The Golden Rule

It is now the end of Spring semester, COVID-19 has changed our world, probably forever, and my students are writing their concluding blog for the semester. My entry here, is an example for them to follow. It is by no means is it the end of my own blogging.

Golden Rule (Rockwell, 1894-1978a). ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

I have peppered this post with images from the 2015 Norman Rockwell Exhibit, We the People and his Golden Rule painting (Rockwell, 1894-1978a). I have come to believe the historical Christian Church has failed at Matthew 7:12, “In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets” (The Peoples Bible, 2009). I ask you before you read this summary of my previous entries for the semester, to look at Rockwell’s Golden Rule to the right. Notice the rainbow of black to brown to white and remember my post, The Myth of Race.

My focus this semester was looking at the question, “How may I work towards social justice in the fight against racism with my brothers and sisters in Christ?” (See The Journey Continues). My greatest movement towards answering that question was committing to a year-long facilitator training program with the United Church of Christ Sacred Conversations to End Racism (UCC SC2ER, 2020) (See Jesus didn’t Speak in Red letters.)

Reference photo  1 (Rockwell, 1894-1978b)

Participation in that process and reflecting upon what I have learned has already led me to change the name of my blog from Let’s talk about racism: You say you’re not a racist to Deconstructing racism: Moving beyond what we see. Here are some of the things that I learned and that are supported in social, anthropological, and genetic research.

I learned that we all have our origins in Africa and at some genetic level, we are all persons of color. I lay my case for that in my entry Across the Great Divide. I supporting that in facts through my own genetic testing results indicating my African ancestry of 1.3% Angolan and Congolese. Race, as a biological construct does not exist.

Reference photo 2 (Rockwell, 1894-1978c)

I learned that while there is no basis for race, racism, as a social construct is alive and well in the 21st century. A fact I talk about in my entry I was Black until 1967.

And I learned race, as we use the term today, is a direct result of a Papal Bull allowing Christians to seize the lands of other people and to enslave them and which future Protestants would use to continue the same. A fact I talk about in The WASP’s Nest.

I know I have not begun to address my question, but I have laid the foundation for it. But based on what I have learned, I feel the Church has more of a role in atonement than I thought. I feel the Church mut not only be socially just and live the Golden Rule, but must be restorative and atone for the sins of its past. My question shifts from society to Church  and How may I work towards restorative racial justice within the Christian Church?”.

United Nations Golden Drawing (Rockwell, 1894-1978d)

References

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978a), Golden Rule, 1961 [Oil on canvas, 44 1/2” x 39 1/2”. Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978b), Reference photo 1 Rockwell used for his Golden Rule [Photograph]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978c), Reference photo 2 Rockwell used for his Golden Rule [Photograph]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

Rockwell, N. (1894-1978d), United Nations [Drawing]. Norman Rockwell Museum Collections. https://www.nrm.org/2016/06/peoples-norman-rockwells-united-nations-2/#exhibition

The Peoples Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. (2009). Fortress Press.

United Church of Christ Sacred Conversations to End Racism (2020). Retrieved April 17, 2020 from https://www.ucc.org/sacred_conversations_to_end_racism

Rating: 1 out of 5.

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