Nothing But The Truth: A Word to White America After the “Recent Unpleasantness” in Washington, D.C.
When I was a Junior in High School in Danville, KY, my U.S. History teacher burst into the room shouting and loudly dropped an object on the floor. A few people in the room (who had been prompted by him) shouted back and began running out of the room. The whole class erupted in chaos for the following several seconds and then the teacher said, “What just happened? Write down what just happened.”
We quickly figured out that we all remembered things differently. There was a lot of disagreement on what happened in those chaotic seconds in our classroom. “That’s what the Boston Tea Party was like,” my teacher said, “and yet, the history books make it sound like a settled set of facts. History is determined by who gets to tell it.”
So, about what happened over the weekend in Washington, D.C. near the Lincoln Memorial where a lot of different people had come to make a statement about what they believe. There were those at the Memorial for the Indigenous Peoples March (a march to raise awareness about the oppression of Indigenous people from all over the world). There were those gathered for the March For Life (a yearly anti-abortion march in Washington, D.C. since 1974). There was a group of five men who identified themselves as Black Hebrew Israelites (a religious group rooted in Black Judaism who teach self-empowerment and Black nationalism) who were doing some street teaching/preaching there.
You can watch the videos and read the statements and come to your own conclusions about what happened. It is not my job to tell you what happened. I was not there. But as a person who moves around this world in white skin and as a person who is an ordained minister in a Christian denomination (PCUSA), it is my job to speak a word to my people, white Christian people. So just a few friendly reminders to my white-skinned, Christian siblings as we process what happened on Friday in Washington, DC:
- KNOW THE HISTORY YOU CARRY AND THE WAY YOUR HISTORY HAS IMPACTED OTHERS.
Because white culture has had the power to define what is normal, the power to write history, the power to silence dissenting voices, and the power to be oblivious to the impact of our culture, we have to work extra hard to see ourselves in the story of our country. The most striking parts of the statement Nicholas Sandmann put out is how many times he says things like:
- “I didn’t understand what they were doing.”
- “I had no idea” about what the words of others meant.
- “I am not sure why I was singled out for confrontation.”
- “I never understood why either of the two groups of protesters were engaging with us.”
- “This the first time in my life I have ever encountered any kind of public protest.”
These statements all indicate a disturbing lack of awareness about the history of our country and our country’s present cultural moment. White people have a moral obligation to understand how we carry the violent history and heritage of the genocide of Native Americans and the profound trauma of chattel slavery in us. If you resonate with any of Nicholas’ questions, my prayer is that you will take initiative to learn and to expand your perspective on things like the Doctrine of Discovery, treaties broken by the US government, the wealth generated by the labor of enslaved people, and enslaved people being capital.
- SEEK OUT INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE ABOUT YOUR FAITH TRADITION THAT IS CRITICAL—THAT IS HOW YOUR FAITH IS STRENGTHENED AND WE PROTECT AGAINST MISTAKING THE CHURCH FOR GOD.
Nicholas and his classmates didn’t seem to realize the layers of history that exist between Catholics and Native Americans. When Nicholas criticizes Mr. Phillips for invading his “personal space” it adds insult to injury. Catholics and Presbyterians and many of Christian institutions felt so entitled to the “personal space” of Native people that they took their children, cut their hair, forbid them to speak their language or dance their ceremonial dances, and destroyed their culture. Being aware of how Christians felt entitled to not just space, but spirits, cultures, bodies, families, and homes is a must for white-skinned Americans. Such awareness would prevent us from making such flat-footed claims about our personal space being encroached upon when a Native Elder approaches us with a sacred gesture.
- LEARN HOW TO LISTEN TO DIFFICULT FEELINGS THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE FOR YOU WITHOUT TRYING TO BE LOUDER AND PROUDER.America is a place where different ideas are expressed, including ideas that say white people are the problem or even the devil. Even a cursory reading of American religious history should acquaint you these ideas.Hearing them shouldn’t be a shock.Not understanding why it would appear menacing to be chanting your school’s fight songs loudly with “Make America Great” hats on while encircling five black street preachers should not be possible for young people who are receiving an expensive education from a respected high school. If a school is going to take young people into a public space where contested narratives will be in play, they must be prepared to engage respectfully.
Were the MAGA hats issued by the school or were they something the kids decided to wear on their own? Did any teachers talk to them about how that could be perceived by marginalized groups who would be in Washington, DC for the various marches that weekend? At least let the young men make an informed decision about how they want to identify themselves with full knowledge of the possible reactions that messaging could elicit.
When white people walk into a space where black bodied people and Indigenous people are voicing their pain, their perspectives, we carry with us a violent heritage, whether we know it or not. People just like Omaha Elder Nathan Phillips and Shar Yaqataz Banyamyan have been killed for speaking up or speaking out. They carry with them the generational scars of that violence at the hands of white people. They carry with them the shards of broken trust from their land being stolen and from chattel slavery. That pain is real whether white-skinned people believe it is not.
- WHITE FRAGILITY IS REAL.
White people are famous for our fragility, for our need to be right, for our discomfort with criticism, for our inability to listen and honor perspectives other than our own. And we are famous for trying to normalize our violent ways of dealing with problems. (How else would the bloodiest war in our nation’s history, the Civil War, have been called “the recent unpleasantness” with a straight face in the American South?)
I have noticed how ready people are to take the statement written by Nicholas (with the help of a PR firm) as the true version of what happened and that his statement must mean others are lying. This has been a historical habit in America—white people get to say what the objective facts are, with little or no acknowledgment that other perspectives and experiences have validity. This bias toward the white perspective frames many of our systems of authorization and validation (e.g. our justice system, our education system, etc). Nicholas’ experience is one perspective, and one limited in some troubling ways at that. The full story includes a complex set of power dynamics that must be attended to for us to learn anything from what happened in Washington, D.C. near the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, January 18.
5. BEING A “GOOD PERSON” WHO FINDS OUT YOUR VERY PRESENCE IS A TRIGGER TO SOME PEOPLE DOES NOT MAKE YOU A VICTIM. OPPRESSION IS NOT AN OLYMPIC SPORT.
White people are pretty predictable. We find out we’ve offended someone or done harm, we get defensive, and within 48 hours we have assumed the role of victim in the exchange. It is hard to receive death threats (I have received them before). It is hard to feel unsafe in your neighborhood, your school, and your country (I have felt unsafe in all those spaces). It is hard to be the object of people’s hostility and to feel misunderstood (I have felt the weight of both). So I get why Nicholas and his family are feeling the sting of all of those things. But none of these experiences make Nicholas the victim in what happened on Friday. And none of these experiences make white Christians the victims of American history. While we are all both victim and perpetrator in different gradations in this world, there are some who carry the weight of violence and abuse more acutely than others. Being able to acknowledge that we have not, as white Christians, been the ones to carry the heaviest load of oppression in America is an important practice for our nation’s healing to go deeper.
We all need things to change in America right now. Our freedom is a tangled up, not-yet-realized promise. I am praying that people like me, white-skinned Christians, can channel the moral courage of the one who saves us from ourselves, Jesus the Christ. He can deliver us from our delusions and defensiveness. He can create in us the strength to see ourselves more clearly in the chaos.
375 thoughts on “Nothing But The Truth: A Word to White America After the “Recent Unpleasantness” in Washington, D.C.”
Thank you Marcia. Thoughtful and insightful.
Thank you, Tom, for reaching and commenting.
Thank you for this thoughtful piece. It is very good to see conversations that are less about blame and more about understanding and compassion. Hopefully this is a teaching moment for all involved parties.
I feel that the weight and sincerity of your important message will be stronger if you address some inaccuracies. If people feel that this isn’t a balanced and fair assessment they may choose to not read it, and my hope is that many people will receive your message with an open heart and mind.
You state that the kids surrounded the 5 black preachers and that is actually not how it happened. The 5 preachers were standing in front of some sort of monument with the boys in front of them on the steps (not surrounding them) the 5 preachers also were not benign, they were provoking and hurling racist insults at the boys. I don’t feel that it is fair to omit that.
I do not condone in any way death threats to these kids and it almost sounded as if you felt they somehow deserve it because they are white and Christian and wore MAGA hats. I know if that was my child or my friends child, I would have a hard time reading those sentences.
I have fair skin, though I am Creole with mixed heritage. My aunts and uncles are mulatto, raised in the south. So when I see fair-skinned people, I am aware that they can be any number of mixtures only 1-2 generations ago. I think generalizations about white people are just as damaging as generalizations about any other kind of people. None of us knows the struggles of the other, so we must allow space for all of it, including white people.
Racism and prejudice are always based on fear and ignorance. Your piece does a lot to dissolve the ignorance by providing much-needed context. Again thank you and I hope my critique is taken with an open heart because I am expressing it with love.
Thank you, Jesse, for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate, especially, you sharing your concerns. While I do not feel the purpose of this blog post was to tell what happened, the comment you are referring to is something I saw on the video footage after watching the two hours of video. I saw what you are describing at the beginning slowly become what I saw farther into the footage. I also heard the things the street preachers were saying—and those can be difficult things to hear. Since my blog’s purpose was to speak into the dynamics of white culture i engaged those dynamics most prominently. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and questions. Blessings to you!
Not wanting to be judgemental, I also watched the 2 hour video & felt the same thing. It’s good to read about the history & dynamics of our cultures to learn where we came from & to envision where we need to be headed as well as what our hats, statements & actions mean to others. Sadly, our culture seems to be bypassing learning our history. And we all know that history will repeat…unless we learn from it.
So fortunate to have discovered this thoughtful analysis of events.
I was impressed that in an interview Nick spoke of “homophobic and racist remarks ” being yelled at the students by another group. At least he has an awareness of these issues.
We cannot expect teens from Kentucky to know and understand the culture of DC, but perhaps their mentors could have helped them.
The MAGA hats imply racism to me and I would never suggest anyone wear them. I don’t know why Nick stood staring and smercking at the Native American gentleman (instead of stepping back or allowing him to pass), and I found the school “cheers” to be overly aggressive, and taking off ome’sshirt to lead one is certainly inappropriate.
To the credit of all of the groups, I did not see any physical violence. Perhaps we can use this as a learning experience to encourage tolerance and understanding.
To quote Martin Luther King, ” We may have all come on different ships but we”re on the same boat now.”
Thank you for sharing your reflections, Michael. One of the most effective tools of racism has been turning impacted people against each other. Dr. King’s quote is perhaps one of the biggest challenges we have before us as a country. If everyone adversely impacted by our economic systems and its gross disparity would come together to work for justice, it would be a profound source of transformative energy. Racism has prevented solidarity in some devastating ways.
Excellent analysis Marcia thank you. And, replying to Jesse, she is correct, the boys surrounded the Black Hebrew Israelites, according to several videos. I found it frightening and mob-like. This occurred before Nathan Phillips came on the scene.
Thank you for a very fair, well stated balance of thoughts.
Wow! I’ve not EVER heard anyone describe themselves or family as “mulatto,” an archaic term widely considered derogatory, which is no longer in common use.
Thank you, Ms. Shoop, for your insight. I’d like to print your piece for my English Composition students at the HBCU where I teach.
Thank you, Anita. I would be honored for you to use this for your class. Thank you for reading and engaging here. Blessings in your teaching!
Agreed. I was taken aback by mulato, myself. Fact is that it doesn’t matter if she calls herself mulato or creole or light skinned. The world sees a black woman.
I belive Jesse’s comment was spot on.
Jesse, I think you missed the point of Marcia’s essay. Being “white” isn’t as much about the color of a person’s skin as it is about the perspective they have about skin color and privilege, theirs and others.
And you dont think that “perspective” is affected by the shade of the skin inside which you develop it???
Thank you, thank you, Jesse, for adding your thoughts to this important message. While Tom’s message is one that white American needs to hear and understand, it does not excuse other racists behavior. Two wrongs do not make a right. And to give credence to another hate group, which is exactly what Black Hebrew Israelists are, as an ordain minister is not only irresponsible but dangerous. Yes, those schoolboys do need more “schooling” on the truthful pass of their white ancestors. I am in no way excusing their behavior. However, those “pastors” who were just doing some “street preaching,” not hurting anyone, as the article seems to imply, were spewing hate as well. And if Tom doesn’t believe me, perhaps he needs a little schooling himself. I’ve experienced firsthand what BHI “preaches,” and it isn’t a loving message of unity and acceptance.
As a correction to my statement: I am commenting on Marcia’s article, not Tom’s. Marcia forgive my error.
I’ve noticed multiple commenters now referring to what the Black Israelites we’re doing/saying to the white Catholic school students as racist. I think it’s important to note the difference between racism and prejudice. Prejudice is making negative judgements against someone for having a certain characteristic or belonging to a certain group. Perhaps some of the things that the Black Israelites said were prejudiced. But racism is when someone who holds power by way of their priveleged race, behaves in a prejudiced way, and therefore further cementing and contributing to the vast systemic harms that have been done to marginalized races over time. Only white people can be racist, and a black person being prejudiced against a white person cannot be racist. It is isn’t possible, because they are not the ones who hold the cultural/social/political/instructional power that comes with having white skin.
Thank you, Lauren. This is a very important distinction and one that is an introductory step in any anti-racism training. Racism is about power. And you are right, many commenters are mixing those two concepts and neglecting the very important essential character of racism as about power. Thank you for raising this up. I am grateful you took the time to do that.
Responding back to Lauren. While I respect the right to your opinion, and I understand what you are trying to point out. I honestly do. I have to ultimately disagree. Your separation of prejudice and racism seems to be splitting hairs to me. The definition of racism, according to Oxford Living Dictionaries, is “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.” At no point does this definition quantify that white-skinned people are the only ones capable of such feelings. Changing this definition to fit your own narrative doesn’t make it correct. The ultimate point of my commentary was not to excuse the actions of the Catholic white kids. Racism is clearly an issue here. However, Dr. Mounts’ article is partly titled, “Nothing but the truth…” And I personally feel that, if she chooses to have those words in the title of her blog, she should give the “whole” truth to the story. The Black Hebrew Israelites are racist. I’m sorry, but in my mind they are. Don’t believe me. Look them up. To be fair, while I don’t know that all members of the group feel this way, many have expressed the belief that “Jews are devilish impostors,” and they “openly condemn whites ‘as evil personified,’ deserving only death or salvery.” And given some of the vitriol that I heard them spew during the whole incident, I would not doubt that the members present that day feel the same way. In addition, the Anti-Defamation League has written that the “12 Tribes of Israel’ website, maintained by the Black Hebrew group, promotes black supremacy.” Again, I repeat the “belief that one’s own race is superior.” I should also point out the the BHI were being very “antagonistic” towards not only the white Catholic kids, but towards the Native Americans as well. Watch the video footage all the way through, and you’ll see that the conflict first again, not with the Catholic schoolboys, but when the BHI started shouting terribly racist comments to the Native Americans. However, Dr. Mount fails to even point that out in her blog, and it’s suppose to be “nothing but the truth…” I beg to differ.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And please, call me Marcia (no need to call me Dr. Mount, since that’s not my name anyway). Just to clarify, the point that Lauren makes is not an opinion, it is a technical distinction that any social theorist or person doing anti-racism work will tell you. While the Black Hebrew Israelites may certainly be offensive and say things about white people as a group that show a disturbing prejudice, there opinions are not backed up by the formal laws, systems, or social capital to create disadvantage for white people. It can be hard to understand when we have used those words so loosely in our culture. Part of that blurred distinction, I believe, involves the resistance we have as a culture to seeing the true disadvantage that racism creates for people of color. Thanks, again, for sharing your thoughts.
You just showed us what white fragility looks like. It’s the absolute need to make the issue about yourselves, with the “Not all white people” rebuttal. Of COURSE, it’s not all WP. If it were, our flag would be the confederate flag and things would be very different. The issue is that ALL WHITE PEOPLE certainly DO still benefit from a system created generations ago for them, and todays WP are clueless to that fact.
Marcia, I’m an advocate and activist and can’t thabk you enough for your piece. It is spot on and helps us BlPoC to share insight with WP that don’t see the issues. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Hi Johanna, not sure if your comment was directed at me or not. So, please forgive me if I am mistaken. That said, if it was direct at me, I don’t understand how I am making it all about me and my “white fragility.” I completely understand what the article is talking about, and totally agree with it’s overall message. However, I absolutely refuse to not call a spade a spade. The BHI is a hate group plain and simple. And, while I completely understand their anger at seeing these young men wearing MAGA hats, they were no innocent victims here either. Love is love is love. But hate is hate is hate. And no hate nor bigotry can be resolved nor overcome by more hate. And we certainly cannot have a meaningful discussion to resolve any of these problems without acknowledging all sides of the story. So, in my humble opinion, this article loses some of its credibility by not acknowledging the full story.
Thank you jesse…great points.
Marcia. Thank you for this thoughtful and spot-on analysis of the “event” in
Washington, DC Hopefully
It will cause all White Americans to take a deep, reflective and responsible look at our history and responsibility to own up to the Hurt and suffering our White Priviledge has caused on our Black, Brown, Red, and Yellow-skinned Brothers and Sisters.
Thank you Marcia for a thoughtful and discerning article. I also appreciate your respectful responses to those who read and commented on this post.
I’m thankful to Elder Lyon for sharing her first hand experience and perspective about attending the rally.
