First came the mayors of New York, Chicago, and Seattle declaring their cities “sanctuaries”, and saying they will protect undocumented immigrants from President-elect Donald Trump’s plan to deport them.
Then thousands of students, professors, alumni, and others at elite universities, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, signed petitions, asking their schools to protect undocumented students from any executive order.
Now, religious congregations, including churches and synagogues, are declaring themselves “sanctuaries” for immigrants fleeing deportation.
In the wake of Sandra Bland’s death, I’ve seen comments from other white Christians on social media defending the arresting officer, denying that Sandra Bland was mistreated, blaming her for what happened, and denying that race had anything to do with what happened to her. Their responses were so knee-jerk automatic that I probably could have written them ahead of time before learning anything specific about the events in question. We humans can be quite tribal, and we instinctively tend to identify with the people who are most like us.
Many whites balk at the suggestion that their views and assumptions might be racist because they know themselves to be moral people who live decent lives and maybe even have some black friends. They certainly don’t hate anybody, and they aren’t supporters of the Ku Klux Klan. Because they understand racism on an individual rather than systemic level, it seems impossible to hold together an image of oneself that contains both “good person” and “racist.”
The last two movies that my wife and I had the chance to watch were Avatar and The Blind Side. Not sure how that happened, but both movies had very rich missiological and race themes to them. Or maybe I just see everything in that way.