(“Can the Subaltern speak?” is the title of article by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak)
The following is said at the risk of being considered a sell-out.
It is events (as in the historical happening as well as in phenomenological terms) like Arizona’s new racist law #SB1070, one of the reasons why I haven’t responded to the article Is the Emerging Church for Whites Only? Otherwise known, as “some color is not enough color in the Emerging/Emergent Church”. It seems very capricious and disingenuous that in certain issues People of Color (this apply to other people at the margins, disabled, Queer, Women et cetera) speak and work to eradicate prejudices, discrimination and profiling based on appearances and social perception/constructs while on the other hand we used those standards against others. I’m guilty as charged. I am a broken man. I am paternalistic, patriarchal, sexist and racist. I’m stubborn, hipocrite and prideful. I’m not without fault. Unfortunately I am very unaware of my own baggage. Once in a while by the grace of God I’m confronted with my own sin – Lord, have mercy on a me a sinner.
It is obvious that we do not live in a post-racial society and that our institutions, movements, groups carry within themselves the disease of racism (as well as sexism, homophobia, patriarchy, ageism, discrimination against disable people among many other sins). We all partake of the paradox of power and oppression. I’m not surprised this new round of conversation about the supposedly lack of melanin in the emerging/emergent church has spurred some animosity, reaction and resistance. I am married to a White/Anglo/Euro-American woman and still after 10 years of a happy marriage our strong disagreements and arguments have to do with racial/ethnic/cultural differences. The work toward justice and reconciliation is not one without discomfort and pain, especially when our baggage and experiences are so unique and embedded in our souls.
Today I stand behind what I wrote two years ago, in a similar series of posts related to Whiteness and New Monasticism. Nevertheless, since then I’ve meet and come to love many people, broken bread, prayed, drank beer, and build relationships that make me confess that at times I’ve been unfair and violent in my involvements about this subject. I believe that in order to really move forward in this conversation we need to engage in a dialogue that go beyond the abstract, the reactionary and the caricatures. Emerging/Emergent Church people need to hold things loosely. As I see it, this thing of Kingdom/Gospel/Soul living is about death and resurrection. If the Emerging/Emergent Church needs to die, well then let it go in order to experience resurrection. People who are critical of the Emerging/Emergent Church (both from inside and outside), what if I we now move on toward a different level of engagement which re-frame the way we compare, judge and work toward, healing, wholeness and harmony? A different level that go beyond the appearances of who sells books and who speak at conferences. There is much more to the Emerging/Emergent church that what meet the eye. Just like Brown people in Arizona are more than just a target for deportation.
What if we people whom have been marginalized (by whatever reason) start functioning from different sources, instead of anger, repression and internalized oppressive false sense of equality that amount to little more than uncritical assimilation? I a Brown Puerto Rican brother I want to function from a sense of dignity, rootedness, community, hard work, conviviality, relationships, stories, family, organic wisdom, interpersonal economics, celebrations, incarnational spirituality, among many other things that make us who we are.
Can the subaltern speak? Can there be an insurrection of the subjugated knowledges? Yes, and oh Yes!
However, the speech and insurrection better be different, if not, it will is the same old regime with a different costume, same dog with a different collar. Liberation is not a change of guard. Liberation is more than changing administration. Liberated people need to learn and function by vibes, values, principles different from the Empire. We should live and work toward a liberation that is humanizing and life-giving to everyone.