The WASP’s nest

Picture of two wasp insects with one saying "Mama! Joey's calling me a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant again!"
Park, (2008). (C) CartoonStock Ltd (2020). All rights reserved. Used in accordance with licensing agreement.

We’re Americans, and as such, we can’t remember shit. Perhaps that’s why, as we write this, the massive, orchestrated effort by the current administration to revise history even as it occurs is experiencing almost total success. Events are being reduced to sound bites; sound bites are becoming mantras. The truth—if you edit carefully enough, omit artfully enough, distort brazenly enough—becomes lies. And lies, if repeated relentlessly, become truth. Especially if they are wedged immovably between the covers of the kind of history text that bored you to tears in high school.

(Cooper, 2006, p. 11)

My husband I have a wasp flying around our house. It flew in several days ago when we were letting the dogs out. Because I hate to kill things, I am keeping an eye on it to try and shew it out of the house when it gets near the door. But I’m concerned about the dogs discovering it and getting stung. Thus far, wasp and dogs, have kept their distance. If that changes, I suspect I will have to take a swatter to the wasp in order to protect our dogs because wasps don’t die when they sting (The Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation, n.d.).

Old world map of the globe from 1705
Zee-Atlas (Loots, 1705)

Speaking of discovering things, did you know the word discover, comes from its Latin and French roots, and as used in Middle English originally meant to “make known” (Lexico, 2020).

So how do lies, wasps, and the word discover relate to racism? They are the very foundation upon which our White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) society rests, and within which a culture of racism and racists history has been so thickly veiled and embedded into society, that we cannot see it’s role in how we continue to perpetuate subtle racist ideology today. If racism is to be deconstructed, then the Christian Church must recognize, and atone for, its culpability in the issue.

Let us go make known how this happened …

On June 18, 1452, Pope Nicholas V issued the papal bull, Dum Diversas. The first set of documents that would compose the Doctrine of Discovery. The Doctrine of Discovery (i.e., making known) would allow for European Monarchs, with authorization from the Christian Church –

Example of a Papal Bull (Indigenous Values Initiative, 2020). Copyright CC-BY-4.0
Example of a Papal Bull (Indigenous Values Initiative, 2020). Copyright CC-BY-4.0

to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens (Muslims) and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery, and to apply and appropriate to himself and his successors the kingdoms, dukedoms, counties, principalities, dominions, possessions, and goods, and to convert them to his and their use and profit (Emphasis Added)” (as quoted in Charles & Rah, 2019, p. 15).

So, when Columbus “made known” the America’s to an Imperialist European Monarchy, the establishment of the slave trade began. When the frontier men and women “made known” to President Andrew Jackson the wild, wild west was prime territory, the genocide of Native American’s was sanctioned (in Adelman, 2003, DVD Scene 8). Not only was it sanctioned by the Government, it was sanctioned by the Christian Church as our God-given, puritanical, white Anglo-Saxon Protestant historical narrative. And these WASPs have not lost their sting.

The Doctrine of Discovery continues to sting Native Americans through the government’s environmental policy towards Native American lands and the Dakota pipeline (Aune, 2019). It is still an issue of relevance in the United Nations (Pineda, 2017). And the Doctrine of Discovery is the king pin of our stand your ground culture that allows the WASPs to sting with complicity and near impunity in the murder of innocent black and brown persons (Douglas, 2015).

All of this was “made known” to me in my UCC SC2ER facilitator training this week. I am sickened and saddened not only by the Christian Church’s historical role, some of which was taught in our whitewashed history of the Christian Crusades, but not it’s long lasting and continued effects into the 21st century. It is time for the Christian Church to rend the temple veil of history behind which American Exceptionalism lies and begin to make ethical, moral, and financial reparations for its actions. A topic I hope to broach in my next entry.

