^ Hot off the presses of Blue Ridge Cru Assembly everyone!
That’s right, this episode of incredibly problematic PWI Christian campus ministries features a topic that is on the heart of many mainly white females that compose the group – RELATIONSHIPS! I won’t go into detail how ridiculous it is that many of them have this “genie-in-a-bottle” theology of God just granting them their prince charming in mind to be happily ever after. Suffice it to say that for many, it’s like a full time job.
The issue I am pointing out the way that this video I posted is being used. I have a feeling that my own campus ministry isn’t the only instance. This video is deeply disturbing to me because it’s so representative of what white evangelical ,complimentarian, neo-reformed folks tend to say about the matter. It’s as if the message is sanitized, universalized, etc. because they’re using a black man dressed in urban clothing with rhythmic speech patterns to relay the message. It’s their way at saying ” see? Even he’s saying it, so it’s not just for old white folks!”
What this man says is no different than what the likes of John Piper or David Plat would say – matter of fact, if I dug deep enough, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found that he got his “inspiration” from them. In my four years being involved in Cru ministry ( to a much lesser extent now, though), I can attest that this has been the biggest issue I’ve had. I can’t tell how many times I’ve walked into the Cru large group to be greeted by Lecrae or Trip Lee. The use of black bodies to relay a message for the sake of making neo-reformed white-saturated theology seem more accessible. Black guys ( and it’s really only been men- and why is THAT!?) can be reformed rappers making “holy hip-hop” and make these cute little videos about pursuing a girl , but we rarely see these same black men as the brains behind the theology. They’re used… much like in black face. They’re confined to that role, while white male neo-calvinists theologians cook up the concepts. Essentially: Black lingo is harmless but black thoughts.contributions to theology ..let’s leave that to white men.
I had decided to take a brief break from my series on White Supremacy (I still have 2 posts left) because I needed a breather. I needed an escape, but most of the shows on my DVR were just going to make me mad. I had also given up on South Park after a very troubling episode (I have my limits). So, I also needed a politically-conscious cartoon to fill the void left by Aaron McGruder‘s The Boondocks. So, two weeks ago, I began watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. I had heard a lot of things: Bronies are the worst. Bronies aren’t real mean, this show is made for girls! After a few episodes, like the 3 or 4 that it took to get out of my comfort zone, I started to realize that I liked the show, and then, the 9th episode hit me like a truck. In Season 1 episode 9: “Bridle Gossip,” the ponies are hiding from a new (zebra) pony in town, Zecora. She comes from a strange culture, she dresses and looks funny. At the same time, the ponies are searching for a cure for themselves, because they believe this stranger has cursed them, and has everyone acting weird. Our protagonist for the show, the bookish Twilight Sparkle finds a book that may have the spells to cure her and her friends, but she dismisses it. In the end, Zecora uses that same book to help the ponies who weren’t cursed, but who had touched the leaves of “poison joke.” The lesson for this episode: don’t judge a book by its cover. Very rarely do we have live action shows have coherent, subversive discussions about race; it was a delightful surprise that in its first season, My Little Pony at the minimum had TWO such episodes.
The other episode I am referring to is Season 1 episode 21: “Over A Barrel,” about the group of earth [settler] ponies called the Apple-losons, who settle in the frontier and plant appletrees everywhere. When the workhorse pony AppleJack has deliver one such apple tree to her family members by train, the train is robbed by a herd of buffalo. It turns out the land belonged to the buffalo first. To lessen the hostility between the frontiersponies and the buffaloes, the fun-loving Pinky Pie plays a song about sharing and caring, which, of course, gets dismissed as the worst performance ever. In the end, the buffalo agree to share the land with the Apple-losons on the condition that the ponies share their apples with the buffalo, and there are roads that are paved for the buffalo to roam. Twilight Sparkle complained throughout the episode that no one was being reasonable (which I have a few questions about). Why should the First Nations, I mean Buffaloes, be made to be “reasonable” by the Colonizers, I mean settler Ponies’ standards. Do not the Buffalo have a reasonable right to be angry in the first place if they are being robbed? Is not just compensation based on the victims’ terms (the ending) the right thing to do to begin with? Rather than sugarcoat white settler histories in North America, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, just like Buffy The Vampire Slayer‘s season 4 episode, “Pangs,” has managed to problematize the aforementioned narratives.
