There are many layers to the saga now playing out nightly on our television screens, peaceful demonstrations followed by burning of buildings in response to the cold blooded murder of George Floyd. Chickens are coming home to roost from an American history of 500 years of racism and colonialism. As someone has said, “it is not that there is more racism today, just that it is being filmed.” Yes, the new invention of i-phones has brought the visual truths of racism to our living rooms.
One wonders if in 1492 when Columbus had landed, had the native Americans had cell cameras, history might have unfolded differently before 90% of the indigenous peoples had been wiped out.
Or if, 100 years later, when Africans first disembarked from the salve ships in Jamestown, someone who had an i-phone had filmed it, the history of slavery might have been aborted before it took deep root.
Or if someone had recorded the true realities of slavery in the south there might have been a response even among some southerners that might have stopped slavery in its tracks or at least slowed it down.
Or if someone with an i-phone had attended one of the 4400 lynchings between 1877 and 1950 and spread the pics maybe, just maybe, Jim Crow and all its institutional violence might have been ended earlier and the 14th amendment enforced.
But that was then. And now is now.
What is all this about? What layers of malfeasance, historical and contemporary, are being laid bare before our eyes?
One dimension is this: The public display of a sick masculinity.
One photo of the white policeman kneeling on the neck of George Floyd showed him staring at the camera, looking relaxed with his hand in his pocket, as if he had just shot a game animal.
Seeing this photo, a deja vu hit me—that of Erick Trump posing with his kill, a lion he had hunted and shot in Africa. In both pictures the poseur has his chest out as if he was super proud of having slaughtered another being.
A sick version of masculinity struts itself in both these photos, in both these actions.
On Saturday I spoke to a citizen of St. Paul who told me why, though the governor declared a curfew on Friday, there was no enforcement of it, so violence continued unabated in Minneapolis.
It turns out that the four policemen who killed or watched being killed an unarmed black man begging to be allowed to breathe were not alone.
Apparently, the rest of the police department (or most of it) refused to defend the city out of pique. Yes, they were offended that four of their own had been fired so swiftly by the mayor, so they took their ball and went home. Refused to do their job to defend the city, effectively inviting arsonists in.
How’s that for courage and manliness? To be continued
For naming of the healthy masculine, see Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine.
See also Matthew Fox, Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth, pp. 116-125.
For the full account from Minneapolis by journalist and activist Lynnell Mickelson, see: https://www.facebook.com/lynnell.mickelsen/posts/10157238704816272. Referenced with permission.
Queries for Contemplation
What is your understanding of healthy manliness?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
Creation Spirituality: Liberating Gifts for the Peoples of the Earth
Fox’s spirituality weds the healing and liberation found in North American Creation Spirituality and in South American Liberation Theology. Creation Spirituality challenges readers of every religious and political persuasion to unite in a new vision through which we learn to honor the earth and the people who inhabit it as the gift of a good and just Creator.
“A watershed theological work that offers a common ground for religious seekers and activists of all stripes.” — Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.