How Oppressive Forces Work Together | Sojourners

How Oppressive Forces Work Together

The most important political fact in America is that, in just a few decades, we will no longer be a white majority nation but a majority of minorities. The milestone historical realities of that fundamental demographic shift are underneath everything else in American politics. Race is an intersectional issue in our political discourse today.

As Christians, our response to the changing demographics of America should be two-fold: a renewal of our baptism and a renewal of democracy.

Galatians 3:28 tells us, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

This was a baptismal text and liturgical formula in the early church. In all their public baptisms, the new Christians acknowledged the three oppressive categories that divide humanity — the Galatians factors of race, class, and gender. At their baptisms, the new church was declaring that as the community following Jesus — the body of Christ — they were called to undermine, overcome, and take down those barriers, and begin to create a new and united community.

As an oppressed and marginalized group, the early Christian community understood intersectionality.

Inherent in the Galatians text is the understanding that the three divisions work in collusion with one another. They build off of one another. At the end of America’s first black presidency and with the white racial pushback represented by the presumptive Republican nominee, race remains at the center of America’s intersectional politics.

The United States was established with the near genocide of one people and the kidnapping and enslavement of another. European Americans couldn’t reconcile their Christian belief that all people were created in the image of God with what they wanted to do with the indigenous population and enslaved Africans. So rather than changing their plans, they shifted their beliefs — saying that people of different races were less than human and literally throwing away imago Dei, the image of God.

This was America’s original sin, and it still lingers on with major impacts on our lives and society today. Despite many great strides, much still hasn’t changed. Many in minority populations have been structurally left behind without good educations, jobs, homes, and families — and these factors are all connected.

In light of all that’s happened in our country these past few years – from the #BlackLivesMatter movement to the renewed uprising of white supremacy – we’ve learned that nobody can hide from racial injustice. It’s not just one issue among many – it’s the deeply rooted sin that affects all of us.

Many Americans, especially older white Americans, have deep fears and resentments about that the potential loss of their historic white power and privilege. And they will not let this happen without a fight. Already there is a clear strategy to ensure that the changing demographics do not change American politics and power structures – a strategy to delay, obstruct, and veto the new America. Democracy now depends on racial equity.

Globally, the most marginalized find themselves most vulnerable to the devastating impacts of climate change, war, displacement, and poverty. It is within this troubling context that we gather at The Summit — to look at how race sits at the intersection of all of these issues.

We must look with unflinching focus at how racism is affecting the work that we all do. We need space for painful lament — and then we must press onward toward a vision for repair through solutions that are already in practice, and new solutions we create together. How can we go deeper and act together — undergirded by the spirituality needed for social change?

Imagine what it would look like for a diverse mosaic of justice movements to stand together for racial justice and restoration.

The strategies we are up against are increasingly clear. Our response must be as well.

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