Sins of the Fathers

Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Malia Obama, Sasha Obama, Marian Robinson, John Lewis, Amelia Boynton Robinson
Obama Leading March in Selma

“Keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:7

The Bible in many places talks about sin. America’s original sin isn’t slavery as many would argue. Slavery is the economic and cultural by product of a mind-set. America’s original sin is “white supremacy.” The notion that one group of people should have dominance over another because of skin color or what became codified in the aggregate as “race.”

On the 50th Anniversary of the crossing of the Edmond Pettus Bridge, the beating, biting, hosing of Americans of African descent who dared to challenge “white” privilege and the structural inequities of the American political and economic system it’s worth noting how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.

“Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts, who wrote the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder that found the VRA had achieved its purpose and that voting discrimination was largely a thing of the past. Congress can consider some new changes, he said, but not a whole new VRA.

“I don’t think that the Supreme Court ruling has damaged voting rights in any real way,” Sessions said, as reported in a post by Edward-Isaac Dovere in Politco titled Selma highlights hypocrisy on voting rights, Democrats say.”

“An absolute disgrace for Republicans in the year 2015 to work overtime to deny people the basic right to vote,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), quoted in the same article. America is changing. Demographically America will become a minority-majority country. That’s a scary proposition when the lens through which you gage you own self-worth either individually or collectively is a racial one.

We’ve had Civil Rights Acts and Voting Rights Acts, but Acts as we can see from the decision in Shelby get reversed, bad decisions based upon faulty reasoning and the continuation of “white” privilege keeps us from achieving that elusive more perfect union. Colorphobia and racism and “white” fears of having to compete in a world where their skin color means nothing remains the biggest challenge faced by Western Civilization.

In Christianity, certainly in the Baptist tradition in order to be “re-born” one must wash away “the sins of the fathers” through a literal dunking under water replicating the “baptizing” ritual performed by John the Baptist on Jesus the Christ.

For America, the current iteration of the “white” supremacist legacy, when will it ever experience the rebirth necessary to expiate that original sin, 50, 100, 200 years? Only time will tell. May be there are people alive today who will be around when the day comes.

Obama in his remarks during the Selma commemoration this past weekend as quoted in an article in The Huffington Post by Igor Bobic said, “You are America. Unconstrained by habits and convention. Unencumbered by what is, and ready to seize what ought to be,” speaking to the young folks gathered. “For everywhere in this country, there are first steps to be taken, and new ground to cover, and bridges to be crossed. And it is you, the young and fearless at heart, the most diverse and educated generation in our history, who the nation is waiting to follow.”

Slavery is gone. But the “white” gaze remains. That is the constant. And America will never be free of its original sin until “white” folks stop being “white.” The notion of “white” supremacy/superiority/privilege must be cast into the bowels of Hell where it belongs.