SeminaryWhileBlack: Why calling out #ToxicFuller matters.
I sit here and my mind is flooded with so many reasons why I don’t want to write about this. (Stay with me. This matters too.)
First of all I wish this wasn’t real. I was raised on a polite dose of respectability politics. My mother is a Latina immigrant and my father is Black from the westside of Detroit. They were both first in their families to get college degrees. They broke through ceilings that my brother and I would now walk on. That was the dream. Higher education for us was a given. Upward mobility was a given. We were now entered into the race for the American Dream. All we had to do was follow the rules. Or well our special rules, you know the ones only for black people? The ones that change all the time and adhere to no rationality? Yea, long as we stayed in step, we would be relatively ok.
The nuisance of racist ignorance was to be expected but not much more. We wouldn’t get shot. We wouldn’t go to jail. We definitely wouldn’t be treated as subhuman. Malcolm and MLK died for that. Things were better now and if any of that mess flared up there would surely be consequences. *insert scoff* Right. And the awareness it takes to scoff at that pile of propaganda used on people of color means the death of a dream, THE dream. It’s the dream that almost lulled me back in when Obama was first elected into office. It’s the same dream that nearly cooed me to sleep when I arrived at Fuller Seminary and saw a memorial for Black lives murdered by police framing the front-steps of Payton Hall. Burying that dream, the belief that we’re sore from race war yet in repair, aches.
Secondly, I don’t want to explain myself while trying to deal and navigate as is. Imagine you’re outside and someone in your community has shot you. It’s no flesh wound. You can feel the strength leaving you as little puddles of blood stamp your path to the road. Holding your wound with one hand you manage to waive down a car with the other. You’re in no condition to drive and you need to get to the ER — fast. Amidst the swirl of confusion, that you’ve been shot and it was a community member that did so, you’re hopeful that this person will help you. You’re counting on it, but they hesitate. The engine is running and the passenger door is ajar ready to receive you except their head cocks to the side and eyebrows wrinkle with query. They ask, “What’s the problem?”
Are you dissertation ready to respond? Would this be just a casual misunderstanding you’re eagerly willing to clear up? Yea me neither.
So I wrestle with fatigue, trauma, grief and much more to write anything, to speak up, because it’s part of the work. Also letting it be known that the efforts you see are costly, is part of the work. While I, and my kind, are just trying to get to the ER and get stitched up. While I want the gushing gun-shot wound to be enough, the bloody footprints, even the fingerprints from the smoking gun to be enough of an explanation — that is a fairytale. We’re fighting centuries of deceit and denial wrapped up in a smiling white jesus that Mary never birthed. Still this jesus exists and he exonerates all violence exacted by whiteness. This holy whiteness does not even need to wear gloves to commit a crime. It hides in plain sight and declares its violence divinely ordered, nothing but a faithful response to “WWjD?” This conjuring will not cease by my, or my kind’s, disgruntled silence. Therefore, I grieve the fairytale of naturally sane justice, and write, speak, to be faithful to my role in testifying to supernaturally divine justice.
ToxicFuller is real. It is dehumanizing to my very being. It gnaws at my knowing of God and tries to replace Him/Her with a silver-bearded white man on the other side of the universe lounging apathetically while my black people are murdered and my brown people are caged at will. It crucifies Jesus afresh and resurrects a vapid christ that smiles endlessly and preaches “just be nice” while Earth is on fire. ToxicFuller tries to teach me that I am made in the image of a racist god and that THAT is love.
Even more disheartening, racial toxicity in white Christian spaces, particularly academia, is the norm. It’s no secret why. Remember this holy whiteness does not hide. This systemic racism within white Christianity is but the great-great-grandchild of a marriage Willie Jennings pointedly states “never should have happened”*. Whiteness was wed to “Christian”. From this, a faith was built to coddle the preferences of white people, fuel their economic ambition and strike vicious, truly life threatening, fear into any person of color that does not obey. It is this “Christian” faith that fuels the racist secular systems of America. It is this faith that defends the morality of America’s most abhorrent evils. It is the deformed theology holding this faith up that ToxicFuller perpetuates. After all Fuller, as does every seminary, trains the church leaders. Indoctrinate them to coerce others into this holy whiteness, to this racism emboldening jesus and it’s set. There stands a perfect system in place to keep this poisonous heretical theology in tact. Take a glance at our political landscape and just see how well this system is working.
So yes, on every societal level this matters.
- for every black person being emotionally, mentally, and spiritually poisoned,
- for every white person still deluded and bound by this holy whiteness,
- for every non-black person of color being poisoned and possibly teased with an abusive promise of quasi-whiteness,
- for America’s underbelly of sins to no longer be protected,
- for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Creator of all things, Emmanuel “God with us” to be more broadly preached in Spirit and truth and people set free
SeminaryWhileBlack declaring ToxicFuller matters.
Only so much can be said in one piece.
Follow me here on Medium & social media for updates on new posts.
Twitter & IG: @bravelywith