I’ve been a chaperone on many field trips for both public and private schools. Protocol, safety, school representation, behavior and apparel are the first and foremost things discussed with students when going on any outing. And I would think especially when attending a rally in another city and state. So it’s perplexing to me that one of largest groups in attendance was under age teen boys some in their catholic school jackets and many appeared to have permission to wear red maga hats.
For many of us those maga hats have extremely negative conitation. And when worn in large numbers can potentially appear to promote hate, propagate violence and represent bigotry.
I agree with many and how this situation could have been avoided:
•Fist and Foremost NO maga hats
•Follow school protocol
•Be clear of potential dangers
•Display respectful behavior
•Be mindful of, be grateful for the experience
•Depart in peace
It really is that straight forward.
Sheri , thank you for your comment . It really IS that straight
Forward ! Where were the chaperones & why would they allow the red hats to be worn to begin with ? And now Trump is thinking of inviting the students to the White House , once again validating why the country is so divided !
If MAGA hats are to be banned then any item of clothing supporting any political candidate or cause needs to be banned as well.
Hi Franf (is that your name, I can’t tell from your comment), can you help me with another political candidate who has a slogan that is as racially charged as President Trump’s slogan? I am trying to think of an example and I am having a hard time.
Thank you for your informed, enlightened view.
Thank you, David, for reading. I am grateful that it was helpful to you.
Your premise brings questions to my mind. Have you ever lived in a community/neighborhood in the USA as a poor minority (this has nothing to do with skin tone)? Have you ever lived in another country as a minority? Have you ever experienced bigotry as a minority person? Do you think the dream of MLK (being judged by our character) should only apply to children of darker colored skin or for all people? These are honest questions. thank you
G, thank you for your questions. I am curious about what you are looking for in them. I’d love to hear more about your thoughts here. I know how much people love to hold up Dr. King’s words about character as a license to be “colorblind.” The full corpus of his work takes us to a very different place. I believe all people must take into account the way power has been used, abused, and “raced” in our country. In terms of different experiences I have had, I have had the experiences to which you refer. At the same time, I do not begin to know the experiences of those who have black and brown bodies. Thanks for reading and commenting. I hope to hear more about your thoughts.
This article is a sad treatment of those kids who found themselves confronted by not just one but two groups of activists. The first group was shouting some really vulgar epithets at them. The second group did actually “invade the space” of those youngsters. Nathan Phillips did single out the one young man and get right in his face staring him down, beating his drum within inches of the young man’s face. There was no attempt to impede Phillips’ movements by any of those youth and Phillips made no attempt to try to move around the young man. None of the youth made any type of threatening gestures or comments towards Phillips or any of his group, although one of Phillips’ group did make some hateful comments to the youth. No one has stood up and said how ugly the comments were by the Black Israelite group or the comments by those of Phillips’ group. All in all, it was the youth that acted with remarkable restraint, more like adults than the actual adults in this situation, yet they are still being vilified for something that was not their fault.
Please read the article again and try to see the bigger point, especially that about white victimhood. Thank you.
Please reread this excellent piece about our lack of cultural understanding. You missed the whole point of what she was eloquently observed about this situation. Look through the heart and eyes of Jesus
This is a very sensitive subject; I was there at the Indigenous People’s March. I am an elder, I am a woman of color, I am a First Nations Ojibwe, I am a woman of Creator’s/Spiritual faith. Several things left out; We had a permit to be there until 5 PM, we were granted this space to have dialect on our issues. Yes, there were the 5 men that had negative statements but reminded all, it was a choice to interact with them, we strongly discouraged the interactions with them. Yes, these men encouraged negativity towards these children and yes, they were children with limited knowledge of history. We had a permit to be there and think the invasion of space was not faulted on our behave. Our elder Nathan seen something that could have turned ugly, he seen children and angry adults so he reverted the crowd by walking and drumming, praying. Just think if the boys would have stepped aside and let him keep drumming upwards to the monument and the kids went about their business to their buses, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. What if Nathan did not intervene and something else turned ugly, what would the headlines read? Its not about color, its about behaviors, not blame. In the end, no one is reading what Nathan is saying since the beginning, he wanted to take away the attention from the 5 men away from the kids. Creator works in remarkable ways. I embrace this reading above and yes we have a long way to go. Just be mindful that Air, Water, Fire and Earth shows no prejudice and we all depend on them to be here in this life. I seen children possibly getting into a dangerous situation while going into another’s Permitted Space. I teach my children to not embrace negativity, walk away. Sorry, but lets look at this as a humanity view. Thank you and I believe this is a conversation that will lead into safety protocols when going on an outing with minors.
Thank you Great Grandmother Mary Lyons. I am grateful for the time you took to share your experience here. Your words are a good reminder of the larger and deeper realities that hold us all. Creator does, indeed, work in remarkable ways. Powerful, mysterious ways. And there is healing happening somehow in this pain. I am sorry for what happened on Friday. And I am grateful for how Creator takes everything we do and begins weaving it into life and wisdom and healing. Blessings to you, Great Grandmother Mary.
This is great. I love this perspective and you are spot on when you say that no one is listening to the most important person in this entire story. The one person who was doing good. The one person who walked with kindness and love. It is a sad state.
Glenn, I totally agree with your comment on this article. WE are not responsible for what our forefathers did. WE didn’t do it, but these young men, no matter whether they have a publicity team or not, were not the enemy, they are being treated like it was all their fault for all their ancestors had maybe done, to anyone else in that time of history.
I do feel very bad for the American Indian and how they were treated, throughout their lives, but… I don’t believe that treating anyone wrong now for what was done to your ancestors many decades ago, is going to make anything right.
People need to remember that since we have the instant cameras, and all that, we are getting a biased view of history, just like we did when our school books were written, or even the Bible was translated, so many times. So we Do NOT have the right to place at a persons feet what anyone’s ancestors did, it isn’t those young mens fault for what happened. Stop trying to make them Guilty by association. The American Indians were wrong, by trying to intimidate the young men, just because they feel they have the right, they are old, the young men are young, they don’t have as many rights as the AI has, that is wrong and mostly what is wrong with our society now. Tolerance is what we need to learn. For all, for whoever, for what happened to their ancestors, or by our ancestors.
Hi Sharon, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts. Can you help me with what you mean my tolerance. I am having a hard time understanding what that means in light of your comments. Thank you, again, for engaging here.
The kids were being disrespectful. You, like them, are not aware that he was praying. And yes, we may not have agreed or perpetrated the Doctrine of Discovery, which states that people like you and me and Nick have the RIGHT to destroy non-white peoples, but we still live under it today, and if we consider ourselves to be part of the solution, we have to understand white priviledge and what it means to the rest of the world. I would suggest putting yourself in the shoes of others, as Jesus would have done, and try working for solutions as this article is stating. The US was founded on the genocide of non-white people. Read up on the Doctrine of Discovery. It’s the truth.
We may not be responsible for what our ancestors may have done, but we need to be aware and sensitive to the consequences of what was done and is still being done by some.
Sorry, Sharon but I have to disagree with you. Those kids were wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. Those hats represent the past, and past mistreatment of minorities quite plainly. Those kids who were wearing those hats don’t get excused from the crimes of their ancestors, when they are wearing such symbols proudly.
Dear Glenn, thank you for reading and commenting. It sounds like you were there. Were you a part of the group from Covington Catholic in DC on Friday? I’d love to hear more about your connection to what happened.
Yes agreed, thank you for writing truthfully!
Your comments exemplify the root of the problem. White victimhood. WWJD?
Glenn, thank you I agree! I believe the author of this article missed completely how beyond their years these youths responded!
Thank you, Vickie, for reading and responding. I am “the author.” My name is Marcia. You and I (and Glenn) see things differently. As the mother of two teenagers, I believe we underestimate the capacity and wisdom of young people if we think the young men from Covington Catholic couldn’t have comported themselves more respectfully. I believe they are capable and I believe they should be given every opportunity to understand the impact of the way they move through the world. My kids and their peers give me great hope for the future because of their ability to understand, connect, and respect differences.
I would just like to point out that the “kids” were also in DC as an activist group.
Glen Thigpen you are absolutely right. Thank you for having the courage to speak the truth.
Glenn, respectfully, I think you should re-read the article. I don’t think you are absorbing the meaning of it.
Wow. Right over your head, Glenn. Cognitive dissonance is a really powerful drug.
Glenn I agree with you completely.
I’m 73, retired Presbyterian pastor, only recently become aware of my white privilege, of Christianity ‘s awful participation in genocide and slavery. I have much regret of what I believed and taught that professed privilege, continued dominance of status quo and exclusion. For my remaining I will attempt to correct that .
Please read for accurate history, “We were Eight Years in Power”, and
“An Indigenous People’s History of the United States. “
Thank you, Ed. It is inspiring to hear your story and your openness to growth and learning. At the church I serve we are committed to dismantling white supremacy culture both within ourselves and in our congregation and community. It is painful work. And it is a healing journey. I am grateful we are on it together!
Thank you sir, what hurts me the most is watching my peoples fear, and anger from the horrors done in the name of Christ, Christ is so unlike most Christian, yet because of the things our ancestors went through, they can’t see Christ, only the horror.
Thank you for reading and commenting, Rhonda. The fear and the pain and the anger are all things I acknowledge with sadness. It is deeply grieving to me as a Christian all the horrible things that have been done in Christ’s name. I pray everyday for a deep healing for our country.
Thank you sir
Very well stated! A fuller perspective than any one group wants to see however it is the perspective all must come to acknowledge. Thank You quite eloquent!
Thank you, Tammy. I am thankful for your engagement here.
i’m doing my best to absorb this article alongside the context to which it refers.
Videos show HS boys and their chaperones standing in a group waiting for the bus. A group of black ADULTS approach them and begin shouting epithets like “incest babies.” A Native American man with a drum comes between the two groups. He moves very close in front of one of the boys and plays his drum. The boy stands perfectly still. He makes no aggressive move toward the older man. There is no evidence that he said anything rude or disrespectful to the man.
These 15 and 16-year-olds may not comprehend the totality of white history in America. The term, “White privilege” Is rather new. What is not new is our understanding of how adults should behave toward others.
I don’t know what the boys were supposed to do other than what they did. They kept their composure. They stayed together. They did a few school cheers to cut through the tension. They never engaged with the black adults or their overtly aggressive language.
Had the boys been instructed in the details of white privilege, how would we have had them behave differently? Perhaps they might have taken on a somewhat more somber demeanor in response to the drum beating. But other than that? To scrutinize the ethnic motives of young teenagers, while holding adults harmless, makes me sad. respectfully, if there’s a message here, let’s make it to adults and to the church.
Yes. While this is one of the most eye opening articles I have read yet, I still struggle with these questions as well…
I think most of us, regardless of colour, religion or nationality, struggle with these questions. It is a good thing because it means we are thinking about them. I think it is less about labels (black, white, red etc.) and more about the mantles we take on as partof oir identity and Marcia has hit the nail on the head with “entitlement” , “victim”, and the attitude that mantle disposes. Thank you Marcia for your clarity.
I agree with you in wanting to see more attention paid to the adults who are missing from the conversation, the chaperones and teachers. I’ve watched many of the videos and the only chaperone I’ve seen was one who told the kids to move back behind a line.
Why did they need to wait for their bus right there after they were approached by the street preachers? When things escalated and they were loosely surrounding the preachers (they did on the preachers video) why did the chaperones not move them all away?
I’ve been to D.C. recently with a large number of teen students. Enough students that we were on three buses. One thing must be understood. There is absolutely no bus parking in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Not in front of it, nor to either side of it. To the right is the Vietnam War Memorial and to the left is another memorial, to which I cannot recall the name. It is a HUGE walking mall. Cars and other vehicles are not allowed anywhere near it. All parking is much further away, several footballs fields away (not feet) on the opposite sides of the memorials. They may have been waiting for their buses at the time, but right there was NOT the line to wait for the bus. What they were doing was either heading towards their buses or simply killing time. It’s confusing and muddles the actual facts when one makes it seem like the students had no choice but to stand there “because they were waiting for their buses.” Not true.
Teens make really bad decisions all the time, that’s why there are adult chaperones. People have asked “what were the students to have done other than what they did?” They ask that as if there were no other choice available to them. There were plenty of options. As soon as the five muslim men started haranguing them, they should have kept moving. It was not a requirement to stand there. As I stated. that’s not where the buses were picking them up. Second, the chaperones should have made them keep going — up the steps to the monument or move them the block or two to where the actual buses were waiting. Engaging in any way, even standing there and watching is a way of becoming involved. Nothing good came from allowing those students to stand there and engage. I am completely mortified that not one adult in the group, took ahold of that young man to pull him away from what he was doing and then herd everyone out of there immediately. That is exactly what would have been done when I was on a trip to D.C. with teens. That would not have been allowed at all. Yet it was in this instance. It’s unfathomable and unacceptable. That school needs to get it together or find actual adults who understand what acceptable behavior is, to chaperone their students.
I am grateful for this article and it’s something all Americans need to read.
Thank you Kelli, that’s what I was thinking.
What might have been different? Maybe they wouldn’t have all been proudly wearing MAGA hats and chanting “build the wall”, smirking, laughing, “tomahawk chopping”, or mocking a prayer. Don’t act like you don’t know what that MAGA hat stands for…….
Thank you, my thoughts as well! He hats and chants are large statements.
I think the article is a good conversation starter. I am not sure anyone involved handled this situation well. Certainly not their chaperones. But I really question whether if these kids are not old enough to understand white privilege, whether they understand the complexities of the Prolife/ProChoice issue or the significance of wearing the MAGA hats. If not, I don’t think they should have been there at all.
Would you be able to link to them chanting build the wall? I’ve heard people say it but I did not see it in the video.
If the boys were not wearing MAGA hats and other such paraphernalia this would not have happened. Whether that makes any of the behavior right or wrong is irrelevant — it is just the reality in 2019. The message of a “pro life” March was utterly lost (on this issue see Michael Gerson’s column in Sunday’s Washington Post).
This piece is the best of the many I have read. The real context is not the longest video but the history of our country as we perceive it. Any white person who is getting defensive just proves the point about white fragility. I am white, I am a Christian and I admit to often being blind to what goes with that.
With regards to the “MAGA” hats. When you wear something political, you are asking for a reaction. Sad to say most reaction that are sought are negative ones that result in unsettling arguments.
Thank you, Roberta.
Thank you, Roberta, for sharing your thoughts and interpretation of some of what happened on Friday. There is certainly a longer and more complicated narrative that the two hour video shows. I think there are several steps that could have been taken to turn down the volume on what happened. I mention some of them in my post. I have a 14 year old and an 18 year old and they and their peers are very well versed on issues of racial identity and trauma and culture. I think it is fair to expect some cultural sensitivity from teenagers. They live in a world where they are navigating these things with much more immediacy than any generation before them. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts. There is much to be sad about, I agree.
This is a wonderfully articulated post, Marcia. Thank you for summing up the facts of the fracas constructively with your voice of reason.
There are SO MANY teachable moments here.
Some CovCath students did engage with the Hebrew Israelites, and unfortunately did say some disturbing things to the adults (“It’s not rape if you enjoy it” …”I am a product of sodomy”…). Reference this video if you wish, at 13:50 and then 3 mins later for those 2 examples. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5yOzeMek_I
live by the Golden Rule
What is white privilege?
“(H)aving greater access to power and resources than people of color [in the same situation] do” #WhitePrivilege
What isn’t white privilege?
Roberta, this is a long answer to your question, but I think it was an escalation and that those boys made poor and uninformed choices at every turn. First, they had no business walking through an Indigenous Peoples March in full Maga regalia, and perhaps any understanding of historical events would have helped them understand why.
Secondly, the preachers never moved from their spot. The boys began to gather, making a choice to stand close by, fully facing the men, standing shoulder to shoulder, physically posturing when the men addressed them, and pulling their phones out to record them. While in full Maga regalia. When the first insults started, the boys should have realized that their nearby presence and inflammatory outfits had triggered a racial and political conflict. Especially with clear statements such as, “When do you think America was great? When we were enslaved.” At that point they would have preferably disengaged and dispersed.
But instead more joined, completely outnumbering the 5 black men with several dozen white bodies, and having no idea of the complex power dynamics that created. The bigger the group, the bolder they got, and they started slinging back insults, running their mouths, laughing, and mocking. Then in a massive display of disrespect and superiority, some kid runs out and starts wildly ripping off his clothes before leading a giant cheer. This showed that their numbers were much larger, and their white voices were much louder and more important. Another not-so-subtle aggression.
Lastly, as things were getting out of control, Nathan came through peacefully drumming and chanting. He was clearly moving through, and all of the other children parted to allow him to go by. Except the one, who for some inexplicable reason thought it was ok to challenge an elder and display his superiority with a smug smile. He was purposefully not moving, and his friends were encouraging him and shouting to Nathan that the boy would not be moved. Meanwhile, the mob is laughing, jumping, dancing, tomahawk chopping, whooping, and hollering. This was a total mockery and not anything that anyone should do in response to an actual Native American performing a sacred song or ritual.
These are all issues that could have been changed and avoided through learning, and having adults say they were totally innocent, victimized, and did everything they could to prevent conflict is just wrong. They should be reflecting on the role they played, in addition to the mistakes made by adults, and how to respond next time they have an opportunity to show cultural competence and respect.
Andria McGill, your assessment of this situation is exactly as I saw it.
It is obvious to me why the photo of the young man has become the reason for the importance of the story. The supercilious grin on his face and his posturing in the face of the man who had a serious purpose for being there is offensive.
