By Rev Ladi Thompson
Before he died Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. touched on a rarely mentioned challenge troubling America. On the 31st of August 1963 he said “Ever since the birth of our nation, White America has had a schizophrenic personality on the question of race, she has been torn between selves. A self in which she proudly profess the great principle of democracy and a self in which she madly practices the antithesis of democracy.
This tragic duality has produced a strange indecisiveness and ambivalence toward the Negro, causing America to take a step backwards simultaneously with every step forward on the question of Racial Justice; to be at once attracted to the Negro and repelled by him, to love and to hate him. There has never been a solid, unified and determined thrust to make justice a reality for Afro-Americans. The step backwards has a new name today, it is called the white backlash, but the white backlash is nothing new.
It is the surfacing of old prejudices, hostilities and ambivalences that have always been there. It was caused neither by the cry of black power nor by the unfortunate recent wave of riots in our cities. The white backlash of today is rooted in the same problem that has characterized America ever since the black man landed in chains on the shores of this nation. This does not imply that all White Americans are racist, far from it”.
It was a sincere cry to all stakeholders that America would never be a truly great country until the root of the predator-prey principle was addressed. The American Church must be compelled to confront this ancient deformity because the superiority complex is an easy sell that could produce a Jekyll-Hyde personality disorder in the “white community”.
This would be a tragedy because the American church has a reputation for greatness all over the world. The tragic duality must not be allowed to spread into the pulpit because it could destroy everything that made America great. We saw traces of the contagion on some pulpits when the 44th US president was elected. In Africa we were amused because we saw Obama as a white man in black skin! His double tenure was scandal free and his family stayed the course. Grudgingly we admitted that he had lifted up the profile of all Africans even though he was not really one of us. Next thing we saw America electing a black man in white skin as its next president and I can tell you that Africa recognizes its own because Trump is an alpha male that would have done well in Africa. Chief Donald Trump could easily have become the president of the toughest nation in Africa where Obama would not even be confirmed as the ward chairman of a local government area.
Africa understands and accepts Trump because he is a politician but it’s the American church that we can’t fathom. The American church cannot afford a predator-prey split in its ranks lest many be deformed and defiled by the mark of the Beast since neither the superior or inferior, predator nor prey is acceptable in the kingdom of God. Perhaps the Church in America needs a reminder that it’s the church that leads the world and not the other way round. “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers, and it was not there; in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there.
Not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” Alexis de Tocqueville had visited the United States in 1831 to conclude that the clergy were different from what obtained in Europe. He observed that the clergy stayed aloof to politics and distanced themselves from government but stood firm to provide the moral strength and virtuous standards that helped the government to prosper. There may have been a separation of church and state but there was no separation of state and religious influence.
Excerpts from the Book: THE UNCHARTED SOULS OF WHITE FOLK …