As an African-American, I celebrate the recent election of four Congresswomen of color: Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Representative Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Representative Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts. Even though there were Congresswomen of color leading the nation on Capitol Hill prior to their arrival, their election to the most powerful and prestigious legislative body in the world should be celebrated given the racist and sexist history and extant racist and sexist climate of this country. As a Christian minster, I do not embrace each and every political position championed by these courageous, four women; however, I celebrate their achievements, support their vision for a more inclusive society and support their Constitutional right to dissent and challenge the status quo. Lost in this mainstream discussion about their views which are in opposition to the President, conservative America and racist America is the fact that they are Black people (i.e., people of African descent) whose brilliance, tenacity, vision and diligence earned them a place in history. Their very presence should be cause of celebration for America.
I know many people who are affiliated with the Black Church celebrate their historic achievements and/or their current political position(s). I understand that some white, evangelicals cannot or will not celebrate black excellence. However, the caustic, racist, xenophobic political climate that they refuse to denounce poses a threat to both Black life and the Christian message. Much of the rhetoric which appears in national headlines is anti-Christian. For example, the popular chant “Send Her Back” is in direct contradiction to the Christian mandate to love one’s neighbor (Matthew 22:39) and to welcome the stranger (Matthew 25:35). The silence of the church as it concerns the racist, sexist, xenophobic, divisive and dangerous national narrative, means that church is in agreement with it. This silence cripples community, cheapens Christianity, causes faith to falter, truncates the truth, promotes a nihilistic threat to Black life as it dissuades a generation of people from wanting to embrace Christ. If it is not careful, the evangelical church that supports this caustic narrative will be on the wrong side of both human and salvation history.
Jesus encouraged humanity to love God and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves (see Matthew 22:34-40). As members of the church universal, we have a Christian mandate to support a narrative which affirms the humanity and dignity of people wherever and however they may be found. As Christian leaders and laity, we must denounce any narrative which seeks to devaluate and dehumanize people. Indeed, we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13). However, if the salt has lost its saltiness, what is it good for (Matthew 5:13)?