Yes, these young men are foolish and immature, as teens often are,
I hope that this experience will prompt a serious examination of the world outside their limited realm, even as I expect it will not.
Thank you Sara! Seeing how quickly people flipped to defending the boys’ actions was disappointing. I felt like I was watching a completely different video than everyone else! Sadly, I don’t think this will lead to too much reflection, because all the adults around them have already given them the message that they were the true victims. I have a very hard time believing that they were clueless about the impact their Maga outfits would have on the many non-white demonstrators they would be sharing space with. In fact, I think they knew full well that it’s incredibly inflammatory, and that they found the conflict funny and entertaining. Partly because they’re teenage boys and partly because of how Trump and his supporters are modeling being inflammatory and confrontational. But if they were truly so sheltered and self-righteous to know the impact of their appearance and behaviors outside of their own community, then the adults raising them and the adults who organized this trip are failing big time.
If parents, churches, and schools were teaching the things outlined in the article then those kids would know how to act (and I’m not focusing on mr smiley – I’m more appalled at the group as a whole acting like fools). That was not composure, that was white people silencing black people. Maybe they didn’t realize it because it’s so ingrained in us to do so.
Its definitely a message to the church, schools, adults – it’s our responsibility to teach our children empathy and history that has not been white-washed so that they know how to step back and be respectful to POC.
I am grateful to read this article. Thank you. It surprises me to read how so many people simply did not see the taunting and juvenile antics exhibited by these high school students. While I believe fully, it’s imperative to remember these are children fundamentally and they behaved as such; without the wisdom of restraint or self knowledge. The direct stare of the young man to the Elder was a challenge and unfortunate at best. But children DO make mistakes and they were baited and indeed bit. So how do we all learn from this? Hopefully how to be better emotional/social problem solvers and to encourage accountability across the board. All the best to all.
Thank you❤….as a Native….growing up Washington and Oregon….alot of hate….especially about the Columbia River….Natives and WHITE people are clashing….over ?
Thank you, Rae, for reading and sharing your thoughts and experience here. I will be praying for the communities you are a part of–for deep healing for all that lives and breathes, humans and fish.
This is the most thoughtful, best written analysis thus far.
Thank you, Marcia for your heart-felt insight. Very thought provoking and interesting reading. One thing , however, stood out to me. Your description of yourself as an ordained Christian minister and the reference to “ your people “….. “ white people”. I am not an ordained minister, but even so , I like to think of every single individual as “ my people”, even though I am Caucasian. And let me remind everyone, that Jesus Christ most certainly would not have had the light skinned Scandinavian look of so many of the archaic holy cards and images that come to mind when we pray to him. Respectfully, Joe.
Did the writer really see the multiple videos? Not one word about the black preachers calling gays “faggots.” Actually, I suspect he, like many white liberals, he is loathe to criticize anti-gay hate when uttered by blacks. There is actually a segment of video that shows the Covington Catholic guys booing the preachers when they say something hateful about gays. Those booing students showed more moral clarity about about the evils of homophobia than the above writer.
Well put. This is something that everyone in America should read.
Beautifully written. Really made me think . Thank you so much.
A very profound piece. It is insightful reading for all people. It, in my humble opinion, should be read by all persons who sincerely want to begin understanding and building relationships between people of color and white persons!
Thank you, Sherrill. I am grateful that you took the time to read and to share your thoughts.
I so agree! I’m glad to have read this from Marcia & realize that I CAN trust my instincts!!!
Thank you, Lynne. I am grateful this post was affirming to you. Blessings in your continued journey with these difficult issues.
So powerful! And thank you!
Thank you, Tiffany.
Marcia, yours is the best overall perspective I have read on this event, and I thank you for writing. The moment any of us care to be willing to examine our hearts, our motives– our involvement is a day our faith and our country become weaker. Keep speaking up.
Thank you, Heidi. Amen–we can’t stop caring, we can’t stop being willing to learn and grow and heal and connect.
I agree. Thank you for writing this.
Thank you, Kate.
I am speachless. I truly thank you for this.
Thank you, Gabriela!
A well balanced piece of writing. Sounds like something your dad would have written. ? Thanks for continuing your family’s fight to equality and mutual understanding.
Thank you, Priscilla. That means so much to me. I am grateful if there is even an echo of my dad’s voice in anything I write. And I am grateful to you for reading and for affirming. Blessings to you and your family.
Amen. Thank you so much for sharing, Marcia.
Thank you, Margo. It is good to hear from you!
So appreciate your insights. Thanks you!
Thank you, Emily. I am grateful you took the time to read and comment.
Amazing insight! Bless you my friend and birthday twin
Thank you, Mae. And blessings to you–from one MMS 3-13 to another!
Peace and love,
From slavery to the inflicting syphilis on black airmen, the white institution of control has a long ways to go towards reconciliation. Understanding the other colors’ perspective is the first step. To quote MLKJr, “I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. That is why right, temporarily defeated, is stronger than evil triumphant.”
Thank you, Davis. I appreciate you sharing your insights here–and Dr. King’s quote. I pray our country can give ourselves more fully to that love and truth.
“inflicting syphilis on black airmen.”
If you are referencing the Tuskegee experiment, it had nothing to do with airmen and no one “inflicted” or infected anyone.
That is simply NOT true. Please, with all due respect, check your facts.
From the CDC:
Q. Were the men purposely infected with the disease?
A. No, the 399 men in the syphilitic group were initially recruited because they already had late latent syphilis. The 201 men in the control group did not have the disease.
I think you need to check YOUR facts.
Thanks for continuing to be in conversation, Tim. Unfortunately I had to remove the link you provided. There have been some people leaving malicious links on this post. In your push back here, I believe you are obscuring something very important about the Tuskegee experiment–the issue of informed consent. While some of the men already had the disease, they were not given treatments that could have cured it. They were also not told when such treatments were available outside the study itself. There was a thorough investigation and reparations were deemed in order. The CDC website provides a narrative account of the study and the problems with the study.
There was no reply button on your response to my reply to Joe Altemus, so I will post it here.
I did not “obscure” anything. I only presented evidence that Mr. Altemus was in error for claiming my statement was “simply NOT true.”
I did not, nor do I now feel, that I had to explain what the experiment was about.
Your claim, however, that “they were not given treatments that could have cured it” is not entirely correct.
When the study began, the only treatment for syphilis was the poorly efficacious arsphenamine compounds, and there was no medical consensus on the usefulness of these drugs in latent syphilis. And debate over whether treatment of latent syphilis did more harm than good continued into the early 1950s, well into the era of penicillin availability.
A possible direct consequence of this experiment is the oft-repeated claim that whites concocted the AIDS virus to kill off blacks. Oddly enough, the Tuskegee Institute was an entirely African-American organization and the experiment was staffed throughout all stages of the study by a number of black healthcare professionals.
As far as informed consent, you are engaging in presentism. At the time,the practice of medicine was paternalistic. Informed consent was not a thing back then. It is unlikely that a board of review in the 1930s would have judged the experiment as unethical, as we would today.
Furthermore, debate whether the treatment of latent syphilis did more harm than good prevailed well into the 1950s.
As bad as the Tuskegee Experiment was, it pales next to the present holocaust—the black genocide by abortion which is accepted by many and ignored by most.
Tim, I am getting more clarity on your perspective. It sounds like you have some strong feelings about abortion. Is that something that comes from your faith tradition?
Thank you for this articulate and important reminder about history, privilege, and power.
Thank you, Shannon.
Thank you so much for this. As a Catholic School educator, this perspective can help us to address the larger issues at hand. One other thing that crosses my mind is not just the historic legacy of racism, but it’s current impact on young POC. The Covington Catholic students were expressing themselves in ways that offered comfort and identity in an uncomfortable situation. Yet when young men of color participate in activities of identity and comfort, they are policed and sometimes killed because other (white and people in power) find them threatening. As one friend in Chicago who marches with Black Lives Matter and hadn’t followed the DC incident said: “wait… so thousands of young people were marching in Washington and they didn’t even fear tear gas?”
Thank you, Molly, you make an excellent point. I think you are naming something intimately connecting to what white supremacy culture does to us. The flip side of that is how we are all supposed to accept that the Covington Catholic cheer was supposed to put us all at ease and relieve tension. And that any claim that it increased tension is invalid. It’s all about who gets to police feelings, too. And why do white people who feel threatened have the backing of our legal system, etc. but people of color who feel threatened by white behavior are “high maintenance” or “angry” or “too much” or “rude”… the list goes on? Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts here, Molly!
I am curious as to why there is no reply button in your replies to me, so I will answer the following here.
Tim, I am getting more clarity on your perspective. It sounds like you have some strong feelings about abortion. Is that something that comes from your faith tradition?
Yes, I was brought up in that faith, but I do not think one must have that tradition to realize that abortion is murder, just as I assume that abolition was reviled by non-believers as well as believers. There are moral absolutes.
Justice, not Peace,
I am not sure about the reply button. I will ask my web designer about that. Thanks for finding a way to respond. I hear that abortion is a moral absolute for you. And I hear that you feel that should be the case for everyone. Since this post was not about abortion, I am curious about how we got here. But I appreciate you being in dialogue anyway. In terms of the relationship between justice and peace, I think without justice we won’t have peace. And when we do truly have peace, we’ll know justice has rolled down like mighty waters to get us there. I do pray for peace in your heart and room for you to extend grace to yourself and to others. This a big world, with lots of stories and lots of pain, and lots of tragedy. You don’t know all the stories that people hold in their bodies around pregnancy loss. Jesus was a good teacher for compassion–I try to follow his lead when people have deep grief and pain that they carry so deeply.
Thanks, again, Tim.
“I hear that abortion is a moral absolute for you. And I hear that you feel that should be the case for everyone.”
Yes, moral absolutes ARE for everyone. That’s pretty much the definition.
” You don’t know all the stories that people hold in their bodies around pregnancy loss.”
And that excuses or rationalizes murder of the unborn how, exactly?
“Jesus was a good teacher for compassion–I try to follow his lead when people have deep grief and pain that they carry so deeply.”
Yes He was, But, when He said, “Let the little children come to me….” I don’t think he was advocating that we accelerate their journey to him.
“Since this post was not about abortion, I am curious about how we got here.”
When an older person approaches a minor who is there protesting against abortion, he made it about abortion.
This is a man who has no credibility. He has lied about his military service. He lied about the incident. He got up in the kid’s face banging a drum. His actions bordered on assault. The next day he continued his attacks against people of real faith at the National Shrine.
The kid should be applauded for his admirable restraint.
I am “curious” how this post got into white privilege and the myth of the Noble Savage. Their suffering is not unique. Most groups suffered. Some more, some less. Some by their own race. Phillips, a purported Omaha Indian should be aware that any abuse of the Omaha by whites pales [yes, I went there] by comparison to their near genocide by other tribes, primarily the Sioux and the Cheyenne who practiced scorched earth tactics.
Other tribes were fodder for neighboring tribes, as well. The Comanche (a Ute word, meaning “enemy”) were particularly notorious, nearly wiping out the Apache. And Mexicans in what is now Texas. Sorry, there are no whites involved to place the blame on in these instances. Incidentally, Texas is now in the USA because Mexicans were terrified of the Comanche and refused to live there without the protection of the dreaded white man.
The Omaha aligned themselves with French and Spanish (white Europeans) to defend against other tribes.Whites also saved many Omaha, as well as other tribes from starvation. This seems to always be eliminated from the narrative.
It’s the same old song: the strong against the weak. Phillips (strong) against the kid (weak). Baby killers against the unborn. The strong never seem to get the blame.
The one sided narrative gets a little tiresome after a while.
Tim, yes, one sided narratives do get tiresome.
Tim, I guess I am having difficulty understanding that if abortion is considered a moral absolute for anti-abortion groups, why are these groups not working to eliminate the source of the problem in most cases: lust? Why are they not preaching loudly in the streets that unwanted pregnancies are caused by unprotected sex? Why are they not passing out acceptable birth control devices? Perhaps condoms? Why are they not marching against pornography, fornication, and adultery? The desire and need for countless abortions could probably be eliminated with this approach. This seems like it would be a much more humane, less contentious method by treating the source of the problem and thereby not needing to punish the victim of his/her indiscretions .
Thank you, Marcia! I am so grateful for your wisdom and for your impact on my thinking … your gift of speaking out and speaking up is powerful!
Thank you, Carol. I, too, am grateful for your wisdom and your openness and your leadership in our denomination.
As always, so insightful and well put! So grateful for you!
Thank you, Shawn. I am grateful for you, too!
Thanks for being a strong spoken Ally my friend! Loyda
Thank you, Loyda. It is an honor to be your friend.
Thank you for writing this piece. I need to gather a group to discuss your essay and the implications.
Thank you, Roy. I am grateful you took the time to read and respond. And let me know how your group discussion goes.
This is an excellent perspective and I’m so happy that you shared this. Thank you for helping us all have a better understanding of the problem with this incident. You are following in your parents footsteps of showing the love of Jesus to others.
Thank you, Mavis, for reading and for sharing your thoughts. It means so much to hear from you and your family today. My parents are good models–I am very grateful.
There is Ignorance about how white supremacy in us and around us shows up and is toxic.
Thank u for stating that I as a white Christian is accountable to God and my brothers and sisters of all colors to say enough is enough. I am angry and will use it to change the systems I exit in.
Accountability is the word and I will live with the uncomfortableness that people have with anger.
Thank you, Liz. Keep up the good work. Accountability is such a profound component of this work. And creating communities that learn how to practice accountability. We all need to get better at that!
Marcia, you have such a talent for being able to see the true issues and articulate them so well. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much, Debra, for taking the time to comment here. I am grateful for your engagement and for your work!
Yes. All of this. Thank you for such a well written, perfectly balanced piece.
Yes. All of this. Thank you for your thoughts and insights. Balanced and informative, an article for all to share.
Thank you, Theresa!
This was exactly what is needed at this moment. You articulated the underlying issues of racialized perspectives and and (in)sensitivities far better than I have in my social media posts. I will be sharing this, especially with a group that I administer for on issues of genocide, which I teach at Washington State University.
May I follow you on social media?
Thank you, Raymond. I am grateful that this post resonated with you. Blessings in your teaching–such an important part of this deep transformative work.
Thank you, hoping more people read your words and take some time to consider their history and how they can start to be a part of true change.
This is an excellent essay with important things that all of us who are white must understand. Thank you.
Thank you for your thoughts. Being a classroom teacher, as I am, in the current political turmoil is incredibly difficult. I struggle with my students’ parroting of hateful thoughts that they hear at home. The incident at the Lincoln Memorial has been incredibly difficult because the young man reminded me so much of students in my own classroom. Your words are a comfort to me.
I teach and see the victim card played several times a week. I teach that just because you are offended it does NOT mean you are right.
This incident in Wash.DC would offer the opportunity for massive growth in all of the areas of concerns mentioned in this well written article. I would use this incident to teach awareness.
The problem is that I try to teach inclusiveness in a society with deep roots in exclusiveness. These young students seldom experience diversity.
I do understand your want for inclusiveness, but you must also understand our people are less than two generations from boarding schools and only 40 years of religious freedom, and the picking up the bits and pieces of our culture, our women are being raped the percentage is growing. 56% of our girls and women are raped, 90% are non Natives, our children are taken now by CFS, at a much higher rate, and have empty certified native foster families, 35 states ignore the Indian child welfare act. the suicide rate is higher among Native people than any other race, everyday is a fight to keep the tiny parcels of our land we have left. I am not sure how many are ready to embrace the euro Americans. tread carefully. thank you.
Thank you, Shae, for your work as a teacher. I am grateful for the love and energy you pour into kids lives everyday. My husband is a high school teacher and I know he would resonate with these thoughts you have shared. Blessings in your work! And I am grateful this post feel supportive to you!
Marcia – thank you for this extremely well-written response to our national conversation. I have taken the liberty of sharing this to my FB page so that others can read it. Your words need to be spread far and wide. (See you at Kanuga in just a few weeks.)
Thank you, Grayce!
Thank you for devoting the time and skill and courage needed to put this event in its fullest context. “Seeing whole” (as Krishnamurti put it) is the gift that makes calm, love, and right action possible. You are a gift to your people.
Thank you, Mark. I am grateful for your comments here.
Should everyone be well versed in the violence of their particular ethnic group’s past? White, Black, Latino, Aboriginal, etc.? How deeply should we teach this? At what age? How explicit?
Hi MW, thanks for your questions. The answer is yes. We all need to know the history of pain and promise that we carry. I think it should start early. My kids have been learning about things like race and justice and healing from the very beginning. What are your thoughts?
Thank you for your call to understanding.
Thank you, Tony.
Thanks, Marcia, for this powerful and profound sharing – I will share it on my FaceBook page. Here’s the seven steps that I developed for those of us classified as white to engage in our journey to naming and claiming and beginning to overcome our captivity: recognition, repentance, resistance, resilience, reparations, reconciliation, and recovery. They are based on the “12 step” approach to addiction and assume that we who are classified as white are all in some level of denial.
Amen, Nibs! I have a deep respect for the way you put this all together. And an even deeper perspective for how you have walked this journey yourself. Thank you for reading and commenting and sharing.
Amazingly eloquent….accurate…and energizing. Amen, and thank you.
Thank you, Loretta.
