TL Putnam interviews Damon Clarke Owens
…on race in the Church and in the US:
It has been absolutely fascinating watching the reactions of Normals vs. MAGA Qhristians to members of the body of Christ like Damon and Gloria Purvis when they point out that racism is still very much with the Church. Here, for instance is an utterly typical exchange as they attempt to point out common sense for the common good and call the Body of Christ to do what is right, only to be met by MAGA fear, hostility and resistance:
We are not talking about some sort of bomb-throwing radicals here. We are not talking about any of the stereotypes to which conservative whites reflexively turn in order to deflect any attempt by People of Color to alert them to the fact that there is an ongoing problem in the US and in the Church with racism. Gloria is the sweetest and one of the most devout Catholics I have run across. Damon, as you will hear above, is likewise devoted to the gospel of Jesus Christ and intends nothing but the building of the kingdom of God.
And yet even they are too much for those who cannot bear to hear their obvious facts and clear warnings.
For the truth is, any discussion of racism is too much for racists.
How do you tell this is so? The same way you spot any enabler of any evil contrary to the common good: by whether they respond with interest in the common good or with the reflexive demand, “Don’t blame me! Not my fault! I didn’t do it!”
It’s the same story over and over from the MAGA cult. Mass shooting at a school? Normals respond by saying, “Dear God! What can we do to change this so that it stops happening again and again?”
Self-absorbed MAGA cultists respond. “Don’t blame me! Not my fault! Don’t touch my gun!” and don’t give a thought to victims or to the prevention of future horrors. It’s all about them.
Climate change? Normals ask what we can do to help. MAGA insist it not their fault and not their problem.
Pandemic? Normals seek to protect others. MAGA see such consideration for others and label it “fear”, boasting that they are not afraid (because its all about their heroism in the center of their own drama) and only caring about the suffering of the disease when they experience it.
Same with racism. Don’t blame them. They have not personally put a noose around a black man’s neck, so when countless people of color tell them that racism is real and they experience it every day, the sole response is “Don’t blame me and besides it’s not real. Stop playing the Race Card.” What they mean by that is that POC who try to tell them about racism are doing it as an attempt to gain power over them through guilt manipulation. In short, because everything is all about them all the time always, it is unthinkable that a person of color is talking about racism in order to try to address the issue as a threat to the common good and a wound to the body of Christ. Nope. What’s is really happening is the POC is trying to expand his power by diminishing the MAGA cultist’s power via guilt and shame. It’s an act of aggression, not a call to build the Kingdom. It’s an accusation and it’s aimed at the MAGA narcissist as an attempt to shame him.
In the Kingdom, we are called to recognize where we have wounded the common good and the body of Christ, not so that we can be shamed, but so that we can repent. When an entire demographic tells you “There’s a problem” the wise thing to do is listen to them and not say, “I know better than you what you experience is. Don’t blame me!”–especially when, as with Damon and Gloria, they aren’t blaming you. They are just telling you what’s going on.
It is thanks to witnesses to the gospel like Damon and Gloria–and to my horrified realization of the long years in which I repeated the “Don’t blame mes” and stooped down to explain to POC that racism was imaginary–that the Holy Spirit has thwacked me upside my self-involved head and gotten me realizing that it’s not All About Me, but about the common good. It took the apotheosis of the Trump Freak Show to make clear what I had been in bed with for far too long. My apologies for my years of helping to further injustice. I may be dumb, but I’m a slow learner.