AnonymousDeleted UserDecember 3, 2020 at 9:10 pm
I am struck by the relevance and resonance of Cone’s “God of the Oppressed” for the moment we find ourselves in. I found his observation of the white response to the Detroit insurrection of 1967 quite familiar. Cone writes, “The most sensitive whites merely said: “We deplore the riots but sympathize with the reason for the riots.” This was tantamount to saying: “Of course we raped your women, lynched your men, and ghettoized the minds of your children and you have a right to be upset; but that is no reason for you to burn our buildings. If you people keep acting like that, we will never give you your freedom.” These words have an all too familiar ring to them. This is almost verbatim what I have heard many white people say about the Minneapolis uprising after the senseless murder of George Floyd. These words, echoed by many white people, assume a posture of superiority over black bodies. These words assume that black people’s freedom is dependent upon how peacefully or graciously they protest. It seems lost on white people that they have been guilty of burning, looting, and destroying black culture and black bodies for centuries.
As I reflect on these words, I cannot help but to wonder how we as a society move forward. I cannot help but to wonder whether James Cone was really endorsing continued violence and looting, or whether he was making a more complex point. This question haunts me because of where we find ourselves as a society. How do I respond? I don’t want to center my voice in this conversation, and yet I want to have input. There are no easy answers here.