References

Adelman, L. (Producer). (2003). Race – The power of an illusion (Episode 2) [DVD Documentary]. California Newsreel. https://www.pbs.org/race/000_General/000_00-Home.htm

Aune, S. (2019). Euthanasia politics and the Indian wars. American Quarterly, 71(3), 789-811. https://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2019.0054

Charles, M., & Rah, S.-C. (2019). Unsettling truths: The ongoing dehumanizing legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery. InterVarsity Press.

Cooper, T. A., & Mansbach, A. (Eds.). (2006). Fictional history of the United States (with huge chunks missing). Akashic Books.

Douglas, K. B. (2015). Stand your ground: Black bodies and the Justice of God. Orbis Books.

Indigenous Values Initiative. (2020). Doctrine of discovery [Photograph] Retrieved March 22, 2020 from https://doctrineofdiscovery.org/papal-bulls/

Lexico. (2020). Discover. In Lexico.com. Retrieved March24, 2020 from https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/discover

Loots, J. (1705) Zee-Atlas [Map] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2011586011/

Park, W. B. (2008). Mama! Joey’s calling me a white Anglo-Saxon Protestant again! [Cartoon]. Retrieved from https://www.cartoonstock.com/cartoonview.asp?catref=wpa0182

Pineda, B. (2017). Indigenous Pan-Americanism: Contesting settler colonialism and the doctrine of discovery at the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues. American Quarterly, 69(4), 823-832. http://doi.org/10.1353/aq.2017.0068

The Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corporation. (n.d.). Bees, wasps, and hornets: What you need to know. https://www.gov.mb.ca/housing/pubs/pests/bees.pdf

The Myth of Race

I continue to be saddened at the extinct to which the construct of race has contributed to a culture of racism that is systemic to our American society today. As part of my UCC SC2ER facilitator training this week I’ve had some heady assignments that I am still processing.

One assignment was to watch episode 1 of the PBS series, Race – The power of an illusion (Adelman, 2003). Episode 1 discusses the fallacy of race from the perspective of biology and genetics. Describing the development of the construct of race through the lens of science and history as the overarching narrative, the video followed a group of high school students conducting tests with their own DNA. The students were surprised to discover that they were more likely to more genetically similar to those outside our race-culture construct then those within their race-culture construct. The same would hold true for you and I.

Pantone. (2020). [Photograph of Patone Skintone™ color cards for 110 skin shades]. Retrieved March 10, 2020 from https://www.pantone.com/skintone-guide
SkinTone Color Cards (Pantone, 2020)

Any variations in skin color is due to the melanin we all possess and that has adapted over time based upon geography. This does not equate to a biological basis for race.

Just as there is no single gene to control for athleticism, musicality, or intelligence, there is no single gene that controls for race. Evolutionary biologist Joseph Graves describes it best. If we were to travel from the tropics to Norway we would see a gradual change in skin color, “… at no point along that trip would we be able to say, ‘Oh, this is the place in which we go from the dark race to the light race’” (in Adelman, 2003, DVD Scene 8). This is punctuated by our common ancestral African roots from which all humanity as descended.

Logically this makes sense, culturally it is hard to grapple with, and scientifically, it is yet to be settled how best to divorce variations in skin color as a biological basis for the construct of race (Yudell, Desalle, & Tishkoff, 2016). Race, as we know it, is a myth rooted in power structures, not biology.

Historically, this biological myth of race has led to some of the darkest times in American history, American present, and I predict, American future, of which I will talk about in my next entry. But as Hammond observes, ““Race is a human invention. … We made it, we can unmake it” (in Adelman, 2003, DVD Scene 17).

References

Adelman, L. (Producer). (2003). Race – The power of an illusion (Episode 1) [DVD Documentary]. California Newsreel. https://www.racepowerofanillusion.org/

Pantone. (2020). [Photograph of Pantone Skintone™ color cards for 110 skin shades]. Retrieved March 10, 2020 from https://www.pantone.com/skintone-guide

Yudell, M., Roberts, D., Desalle, R., & Tishkoff, S. (2016). Science and society: Taking race out of human genetics. Science, 351(6273), 564-565.