Last Sunday, a controversial art piece in Stockholm’s Moderna Museet set off a firestorm of controversy throughout the world. Afro-Swedish artist Makode Linde created and participated in the piece, which has explicit undertones of race, which most have deemed racist in nature. I have a heavy heart as I reflect on this piece, attempting to humbly consider whether there is a time when we must stand up against certain expressions of art. This is what brought me to this difficult state of reflection:
“Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth (Swedish Minister of Culture) was invited to open the festivities by performing a clitoridectomy on the cake, which she did by slicing off the part of the cake depicting female genitalia. She then proceeded to feed that part of the cake to a performance artist, done up in blackface, his head protruding through the table.” As the video below indicates, the artist screams in excruciating “pain” as the knife slices at the genital regions of the cake, adding an auditory element to the artistic experience. And it was an experience. In many pictures taken, men and women stand around sipping their wine, as they watch with smiles and laughter at the “shock art” before them. Read the rest of this entry
A Muslim, a Catholic, and a Mormon walk into a White House: Theological Racism in the 2012 Presidential Race
As the Republican presidential primaries ramp up for Super Tuesday, religion has, once again, become a central topic of public discourse. Presidential hopeful, Rick Santorum, has been the most vocal and controversial in the last couple weeks, but Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich have also gotten into the theological bashing. This explosion of religious rhetoric erupted after the Obama Administration faced off against the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops on issues of contraceptive healthcare coverage.
As public attention grew, advocates on both sides of the issue, both religious and secular, as well as Catholic and people from other traditions, turned this topic into two interestingly similar, yet distinct headlines: Obama’s War on Religion vs. Republicans’ War on Women. While a great analysis of these competing headlines is valid and needed, I am interested in deconstructing a new term that has been bouncing around in my head ever since I heard some recent remarks by Rick Santorum about Obama’s religious identity: theological racism. Read the rest of this entry
As the 2012 presidential campaign season heats up, race is once again slowly seeping into the unhealed wounds of this country’s troubling history. President Barack Obama will face a Republican Party that has been salivating at the thoughts of dethroning him from what they have considered an illegitimate presidency since Day 1. And while there are certainly some issues that need to be worked out regarding who the republican opponent will be in November, the groundwork for a nasty political season is already being laid.
Race was clearly a prominent issue in the 2008 presidential election, when conservative groups and even politicians implicitly and explicitly targeted Obama’s multiracial identity for malevolent purposes. Whether through the Birther movement, racist poster signs, or linking then Senator Obama’s character to his relationship to his predominantly black religious community on the south side of Chicago, it is evident that this country is by no means in a post-racial age. However, when considering the racial issues that may arise or may continue beyond the election regarding unresolved racial issues, I think it is towards a different demographic that we should look that is equally, if not more, perpetuating the racism that plagues both this campaign and country, in general. Read the rest of this entry
Disgust. Shock. Outrage. Our country is in mourning. Our nation is truly lost. We are in a whirlwind of emotional upheaval, a rollercoaster of spiritual destruction. The lead up to the execution of Troy Davis has awakened this country to the thriving injustices and deep systemic issues of racism that are alive and well in the U.S. today. Tuesday and Wednesday have been particularly emotional, as more and more Americans began to realize the validity and personal impact of the statement “I am Troy Davis.” Whether people cared about the death penalty or not prior to the last few days, weeks, months, or years, starting Thursday morning, this country woke up to a new world, one of pain, confusion, and a greater need for healing than in recent years.
As I was sitting in my Pastoral Care and Counseling course at Chicago Theological Seminary, Tuesday night, I was tormented by the mixed feelings of pain, anger, confusion, and helplessness that were racing through my head and heart. I brought it up to the class, asking, “how do we as future pastoral caregivers grapple with this layering of emotions not just as they affect an individual or family, but also a community, nation, or the entire world? How can we be effective faith leaders in times of pain and grief when we’re confronted with cases as complex as that of Troy Davis?” We grappled with these questions for nearly an hour, with times of silence and utter-speechlessness scattered throughout the difficult reflection. Read the rest of this entry