Virtual Voices

No racists in the government?

Issues

I am growing more confused by many thought leaders in the black community who speak of how racist America is yet encourage more and more blacks do put their lives in the hands of government officials who are white. Is government bureaucracy immune from racism or classism? If American society is categorically racist against blacks then black liberation would focus on divorcing blacks from dependence on the state---which is controlled by "rich white people," as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright says.

In his book Hope on a Tightrope, Princeton University religion professor Cornel West makes the claim that in America "the very discovery that black people are human beings is a new one." There was a time when blacks were considered "three-fifths human---we were monkeys or rapists," writes West. "Now we are projected as crack addicts or criminals." Moreover, he adds, blacks have always been cornered into positions of "having to defend our humanity."

West later explains that whites cannot avoid being shaped by white supremacy:

White brothers and sisters have been shaped by 244 years of supremacist slavery, 87 years of white supremacist Jim and Jane Crow, and then another 40 years in which significant progress has been made. The stereotypes still cut deep. Any white brother or sister who deeply revels in the humanity of black, brown, yellow, and red brothers and sisters must undergo a kind of conversion, metamorphosis, and transformation.

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According to the most recent government data employment numbers, about 60 percent percent of non-postal federal employees are white. If whites have a white supremacy problem and will not change without "metamorphsis," then the last place I would want to encourage blacks to align themselves with would be the federal government. Right? Isn't injustice inevitable for blacks if the majority of government employees recently learned that blacks are human?

Why, then, is there such blind trust that government officials will serve the interest of blacks and other minorities? Or is it the case that the assumption of racism only applies to those white people with whom black elites do not agree on policy issues?

I agree with West that white racism toward blacks describes most of America's history sanctioned and promoted by many Bible-believing Christians. It would seem, however, that blacks leaders employing racial reasoning would promote initiatives to free blacks from the risk of coercion and injustice at the hands of whites in government by doing all that is necessary to position blacks to be free from the surrogate decisions of white government bureaucrats. Or, maybe "racism" is simply a convenient charge to distract us from having principled arguments about what is best. Sadly, until many black leaders can justify trusting whites in government, the race card remains on the table to be used against whites and others who disagree with socialistic public policy.

Anthony Bradley
Anthony Bradley

Anthony is associate professor of theology and ethics at The King's College in New York and serves as a research fellow at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty. He is author of Liberating Black Theology. Follow Anthony on Twitter @drantbradley.

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