Tonight, I watched PBS’s Independent Lens’ episode entitled, Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines. To be honest, this documentary played out unfortunately like a piece of white feminist triumphalism, when it really did not have to. My favorite comic writer Gail Simone said at the conclusion of that Wonder Woman was a feminist symbol of hope and inclusion. The vision for the future promoted by this text, however, was one of racial exclusion and classist & ableist propaganda. Wonder Women was not a documentary geared towards ALL American women, but specific white American women with middle & upper class privilege.
Let’s go through the U.S. American history lesson we were given, shall we? Wonder Woman was the comic book version of Rosie the Riveter during World War II, and afterwards, her and Lois Lane were depicted as less ambitious. So basically, white women were told to take care of homes! Okay, but this WAS NOT THE EXPERIENCE OF ALL WOMEN! No, this documentary spoke to the white side of segregationist economics and white women’s experience, but when it comes to blacks, perhaps those women who were HAD NO CHOICE but to work (because choice is a luxury, based on class, don’t forget that), Wonder Women could not address this issue.
Moving on, let’s read about the Women superheroes who inspired the women’s rights movement in the 60s and 70s. Big surprise: All white, all without disability, and with class privilege. Yeah, a picture of Storm from Marvel’s X-Men was put up as a token. Yeah, they talked about Nubia as “Wonder Woman’s sistah counterpart” but that was false. Any google search will show you that Nubia was a villain, and has since the 70s, fallen off the face of the DC universe. What an inspiration!
Wonder Woman. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Xena the Warrior Princess. All able-bodied. All white women written by white men. At the conclusion of Wonder Women,the documentary shameless did a highlight reel of famous American women, and showcased WOC such as Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, Rosa Parks, and others. It’s funny that this played out sort of like Season 7 of white feminist legend Buffy, where the show all of a sudden becomes more culturally diverse, as if the first six seasons & it’s First World Western feminist vision didn’t happen!
In Buffy, a number of POC scholars have taken issue with portrayals of racial minorities in the BuffyVerse, and DC Comics (as much as I’m a New 52 fanboy), continues to have more problems than Marvel (but atleast DC doesnt have the Doctor Voodoo problem– you can look that up). Works of fantasy, myths are always social and political. Pop cultural exclusion leads to perpetual political exclusion, and that’s what we continue to see, esp when it comes to voting rights, access to public education, and the prison-industrial complex.
“It’s not an accident that the Jesus in this History Channel special is white and speaks with a fine British accent. After all, it’s not like there aren’t plenty of actors of MIddle Eastern descent available to play these roles. That was a decision made by the producers of this program because they need ratings, they need to sell ad space, and the best way to do that is to portray Jesus, and all the other BIble heroes, in a way that is comfortable for the audience.”
“Without having visited your church, I feel pretty safe in assuming that if your church is located in the United States (or the West in general) and your congregation is predominately white, then all the images of Jesus that occupy your church are also white.
Now, Joel suggested that it would behoove us critics to not criticize this the Nazi Helmet Channel’s latest contribution to American Civil Religion (at least until we have seen it)*. This is not about the academics involved, Joel, this has nothing to do with them. This has to do with the cultural production of Jesus as a white man over and over again, and the historical figures in the Bible as White white white. If these people are all seen as white, God is and will always be viewed as white. And when God is persistently seen as one the side of the victors of history, then God endorses oppression, and I am not down with that. Sorry, and neither is Jesus! Because Jesus was Jewish, his ancestors were Jewish, they lived in the Ancient Near East (east to where?), but white privelege and supremacy would have us to forget this.
“Some may ask what the point of all this is, though frankly, it ought to be obvious. So long as our culture pictures Adam, Eve, Moses, Jesus, Mary, the Apostles, and even God “himself” as fair-skinned, despite the obvious preposterousness of such representations, we will continue to plant the seeds of racial supremacy in the hearts and minds of millions. After all, to believe that divinity is white like you leads one to easily assume that others are somehow less complete, less than human. If God supposedly made man in his image, and God is always portrayed as a bearded white guy (kinda like Santa without the suit), how big a leap is it — especially for children whose introduction to religion is always nine-tenths forced propaganda anyway — to assume that persons of color are somehow not full and equal “children of God?”- Tim Wise
With the news this week of schools in a “progressive” state like New York using the bodies of dead slaves for math problems, it seemed only fitting that White History Classes trended on Twitter this week. Course names were inspired by real conversations that people have, because, who hasn’t heard the, “But when do we celebrate White History Month?” My favorite answer is, “I have no idea. Why don’t we blame Ronald Reagan!”
