“These are the reasons I can’t believe in God. This type of shit here”
These are the words my friend uttered to me on Wednesday, 11/9. Last Tuesday, the American Electorate did the unthinkable: Donald J. Trump, the avowed xenophobe, is now the President-elect of the United States of America. How could I refute her unbelief when so many touted the win as God’s will?
How did We Get Here
Civil unrest erupted almost immediately. Protests seem to have no end in sight. Nonwhite, undocumented, disabled, and LGBTQIA have been irrevocably filled with healthy doses of both rage and fear. White Liberals finally experienced a shock and disappointment in their country that the marginalized have known practically since birth. And now, everyone is calling for unity and forward-thinking—even while Trump selects a known white nationalist leader as his Chief Strategist.
The media, after having given legitimacy to the most illegitimate candidate in history, now asks us to come together. Our understanding, even in the face of real terror, is demanded. They beg us to have sympathy for the plight of poor whites. Poor whites whose jobs were “taken” by the outsourcing of manufacturing work. Poor whites who blame minorities for their lack of employment rather than the policies crafted and passed by men and women who look just like them. Poor whites who choose to uphold whiteness instead of uniting with others to fight against poverty and socioeconomic disenfranchisement.
This is the Real America
It would be disingenuous to pretend that only poor whites elected Trump. A number of middle and wealthy class whites also cast votes in his favor. Many have, and continue to, justify this decision with the idea that they voted for his policies, not his social rhetoric. While a number of Whites voted for him because of his social rhetoric, there is still a significant portion who feign cognitive dissonance in voting for him in spite of his verbal assault against “the other.” They rallied behind, donated to, and voted for him despite his lacking integrity, experience, or maturity for the most powerful office in the world.
And it wasn’t just White folks, although they did the bulk of the labor. We’ve long since known that not all of the guardians of White Supremacy and Patriarchy are white males. Looking squarely at you, David A. Clarke Jr., Omarosa Manigault, and Clueless Dash. Don’t even get me started on the Black Clergy who salivated at the opportunity of political power via a soul-selling endorsement of Trump.
Perhaps what is most terrifying is that is many gave their support under the auspices of a Trump presidency being the will of God. Nearly 60 million people in this country deified Trump as a messenger of God, despite his campaign messages being the antithesis of everything Christ came to conquer.
God is Still in Control
“God is still in control. Jesus is still on the throne”
These were the echoed refrains of Black Christians across this country on last Wednesday morning. It was a phrase that dominated my social media timelines in the wake of Trump’s election. While I understand its sentiment, it is little more than attempted absolution masquerading as comfort.
After all, was God not still in control during the Maafa? Did God abscond the throne during Jim Crow? Did God fail to RSVP attendance while Her chosen people were gassed to death during the Holocaust? Certainly, Jesus is on the throne. But let’s not forget how He got there. Jesus was first on the cross—where he was sentenced to by the state. As Kyle Brooks stated, “the hope of divine security doesn’t negate material, deathly consequences.”
If white and Black Christians are praying to the same God, the outcomes of those prayers make it really questionable as to who God is listening to.
White Supremacy is Bigger than God
I truly believe that the pervasiveness of White Supremacy is bigger than the concept of God. I believe this is because we view faith and politics as mutually exclusive others rather than the bedfellows that they have always been.
Belief in God is a personal choice and impacts only the practitioner. Belief in white supremacy, and the institutionalization thereof, is profoundly more impactful in a real and visible way.
The belief that God is in control doesn’t establish political order. The belief that God is in control doesn’t elect a congress. It is a deeply personal act of faith that relies on God for the outcome of our individual lives. And I give special emphasis to “individual lives.” Meaning that people who say “Jesus is still King” or “God still rules” are truly saying “well I don’t believe that I am personally endangered. So I’ll invoke the God card.”
Yes, as people of faith, we believe God is in control of all facets of our lives. Somewhere along the way, we’ve excused ourselves from the mandate that faith without works is dead. We treat “God is in control” as a magic wand with the expectation that Jesus is coming to cape and save us from man-made obstacles. It is reductive, it is unfair, and it’s frankly not what God would have us to do.
When Faith Meets Action
When white evangelicals say “God is in control,” they back it up by being proactive through voting what they believe is God’s will. White evangelicals carry out the will and purpose of their evangelicalism: white nationalism. Evangelicalism is literally built on the idea of biblical inerrancy, a convenient tool to rationalize, nay, justify slavery among other ungodly oppressions. Bearing that in mind, it’s no wonder why 85% of White Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump, the philanderer and misogynist. By electing Donald J. Trump, they carried out God’s will according to their literalist interpretation of the inerrancy of scripture. (You can read more about that here: White evangelicalism is white nationalism.)
Yet, when Black Christians default to divine control, it is usually a reactionary tactic of consolation. Reactionary to the consequence of unbridled hatred that becomes institutionalized at the poll and policy levels.
If you believe that things will be okay because God is in control, I want to hear no complaints during the impending regression and recession of our socio-economic futures. We’re not even at the inauguration and we’re getting an undeniable picture of what Trump’s America will look like. One with free-flowing, vile hatred for any and everything that is nonwhite.
One Nation, Under the God of White Supremacy
When they implement a taxation and health care plan that takes more than it gives, remember that God, in Her imminent domain, said through Jesus “Well, then,” Jesus said, “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Mark 12:17)
When they introduce federal legislation to protect police brutality and continued modern-day slavery through the prison industrial complex, remember that God, in Her control, said through Paul “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (Romans 13)
It is time out for your bible study to solely consist of your Pastor’s abridged version of God’s word. There are very real and imminent dangers ahead and your shared faith with your oppressor will not save you.
We cannot continue to pacify ourselves with the promise of divine security as an excuse to avoid the work. I, for one, do not believe God has called marginalized people to remain crushed under the heel of oppression at every turn. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. Yet, many of us are content to simply ‘survive’ within the confounds of whatever crumbs remain after hegemony has trounced all over the strides we’ve made towards freedom.
We can no longer consciously choose to evoke apathy in response to crisis. The next time you or someone you love utters these words in response to real and material danger, ask ’em “Is God really in control or is your fear of challenging White Supremacy greater than your fear of the Lord?”