By: Jimmy McGee
Over the past week, we have had a lot of stimulation. In my case, I was experiencing an euphoric moment. In my life, two things I never thought would happen in my lifetime; electing a Black president, and the Cubs winning the World Series. Both were euphoric.
My euphoria suddenly came to an end, when another unthinkable thing happened. In my imagination, I did not conceive a billionaire reality TV star occupying the highest office of the land. As odd as that made me feel, it was not the dominant thought in my mind. Please indulge me for a moment. I am not concerned with Trump being elected or who voted for him. Neither are a surprise to me. However, I am concerned about the aftermath of the election. Once again, I am not concerned too much about the tax code changing, or repealing Obamacare or building a wall. I am concerned about the toxic rhetoric that was employed by the president elect to stir his base, both educated and uneducated, to vote for him. I am concerned if the rhetoric becomes action.
Over the past week, we have seen protests, over 200 incidents of micro aggressions, and unreported incidents that have not been publicized on social media. In the Impact world, a former intern, was spat on while taking a run, and then given a farewell sign of the middle finger. Another incident happened at Baylor University. A Black female student was pushed to the ground, and told that we are “making America great again….Niggers do not belong on the sidewalk.” Thankfully, the Baylor incident spread throughout the campus. The Baylor Black female student on her journey to class the next day was escorted by 300 people, black, white, Asian, male and female, and faculty, etc. It appears that people are looking out for the well being of others.
Some of our students are experiencing a lot of grief. For many, they have never experienced such interactions from society. They have also have not experienced such set backs after such great gains. I say “great” because having a Black person in the highest office is an accomplishment, though we did not experience widespread benefit in our community. For some of us who are older, we have experienced this before. Here are some thoughts for you to consider as you interact with others:
I encourage you not to dismiss or repress your feelings. Feelings/Emotions are part of God’s creation in us. They are not our guides, but they are not to be ignored or repressed. They inform us of the intangibles of life. Please encourage your students to pay attention to their feelings or the feelings of those around them. Christian colloquialisms are not helpful. “God is Sovereign.” “God will work it out!” “Jesus is Lord!” Each of these statements are true. However, God was Sovereign during the Atlantic Slave Trade, Apartheid, and the Indian Removals. God has redeemed people in spite of these egregious acts, but the experiences of these groups were devastating! We have yet to see the ramifications of this election.
Please seek the Lord’s face! Reflect on the text and pray! I have been studying trauma. Sometimes when people are experiencing trauma, we need to learn to sit in the pain with them. If we are the ones experiencing pain, we need to be patient, but express our emotions. The Scripture can be guide to us through this. Read the chapters in the Gospels after Jesus was crucified. Read I Kings chapter 19. Psalms can be a helpful aid. If we are sitting with others who are grieving, remember how Jesus encouraged us to grieve with those who grieve.
I want to encourage you to learn from this experience. Our students can survive, because they are resilient. We need to be accessible and available to help them on this journey. Yes, and it is part of our responsibility. Here’s some books that may help you:
White Rage by Carol Anderson
The Rage of a Privileged Class by Ellis Cose
The Coming Race Wars by Bill Pannell
Radical Reconciliation by Curtis Paul DeYoung and Alan Boesak
Before Post Modernity became popular and common language, Black people were post modern. Just look at The Birth of a Nation movie. It displays how Nat Turner was able to dismiss the slave narrative for a free narrative. Teach our students to read the Scripture and not rest on Evangelical rhetoric or dismal commentary. God did some redemptive things through Nehemiah, in spite of oppression.
Introduce them to the words of Fr. Niemoller:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Replace the words for Latinos, immigrants or Muslims.
Here’s a link to a recent article from Toni Morrison in the upcoming New Yorker magazine:
Our mission did not change the day after the election. I feel strongly that it is more needed than ever. Our work is to disciple Black students, and help them share their faith through word and deed. The main reason I love Jesus dearly, is because He has never required anything of me that He had not already modeled. Our ministry is not made up of “do as I say, and not as I do”. We model the radical nature of following Jesus, by being honest with what we feel, and behave in way that let students see who we serve! Your ministry is not about getting it right all of the time. “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.”Prov. 24.16 Your ministry is about an authentic walk with Jesus. Making course corrections when wrong, confessing them to whomever we wronged, and forgiving those who wronged you.
It is interesting we are wrestling with so much entering the Thanksgiving season. How can we be thankful in spite of the circumstances? I can be thankful for more than the Cubs winning. I can submit my will to say thank you for President-Elect Trump, because it may be the necessary event to bring an authentic witness to the world.