White Evangelicals and Critical Race Theory

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(Photo Credit: Matthew Teutsch)

On August 18, 1963, 10 days before Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have A Dream” speech at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, an article entitled “Our Laws Must Be Upheld” appeared in The Shreveport Times. The author derided the “Negro rights” revolution, writing that there has been “increasing public revulsion against the avalanche of propaganda that it is all right for Negroes and their white supporters to break laws in bloody street demonstrations because the so-called ‘rights’ they seek are something they are ‘supposed’ to have.” Part of this “avalanche of propaganda,” according to the author, was coming from church pulpits and the National Council of Churches. …

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Today, I want to look at the song that plays when we first encounter Chris and Rose on screen. As images of Chris’s photographs flash across the screen, we hear Childish Gambino’s “Redbone” from “Awaken, My Love” (2016). Countering the soulful sound of the song, the lyrics focus on the narrator’s paranoia over infidelity in a relationship. Jordan Peele talks about his choice of “Redbone” for the film and mentions “But stay woke” which opens the chorus. …

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Photo Mike Theiler

Lillian Smith tells the story of her and one of her brothers playing in their house in Jasper, Florida. They ran around and in the attic they came across an old chest. Opening it, they stood aghast, staring at all of the money they had found. “We felt rich; richer than the Rockefeller children or any children,” Smith said in 1960, “We knew we could now buy anything we wanted.”

Smith and her brother went to the store asked the clerk for five pounds of candy. When her brother gave the clerk the money, he told them, “This money is worthless.” Smith and her brother pushed back, claiming the money had value because it was paper money. …

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Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece’s Incognegro focuses on constructions of race and the ways that whites use these constructions in order to maintain power or to even hopefully achieve power. The graphic novel does not detail the intersections between white supremacy and the church, but there are at least two brief moments that cause readers to think about these intersections. Today, I want to focus on these moments, all of which encompass only three small panels within the book. However, these moments drive home the ways that Christian nationalism and the construction of religion serves to maintain control and power.

These moments play into larger discussions I have been having recently, specifically in response to white evangelicals’ and Christian Nationalists’ attacks on Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality. Recently, the presidents of the Southern Baptist seminaries recommitted themselves to the Baptist Faith and Message, and by extension, as Jemar Tisby notes, “whiteness.”

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A couple of semesters ago, I taught an upper-level multicultural American literature course. Each of the students in this course were education majors, so as I prepared the syllabus, I was thinking about texts that would help them think about their own pedagogy in the classroom. With this thought in mind, I added texts such as Jacqueline Jones Royster’s “When the first voice you hear is not your own,” Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue,” and Richard Rodriguez’s “Aria: A Memoir of a Bilingual Child.” I had students construct the reading schedule, and they decided to save these texts for the end of the semester so they could bring their accumulated knowledge that they learned to help them think about pedagogy. Along with the above texts, I also assigned the NCTE’s 1974 statement Students’ Right to Their Own Language. …

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A couple of years ago I started reading older issues of Avengers, specifically some written by Steve Englehart. Amid all of the superhero action and fighting, there is a commentary on interracial intimacy within the relationship between Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) and Vision (an android). Their relationship begins around Avengers 108 (Feb. 1973) as Wanda is in search of her brother Pietro (Quicksilver) and fears for his life. Over the next six issues, their relationship plays a role in the ongoing stories, and it serves, in many ways, as a commentary on the views towards interracial intimacy at the time.

Wanda and the Vision’s relationship appears only five years after the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1968 and Nichelle Nichols and William Shatner’s onscreen kiss in Stark Trek, four years after Raquel Welch and Jim Brown’s sex scene in 100 Rifles, and around the same time as discussions of interracial intimacy appeared on the small screen on shows like All in the Family (1971) and The Jeffersons (1975). …

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Yesterday, I posted about Norwegian artists Johan Christian Dahl, Nikolai Astrup, and Edvard Munch. Today, I want to look at some of my favorite pieces from the Museé d’Orsay in Paris, literally one of the most amazing museums I have ever visited. The Museé d’Orsay officially opened, as a museum, in 1986. However, the building is a former train station which was built or the Exposition Universelle in 1900. The main hall is where the trains would come in and out, and the initial view, walking in from the entrance, is spectacular.

I do not have the space, or the time, to write about every piece that I saw at the Museé d’Orsay, so like last time, I will focus on just a few pieces. Two pieces from Claude Monet really stood out to me, partly because of their connections to Norway. Monet visited Norway in 1885 and painted about 29 works. The one at the d’Orsay is “Le Mont Kolsaas en Norvège” which depicts Mount Kolsås, a mountain in Eastern Norway near Oslo. Monet did not ski, and since he was here in the winter, it was difficult for him to travel around and get views from not easily accessible perspectives. He wrote, “This country is undoubtedly infinitely more beautiful without snow, or at least when there isn’t so much of it.” Monet saw the beauty in Norway’s landscape, and he captured it in “Le Mont Kolsaas en Norvège.” …

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During my Fulbright in Norway a couple of years ago, I have had the opportunity to visit countless museums in Norway, Poland, France, and Austria. Today, I want to take a moment and share with you some of my favorite pieces from Bergen, Norway. The KODE museums have a large collection of artworks from various ages, but the ones that stuck out to me are from the National Romantic, early-Modernist, and Modernist periods. Specifically, I was drawn to the works of Johan Christan Dahl (1788–1857), Nikolai Astrup (1880–1920) , and Edvard Munch (1863–1944). Before I arrived in Norway, the only one I had heard of, of course, was Munch. As Ian Dejardin notes in his lecture about Astrup, the 19th century in Norwegian art is a golden age, leading up to Munch. …

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Uncanny X-Men Annual #11

Chris Claremont and Michael Golden created Rogue in 1981, and she made her debut in Avengers Annual #10. What makes Rogue interesting to me is her place of origin, the fictional Caldecott County in Mississippi. Speaking with the Clarion Ledger in 2016, Claremont told Jacob Threadgill, “I felt, why should Louisiana get all the fun? … (Mississippi) was a place where the racial divisions and relationships were viewed in perhaps more stark terms than in and around New Orleans.” This is a really interesting quote, specifically the juxtaposition of “fun” and “racial divisions.” …

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Life Magazine December 15, 1961

Lillian E. Smith published Memory of Large Christmas in 1962. The book, essentially, is a collection of humorous and memorable anecdotes about the large, bountiful Smith family Christmases. In the back of the book, Smith includes recopies for turkey dressing, pork salad, ambrosia, and more. Today, I want to look at one of the scenes that Smith relates in the book. The scene occurs at the end and involves a speech that her father, Calvin, gave after a Christmas dinner in 1918.

Smith’s family moved permanently to their summer home in Clayton, GA, in 1915 after their father’s lumber and naval stores in Jasper, FL, failed during World War I. Calvin presented the move to his family as a great adventure, and he left “like an explorer setting out for an unknown continent.” He told his family about the mountains and created a vivid image in their minds, engaging them in the benefits of moving from the swamps of Jasper to the mountains of Clayton. …

About

Matthew Teutsch

Here, you will find reflections on African American, American, and Southern Literature, American popular culture and politics, and pedagogy.

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