Humorist Tracy Clayton storified some of the best of the trend, but I also wanted to share many others in the following slide:
Last night I chose to RedBox the Oscar-nominated film Beasts Of The Southern Wild. It was a bit out of my comfort zone, I usually prefer science fiction and fantasy, but I watched the movie having no idea about the plot or characters. I had heard and read so much praise for this film that I actually had my doubts it would be any good. Good thing I don’t listen to my doubts that often. BOTSW was a great film, it was well-written and well-executed overall. I don’t want to give away any spoilers for the film, but wanted to say I highly recommend it.
“From a survival perspective, it is adaptive for people to stay alert to negative information; in order to stay safe, you need to be aware of the dangers. However, from a Kingdom perspective, it is adaptive for members of the body of Christ to stay alert to positive information about others. In order to stay unified, we need to override our natural tendency to focus on what we perceive to be negative information about other groups and instead stay alert to the positive information that they bring to the table of faith.”
I have in recent years come back to being a fan of comic book culture. Rather than fawning over and reading Marvel Comics like Spider-man and X-Men, my love of Batman and the Batfamily has grown. But it was always there, from the moment my parents rented Batman (1989) for us on VHS. I was a goner. I’ve also come to enjoy, thanks to friends like Josh T., Seth C. , and Optimistic Chad, the Green Lantern, Earth 2, and Fables. The DC Animated Universe is where everything is at though. It is far superior to its rivals. Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice were strong again this week, and both, interesting enough had to deal what it meant to be a person. In the television series BattleStar Galactica, Cylons were created by man. They evolved, they became shaped like humanity. Were they human? Did they have a soul? That’s a similar question that GL:TAS asked. Aya is artificial intelligence just like the villainous Manhunters. Are they sentient beings? Are they capable of evolving beyond their programming, and if so, does that give them distinct personhood? I think the journey and questions that Razer has throughout this episode is very telling. To me, Razer is the most relatable character, he cares about justice, he is angry, and sometimes that gets him in to trouble. The rage of this good Red Lantern is contrary to the ways of the Green Lantern corps (Willpower) which seeks to control emotions. I think the Blue & Green Lantern Corps have a problem telling the difference between different types of rage, as Razer pointed out. There is a righteous anger , even inspired by religious & political commitments, that can motivate us to do good.
D C Nation featured two shorts that I was “Meh” about, I just don’t like Batman/Dark Knight in Shanghai as it stands right now, and Princess Amethys, I just can’t get into. That being said, Young Justice was perhaps a big nod to black DC Comics fans. At the very beginning of the episode, Static Shock (well, Virgil) makes an appearance being interviewed by Black Canary. The Reach have “invaded” Earth, excuse me, introduced themselves to us earthlings, but not before they kidnapped metahumans, or people with a special gene that allows them a unique capacity to survive after a trauma and had experiments done on these people. For those unaware, Static Shock was a comic character, a black teen with the ability to control electricity. He was first created by the late Dwayne McDuffie, in the early 1990s, and even had his own cartoon series. The episode continues with a few members of Young Justice being trapped in an alien force-field cage to fight Despero, who wanted to conquer Earth’s best champion. In the files of research that Despero’s robot minion, L-Ron had gathered, most of the champions on Earth were white and male, (except for Icon [the black Republican lawyer version of Superman], another Milestone Comics hero). So, when Mal Duncan (with only the original Guardian’s helmet and no powers) stands up to Despero, the villains are thrown into confusion. Duncan and the rest of the gang trick L-Ron and his master and defeat them through wit, and with the help of Bumblebee (Karen Beecher).
At the conclusion of the episode, another “secret champion” of DC Nation guest stars: Black Lightening, who tried to help Captain Atom break open the force field that trapped our heroes. I found it interesting the parallels between the encounters of the Other/aliens the Reach and the struggles of black heroes to have their personhood recognized. Maybe it was just me but L-Ron making up “-isms” and accusing YJ of cheating reminded an awful lot of people who try to avoid talking about white privilege in the name of reverse racism all the while benefiting from it. I loved how DC Comics is intentional with this stuff. Last year, on JuneTeenth, Mister Terrific’s graphic novel debuted. This week’s episode of Young Justice fell right in line with The Black Comic Book Festival in NYC.
What did you think of this week’s episodes of GL:TAS and YJ?
As I was talking Optimistic Chad late last week over the phone, I made a list of things/movies/music that all white people like and assume that people of color should like, since their taste is universally holds truth. Without further ado, here is the beginnings of my list, make what you will:
1. The movie Casa Blanca
2. Everything from celtic culture, music and folktales.
3. Les Miserables (the novel and the movie versions)
4. The Count Of Monte Christo (the novel and both films)
5. The music of Kate Bush (of whom I had never heard of until last night)