Leave it to CNN to lecture Americans in the run up to July 4th that we’ve been wrong all these years about the actual birthday of our country. 1776? Not so fast. According to CNN, “it’s worth remembering that Juneteenth, as much as the Fourth of July, represents American democracy’s true birthday.” And by coupling Juneteenth and July 4th as the country’s joint birthdays, we are now better positioned to indulge in “some wide-ranging soul searching,” such as “finally acknowledging the depth and breadth of systemic racism” supposedly in our midst.
Granted, CNN didn’t go the full Philly Tribune on us, where one columnist for that paper published this, ahem, uplifting tribute over the July 4th weekend: “America is racist in 2022 because it was founded on racism in 1776.” Still, what the left bills as “hopefulness” and “positive change” — CNN’s word choices — on the topic of race relations become yet another opportunity to kick America between the legs for a slate of offenses, both real and imagined.
The growing derision of July 4th and the ongoing exploitation of Juneteenth, which now happen within weeks of each other, show how progressives have no plans to emancipate themselves from the culture of grievance and perpetual victimhood that they’ve long fostered.
Consider this MSNBC special titled “The Culture Is: Black Women,” which aired recently. The segment featured high-profile leftists, including Joy Reid, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Rep. Ayanna Pressley, and activist Tarana Burke, who is credited with starting the “MeToo” movement.
The segment began with these rich and famous media stars “toasting” to their modern-day “struggles” and the efforts it took to overcome them. You know, struggles, such as not finding television stylists who know how to work black hair and not being adequately prepared for a photoshoot with Time magazine.
“My braids wasn’t fresh! My braids is always fresh!” a visibly upset Tarana Burke declared, as all the oppressed panelists enjoyed a swanky meal together. To hear Burke tell it, if she would have known that she was going to adorn the cover of Time as one of the magazine’s most 100 influential people, she would have “freshed them” herself.
But she didn’t fresh them herself. Whose fault is this? Well, the White Man’s, clearly. “When you’re [a] social justice person, they don’t care how they make us look,” Burke concluded.
Nikole Hannah-Jones, who started the historical revisionist and thoroughly debunked 1619 Project for the New York Times, gave her two cents: “I go on TV and I’m like, ‘I look a [expletive] mess!’”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., always a model of measured speech, argued that “as black women, every single thing about us is politicized and criminalized.”
It’s too bad that the civil rights icons of yesteryear aren’t around to swap war stories with these brave heroines of today.
Harriett Tubman: That Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 sure did make my job as the Underground Railroad “conductor” more difficult. I now had to sneak liberated slaves all the way to Canada, and we had to do it by night to avoid being captured ourselves!
Joy Reid: “In every single one of our businesses, we’ve had to deal with our hair being fried, falling out of our head, by someone who didn’t know how to do us!”
The struggle is real.
Other media outlets similarly exploited Juneteenth by filtering it through their dogma of the aggrieved. “Juneteenth celebrations emphasize ending racial disparities,” was the headline at the Associated Press, where one participant was quoted as saying, “We have to fight twice as hard to have the same freedoms that our ancestors fought for hundreds of years ago.”
Another person told the Associated Press that “this country owes us a whole lot.”
“This country owes us a whole lot.”
That remark right there embodies the bitterness that fuels much of today’s “civil rights” rhetoric. If there are not appeals to replace Old Glory with a new flag — as award-winning singer Macy Gray insisted last Juneteenth — you can bet on auditions to play pretend god and issue sweeping decisions that impose cosmic justice across multiple centuries.
To wit, Congressman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas spoke at a worship service where she demanded that “reparation proposals” be crafted to “heal the land” and “heal the nation.” Such schemes, she insisted, weren’t ploys to “snatch” people’s property. Rather, it was for “the nation to respond to the systemic treatment that has caused the divide.”
“That’s what we want.”
In other words, Sheila’s posse won’t organize Chicago-style shakedowns at gun point to bankroll her reparations slush fund; they’ll simply rob you through taxation. That’s what she means by how “the nation” should respond. National spending priorities are set via budgets, and those budgets are financed via taxation.
So you’re still on the hook for reparations if Lee ever gets her wish. Yet black Americans would also be on the hook. Does Lee not know that they pay taxes too? Is she planning to exempt an entire race of people from taxation, or is she proposing that blacks pay for their own reparations?
The Texas Congresswoman didn’t say.
Specificity wasn’t her goal. Emotional blackmail was. Healing the Land and Healing the Nation, as told by Lee and those who echo her, can only happen if the federal government exercises even more control over our lives through confiscatory taxation and bureaucratic decrees.
These word games are intentional. The promise of racial reconciliation becomes another sneaky mechanism to force the Marxist mantra of equality of outcomes. Observances like Juneteenth and July 4th end up not being celebratory in nature because a truly festive event would undermine the absurd hot takes of how black Americans are still “not fully free” and how the “fight” goes on. It so happens that “victory” over this current foe is achieved only when the Democrat Party’s platform is adopted in earnest.
Funny how that works.
Another case in point. Christianity Today organized a panel on “Why Juneteenth Should Matter to the Church.” During the nearly hour-long discussion, the following question was posed to the group: What advice would you give local church leaders on how to mark this new federal holiday? Panelist Michelle Ami Reyes said it isn’t so much about focusing on a single Sunday per se, but about developing “life rhythms” where “anti-black racism from the pulpit” is routinely called out.
If you’re thinking that Reyes is characteristic of someone who uses Christianity as a pretext to swim in the woke waters of racial obsession, congrats: You’ve just won yourself your very own Pan-African flag to drape out the window next June 19.