Thank you Marcia! I think you are spot on. Thoughtfully, disarmingly, written! Warmly, Linda
Thank you, Linda.
Thank you for putting into words what we need to hear.
For me, this is the best analysis yet of the DC event. And an excellent summation of the work for us as white Christians. I’d like to hear how you would specifically weave class into the discussion. I’m printing this and holding onto it for future discussions.
For me, this is the best contextual summation of the work for us as white Christians. I’d like to hear how you would specifically weave class into the discussion. I’m printing this and holding onto it for future discussions.
I am reading “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo and seeing the response to this incident as a perfect teaching moment. Thank you for your kind and clear articulation of what we white people must learn if we indeed want to be a nation of liberty and justice for all.
This is a very thoughtful piece. Thank you for writing it. In thinking about the event and seeing what you’ve highlighted from Nick’s letter, it strikes me that we probably have a lot of people protesting and involved in demonstrations who haven’t had any training and aren’t prepared to be in those situations. I think non-violent training is important but not just focused on protesting alone. It’s important to know and think a lot how public spaces work and to be prepared for confrontations. Interestingly for the boys in this situation, this event occurred outside of their actual march.
I greatly appreciate your perspective. It is only from a position of privilege that we can ignore the past as if genocide, slavery, and systemic oppression never happened. Thank you for making this so clear.
I am encouraged by your gentle instruction your people. Reading from a position of historical oppression and pain, the words echo the benefit of doubt judges give perpetrators of racist acts before rendering a light sentence, even aquittal. Such racist behavior entrenched in the very young requires a more aggressive action to avoid malignancy. What you offer here is a starting place. Thank you, Marcia.
These young people are from mostly affluent homes with parents in postings of powervor control, I would guess from what I read. They have been given to understand that the social position their patents hold makes them special and just a little better than the rest of the people and therefore they are privileged and protected.
This incident and the reaction shows they were immediately told by parents that they had done nothing wrong!!
That only reinforces the belief in their status!
Thank you so much for sharing such a helpful view of the past weekends occurrences in Washington DC. I hear you. You have made some excellent points!
Thoughtful and excellent piece of helpful conversation. I once participated in workshops where we dealt with slang words and phrases. My biggest takeaway was most slang contains more feeling than information. I think that is true of objects like hats and shirts and signs too. We surely must be aware of what we project before we ever utter a word.
Thank you Marcia. Your article was well written and touched on ways that we, as white people must stop and think about what is going on with others. This will take a certain amount of empathy, but I have to believe, that deep down, people can be good
I’m another old, white, male liberal who deeply appreciates how well you have addressed this incident and these issues, Marcia. It is impossible for me to hear this analysis too often. I can keep my words and my behavior in sync with these values. But my body and my instincts seem hard-wired to my sense of privilege. I need this kind of help in my struggle to wake up. Thank you.
Thank you for the thought provoking article; for future student groups coming to our Nations capital on what to expect when different cultures come together. Did the MAGA hat strike the match that created the tension by a boy not even old enough to vote; probably. I personally was mortified that the boys may have been mocking /interrupting the dance ritual of the Indian elder. I think the kid did not know how to act though his classmates thought their school song was a good thing to sing/chant; they should have sat down and watched; and asked questions after the ritual was done and became enlighten by the elder. Unfortunately a missed opportunity unless the school invites the elder to come and share in KY? Maybe even the Black Hebrew Israelites; maybe good can come out of this after all we shall see.
I am 1/2 Mexican decent; but grew up white privilege; I feel history was unjust to the minority’s but feel I am persecuted for the white ansestors sins.
Never would I want someone to feel I am superior to another. We all must walk the walk and learn how to be compassionate to the plight of other who have suffered in the past;
Listen and Learn with ears to hear; and words to bring healing
Beautifully said and honestly stated. Thank you for your forthright truth-telling.
It is you that have decided to live in the past in all your comparisons. The black jewish people began the racial slurs, the native American infringed and became involved and did walk within the personal space of a person who happened to be white. Which too was unacceptable. The response of the media with inaccurate reporting escalated the matter. Each and every one has some enlightened inaccurate approach to what happened in the moment. Quite frankly if you live in the past we will never make a brighter future. The only racists comments that I heard uttered came from the black jewish people to the white kids. What did I miss?
Dennis you missed NOTHING! You are absolutely correct in that we can never move forward if we continue to live in the past. I am an older white woman who has been discriminated against in the business world because of my gender. It happened, I got over it, moved on & created my own success. I grew up very poor so I will not feel guilty about my supposed privilege. I earned my privilege!
My business has been attacked by left wing liberals because I had the nerve to use the term “MAGA”. Why is that not wrong?
The student was targeted because of his hat, his religion, and his skin color. The racism was directed AT him and the fact that his only response was to smile and remain still is to be commended.
I have spent a lot of time in Washington, witnessed many protests and because of my gender and pale complexion I have been afraid on more than one occasion.
Most of the attacks are coming from the so called “inclusive” liberals and it is because they are still angry about the election results.
Extremely well said! I agree. As a bi-racial woman, I am sick of hearing white people claim they have to tolerate this non-sense. It is racism and shouldn’t be excused because it is non-white violence against whites. I Am extremely offended by both the Muslims comments and the actions of the Native American. As someone with native heritage, I’m ashamed of the elder’s actions. Age doesn’t make you wise. That child did not deserve to be treated that way. An eye for an eye was Old Testament. I’ve encountered racism and sexism and you move on. You don’t attack strangers especially MINORS in an attempt to get revenge. Don’t demonize the students because they encountered racism. They didn’t kill Natives. And I’m grown enough not to blame other ethnicities for what happened to my ancestors. The kids were victims. And as children they shouldn’t have to accept Vulgarities screamed at them and understand. That’s not their job to understand vile grown men. As it is, they turned the other cheek and didn’t scream things back. I find this article ludicrous and embarrassing as a bi-racial (partly white) person.
I completely agree with you. I watched the entire 1:46 minute video and was shocked at adult males using derogatory racial slurs against Native Americans, women and Caucasians.
Why were they not called out on this? Why is there a different set of standards about what is appropriate regarding your race/ethnicity? As a Hispanic female I was appalled at over an hours worth of racial slurs such as “cracker” and “Coonye” (leveled at the 2 African American Covington students). Why is it ok to be verbally aggressive with CHILDREN?
I’m sorry but white privilege does not make this behavior correct. Years of white oppression does not make this ok. A reminder that there are oppressed people everywhere and often, oppressed by their own communities.
This essay strikes me as a weak apology for ALL the wrongs inflicted on people of color. Why? None of these children oppressed others that I’m aware of and to be honest, are being singled out based solely on their skin color. Sensitivity needs to go both ways.
As a Hispanic female I could truthfully say there have been many times when I’ve felt oppressed, or discriminated against. This would be no excuse for me to single out young white youth for verbal abuse and obscenities. This essay felt very PC to me, and not at all authentic.
I agree. These are teenagers outside of their communities being insulted and verbally threatened. Your article brings up some good points, but I think is more geared towards adults. I don’t know of any teenage boys who act perfectly. It really bothers me that so many people think it’s okay to threaten and belittle these boys just because they are white, even though it plainly shows in the longer video that some of the students are black. Nobody points that out .
Dennis, I could not agree with you more. As a 70 year old, 40+ year elder in the PC USA, I found this writer’s opinions hateful and not well thought out. / Thomas King
I completely agree with you. I watched the entire 1:46 video and witnessed adult males shouting derogatory comments towards Native Americans, women and Caucasians. When did it become ok to shout insults at CHILDREN?
Regardless of race, gender or ethnicity, the adults behavior in this instance is completely unacceptable, regardless of your views of white privilige and the authors (and some commenters) assertions that these children belong to a privileged group by virtue of their color and ability to go to a private school.
Did anyone NOT hear the Black Israelites calling the youths “crackers” and (aimed at the 2 African American students) “Coonye”.
As a Latina, I am sick to death of individuals like the author apologizing for the sins of the history of the entire white race. People worldwide are oppressed, and continue to be so, often by members of their own communities.
To expect adolescents such as these to have awareness that their very presence “triggers “ a historical memory of oppression is ridiculous. Please, I have often, as a female and Latina, felt discriminated and oppressed at various times in my life by various groups, men, Caucasians, African Americans, people with power. It never occurred to me to blame an entire group of peoples for the transgressions of an individual.
This entire article is pandering to the commonplace, politically correct environment that has everyone “triggered”. Completely disagree with the author.
Teri I agree with you and totally disagree with this author for all the reasons you stated. The man who instigated this was at least 50 years older but chose to target a group of young people and it’s all ok with these people because of the color of his skin without taking into account the maturity of a group of kids who had not even finished high school and had no experience with an adult acting with malice towards them. The author took this opportunity and used these children for more “white shaming” for events that happened hundreds of years ago. We cannot change history.
If you missed something, I seem to have missed the same thing.
Dear Lord & Heavenly Father, I know we cannot change people overnight with their love for all races & people….but please sir will you try & understand? Or go back & read this lovely article that makes so much sense. Please.
I do not know who those black Isrealites were but they certainly do not represent those of Jewish faith…I would not be surprised if this is deliberate to make the Jewish religion and its people look bad…
Dennis, I agree with you…going over and over the past can not truly change today. We have the option to do what is right, what is honest and caring for the people of this country. We have the option to vote out corruption and rid our country of dishonest and corrupt leaders by voting them out. And, the group called “black jewish” people is some kind of ploy. It is being used to turn people against the real Jewish people!!! This is extremely offensive and troubling. Bottom line, we must all vote for what is in the best interest of our country and the correct leaders. No one has the power to change yesterday, but we can change tomorrow…Namaste’
Dennis, I think you missed the whole essay (as did a bunch of people who commented after you). You would have a hard time convincing me you read the whole thing, let alone thought about it at all. Because Marcia outlines five points, and you immediately break number three and don’t even try to respond in any way to the points Marcia made.
Next time read and think. And if you’re inclined to post a reply (any of you who jumped on the bandwagon of Dennis’s comment), respond to the points Marcia made and explain why they’re wrong. Saying they’re wrong does not make them so (and makes you look lazy and ignorant).
It is very important for people to realize that the black group in DC is called Black Hebrew Israelites. They are not affiliated with Judaism; on the contrary they feel that we Jews are not valid. I’m not making any value judgements here. I just want people to realize this group is not a group of black Jews (yes there are black Jews but that’s not who we are talking about here). This is Wikipedia on Black Hebrew Israelites. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hebrew_Israelites
Thank you for sharing from your heart. Your words are helpful and appreciated.
Regarding point three, why are we surprised that a group of young people tried to be louder than people they disagree with? This is the example they have been seeing for a few years now with protests to stop speech and deplatforming, they most likely thought they were doing the right thing.
Thank you for your very profound and well-written piece. Truly insightful.
Thank you for your very profound and well-written piece.
I was discouraged and angered at the way the students mocked the native American, right in his face. Their actions were rudeness itself. They are not the victims here, in my opinion.
I loved it. Dang i wish i could write such a meaningful insightful article. Great Read, Thank you Marcia. Following now @mmountshoop .
I am with you, sister.
An excellent article , so glad you wrote it and I thank my friend on Facebook for sharing. So factual, honest and revealing. As a white skinned person in Australia we have many similarities.
Keep preaching and commenting – we need this sanity more than ever in these times. Regards, Jenny
Wonder if the kid, his supporters, his school administrators or the Catholic hierarchy in Covington got to read this?
Can anyone share it?
As a half-white, half-Chinese American, female person, I often have to check what perspective I am using when observing and participating in situations with both POC and ‘all-white’ persons. Also other’s perceptions of my identity certainly impact how other’s interact with me, Thank you for adding your Christian, white, female voice to this important public discussion.
Thoughts abound, and one thing should be added, that the forefathers of this USA need again to be recognized that the inspiration of the writing of the constitution was inspired by Chief Canasatego an Iroquois Indian. This is not taught in class. Ben Franklin and Chief Canasatego, the Six Nations( my grandma full blood Mohawk) brought together the colonies against the Crown, and that’s what formed America. History needs to be taught the right way..God Bless.
Wow! Thank you.
Tooker, Elisabeth. “The United States Constitution and the Iroquois League” Ethnohistory, 35 (1988): 305-336.
Thanks, Tim, for pointing toward the scholarly debate on this issue. Dr. Tooker certainly provided important insights into Iroquois culture during her academic career. And it is clear as we sift through the history of our nation, that there are narratives lost and obscured. I learned a lot in studying Native American cultures and spiritualities in graduate school about the complexity of studying cultures that were so profoundly violated in the process of America coming of age. Those attempted erasures leave a lot of gaps in our knowledge and in our collective capacity to reconstruct what happened and who was impactful in what happened.
Thank you so much for this Marcia! It enabled me to marry words to the powerful emotions I have been struggling with. Sharing this with my friends!
Thank you for your prophetic word. So much of the commentary from white people, and seemingly the reaction from white people on the ground has been, “How dare they?” ‘They’ dare because Native Americans and African Americans too are beings in this universe. And God is also listening to their cries. That we white people would too.
Thank you so very much, Marcia, for this wise, insightful and non-reactive essay. You are adding a great deal to my understanding of what happened to me on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I so appreciate the gift you are giving us with this essay.
Thank you for this. It helped me sort out a lot of stuff and name it. I appreciate your voice. You are annointed for such a time as this. Continued blessings and may God’s spirit continue to give you courage to speak the truth and plant seeds of racial reconciliation.
Excellent, Marcia. I’m going to share your piece on my Facebook page. This is where the conversation needs to turn to. Thank you! Blessings – Susie
Thoughtful and useful article. Thank you. This passage is especially clear: “I have noticed how ready people are to take the statement written by Nicholas (with the help of a PR firm) as the true version of what happened and that his statement must mean others are lying. This has been a historical habit in America—white people get to say what the objective facts are, with little or no acknowledgment that other perspectives and experiences have validity.”
Thoughtful incite; thank you!
Thank you for articulating what I’ve been trying to put into words.
I find it very difficult to believe that anyone, white, black or Native American in this day and age not to know the history of the white genocide of Native Americans and the enslavement of African people and the denial of their rights and their subjugation following the abolition of slavery. It must take enormous effort to remain ignorant.
What a great article! It should be required reading at Covington and any other group that participated in that disgusting display.
I had the same thought about the amount of merchandise that these kids were wearing. Did they hand it out on the bus? Was there a stand nearby? Where were the Chaperones? I’ve watched the video multiple times and that boy was clearly suppressing laughter. His companions didn’t hold back.
The PR firm can say whatever they’re paid by their clients to say. It is belied by the laughing, the “chop” motions, and the chants of so many in that group.
Thank you for this thoughtful essay. You are another reason I’m proud to be part of PCUSA.
Thank you for this thoughtful, articulate expression. I have been struggling with my own response to the various reports on this incident and with the responses of many of my friends. You have offered some vital perspectives that I hope will be widely read, reflected upon and discussed. (I am a retired United Methodist pastor.)
This is, by far, the best-written, most cogent and fair appraisal of what occurred. Bless you for writing it.
I hear your father in these words, and that’s a wonderful thing. You put words to my personal thoughts. Thank you for the thoughtful writing.
Thank you for so eloquently putting into words that which I could not. You are a truly enlightened woman of faith!
This powerful piece has the utmost relevance for all white people in the United States, including people like me, a white Jew.
Very insightful, thank you for sharing.
Thank you for your words. A significant point that seems overlooked is this: Parents, school, clergy, diocese sent a group of white teen aged boys to DC to participate in an anti-abortion rally, a rally that engenders counter-protests. Abortion is a fiery political issue; abortion is an issue decided by a woman and her doctor. There’s no possible reason for teen aged boys to be involved successfully in such a venue. Sending teens into such an arena seems bad parenting and bad educating; an unwise choice by adults. Consequences occurred as a result of this bad decision; Native Americans had no part in this decision. Parents, school, clergy, diocese should suffer the consequences. It’s folly to put teens in harms way to advance adults political opinions in a controversial venue.
Well said!! You do your father credit. I heard him speak of understanding and caring many times. Glad to see you can express it so well.
EXCELLENT!!!!! This is the most accurate description I have ever read of the history about racism. Thank you so much for writing such a perfect article. I am a canadian 60’s scoop survivor learning my culture. I am beginning to love my people for the first time in my life. I am not ashamed anymore to be from such a peaceful beautiful race that has forever been shamed and ridiculed. I never once believed that Nathan Philips was walking over to those boys to cause any kind of drama. I felt it through his drumming he was trying to bring calmness in the middle of an ugly situation. Thanks again Marcia for describing it the way it should of been described long ago.
You have expressed so well the issues we must consider. explore, and take to heart. Thank you for covering it so well and completely. It is so important for us to hold back in the presence of another culture and to learn instead of trying to put ourselves forward.
Thank you very much for your well thought out instruction and comments. My heart breaks seeing white privilege and abuse not only being supported but being rewarded. Not the message a mother of two 20 something sons wants to believe is prevalent. You gave me peace and hope
Thank you!!! You get it! And I’m sure many others do to but are scared to admit it! ❤️
I know I’m not oppressed. I’ve been most undeservedly blessed. I’m just wondering how many generations should feel this guilt for something that they did not do and would not condone, simply because they were born with white skin, as the oppressors were? Will my grandchildren’s, grandchildren’s grandchildren need to feel this guilt?
