, and the dehumanization and criminalization of African Americans progressed at an alarming rate.
All because the threat to white supremacy was more than most could bear.
The events that are happening now after what Rev. William Barber has called the “Third Reconstruction” are just as troubling and are becoming more and more violent. Someone had the audacity to write that by the mid-2000s, America would no longer be a “majority white” nation. An African American was elected to the White House. The United States Justice Department began to look at the tactics of local law enforcement agencies, and the shooting and killing of young African Americans was brought front and center by the proliferation of videos taken by cell phones. The myth of the police always being right was being shattered – though grand juries refused to indict officers who appeared to be clearly in violation of law – and the myth of the innate “rightness” of law enforcement officers was shattered. The Black Lives Matter erupted in full force, not as a way to say that no other lives mattered but to draw attention to the fact that in all facets of life in this country – economic, social, and psychological – black lives were minimized and in many cases ignored and violated.
It would seem that in a country that professes to believe in God that there would have been an outcry against the injustices that were being brought front and center. It would seem that “good people” who went to church every week would remember the words of a God who advocated for justice for “the least of these” would rise up and protest – and some did – but many religious people showed that their allegiance was more to white supremacy than to the tenets and precepts of God. America’s shallow religious core was exposed; the faith of many Americans was revealed to be race-based, not humanity-based.
Some believed – and believe – that God raised the current president into political leadership. That would mean that God is in favor of racism, that God supports the decriminalization and dehumanization of black and brown people, that God is in favor of policies that will hurt the masses of Americans – white and black – beyond words. The “divine appointment” of this president means, believe some, that God wants America to be like it was – a nation which favored the few wealthy at the expense of the masses. To these, God is a white supremacist, and God is behind and in support of the deconstruction of moral and civil rights gained by African Americans and others over the past 50 years.
White supremacy, or belief in white supremacy, seems more important to too many in this nation. The God of the white supremacist is not the God of the masses. The God of the white supremacist doesn’t care about the plight of the poor and the downtrodden.
That worldview is a problem for many who were taught that God is greater than all things – including white supremacy – and that God applies worth to every single human being, not just the members of one ethnic group.
The Christian Bible says one cannot worship God and “mammon,” which is often interpreted to mean “money,” but it seems that “mammon” has a more broad definition. “Mammon” seems to include political power and white supremacy as well. And it is clear that the Bible is correct; those worshiping “mammon” have seemingly left God out of the picture altogether.
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