Reyes co-authored her version of the popular book Baby Wise, although with a twist: It’s about race. The Race-Wise Family was written, she claims, to make households a place of “hope” and “healing.” Reyes herself doesn’t seem totally convinced, however, that white, Latino, and Asian households can participate in Juneteenth events. “There is a tension: Can non-black people celebrate Juneteenth in the same way that black people do? I just wanted to kind of give space for that.”
Reyes is also a fan of race-based shopping. She implored the Christianity Today audience to “buy food from a local black restaurant so that when we show allyship in this way it is shown in our spending practices as well.”
While discriminating against food vendors based on skin color is probably not the best method to cultivate “hope” and “healing,” let’s revisit Reyes’s assertion that pastors must address “anti-black racism from the pulpit.”
What “anti-black racism” does she have in mind?
The details matter.
Is the Ku Klux Klan making a political comeback, or is this “anti-black racism” spiel more of that same emotional blackmail lurking its leftist head? You probably can guess the answer. One example Reyes gave that illustrated what a “life rhythm” of “anti-black racism” could look like was the time she partnered with “black pastors to protest in front of the [Texas] capitol about this bill that would disenfranchise black and brown voters.”
She’s referring to a Texas voting rights law that made headlines last summer, when Democrats in the state legislature absconded to Washington, D.C. to deny Republicans quorum to pass the bill.
The bill eventually did pass.
Did it “disenfranchise black and brown voters” as Reyes alleged?
The new Texas law strengthened security procedures by requiring voters to list either their driver’s license number or the last four digits on their Social Security card when mailing in a ballot. The law also banned 24-hour voting, which didn’t exist pre-pandemic, and it codified early voting between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays. Oh, and the new law made it illegal to harvest ballots “in exchange for compensation,” among other sensible provisions.
Those particulars, though, are unimportant to the larger conversation. Once again, here we have a fallacious graph created that links our commitment to address racism with our commitment to advance a left-wing narrative, which, in this case, is the narrative that condemns voter ID laws as Jim Crow 2.0.
Not surprisingly, those who engage in emotional blackmail happen to be remarkably condescending when talking about the black community. Reyes, for instance, believes that white church leaders can burnish their “anti-black racism” street cred by reaching out to a “pastor at a local black church and say, ‘Hey, can we be friends?’”
Does this woman have any black friends? Who starts a conversation in that manner?
The cringeworthy commentary continued.
Reyes argued that this new friendship status is the perfect chance to don the cape of white savior: “When hard things happen, you show up to your now black pastor friend and say, ‘What can I do?’”
Now, as believers, we should aid fellow churches when there is a need. We are all the part of the Body of Christ, irrespective of race, and thus our communities should not be walled off from one another, especially during times of crisis. Where Reyes goes off the rails is that she puts a premium on a person’s race as she considers whom to help and who needs the help.
God may not be a respecter of persons, but she sure is, and she wants you to be, too.
I don’t mean to pick on Reyes. Yes, she comes across as caricature of a women’s studies major at Smith College, but she is not alone in using the language of racial reconciliation to both promote collective guilt and ram through liberal fetishes. One Christianity Today writer, for example, implored his “white brothers and sisters” to “join us in a fight against racism and extremism” by opposing America’s “gun culture,” whereas another CT voice lamented how our country, populated with “millions of people whose descendants” were either “enslaved or enslavers,” has “not previously made time in our civic calendar of traditions” to reflect on slavery and emancipation.
Leaving aside that we have an entire month dedicated to recognizing black achievements in overcoming adversities, how is racial unity realized by categorizing contemporary Americans in the boxes of “enslaved or enslavers”?
It isn’t, obviously.
Indexing Americans today along the lines of “enslaved or enslavers” when they were neither “enslaved nor enslavers” is a recipe for racial resentment.
As the great Thomas Sowell poignantly noted:
“Wrongs abound in times and places around the world — inflicted on, and perpetrated by, people of virtually every race, creed and color. But what can any society today hope to gain by having newborn babies in that society enter the world as heirs to prepackaged grievances against other babies born into that same society on the same day.”
These “prepackaged grievances” are all the more ludicrous after factoring in how there are millions of first- and second-generation immigrant families living in the United States, families who literally have no connection to slavery or segregation. To view Americans through the lens of “enslaved or enslavers” in the year 2022 is embarrassingly anachronistic.
From a biblical standpoint, it’s important to remember that true reconciliation begins with Jesus Christ:
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconcilingthe world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”–2 Corinthians 5:17-19
This status as “new creations” means that there is therefore “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Christians can stand confidently on God’s Word that if we “confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
That’s step one.
Step two is, depending on what we did, to determine if restitution is in order. Recall how “Zacchaeus the tax collector” paid his victims back four times the amount he stole from them.
Biblical reconciliation is vertical towards God and horizontal towards man.
Woke reconciliation, by contrast, insists that we confess to sins that we never committed, walk around in a state of condemnation over sins that we never committed, and shell out money to atone for sins that we never committed.
That type of reconciliation is a ruse, and it is an especially toxic one when applied to race relations.
It’s the reason why wealthy elites are having struggle sessions over hairdos, why Juneteenth revelers are still whining about what the country “owes us,” why columnists freely trash America on Independence Day without the slightest bit of intellectual awareness, and why pastors are being pressured to turn their pulpits into a “Black Lives Matter” pep rally.
Victimhood as an identity is not easily let go. But it should be let go. It is a hollow pursuit, one that breeds anger and cynicism. Identity by way of Christ, on the other hand, enriches all aspects of our lives and empowers us to walk in forgiveness and freedom — regardless of the color of our skin.
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