In the words of the Prophet Angela Davis, “freedom is a Constant Struggle.”
In this present darkness that we find ourselves, it has become critical to heed and embody this truth. We live in world where Nazis openly march on the streets and where said white supremacists are met by a gang of angry clowns.
It is difficult to discern how to go about life in the midst of this tumultuous, vitriolic, and confusing age. The cost of freedom only seems to be rising exponentially as the demand is increasing without end in sight, but the supply is dramatically diminishing with the light.
We find ourselves at great odds in this very present struggle against a new breed of the same old monster we have been fighting for eons.
White Supremacy and Racism.
Homophobia and Transphobia.
Misogyny and Patriarchy.
While I write and speak about Empire and all of its many agents of evil often, I have spent the last few months reflecting on a particular parasite that finds itself thriving in the midst of this very real pile of feces we are living in.
Straight. White. Male. Upper Class. Christian. Property Owner. Progressive. Liberal. Etc.
The most dangerous individual in our present struggle against Empire is the “Ally” who, while not divesting from self-interest, self-protection, or inherited privilege and power, purports to be the champion we so desperately need in this fight.
It is the white male academic who has the power and popularity to change entire epistemological structures, but for the sake of comfort, they will just tweet about the justice books they are reading instead.
It is the woman that uses social media to make herself as the crusader for the oppressed, but when asked to manifest her online activism in real time in her own organization, she throws a fit instead.
It is the armada of white pastors who wine and dine themselves on progressive dollars and the stories of the oppressed, but rarely ever affect any true change. Instead, they have successfully rebranded themselves for day that their new theologies and politics become profitable.
It is the straight white male who decides he is called by God to start a ministry for young Queer People of Color and fight for justice, but refuses to pay the cost to elevate their voices, their leadership, and their lives. When he is challenged by the mentors and prophets he has surrounded himself to hand over power to a Queer Person of Color, he decides to hire his wife instead. He is the man that will exploit the labor and lives of Queer folk and people of color to somehow craft an image of himself as an advocate and an ally for the marginalized and oppressed. He is the “ally” who profits handsomely, while his employees find themselves at real risk of homelessness. He is the “ally” who believes he has done the marginalized a favor by simply existing. He will never pay them their dues; he will never issue them repartitions. He will always blame the system. He will never realize that he is the system. If this is Mark 7:24-30, he is neither the child nor the dog. He is instead a jackal that feeds himself first, and after devouring the banquet and consuming the crumbs from underneath the table, he eats both child and dog. Yet he is still not satisfied. He wants more. More power. More privilege. More resources. Greater Status. An ambitious legacy. [And yet, history will be justified by her children. Let the reader understand.]
These “allies” are a fascinating breed of capitalist.
These “allies” are calculating and strategic. They have made a long-term investment in progressive values, theologies, and world views. While, their investments might provide the occasional pay back in the short term, they know that the real handsome return is coming later on.
You see, Trump and the White Supremacists will not be able to survive very long. Their overt evil and hatred will eventually crawl its soulless carcass back into hibernation. Things will, eventually, go back “to normal” – to a normal state where Empire behaves more subtly again and where the masses begin to believe the lie of peace again.
But where there is no justice, there is no peace.
Justice will not fully be realized, and the Empire will not die until the Divine All Powerful One returns to set all things right. Until then, we continue to struggle for our freedom, for our dignity, and for hope.
These “allies” know this full well. They understand that if they play the game right now, they will achieve celebrated status and celebrity later, when things are calmer, and a façade of peace has descended once again.
Some of my friends and colleagues worship these “allies.” They worship them because at some point they had admired these individuals, and then they became “allies” and thus, worthy of praise.
We are easily deceived into worship of these folks, particularly those who had, in a previous life, already achieved fame and popularity during their more explicit embeddedness with Empire. The very people that had once profited off our oppression and marginalization, now seek the profit off our praise and worship of them.
Jesus talks about folks like these, and issues a warning to be different:
“When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:8-11
One only needs to skim Luke’s Gospel (or any Gospel, for that matter) to know who it is that is invited to the seat of honor by the Host. The marginalized – women, children, the poor, the ethnic minority, the immigrant and foreigner, the sexually suspect, the sick, and the socially outcast. Not “the ally.”
My dear, dear “allies” – truly I say to you, you’ve already received your reward. Jesus has flipped the script and the seat of honor is not yours anymore. Do not be presumptuous, in the tradition of your ancestors, to take that which does not belong to you. Do not worry, though, there is still a seat for you at the party, and there is plenty of food. This is the Gospel.
You are not needed in this constant struggle for freedom, but you are more than welcome to join us, if you would but learn your place.