Minneapolis Burning: Thoughts on Racism & Toxic Masculinity

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.

Blocking advancement of riot police with meditation. Photo by Spenser on Unsplash.

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.

VICE News shares a short special on who George Floyd was and the UpRising that has begun due to his murder.

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. 

Donald Trump Jr and Eric Trump with a leopard they killed in Zimbabwe. Photograph originally posted in the now-defunct website “Hunting Legends.”

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. 

Demonstrator holding sign illustrating the last words of Eric Garner and George Floyd, “I Can’t Breathe”. Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash.

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.

Banner Image: Violent riot police retaliate against protestors. Photo by Spenser on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

What is your understanding of healthy manliness?

Recommended Reading

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.

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14 thoughts on “Minneapolis Burning: Thoughts on Racism & Toxic Masculinity”

  1. Avatar
    alice ferdinand

    Oh, how this cuts to the bone and confirms what my heart was telling me. I live in Minneapolis which appears to be a city of love, parks and community. Now the bandage is ripped off, not just here but across the is nation. I live in a place of anguish and unspeakable prayer for this city, the nation and my own personal biases. Please pray and continue to expose this horrid underbelly of our national soul.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you sooo much for your comment. Matthew does feel your pain and that is exactly why he wrote this meditation. The “horrid underbelly” of racism has ran rampant over our nation since the very beginning with slavery. But even after the abolition of slavery racism has not stopped nor has violence towards black men. We will indeed continue to pray for your city as well as for our whole nation on this and related issues. And may God bless you…

  2. Avatar

    This perspective is so helpful and important. The more we (white people) can use our relative power and safety in the system to speak up about racism and violence the more we become part of the solution rather than unintentionally complicit in the problem. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable to name that, and it’s so helpful to see leaders in the field of spirituality lean into the discomfort to speak truth. I find the perspective about how history might have been different had the standers by been able to record and spread the atrocities extremely healing. There are enough of us who can see a different way, if only we can speak and act more on the vision.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jen, thank you sooo much for your comments. We do need more white people to speak out on racism because Black Lives Matter. And Matthew Fox is one who is not afraid to “lean into the discomfort to speak truth.” And I too believe there are enough of us to speak and act more in terms of this vision.

  3. Avatar
    Allysson McDonald

    While I see merit in the overall thesis that toxic masculinity is related to and at the roots of much of what’s wrong in this country, I take issue with the idea that pictures would have made a difference before. There are countless photographs of lynchings- they were sold in postcard format as souvenirs. One problem is that we’ve been sheltered from the truth for far too long and need to educate ourselves in order to make the fundamental changes needed.

    1. Avatar

      I agree that pictures would probably not have made enough difference and that we need to educate ourselves. But I think a larger problem is that people do not want to know, are more comfortable with ignorance, and the saddest thing to me is that so many just simply do not care, like the police that refused to protect the citizens of Minneapolis. There has been case after case after case of racist violence and deep corruption, and it seems to me that not enough people want to know or care to allow fundamental changes. But all we can do is start with ourselves. I just watched the SOJO lamentation and mourning on FB, and it did help.

      1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
        Richard Reich-Kuykendall

        Sue, you are right; many people just don’t what to know, and are comfortable in their ignorance. But we must walk the Via Transformativa in two ways: First we have to transform ourselves as you note, but we also have to work, doing everything we can to transform the society we live in. Thanks again for your comment!

    2. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Allysson, you are right that “we’ve been sheltered from the truth (about racism) for far too long and need to educate ourselves in order to make the fundamental changes needed.” Thank you for these words.

  4. Avatar
    Jim Borgschatz

    If the information about a withdrawal of professional support by the Minneapolis police is true, that is a very serious accusation. – with major implications! If it is rumor or speculation, then passing it along is also unprofessional and disparaging. Please confirm reliable sources that have proof.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jim, thank you for being a fact checker for us. If you would like to see the source of Matthew’s comments concerning the Minneapolis police, please read the meditation for June 2, 2020. And may God bless you…

      1. Avatar

        Richard, I have read the June 2nd meditation and I have gone to Ms. Mickelson’s original post. I still do not see any reliable sources. Misinformation and speculation can come from any camp, and we on the Left cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of circulating someone’s “experience” just because it agrees with our pre-conceived notions.

  5. Avatar

    A really healthy man, I believe, is in touch with his feelings, and is not afraid to share them; can remain true to himself and to his values; is not afraid to speak up when necessary even if it costs him his job; takes care of his loved ones first and foremost; allows his heart as well as his God-given mind to lead him in his life. In other words he is a man in touch with his femininity as well as his masculinity.
    Are there men like this? I believe so . . . even among our politicians. And thank God for the men who dare to be WHO THEY TRULY ARE no matter what.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Thank you sooo much Vivian! Your words concerning “A really healthy man” are a great definition for what “A really healthy man” should be. May God bless you, and thank you for your insights!

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