Politics Magazine

From “I Can’t Breathe” to “Fuck Your Breath”…Can Liberal Religion Respond?

Posted on the 13 April 2015 by Eastofmidnight

I begin with two questions...

Was Walter Scott mentioned in your UU church Sunday?

Will Eric Harris be mentioned in your UU church next Sunday, the 19th?

With the release of the video in which one can hear a man who was "accidentally" shot in the back being told "fuck your breath" we have entered a whole new dimension of something. Something has happened so that things moved from "I can't breathe" to "fuck your breath" rather seamlessly.

"Fuck your breath" is the denial of basic humanity. And while I know that some will try to make the case that this could have happened to anybody, it didn't. It happened to a black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, site of "race" riots in 1921.

Since the release of the Walter Scott tape on Tuesday, I've been asking myself if liberal theology and liberal religion can really say anything to the present moment. With the release of the Eric Scott tape and the news of the death of Natasha McKenna while handcuffed and shackled, I have come to the conclusion that neither one will be able to speak to this moment very clearly. The reason being that the American liberal tradition (religious and political/social), at its very heart, is paternalistic and doesn't challenge white supremacy at all.

I thought I would be more disappointed with coming to that conclusion, but I'm not. It's a relief in so many ways. It means that my gaining the most sustenance from liberation theology is not a betrayal at all. It's recognizing that when some things were being thought about, people who look like me weren't part of the equation.

What would liberal theology and religion look like if it took into account those who have had to make a way out of no way? Those who have been plundered and pillaged for generations? Those who are condemned and pathologized just because?

More later.


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