I don’t think guilt is the right word for what is needed. Until most whites stop reaping the benefits of the past , we need to be aware of how we gained those benefits. I don’t speak lightly – I have lived as a minority white in an Asian country. Though I experience some discrimination and racism, I also still benefit from white history. My Asian children experienced the worst racism during their year in high school in the US. Just be aware – it changes your perspective and therefore your interaction with all other people.
As a person of color, I say this piece is profound and appreciated. Your enlightened insight speaks to all people. It bridges the gap. Thank you! I kinda wish the president would read this.
Research the American Indian Movement and it’s members then come back and tell me you agree with Mr. Phillips. You talk about viewing it from our our (Native) perspective, but I’m here to tell you that not all of us agree with Phillips. There are many of us that see him for what he is and that is a troublemaker who overstepped his bounds and is now playing the victim and milking it for all it’s worth.
To the young gentleman, Nick, I know you will probably never see this but on the small chance you do, I want to say hold your head up and I hope you can move past this.
I appreciate your words.
Thank you, sister.
I so appreciated this much-needed statement. I appreciate the firm truth of what you say here and the kind tone in which you insist that these realities be faced.
Excellent . I lived in the south (AK, TN,KY FL) until 1990. I lived in a black neighborhood in St. Petersburg. It was wonderful, great neighbors until 1987 crack cocaine hit the streets. I still mainly identify with black and brown people. Its hard for me seeing how awful white southerners have become. I never saw such horrible white behavior , never was around those who still supported civilwar. Its really hard to grasp how horrible white behavior had become. Remember I’m now outside looking at USA on news. White is synomous with bad behavior .
A very thoughtful piece about truth re: The Sandmann. HE never said anything a PR firm wrote all his thoughts and words. The school (which BTW has lots of strikes against them) and his parents did NOT want themselves to be seen as the bigoted etc. “Mentors” they are. So when you read this article keep this in mind.
This. This is the kind of profound perspective that is painfully absent in society today. Why are we where we are? How did we get here? The fundamental questions necessary, many times painfully (certainly prayerfully), to gain clarity and understanding. Why? So we can truly advance as a civilization to a better tomorrow and not merely continue to shout down the consenting viewpoint.
Just beautiful said. This is absolutely the best piece of writing I have seen since this ridiculous incident occurred. Your insight and perspective are incredibly poignant given the subject. I wish the whole world could see this incident through your eye.
Thank you for your thoughtful words. We white Christians have failed and continue failing to have empathy for our non-white brothers and sisters.
As your senior Government teacher at DHS you make me so proud. This is the best commentary of this incident that I have read.
I appreciate your nuanced and well-articulated take on the events of the other day. What you’ve said about whose story gets to be the “official” story when several stories are being played out simultaneously resonated deeply with me, as did several other comments on the issue. For context, I feel that I need to say that I am an American black female who has taught American History in middle school to the marginalized populations referenced here. It reached me on several levels!
I have to say though, that I didn’t think it was okay for those grown men, whether they’d been black or otherwise, to engage with anyone the way they did that day. It’s indefensible behavior that, while possibly cathartic in the moment, does more damage over the long term.
Yes, we’ve carried horrors and anguish and pain and the effects of oppression for what seems like forever in this country.
And our cries have often gone unheeded from then until now when we have sought justice and mercy. We have to keep arguing that Black lives *do* matter, over and over again.
But, like the U2 song points out, we cannot become the monster in an attempt to keep the monster from breaking us.
That is my only objection, though. You’ve done a very good job of addressing a key part of a complex issue! Thank you.
Well said. The privileged white boys in the MAGA hats showed themselves to be arrogant and it is not surprising that now THEY claim they are the victims. They just don’t get it. It’s not their paradigm. They will continue to feel persecuted when they have no clue of true persecution like the native Americans. I have been to basketball games with Cov Cath students and fans screaming insults to the other teams; I know the history of the Native Americans and German bishops saluting Hitler (Make Germany Great Again) and his policies. These boys don’t understand “white supremacy” because it is part of the core of who they are. They belong to the “one true Church” it is disgusting and I hope they get expelled.
perfect. exquisite. right on. superb. thank you.
Thank you so much for your wisdom and wise words. This should be required reading at schools and on the front page of the news. May peace prevail on earth – and in our hearts and minds.
I will agree that pretty much everyone needs to learn more about the complexities of our national history, and that we still have anti work together to address historic grievances and move forward as a nation. However, I have a great disagreement that we are emblems of an entire race, belief system, or set of genitalia. I am only responsible and can only reasonably be held responsible for my own actions. I hold no responsibility for what other people with similar degrees of melanin did generations ago. Others make choices to be triggered or to otherwise act, our responses and our actions are what we select them to be. We are not passive recipients of fate or controlled by the long-ago past.
Man after seeing all of these comments it’s crazy how many of you guys are opened minded on how we feel thank you so much!!!! We need people like you all over america seriously!!!
Finally. Thank you for making sense of this.
I agree with you and I think this is one of the more thoughtful pieces on this situation that I have read. I will point out for the record that though I have lived in the South all my life, I have never heard anyone call the Civil War “the recent unpleasantness.” The Civil War was devastating and cruel for Sotherners with whole families and properties wiped out. And then, the shame. So, I haven’t ever heard a Southerner refer to the war in this kind of flip way. Maybe in books and movies but not by real people. But otherwise, thank you for your words and insights. I admit, I had not thought of all these things.
Thank you, Marcia, for your thought-provoking article and reminders for us. I also had questions about the students wearing MAGA caps. Their Covington Catholic Diocese seemed to have a policy prohibiting participation in political events; yet, before it was removed, the Trip to D.C. photo and information page on the Covington Catholic High School website, also showed several students wearing MAGA caps. The unfolding consequences of this incident are offering teachable moments for us all.
Thank you for putting into words what was rolling around in my heart. As a white woman who is an educator who has chosen to spend her life working with students of need, your writing about this event was spot on. Thank you!
This is absolutely ridiculous piece. Those preachers that you portray as victims of these white privilege kids were spewing racist, offensive filth at these HIGH SCHOOLERS. The viral video shows them calling them, “crackers” and them telling a black student that his class mates are going to harvest his organs. White privilege is a myth, if I were to voice my opinion, white people, since this is all about race now, are discriminated against more, penalized more, all because of the color of their skin. It’s ridiculous to be blamed for history that was out of ones control because of ones skin.
I find this all a bunch of political correct nonsense. The Covington Catholic School students aren’t experiencing “White Privilege” right now. They can’t even go to school.
Many fell for the fake news media narrative, they were are all wrong and shouldn’t have pre-judged what did not know as fact.
The Covington Catholic High School students were there for a Pro-Life rally earlier in the day and were waiting for a bus.
The Native American were there for The Indigenous People’s March and approached the Catholic students not the other way around as portrayed.
The Black Hebrew Israelites come along and started taunting every group out there shouting vulgarities, referring to the white students as “Crackers” and calling the Native Americans “Uncle Tomahawks,” and “$5 Indians.”
Even though, the Black Hebrew Israelites were taunting both groups, the Native Americans approached the Covington Catholic High School students to taunt them, specifically because they are a group of fanatical activists which seek maximum publicity any way they can get it.
And frankly taunting the “Evil Privileged White Guys” brings more publicity than confronting the “Brothers.”. As for those who actually think there is such a thing as “White Privilege” you are delusional, because many of us know it to be just another media false narrative.
Many of us have been given nothing, worked our asses off for everything we have and given generously to those who do not have, in addition to paying our fair share of taxes. Yet, we are the biggest targets out there to abuse. But, we will not become victims. We move on and wash are hands of those who are just plain ignorant.
Nick Sandmann did not move towards the Native Americans he just stood there, smiled while in prayer. It was Native American Nathan Phillips who walked up into the face of Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann, beating a drum.
The Native American activist Nathan Phillips has done this sort of intimidation on other occasions. In 2015 Nathan Phillips claimed he was racially attacked by EMU students and in 2018 Nathan Phillips was protesting on the Dakota pipeline.
Below is the statement from Covington Catholic High School student Nick Sandmann:
“When we arrived, we noticed four African American protestors who were also on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I am not sure what they were protesting, and I did not interact with them. I did hear them direct derogatory insults at our school group.
Because we were being loudly attacked in public, a student in our group asked one of our teacher chaperones to begin our school spirit chants I did not witness or hear any students chant “build that wall” or anything hateful or racist at that time. Assertions to the contrary are simply false.
After a few minutes of chanting, the Native American protestors, whom I hadn’t previously notices, approached our group. The Native American protestors had drums and were accompanied by at least one person with a camera.
I believed that remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to defuse the situation. … I said a silent prayer that the situation would not get out of hand.
I was not intentionally making faces at the protestor. I did smile at one point because I wanted him to know that I was not going to become angry. I am a faithful Christian and practicing Catholic, and I always try to live up to the ideals my faith teaches me — to remain respectful of others, and to take no action that would lead to conflict or violence.
I am being called every name in the book, including a racist.
I have received physical and death threats via social media, as well as hateful insults.”
From the video coverage now available it is conclusive the Covington Catholic High School students were the one’s being harassed and are now being abused. Beyond the absurdity of believing the High School students were the instigators, racist and bigots, the students were really just kids, whereas both the Black Israelites and the Native Americans were adults. Yet it was the students which displayed the good Christian values of civility, respect, dignity, courage, and compassion in praying for those who meant to use them for their own gain.
White privilege is so ingrained in our very being that we are unaware of it. We need to hear more of this in a way that allows us to overcome the defensiveness we automatically raise. Thank you for your sensitive words. Unfortunately, those who need to hear them, will/can not.
White privilege is so ingrained in our very being that we are unaware of it. We need to hear more of this in a way that allows us to overcome the defensiveness we automatically raise. Thank you for your sensitive words. Unfortunately, those who need to hear them, will/can not.
I have not commented before.
Thank you for writing this. I hope the Covington administrators, teachers and parents read this and share it with the children who they are charged with raising and educating.
I think this article makes so many great points about the history of power and oppression in America. I feel like it neglects one important power differential that was also at play in this story–the power differential between adult and child. Expecting kids to REALLY understand American history and their place in it in a moment like this is a tall order. Even if they understand it conceptually, applying it to a real life situation, in a tense moment, would be nearly impossible for the average self-centered teen (and when I say self-centered, I don’t mean that as an insult–just a statement of fact). In many ways, these boys were just responding to the strangeness of having one group of adult men yell at them and having another group get very, very close to them. I feel like people in our culture tend to glorify youth to the point that they forget that teenagers are still children. That aside, I think the article had a lot of important reminders for adults and teens who are forming their public and private opinions on this incident. (I’m a high school teacher.)
thank you for stating the obvious, that the power differential here makes all the difference. And the black Hebrew Israelites called those kids every name in the book.
Agreed. We can teach our youth right from wrong and the history of power and oppression, but we must remember that at 16 and 17 years old, their collective “life experience” is pretty limited. When put in a situation such as Friday’s that go so ugly, how did any of us expect them to react? How would any of us reacted if we were in their shoes at the same age? Hindsight is 20/20 and Sandmann even said in his interview on the Today show that he wished he would have walked away. Due to this experience, if he’s ever in a situation where walking away is the best option, perhaps he will because of what he’s learned.
WOW! As an 8th grade teacher, I am totally impacted by what you wrote here. As a Mexican, I am crying tears that someone gets it and can put it into words. So much relevant history of our country from all cultures has been left out and you have nudged people to read more about it with your words.Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Very well written. Thank you. I have shared this and will share it again. The most disturbing element of this whole incident to me is that these teens were chaperoned in D.C., if you are a chaperone for a group of teens you are “responsible’ for their actions.
So well thought and spoken. You are so very right on. Thank you for this!
Well written , informative, and something we all need to read. I’ll be sharing it widely.
And incidentally, your father was a true mentor and friend when I served in eastern Kentucky back in the 80’s. He encouraged me in ways that
you are encouraging others. Thanks.
Marcia you are a warrior for truth! Thank you for articulating white fragility so we can own it and further this difficult & necessary conversation.
Thank you for the context Marcia. It’s such an example of the complexity of our current interactions and the background and baggage so many unknowingly bring to this type of thing both as paticipants and observers.
Thank you so much for saying so eloquently the thoughts I could not articulate.
Dear Marcia, I greatly appreciate the clarity of your perspective on this issue that confronts us as people; concerning the confrontation on the Lincoln Memorial. There are so many layers of historical trauma that are being brought into expression in these times that face us as a Nation. We, as people of belief, are being called into greater leadership and witnessing to healing, restoration, challenge, and the promotion of principles that go beyond fear and intimidation. As a Roman Catholic Franciscan Priest, I pray for the “Instrument of Peace” that can bring us to a place of our commonality of humanity. Our times have brought us into a distortion of unity; our hope calls us to the vision of “One People under God.” Thank you for your thoughts that give me hope and courage. Father Larry Gosselin, O.F.M.
Marcia, with all due respect I wanted to know how you as a white woman have any authority to tell other people about the collective feelings and thoughts of all black and indigenous people? Did they democratically appoint you to explain their thoughts and feelings? If not, then were you using your own white privilege to assume that you know how these minority groups feel and think? Also, if white people carry the sins of their ancestors, why wouldn’t this also apply to indigenous people whose ancestors of the distant past committed acts of human sacrifice, cannibalism, and tribal warfare? Maybe humanity itself carries one giant collective sin that you may be familiar with: ORIGINAL SIN. As a fellow Christian, surely you must believe that Christ died for all of our sins. These sins are forgiven for those who believe. Why then attribute collective sins committed in the past by people who share the same melatnonin levels to you and me? Shame can only go so far for people to change their behavior (positive punishment). A more effective solution would be to inspire people to respect each other regardless of what identity group they associate with (positive reinforcement). We will always have disagreements with each other, but showing respect for them as an individual and critically analyzing arguments presented on issues will allow us solve problems in the future.
Louis, I agree with you!
Thank you for your thoughtful commentary on such a controversial event in DC. With our own ingrained prejudices, it is difficult to be objective in our reactions. My desire is for those personally affected by this to honestly own their participation in the event and learn and grow from it.
Yes, a better understanding of history is a good idea; including that most ‘whites’ fled oppression in Europe where country of origin and religion were reasons to discriminate. Not all ‘whites’ are ‘privileged’ and not all in other ethnicities are ‘under-privileged’ That said, no history allows you to disrespect strangers – especially adults; yelling slurs at students unprovoked is endangering their welfare. No amount of education can prevent foolish acts of anger. Also, Mr. Phillips and his band of men attempted to disrupt a Mass at the DC Basilica- again, nothing can make that acceptable behavior. This event had nothing to do with education of the students and everything to do with angry adults attacking minors.
Thank you kindly for all the exceptional words you delivered. You actually gave me some type of peace within my heart. Much of America needs healing and our generations of children be taught of different cultures there is so much work to be done. I am of native American decent but still question by my own fellow Americans. ” you people still exist” this is where history and culture is failing in our schools
He is 16 years old wereyou as self aware at 16 as you expect him to be? If so good for you. Are you a parent? If so, I hope your children are self aware as you expect I’m to be. God knows mine are t and I’ve tried to raise them as compassionate, considerate self aware human beings but they are still (god forbid Catholic) young adults. The make mistakes, they do stupid stuff (as did I) but I strive every day to do better. I hope this young man will do so as well- without being vilified by people who have years more experience than he does. I know I wasn’t perfect at 16 and I’m pretty sure either were of you.
Truth and wisdom shared so eloquently in these days of “unpleasantness.” I will revisit your generous gift again and again in my pain and as I continue to serve in ministry. Thank you …
Dear Ms Shoop, or should I say Reverend Shoop? Thank you for such a clear, concise, sympathetic, expression of White Privilege and its consequences. Your article should be required reading at Covington Catholic High. Thank you again. Keith
Thank you for letting GOD use you and not being ashamed to share….GOD BLESS!
Thanks, Marcia. Sandman is the face of this, but the real problem is broader and deeper. His Catholic school, church, family, and community failed him by not helping him and his classmates to understand their white privilege. So I don’t think he is the one who should be hung out to dry. I can’t believe the teachers and chaperones on the trip didn’t intervene and attempt to disengage the situation.
It also reminds me of peer pressure and the power of the group at that age. Some of the students might not have ordinarily acted that way, but under group pressure they did.
Perhaps Sandmann was out of his depth and didn’t know how to handle the situation. I wish his family had encouraged him to apologize rather than hire a PR firm.
How in the world is Black Muslims calling people “faggots” considered teaching now? You lost me at the top when your bias is showing.
Are you having reading comprehension issues, or is this just another example of yet another fragile old white man using projection to diffuse responsibility? Asking for a friend. She didn’t defend the black nationalists, and in fact called them what they were- nationalists. Was it also “teaching” when the white boys cat called and spewed vulgarities at girls even before the confrontation with Nathan?
As an African American women, I truly appreciate the sensitivity, eloquence, and plain good sense of this essay.
However, as a woman and a feminist, I wish Marcia had addressed the inherently problematic choice of the Covington School, to send young men attending their school, to demonstrate against a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body. This activity is as offensive as anything else those young people did that day.
Amen and amen!! One of the most well-written pieces I’ve read on this sad event recently that also tackles white privilege in action, and explains it in a nonconfrontational, easy to digest way.
Of course, there will still be fellow white folks who read this and just cannot resist knee-jerking. They’ll drop a typical defensive, angry “victim” response here. We can all see that the folks pushing back on this message are the ones who need it the most; they just haven’t realized it yet. Keep sharing your message and speaking the truth. This is the level of self-examination any legit Christ-like person should be humbly & gladly willing to do.
Thank you so much for this. Thank you for breaking down white, Christian, cis/het culture & privilege in a way that will (hopefully) make at least a few people think. People like you restore my hope in humanity. In solidarity with you. Sharing.
Thank you Marcia for a wonderful perspective from the heart and the many lessons you have learned from one of the most important people in my life, your father. Dr. Mount was my ethics professor, my tennis coach, performed my wedding vows and, although he may not wish to take credit for who i am, made a profound impact on my life. Your thoughts, words and approach are great reminders to me of lessons learned from him. i was his student in the ’60’s. Times were challenging and his compassion for all, from all walks of life, provided a road map for young people who looked and acted very differently to follow toward a common good. I can only lament the fact that it is clear that the students involved in this incident did not evidence having received these same lessons. Certainly all blame does not lay with them, but i wish they and those that teach and raise them would see how their actions in fact did play a role. This would make it an educational opportunity for them to learn and grow. Your father did that many times and i am forever grateful.
I appreciate your thoughtful perspective on being white in the USA and the frightful baggage that entails. However, I feel your writing offers more historical, anthropological, and humanistic generalities rather than an actual “processing” of the physical events. I was not there but I have watched the “video” posted by the “Isrealites” up to around the time Mr. Phillips makes his entry into the group of boys.
I remember seeing some of the young men come close to the street preachers and the street preachers warning them back. Prior to this moment the street preachers had been engaging the boys in insults and taunts and a few of the boys had slowly closed the gap between the two groups but did not “surround” them.
I feel it is unfair to the boys to liken their interactions with other participants to the hienous fact of genocide, theft of land, slavery, or other real evils.
I think it is a telling omission that in your description of the symbolic or representational roles of various players you do not relate that Mr. Phillips arrives on the scene from another location and chooses to merge into the group of young men while drumming. This fact must be considered in order to comprehend the whole picture. My initial reaction was based on my erroneous belief that the boys had surrounded the older man. The video showed me that had not happened.
I think it is unfair to liken the young man’s lack of understanding with the general obtuseness of a dominant and violent cultural, racial, or socioeconomic group.
As to why anyone would bring the young men to the event, the reasons seem obvious especially as you point out a lack of experience many white people have with cultures and view points different from their own. Self entitlement, fragility, white privelege, and a score of other injustices related to skin color and socioeconomic privelege are very real and deserve excoriation. The young men were wrong for any insults, taunts, and racist behavior they exhibited. On the other hand I think it is wrong to disallow Mr. Phillips’ action.
“He can deliver us from our delusions and defensiveness. He can create in us the strength to see ourselves more clearly in the chaos.”
Beautiful piece. You perfectly explained what it truly means to be “winning.”
Insightful, thoughtful and clearly stated observations of the D.C. incident. We all still have A LOT to learn.
As a former secondary school teacher, my primary hope and concern is for the sake of the young people who seem heavily invested in defending their behavior, rather than learning from the experience.
Will any of us learn from this, or will we continue to maintain our chosen positions in a deeply divided nation? I submit that the only way we learn is through dialogue and a commitment to truth, while appreciating the lessons that history has to teach us.
Thank you for furthering the conversation, Marcia.
Amazing words. They will guide my thinking and my respect for others.
Yes, you’ve stated it very well. It’s uncomfortable to face what our own ancestors have done and what we continue as part of our culture but it’s essential to understand our own roles if we are ever to change things to achieve true equality.
Your historical awareness and cultural sensitivity is commendable. Your inability to see what actually happened, rather than using it to make typical SJW points, is not.
You seem to have an easy time putting yourself in the shoes of Nathan Philips (whose credibility about the entire incident has been completely shot to h*ll by his changing stories and sympathy with the Black Hebrew Israelites racism). You should try putting yourself in the shoes of the young men who were verbally assaulted in the most vile terms, and then used as part of a political stunt by a guy they knew nothing about. They weren’t there to harass anyone–they were there to live out their Christian faith and pro-life views, and were suddenly confronted with raging hate and inane grandstanding. They responded as well as any group of teenagers might have to that situation, and better than a lot of college students I can think of.
So what is the response from the left? Lecturing them, and by extension anyone in their intersectionally deficient Siberia, about their lack of historical understanding and cultural sensitivity, because evidently individuals can’t be treated as individuals responding to specific situations any more. They have to be members of expansive groups who must respond to hateful behavior by those who are different on the basis of the crimes, deficiencies, and group characteristics of their ancestors (or other people’s ancestors–I’m Jewish and mine had absolutely nothing to do with oppressing Native Americans or African-Americans, but my white skin nevertheless evidently makes me culpable, since you address your remark in an undifferentiated fashion to “white America,” whatever that is). There’s a word for treating people like that: racism.
Thank you Palamas. Amen … racism indeed.
Lot of white guilt in this article.
This is hugely helpful! I very much appreciate the care you take to look at the details of the encounter, while at the same time you set it in a wider historical and political context.
Thank you Marcia. I expect you’ve been on a journey that hasn’t always been easy in order to arrive at this point. Well done. I also wanted to remind you of something that happened just a little more than 2 years ago, which I believe speaks directly to your point.
The overall tone of this article is that white people are the problem. The person who writes this article speaks of the MAGA hats as evidence of the problem. Would it been okay to where black arm bands?
This was a high school kid in an unplanned encounter with unplanned spotlight put there by adult planning. I am disappointed that you pile on a person that has spent 17 years on this earth with his “disturbing lack of awareness” and the “most striking parts” the statement of a 17 year old. Frankly, in the totality, his response is one to be proud of. Calm. Measured. Non-confrontational. You should have celebrated the genuineness of his reaction, rather than pile on to his lack of awareness. Like the rest of the media, you focused in the wrong place, on the kid, when the adults and media set him up. This sentiment could be written to prop him up and work through your main point. I’m just disappointed you felt the need to side swipe as well to make your point.
Well stated and very profound. Thank you for putting some clarity to underlying sociology and psychology.
I read your beautiful piece, but am still left rather unsettled. What I keep coming back to is the Biblical truth that we are all fallen people living in a fallen world. All people groups at some time have held power over others and used it in unspeakable ways. World history (not just Western history) is fraught with war, genocide, and injustice.
What I see happening in the current conversation of white-privilege (which I am aware I benefit from) is a furthering of the us vs. them mentality. The oppressors vs the oppressed. What this does is divide us from our common humanity, our common sin, and our common need for a savior. The narrative I often hear perpetuates an agenda of white people are bad while colored people are innocent victims of history.
Should we as white Christians be aware of our place in history? Sure. Should this alter the way we love others? I doubt it. Jesus calls all people to love God and love our neighbors, despite their culture or creed (the Good Samaritan comes to mind). No matter what side of history our skin color puts us on, we should engage all people with the loving grace of Jesus.
Thank you, Marcia, for your clear and accurate words. I am really hoping that Nick Sandmann and Nathan Phillips can meet in a restorative circle so that Nicholas can hear Nathan express in his own words the layers of pain in this situation and for Nicholas to be moved to offer an apology in person to Mr. Phillips. Leonard Peltier’s explanation of the song Mr. Phillips was singing says a lot – the song invokes the painful, inhumane massacre of the Lakota people – many women, children, and yet to be born children at Wounded Knee. Here it is in Peltier’s words:
“Let me explain to you what the song’s history is:
The Northern Cheyenne People gave this song to the American Indian Movement for an honor song in 1973 after the 71-day occupation of the Wounded Knee, the site of a massacre grave site, which is now a memorial site, owned by a white person.
Wounded Knee is a sacred area for the Lakota peoples, where over 350 elders, men, children, and women with unborn babies still inside of their bodies were slaughtered. There are documented accounts of soldiers who opposed the killing of babies, however there were Calvary soldiers riding their horses around the massacre grounds waving their swords with dead babies on them. The Lakota who had disarmed themselves, given up their weapons of stone tomahawks, bows and arrows and hand thrown spears to the 7th Calvary and raised the white peace flag – and the American flag, after an agreed truce between them.
The leader of the Lakota Band of Native’s was a peace Chief named Bigfoot. The Calvary was heavily armed with portable cannons, rifles, steel bayonets and knives and pistols. The 7th Calvary soldiers were under orders of their commanding officers. After the captives had been fed and convinced them they were safe, and the babies began to quiet down, and sleep under their now warm robes, did not see or hear what was about to happen. The Cavalry like thieves and rapists in the dark of night, surrounding them with those deadly weapons. Just days after Christmas (Isn’t that their Christian God’s Jesus birthday?) after feeding the Natives their last breakfast meal, they began to slaughter them, killing all who could not somehow escape.
A couple decades earlier, this same army surrounded a band of peaceful Northern Cheyenne at Sand Creek and committed the very the same murderous acts, after first approaching the Northern Cheyenne under both flags, the American flag and a white flag! When the Natives were given the flags, they were given a promise that if they exposed and flew these flags the Army would never attack them. Yet over a dozen soldiers were given medals of the highest honor awards that the American government has to bestow. Their soldiers and civilians received these awards for this act of genocide and called it a great victory of war.
TODAY THEY CALL IT “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!”
So, a decade or so later, believing their own propaganda that these were victorious battles, these same murderers with dozens of their traitors again attacked the Crow scouts during a religious ceremony called the Sundance, at the Little Big Horn or Greasy Grass Creek (this was what we Natives named it).
This time Crazy Horse and many other young powerful war leaders (we call SHIRT WEARERS of the Lakota Nations) and their allies, the Cheyenne, were at the camp guarding the people, armed only with stone tomahawks, bows and arrows against superior weaponry. They defended and wiped out Custer and his band of murderers and rapists of children, helpless elders, women and babies.
On their way back to camp, the young heroic Cheyenne warriors made up the song now known as the AIM song and rode into camp singing it, and the women and men joined in and the whole camp began to sing it.
The song says thank you to the Great Spirit for allowing our young men to be brave and courageous to fight off and to protect the young children, the women, unborn babies, the elderly woman and men and our leaders.
Singing thank you Great Spirit for giving us the strength to save our children with bravery You gave us. Thank you for showing us your love for our peoples. We pray you give us peace with these people who only want war and to kill our nations/peoples.
This is the meanings behind the words of the AIM song.”
– Leonard Peltier
You can’t make a judgement on their racist, violent and anti gay speech. Really? If not how can you judge anything else?
These kids did nothing and were almost crucified for it. Our society should be ashamed.
“ There were those gathered for the March For Life (a yearly anti-abortion march in Washington, D.C. since 1974). There was a group of five men who identified themselves as Black Hebrew Israelites (a religious group rooted in Black Judaism who teach self-empowerment and Black nationalism) who were doing some street teaching/preaching there.”
I am surprised that folks here on your blog still feel the need to correct you. I appreciate what you said and I thank you.
Many thanks for such a well said blog. It was a strange coming together there. We have so very much to learn about our white privilege!
There is so much to learn from this interaction, so many ways we could improve. While I do not condone the demonization of the young men involved by so many in social media your article was very peaceful. I pray that the adults leading these children don’t make them victims but use this experience to teach them more about our call as christians to be peacemakers. Grace & Peace to you, Julie
Thank you Marcia. Very proud to get to know your words and by association, your spirit and the good work you are doing. Loved how you engaged everyone, especially those who are still extremely unable to see past all their fragility and privilege. What do you say to those who want all the fiscal and institutional advantages that come with “whiteness” but none of the negative history or responsibility associated with their ancestors’ choices?
As I watched the video of the young man and the elder, it was as if it transported me back to high school about 60 years ago. It took my breath away as I watched those boys do what so many “boys” do, no boundaries, they have no boundaries, he was threatening in is passivity and I could not get his image out of my head, I can’t unsee it now and the boy-mob behind him, not one of them thinking for themselves except to bully and intimidate. No they don’t get a pass on this.
“he was threatening in is[sic] passivity.”
It’s a high threshold, but this comment rises to the top of
stupidity and ridiculousness in these SJW comments.
Thanks for this. It is just what I needed to push me over the edge to leave the church. The outrageous pontification on your part leaves me speechless.
On the one hand, you seem not to care about the facts, saying that “you can come to your own conclusions about what happened.” On the other hand, you seem to be joining in the condemnation of the students — the result of which is death threats against them and their families.
You then fault a high school junior for his failure to possess your own highly calibrated sensitivity about guilt for being white. You fault him for his lack of awareness about the history of our country because he acknowledged his confusion about what was going on when the “Native American elder” –whose own lies about the event continue to mount — marched into the group of students and stopped to bang his drum in the face of the young man. I’m sure you would have been much more self-aware as a 17-year-old and would have handled the situation with precocious aplomb.
You claim that Mr. Sandmann added “insult to injury” by his reference to Mr. Phillips’ invasion of his “personal space” — failing to understand, acknowledge and accept his own white guilt for centuries of oppression of the Native Americans. Give me a break — the kid was referring to the fact that Phillips walked up to his face banging the drum. Don’t you have the humanity to understand that?
Marcia, I’m sure you do good work, and there was once a time when I might have chosen to worship with you in Asheville. But your message is just the nail on the coffin for me — I can no longer stomach the condescension and arrogance expressed by “Christian” folks who — deliberately or not — spread such nonsense.
Thank you for reading and for sharing your thoughts. I apologize that I have forgotten how we know each other. Can you remind me where our paths have crossed? It sounds like you are struggling with your membership in a church somewhere. I know how painful that can be. I, too, have struggled at times with what my relationship to the institutional church is. I am glad you have gotten clarity on what worshipping at Grace Covenant would be like for you. GCPC is an amazing congregation of courageous and faithful people. And we have been doing some hard work together about white supremacy for 2 1/2 years now. I certainly understand that that kind of work is not something everyone feels ready for or called to in their faith journey. As the Senior Pastor here I have to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in the way I pastor and preach and teach and lead. And I am always thankful for Jesus’ strong direction. He took risks for justice and love, and I am willing to do that as well. Thanks, again, for letting me know how you feel. And blessings on your journey of faith as you listen for how God is calling you to engage in the tumult our our country’s life together right now.
Thank you again , Marcia but please give thanks to the millions of wonderful , law abiding agnostics and athiests, not to mention other non Christians who want the same things that you do, but answer to a different power. … or thought process. We are all human beings. Would love to hear your thoughts. Peace. Joe.
‘It is just what I needed to push me over the edge to leave the church.”
Respectfully, if the PCUSA’s stance on abortion, same sex marriage, women in office and the Social Gospel wasn’t enough, what would be?
If you are in Asheville, I believe there are some very good PCA churches there. Waynesville, too if that’s closer.
Timothy, thanks for the suggestion, but I’m headed in the other direction — towards atheism. My problem with Marcia’s essay is its attempt to use a religious justification to rationalize what I see as an obviously unfair attempt to blame these kids for what has resulted in death threats to them and their families. Although Marcia pretends to disclaim any attempt to place blame, the clear message that she conveys is that these white boys were in the wrong. That’s why she suggests that if any of Nick Sandmann’s questions “resonate” with us, we should take the initiative to educate ourselves about certain matters involving white guilt. I know plenty about those matters, as I have been involved in “progressive” political and religious issues for decades, but at least I understand the confused perspective that a 17-year-old kid might have had when confronted by a drum-banging “Native American elder” apparently seeking to provoke a reaction. If religious leaders decide to wade into the maelstrom of hot-button issues like this one, I’d suggest adopting a less condescending attitude.
Good enough reasons to drive you from church, but not toward unbelief.
Keep the faith.
Thanks again, Timothy. My journey “away from faith” was pretty far along already before reading Marcia’s column, as she seems to realize from her comment above. It was a journey initiated by the treatment I received from certain other members of my own PCUSA congregation, with which I had been associated for many years and which I served in multiple capacities. In my absence from the congregation, I learned from the writings of numerous atheists/agnostics, including a number of former pastors, so my belief system has been realigned. I just haven’t had the guts to resign my membership, but I think I’ll go ahead with that now.
This is so astute and straightforward and YES. Thank you.
I am one of the fortunate ones. My mother was a devout Christian and pioneer in the Head Start movement. As a very young child, I traveled with her on home visits. The abject poverty I saw, the stories I heard. and the persons I met introduced me to our privileged status. Even though we were of very simple means, the divide between our fortune and theirs was great. Sadly, we live in a culture of ignorance about one another, and empathy is at a all-time low. I agree–had these young men received instruction and guidance regarding history and discipline, all of this unpleasantness could have been avoided. I, too, am an ordained white woman who grew up and was educated in Kentucky schools. Thank you for your honest thoughts.
I have been reading all of the comments to this excellent blog post. Some phrases keep repeating in my mind, particularly “white fragility”. The phrase seems to exemplify the need to dig deeper into the video to find ways to defend the boys. But not one of the defenders mentions the hats. The MAGA hats. The hats that identify the wearer as someone who rallies behind the open racism of the rally leader. I live in a county in the South where the majority of the voters supported him yet no one wears a MAGA hat outside of a Trump rally. It is seen as a symbol of white supremacists and one meant to provoke a reaction. The minute the boys donned those hats they identified themselves as proud racists. The purpose for which they had gathered — a march to support protection of the unborn — was completely lost. They became Trump racists, supporters of an Administration that has been the open enemy of indigenous people, people of color. The minute by minute details of the incident become irrelevant. They announced to the world who and what they represented as surely as if they were wearing white hoods.
I truly want to make America great again. That does not automatically make me a Trump supporter. Please do not make assumptions about me that are not true, just because I happen to use that phrase. I am actually NOT a Trump supporter. Making America great again hinges on all of us being willing to change our society for the better. It means not being selfish, it means sacrificing my personal wishes for the greater good, it means being an example of tolerance, it means not judging others, it means going out of our way to help others, it means we take the time to do the hard work of addressing the problems with the rage mentality so prevalent in our culture, it means taking time to listen to someone instead of shouting at them, it means trying to experience the other side of the coin and not just acknowledge its existence. This is what it means to make America great again. If you feel that makes me a racist, then I ask you to look at your own judgmental beliefs.
My wish is that everyone at Covington Catholic would take the time to read this. Extremely thoughtful! Must Read Indeed!
Ms Shoop, this is the best analysis I have seen of the “recent unpleasantness”. The media has failed miserably in theirs. And you delivered it in a non threatening way so hopefully many people will be able to hear your words. thanks.
I have not been a practicing Catholic, or Christian for that matter, since I left home at age 18. However, I paid attention to the Gospel every Sunday. It was apparent to me then, the real world paid no attention to Love Thy Neighbor, especially when push came to shove. I am 70 now and nothing seems to have really changed with white males. Guns and Jesus; give me a break. Truly, the wages of Sin is Death. I am no Saint; when the weight of my misdeeds crushes my spirit, I know how Jacob Marley must have felt. You get an “A” for effort; make that an A+. I hope you words reach and encourage more young men to not just THINK before they act, but to think UNSELFISHLY!
This is the best ever explanation from a white person. I don’t usually trust them, but seeing and feeling oppression by teachers, on the school bus and white farmers, white city managers etc. I know you know what we feel. I am full Blood Comanche, I have white en-laws and mixed Grandchildren……I and they have always taken the Native side, we just know. I get attacked on white sites that say “comment” give us your input, then they proceed to attack when I proudly say I am 4/4 Native. I don’t say this to offend or act better, I comment as a local citizen, a human being, citizen of two Nations, Comanche Nation and the U. S. Nations, yet I offend. I want to thank you a thousand udahs(thank you in Comanche) I appreciate YOU.
“White people have a moral obligation to understand how we carry the violent history and heritage of the genocide of Native Americans and the profound trauma of chattel slavery in us.”
I find this confusing. I am a US citizen born of my mother who immigrated from Sweden and my father whose grandparents immigrated from Scotland and Ireland.
Am I supposed to construct an imagined community of all white people who were settled the US and engaged in the warring with indigenous people and who practiced slavery?
Or what if I were adopted and didn’t know my ancestry?
Not only are we imagining communities but we are adding historicity to them out of the ether.
I would also add that the Cherokee Nation has been historically disenfranchising toward its black slave descendants. Cherokee Indians like white settlers owned African slaves. The Cherokee Nation receives money from the US government to distribute to its members but until very recently refused membership of slave ancestors of the Cherokee Nation on the basis of race and thus the benefits they were due. This country’s history is complex.
@Marcus The privileges afforded to white people are granted without regard for a person’s family history. As an example, people don’t follow me around a store watching to see if I’ll steal something like they do with young Black people. It doesn’t matter that my white mother was an immigrant, like yours. A Black person can’t avoid anti-black racism by just saying “you don’t understand, my mum immigrated from Benin and my family is not part of America’s history”.
No one ever asks me where I’m “really from”. The President of the United States will never say that a woman who looks like me should be negotiating trade with Germany because she’s white in the way that he suggested that a Korean-American intelligence analyst (the “pretty Korean lady”) should be negotiating with North Korea because of her ethnicity.
White people uphold systemic racism simply by living in it and benefiting from it without challenging the status quo. If you want to live in a more egalitarian country, recognizing that your privilege comes just from the way you look is a place to start. No one is asking you to feel guilty about the sins of someone else’s ancestors. We’re asking you to do what you can about the racism that exists now in the country you live in now. We need to make room at the table.
Marcia–this is so important. Thank you. Sharing.
“When Nicholas criticizes Mr. Phillips for invading his “personal space” it adds insult to injury.” How? At some point in all our lives hopefully we realize the need to take responsibility for the life we built.
Mr. Phillips did invade Nicholas’ personal space. Nicholas did not cut Mr. Phillips’ ancestors hair. He didn’t prevent them from speaking their language. Nor did Nicholas have anything to do with any broken treaties. Nothing. And yet, Nicholas is somehow responsible for this atrocious past. And yet when Mr. Phillips invades Nicholas’ personal space, history rushes forward to make this Nicholas’ fault?
We don’t get a pass for being abusive to others because of past generational sins. The Black Hebrew Israelites are responsible for the hatred they foment. Those five men are responsible to God for the things they said and the state of their hearts. Mr. Phillips is responsible for his actions on that day as well.
If reminders of historic cultural atrocities aid us in being more kind and caring, then it’s important to have our hearts pricked and our souls opened. Regardless of the place our ancestors held in the past, we are not responsible for them or their actions, nor do they give any of us permission to threaten or belittle those around us. The color of our skin has so very little to do with anything.
Thank you Douglas.
I agree with you wholeheartedly.
Well expressed. Thank you.
This is an excellent article. We have to find a way to come together in this country. This involves both understanding our differences and making sure that we also understand that the “American Experience” is not the same for everyone.
There is just one issue that I have with the article, and that is in the description of the Black Hebrew Israelites. This is a heterogeneous mix of Black religious groups that range from strict adherence to the Talmuc to varying degrees of Christianity and Judaiism. So, as there are many different groups among Christians, Muslims, and Jews, so are there different groups of Black Hebrew Israelites.
With reference to the video that caused such a stir, are a few groups that teach black supremacy. They can best be described as Hate Groups. I believe that the Black Hebrew Israelites who were at the Lincoln Memorial belong to one of these hate groups whose members are fairly well-known in large US cities for a kind of street preaching which involves heavy doses of insults and invective toward passersby who generally ignore them It should be noted that even though they are described as black supremacists, they direct their startling comments to any group that does not follow the tenets or beliefs – and this includes black Americans. They are not considered to be violent. They are simply designated as hate groups by the FBI and the SPLC.
I bring this up because I am concerned that all Black Hebrew Israelites will be painted with the same brush as most Americans have never even heard the name.
All of the world’s religions have adherents who use their religion as a base for hatred and violence. We need to ask ourselves what led them to take such a path.
Thank you the information about the Black Hebrew Israelites. I thought they were a quite small group centered in NY City, DC & Philly. My understanding is they can be cranky nasty street preachers, which you seem to indicate also in regard to some of them. The type of street preacher you can find in some big cities, like my Chicago, and maybe on some college/university campuses. Regards, Tom
Thank you. this is an important piece of writing. I hope many wil read and take it to heart.
Sadly, to take that fragility a step further, there are those who will feel offended that they’re being “preached to” by a “mere” woman. There is no justification intended, nor any finger pointing, just the realization that our layers of complicated history are perhaps more a plaid than a stripe. Oppression is, indeed, not an Olympic sport, and we’d do well to remember that crying “I’m a victim” or “I’m offended” makes us seem weak. Strong Christians are inclusive, welcoming and loving, knowing those are qualities we emulate in the Christ we follow.
So why do you accept the Sandmann statement as absolute or even HIS truth? What has come to light since his so-called statement was published are videos of he and his friends harassing a young women on the DC Mall, calling her, “slut” and one taken during the Right to Life March itself where these kids are asking other participants where they could go for a fight? This is clear evidence that they were spoiling for a confrontation with someone. And who better to fight with than people that they have been TAUGHT TO PERCEIVE as, “subhuman?”
This isn’t about perspective or innocence, it’s about lying to cover their asses because the other truth about whites is that THEIR WORD HAS ALWAYS BEEN BELIEVED OVER POC’s WORD.
That’s why you had racists accuse Nathan Phillips of lying about his military service. If you watched the video where he mentioned his service to the country, he said, “I was in the service during the Vietnam era.” He did not say he fought in Vietnam. Yet these bigots took to denigrating him further by saying he lied about being a Vietnam combat veteran. Fact is that he IS a Vietnam veteran and he did tell the truth. They just LIED about what he said knowing full well that THEY would be believed over him, no matter what the truth was.
It’s not a matter of white “fragility.” It’s a matter of white privilege and continued dominance. Why aren’t we, as a society trying to knock down these active vestiges of manifest destiny? Why aren’t we questioning what is being taught in a Roman Catholic School led by a Roman Catholic diocese of majority white membership continuing to exercise an active program of Jim Crow brainwashing of white privileged boys? Boys who also see women as unequal furniture and feel their abhorent behavior is a “right.” Regardless of his explanation, the video shows Sandmann blocking a Native Elder because he felt entitled to control where a POC could go. His message to Mr Phillips was, I control you, by nature, privilege and divine right. His thug friends felt it was their “right” to mock and denigrate the Native Americans with tomahawk chops and white power signs, jeering and racial slurs. The same was so about the Black Israelites. They felt it their “right” to swarm them and intimidate them to the point where one of Black Israelite preachers “asked” not ordered them to back off. This is on video too!
The 2 POVs are NOT equal here, but white opinion would make them so. There is an assumption that the white POV exonerates the racial hatred and unacceptable behavior of a bunch of boys who have been willfully indoctrinated by adults who knew exactly what they doing and encouraged by white adult chaperones, who placed them in potential danger by letting them pick fights with 2 groups of POC.
I am waiting for the “boys will be boys” excuse to surface, like waiting for a shoe to drop. It worked for a Supreme Court Judge against a nothing woman, why shouldn’t it work for a bunch of white boys too? Too bad that excuse isn’t available to boys of color. They are SHOT DEAD if they have the temerity to even look directly into a white cop’s eyes!
I don’t believe this should be a, “moment of understanding” for the little Covington thugs who went looking for a fight and found it X2. They managed to pull back the curtain on the reality of how racism and bigotry now work in a country that spits platitudes about racial equality out of one side of their mouths and orders boys to be shot dead for daring to assert that equality with the other.
We all know what’s going to happen here. This moment will be buried alongside all the other incidents of disgusting racism or rationalized by white people who still believe we should swallow their lies because they ARE white. Is it any wonder that POC have learned to protect themselves with ironclad legal contracts, not believe in any white person’s word unless there is a long history of proof to back them up? Every time we allow incidents like what happened last Saturday to blend into our white landscape without investigation and with a jaundiced explanation founded on a pack of lies, we push the goal of wiping out bigotry further away. Until we, white people stop propping up some arrogant belief that we are entitled to control the actions and lives of POC, that we somehow occupy a higher wrung on the genetic ladder than our brothers and sisters of different but just as beautiful and just as relevant cultures as our own, this will continue to happen. Until we stop defending the pathetic notion that we are better than them, nothing will change. The equivalent spiritual exhortation to Allelluia in Lakota sacred ceremonies is “Mitakuye Oyasin”. The same sentiment is expressed in all other Native languages. Translated, it means, “all my relations”. Think about that! What the whites have deemed, “savage” and therefore in need of being wiped out is the singular truth that we all need to grow toward to make this a great nation.
I pray that good white people REFUSE to accept the well-worn lies and actually delve into the origins and the “why” of what happened last Saturday and commit to excising the vile hatred that fed these children.
I feel some pertinent issues have been overlooked from this incident. I watched the painfully long 1 hour and 45 minute video in which the group of “preacher” men hurl vile insults at virtually every group in our population. They are the ones responsible for starting this entire incident. Beginning in the first 5 minutes, they begin verbally abusing the few boys who were standing nearby. This verbal abuse persists off and on for the duration of the video. At one point they physically threaten one of the other bystanders. If it had not been for these adults, who should have exerted better judgement, there would not have been an incident at all. The behavior of these men was reprehensible and does not represent anything about Jesus or His message. In fact, their behavior is one of the seven things God hates, as listed in Proverbs. Take your pick, as they were guilty of several of them. They really should be charged with inciting a public disturbance. Yes, they are allowed free speech, but that does not include creating a hostile situation, which they are completely responsible for, by virtue of their reprehensible behavior and lack of judgement. Truly, it seemed as if they were trying to stir up hostility the entire time. They are the guilty ones here. The bigger unanswered question in this whole blown-up affair is: why has no one followed up on seeing that these men are held responsible for what they have caused?
This was very well presented. I watched the full videos, read all the statements and press and find that you have not missed a single point.
Thank you for sharing this! I am Native and I teach history Alaska Native perspective at my job. I also deliver cultural sensitivity trainings in Alaska. With your permission I would love to share your article. Thank you again!
Thank you, Colleen. I would be honored if you shared it. Blessings to you in all your healing work.
Beautiful Insightful Urgent! Thank you! hope your next draft might include a mention of The Great Peace-Maker in the formation of the Iroquois Confederacy…the most powerful political/religious force in the “new world” when America declared its Independence …and an inspiration to the Colonists to imagine their Freedom!
This is single handily the most succinct and authentic assessment of our history. I cried from the power of these words and my hope that everyone take the time to read and digest our unpleasant truths that is our collective history.
I understand what you are trying to say and it makes sense to those of us who were not there and have time to theorize what people were thinking, why they did things.
But this incident happened in a public place, a place where these students were told to wait for the bus and a place they have met for many years.
These boys marched for LIFE, for protecting “the least of these”.
These boys were cursed at ,called all sorts of vile names…but they did not confront these verbal abusers.
The “native American” chose to walk up and confront Nathan…not the other way around.
These boys had absolutely nothing to do with how the indigenous people nor the black Israelites were treated in the past and as far as any of the videos that have been shown they did nothing to warrant the hatred shown to them.
As far as the MAGA hats go, what is wrong with supporting Make America Great Again? What is wrong with supporting the President of the United States of America? What is wrong with showing pride in your country?
If people choose to be offended by the hat that is their problem and their issue but the boys should not be treated poorly because someone has a problem with a hat.
All these subjects you brought up about “awareness” should be taught in our schools and churches…but “awareness” goes both ways.
My So Called “White Privilege” is Really Nothing More than just “Privileged to be a Son Of God”
Many on the left assert since I am white, I have lived my life with a “White Privilege” which is unfair to other races. Actually, this so called special “white privilege” is really unknown to me and many others.
My first experience with “white privilege” (sarcasm) I can remember was when I was in middle school, Bronx Junior HS 80, in NY. I was accosted by a quite larger than me black student at recess “Boy give me a quarter.” After my reply of “I don’t have a quarter” it was then “well give me a dime.” When I made it clear I do not have any money for you, he bowed up at me like he was going to strike me. Lucky for me, I was spared of my white privilege assault by a teacher passing by.
In the next event where I really felt the benefits of my white privilege. I was caught again by myself, this time in the school hallway, I was punched several times and shoved down a flight of stairs.
My next experience was when we moved to Florida, at Kirby Smith Jr High. I was at my gym locker scrolling the combination lock when a thrown baseball glove slammed into the back of my head. The kinetic force of the thrown glove was so hard my head slammed into the locker and I ended up with a nice knot on my forehead. I turned around to see a group of black students laughing. There were also white students in the background silent and motionless. In my fit of anger I asked who did this and why? The black students just laughed, looked at each other and said not me.
On another occasion, as I was walking home from school along the railroad tracks a group of black students ran up behind me and a friend of mine, and one of the black students slammed a 2″X4′ right across my face. I was left with a busted lip. There were half a dozen or so of them, yet only my friend and I, and they still found the need to pick up a weapon.
Make no mistake about it, in all of these events, I was specifically targeted because I was white and I really did not feel the privilege in any of this.
And I’ll be honest with you, from my experiences with the black youth in schools I had became a bit of racist. Not because of anything my mom or my dad had taught me. Contrary, they taught me no such thing, it was simply because of how I was treated by those youths in the black community. And though I had some good experiences with some, especially in my family, I hated most black people at the time.
As I grew older, wiser, I had come to know many of color were not all racist and predators. I also worked with many and my feelings completely evolved into acceptance, understanding and the realization there are just good and bad people of all races.
My next experience of my so called “white privilege” came when I was an apprentice working on a good paying Navy base job. My employer informed me I was being let go simply because they needed a minority on the project. He acknowledged to me I was more knowledgeable and more experienced, but due to quota’s he had no other choice. I had to settle for a job paying far less, but not for long.
In my next experience of this “white privilege” many speak of, I was in business and had earned a good reputation in a government building with the tenants on each floor of the building and the building manager. It was good work for a few years, when all of a sudden the requests stopped. When I approached one of the managers to inquire if our employees had been the reason, she stated by no means was this so. She informed me since this was a government owned building with different government entities in the building they had all come under the set aside program. And, even though I was just a small business, since I was not a minority owned business, the only way I could obtain work at this complex would be to do the work for 10% less than the minority contractor.
These last two experiences demonstrated to me our government was willing to discriminate white people to correct the past discrimination of people of color even though my heritage had nothing to do with slavery or discrimination. My dad’s side migrated from Italy and my mom’s side was from Ireland. These programs are nothing more than discrimination to correct for previous discrimination or two wrongs in an attempt to make it right. But, I did not let any of these get to me. When not appreciated, I just move on to those who do. Some privilege though, huh?
I have also had to defend a discrimination lawsuit against me with the full backing of our Local Union on the other side. It was case of a small business against the full weight of the high and mighty union. Another disadvantage I had with this was the burden of proof, which is much more difficult in these cases. In most legal matters one is innocent until proven guilty, whereas with discrimination cases an Employer must prove their innocence. I just considered this David against Goliath and we all know who won there.
Still this event cost me a great financial burden for which i was not able to recoup, as these legal matters are just part of business according to the law passed by Democrat politicians. So, even though the judge acknowledged this was nothing more than a frivolous attempt to force a non-union contractor to their demands, a counter suit to recoup my expenses was unavailable. It was explained to me, since the Unions back the Democrat politicians, these politicians made certain the burden would not be easy for the “evil, greedy” (sarcasm) businessman.
Through all of these experiences I did not let any of this hold me back, nor use any of it as an excuse to give up or quit. I may have gotten angry and upset as a youth, but I survived the privilege to have my white ass kicked in on occasion. Though, I may have been a victim at times, I wouldn’t allow any of these events to make me victim for life. I just moved forward and onward as lessons learned.
Far from the privileged life many all knowing assert I am, I came from a broken family, with little means and I had no college education. But I did not let this stop myself from learning and advancing on my own. I did have trade school education and experience, but no financial help. Yet, I managed to start a business with a whole lot of hard work, much tenacity, a little fortitude and a no quitting attitude.
In each one of the attempts by discriminatory government mandates and ridiculous lawsuits, I never used these events as an excuse. I took the stance, if I am not appreciated for my good hard work, I will just take up work where I am appreciated.
The way I see it, the “White Privilege” is just a poor excuse for those who lack hard work, ethics and tenacity. It allows those who claim unfair conditions a permanent victim-hood status. This excuse is also used when those responsible to teach young adults such things do not.
It is much easier to say to your youngster “I understand you are not functioning in life because you are at a disadvantage.” Rather than saying “buck up junior, so life is hard at times, get over it, life is not easy for anyone who wants to achieve. If you are not appreciated, move on, there are others in life who will appreciate you. If you work hard and are responsible there are those who will gladly put your skills to use. If you must work harder, work harder, if it requires more skills, get more skills and it’s okay to move on, but never, ever quit.”
Those on the left will offer, my story is rare and proves nothing. From what I have seen done to the Covington Catholic High School students incident, The Duke Lacrosse incident and the many others, these instances do prove my point very well.
The only real privilege many of us see is Liberal Privilege. The free exchange of ideas was once celebrated in society and especially encouraged in Universities. Now, those who share the conservative point of view are ridiculed, lambasted, shunned and treated like a pariah. Many are not even allowed to speak at some colleges.
We also see the Liberal Privileges in the way our government goes after Republican politicians verses Democrat politicians. The Clinton’s have gotten away with so much, yet ever since Donald J. Trump became President, him and everyone around him is under investigation. After two years of investigations there still is not one shred of evidence President Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the election. Yet, there is overwhelming evidence of pay for play with the Clinton Foundations and HRC mishandling and destroying Classified information which would put any conservative in jail.
Although, even with the lack of the special “White Privilege’ I was supposed to be afforded according to the PC crowd, I do consider myself privileged, it’s just not a white privilege.Rather it is a privilege afforded to everyone who asks for it and that is to be a son or daughter of God. I thank God every day for not just the good times, but all the struggles in life which has taught me much. These life lessons helped to form me into the person he wanted me to be.
My belief is “God will never let us fail.” I may be down for the moment, but he is with me to see me through it. And, maybe this is the problem with most on the left in the first place. From what I have experienced those who turn away from God, lack the ability to be rational and wise in their decisions. For, True Wisdom only comes from God. The other thing I have come to know, is those who have a God centered life are also the happiest.
Lou, thank you for this wonderful response. You expressed many of my thoughts much better than I ever could have.
What Nany said.
Dear Lou, it sounds like this post brought up a lot for you. How did it feel to write it all down? Sometimes getting things down on paper is both clarifying and a chance to grow.
There are many layers to the stories you share. But none of them really address the existence of systems and cultures. That is really where the collective work of transformation around race and power comes into play. Sharing our stories is so important in that process, and then allowing our stories to be placed in a larger template of different and even dissonant stories is another important step. Your experience is your experience. And other people have very different experiences.
I don’t use the term white privilege in this post for a reason. I am talking less about privilege than about a culture of white supremacy–that means a culture that teaches all of us (no matter our skin color or our background or economic level) that white ways are the best ways. “Whiteness” is not about melanin or genetics, it is about a culture that teaches us what is right and good.
I find the work of Tema Okun and Maggie Potapchuk especially informative in exploring the characteristics of this culture that has formed us. And this culture is embedded in our systems of justice, education, religious formation, community formation, and even in one on one relationships. For instance, either/or thinking is a mark of white supremacy culture: the belief that things are either good or bad, right or wrong, etc. I hear some of that in your comments in the way you regard people who differ from you politically. We are all actually more both/and than either/or. But white supremacy culture has told us we need to take sides and demonize the other.
Another character trait of white supremacy culture is belief in only one right way and defensiveness. It has been a blessing in my life to explore these aspects of our culture in and with communities of faith. God is always calling us to be open to truth and transformation. My identity as a child of God is a gift, and one that I share with every person. That is the starting place for our healing.
Thank you for this thoughtful piece, Marcia. I must admit that I am not surprised that you’ve come to these conclusions because I feel white women are much more open to recognizing our privilege because we don’t have it in other areas. I’ve tried to have “the white privilege discussion” with friends and family members and I tell them, “Recognizing your privilege as a white-skinned person literally takes nothing away from you. After accepting it, you will still move through the world just as easily as you always have. The only difference will be that you may now be more aware of how difficult it can be for people of color to move through the world and maybe you can do something about it when it’s happening right in front of you.” I so wish people would see that it costs them nothing to admit things are easier for us. Very frustrating.
Thank you, Darci. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts here.
So glad to hear your voice. As a native of Cincinnati, I found myself automatically empathizing with Nathan Phillips because I have seen that sneering passive aggressive attitude everywhere but especially when I was growing up across the river from these kids. I also see it when feminists get static from “real men.”
Thank you for this well written article highlighting the many important issues involved in the conflict that occurred in Washington DC last weekend between three separate interest groups. Your response is the first I’ve read highlighting the power of the red MAGA hats and the need to understand what they represent to many who see them as a symbol of hate, oppression and white nationalism. BTW – what a fabulous history teacher you had!
I wonder if things would have turned out differently if Mr. Phillips had explained that he was praying when he approached the boys…I was assuming he was praying, but would a group of 16 year old boys necessarily know what he was doing? My first impressions were that the boys thought that Mr. Phillips was joining them in drowning out the Hebrew Israelites. Just a thought – because miscommunication often leads to awful situations.
You are spot on! I completely agree with you.
This article hit a home run!
I am a Facilitator and Board member of Building Bridges of Asheville, an all volunteer racial equity training program offering two 10 day training sessions each year.
I would like to add it to our 200+ training electronic and printed manual, with your permission.
Thank you, Michael. I would be honored for you to add it to your resources. Thank you for all the great work you are doing with Building Bridges.
I think we all need to look at ourselves and ask this very difficult question: would we have understood the implications of our actions when we were the ages 14-17, and would we have acted with maturity? I realize everyone is saying what these young men should have done, but let’s look at our own responses first before we are so quick to judge others. Do these young men need sensitivity training? Yes, but so does just about everyone else in our country. Let’s not throw stones unless we can truly say we are guiltless.
Thank you for an excellent article. I would notice that the white youth were a part of a protest movement too – the right to life march. The boy said he had never been confronted by protesters but he himself was a protestor and his presence was confrontational with the hats and failure to yield. White people never own their own actions. While the Black Israelites were provocative those white kids already held more power due to their whiteness
Excellent point Mary.
As a fairly well educated person, I am ashamed to admit I was ignorant of the Doctrine of Discovery and its tole as etiological agent on American law and culture.
Thoughtful and, obviously, thought-provoking essay.
Thank you for a stimulating article.
I cannot agree more with this article. I have followed this story in the media and heard the perspectives defending Nicholas Sandmann and thought, these children and the people who defend them are either completely ignorant of the historical context of what whites have done for centuries to oppress blacks and Native Americans, or they are truly malicious and don’t care. I’d rather believe the former. In chanting their school fight songs at the top of their lungs to combat/ignore the chants and protests of the Black Israelites and Indigenous Peoples present, they were unwittingly perpetuating the silencing of the voices of communities of color which white people have been doing for close to half a millennium now.
This article is shot through with the assumption that black and indigenous people are simply incapable of living as fellow Americans – that they are not only permitted but expected to be rude, confrontational and intolerant of others and that it is the special “burden” of white people to accept the same. It appears that, since only white people *really* have enough personal agency to matter to this author, the only lever by which we can improve society is to shame them for not being “woke” enough. And the comments! Most participants appear almost entirely blind to the implicit racism in their “soft bigotry of low expectations.”
That this is written by someone who decries the “level of education” that permitted these boys to act without awareness of their “special burden” is truly astonishing to me.
In 2008, I was so confident that America was leaving the legacy of slavery and repression behind. A decade later, we seem to have a choice between a willful blindness and a craven idiocy about the topic.
There is no excuse for clear-headed thinking on this site, What are you drinking? Not the Kool-Aid, apparently.
Thanks, Mark, for sharing your unique perspective. It’s interesting that you, as a white man, have this reaction to the way people of color are characterized in my post. I have not gotten that reaction from people of color who have responded. I trust that they can speak for themselves in terms of where they experience “soft bigotry” and “low expectations” so I will privilege their perspectives over yours. They are the ones directly impacted, and so their perspective should carry more weight. Since I am the “someone” who wrote this post, I am curious about the energy you have around something that happened in 2008. I am assuming you are referring to the election of President Obama. I think a lot of white people (of all political stripes) were hoping that his election would be a turning point for our country. Just goes to show you there are no short cuts to the profound and deep work required to truly acknowledge and heal from the violence of the genocide of First Nation people and chattel slavery. I am grateful that we as a country are getting more clear on how much work we still have to do. Your comments help to clarify that as well.
Thanks, again, for sharing your thoughts.
Marcia, first off, thank you for reading what I had to say and giving your thoughtful critique. Second, I do want you to know that, while I do take issue with how certain parts of your blog seem to be eliminated or brushed aside as insignificant, I also respect you very much. And I wholeheartedly agree with the overall message you are trying to get across. It is very brave of you to take on such a hotly debated topic. And I do feel that your message is one that needs to be heard. This is indeed an “unpleasant” subject to tackle, so I applaud you for taking the steps to get to conversation started.
I certainly don’t want to “beat a dead horse” here. And I know that you are far more educated on the subject at hand than I am. Given that fact, you obviously have you beliefs set. I totally respect that. And I 100% agree with you and Lauren that, within the bounds of our judicial system, education system, etc., systemic racism is a huge issue that we as white-skinned people need to take ownership of and address accordingly. No question. However, I will continue to argue that racism does not reside just within the confines of the laws and governing bodies of our land. Racism is not that, excuse the awkward pun, black and white. Racism can root itself deep within any person’s soul, and cause terrible things. The very fact that Nicholas Sandmann’s life and his family’s lives were threaten with violence after the incident can attest that this fact. And you honestly do not think that there is power at play here? Yes, white people are the biggest proponents of racism. I know that we have to take that and own it. And I will do my best to call it out when I see it. However, I do fear that to simply redefine the meaning of the word to fit a certain narrative is glib. We cannot continue to give a free pass to obvious hate speech like that expressed by the BHI. We must call it out for what it is. And I would go further to say we cannot continue to justify such actions and speech by saying, “Not to worry. ‘their opinions are not backed up by the formal laws, systems, or social capital.’ So, it’s okay. They have no real power.” This thinking to me is not only base but just plain dangerous. To say that they cannot be racist, in my book, gives credence to their hate speech, which leads us down an extremely treacherous path. You might not think that the BHI has any real power, but remember that history will tell us that dictators can rise from fringe groups. And the BHI would be the first to tell you not to underestimate their power.
One final thought, and then I promise I’m done. While I will admit that I have never attended any anti-racism training, I do know people. And I always, always try my best to listen to both sides of any issue. And one of the biggest things I’ve learned throughout my years is that everyone living the human experience just wants to be heard and to matter. And right now, particularly in America, nobody is feeling heard or valued. So, what’s happening, were splitting off into faction to find our voices. And, as you know, some of these “factions” are bad news. My prayer is that you, Marcia, as a thought leader in this field, will continue to listen to your readers and not just see one side. I can tell by your writing you are a compassionate soul. So, please try to remember that there might be people reading your blog who are say, white-skinned Americans, who grew up under the welfare system, who lived in small trailers with a family of eight, who often went to bed hungry at night wondering how they’d ever make it in to the next day, and who never got the chance of a college education. And also take heed that when you, as a scholar who was able to get a doctoral degree from a fine institution, casually throw around phrases like “white privilege” and “white fragility,” it cuts to the core and very often falls on deaf ears that might otherwise be opened. Such causal use of these phrases, I fear, only make us more divisive and never leads to any healthy discussions, but merely shut down a voice that so desperately wants to be heard and to matter.
That’s it. I said my peace. Sending you peace and love, and the same to you, Lauren, if you are still reading this. 😉
Thank you for your thoughtful reply. “Talking” through these difficult topics is difficult via replies on the website, but alas that is what we have to use. I hear your concern and I hear what you are saying. I think we can condemn violence and hate speech without labeling those things in all circumstances as racist. I am not sure what is at stake for you in the that terms being in play in all situations of hostility or hate. I do hope you will continue to explore these issues. Yes, they are difficult, and yes, they are profoundly important. If you enjoy reading, a book that really touched people in my congregation is “Waking Up White” by Debby Irving. There are several other great books out right now on white culture. One other thing I want to share is that “whiteness” and “white supremacy” and “white fragility” are not referents to a genetic condition or a melanin count, but to a culture that has formed all of us–no matter the color of our skin. Different bodies are marked in different ways in our culture because of their appearance. And some bodies (e.g. black and brown bodies) carry the heaviest weight of the systems of oppression that white supremacy culture has helped to form. But we all internalize it–no matter our class or race or education level. I am grateful for your willingness to continue this dialogue. Thank you for our generous spirit and moral curiosity. Those are great assets to our country.
I realized, after I went to bed last night, that I gave an awfully long winded response back. Sorry about that. I really do need to learn to be more concise with expressing my thoughts. So, thank you for taking the time to read the whole thing. I truly appreciate your thoughtful response back as well. Often times I think people feel shut down for voicing their opinions out of fear of being labeled a certain way, or being ostracized by the society around them. In turn, this held in frustration can sometimes turn into anger, which is never healthy for anyone. That said, I really appreciate the compassion and understanding that you have not only granted me, but to the others on this blog who have expressed their oppositions and/or concerns. That shows true class. This is what I call healthy debates, and is exactly what I pray for and want to see within our society today. We desperately need it now more than ever. So, please keep up the good work you’ve started. And thank you for your book reading suggestions. I’ll definitely check them out. I’m always open to learn and expand who I am as a person. I will also take in everything you’ve told me. Your thoughts and perspectives are most definitely thought provoking. Keeping it short(er) this time. 😉
Peace and love,
This conversation illustrates the sociological theory called “Social Construction.” This theory’s premise is that all perceptions are ‘socially constructed.’ Thus, our perceptions are based on the social milieu in which we live. For example, what I define as sexual assault likely will not be how some define sexual assault and my definition is certainly not a universal definition. As a social constructed definition it certainly differs from how our ancestors defined it – in fact, there was likely no concept of sexual assault before recent times. Likewise, countries in the Global South often don’t perceive behaviors as sexual assault like we do in the Global North. An example of this cultural difference is the socially constructed terms, such as child marriage and polygamy. Many traditional cultures expect daughters to marry by age 11-13 and husbands’ families provide the land for each son’s family.
To close, those of us who try to correct “inaccuracies” want the other to accept my social constructed definition. Hence, many of us intensely want the president to accept our definitions of truth.
Thank you Tom, for bringing this insightful declaration of fact. Things and views are hidden, cause those in power will water down the truth so it can be manipulated for the needs of the individual . or impose their view on others.
I have read your article and watched the video and I find it lacking honesty about what was happening that day. I have waited before commenting and not sure if I even should. I just wish if you are going to teach me ,that all the honest facts would be used.
Case in point, the Black Hebrew Israelites were both racist and sexist when dealing with the indigenous people. They harassed the boys and threatened them. You portrayed them as teaching and preaching. That is dishonest. Nathan Phillips engaged children, creating an opportunity and then dishonestly portrayed it to a willing audience. You said nothing of that.You picked apart the child’s statement and sought to point out his errors and then cast that on everyone with white skin. First, he was a child every one else including you are adults. We know better or should know better. There was no reflection on any of the words used by the adults there. Why? You stated that you were a Presbyterian pastor and it is your job to speak a word to white people. I am Presbyterian and as I understand it and it is your job to speak to all who hear about the incredible love and mercy of a God named Jesus who sees us as the same regardless of our skin. I don’t want to argue, I just want to deal in the truth and your article did not reflect the truth.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Rich. I wonder what your resistance is to understanding the nature of white supremacy culture and racism in our country. It sounds like you think that there is nothing in particular that we as a nation or we as people of faith need to attend to about the way whiteness has functioned and continues to function in America. Do you have any insights into why looking at white supremacy culture is so hard for you?