This is America | Forum for Theological Exploration

This is America

By: Stephen Lewis
January 07, 2021

By design, we turn a blind eye versus hold accountable the kind of local and national leadership that instigate and ignite our worst fears and pathologies. This is America! But it is not representative of all she is or who she might become.

​In 21st century America, we continue to operate under the disillusionment of the American myth—that we are the “United” States of America. Contrary to popular belief, since its founding by design, America has been a divided, not a united country.

Yesterday was a stark reminder of this fact.

As a Black man, I was frustrated and enraged with ancestral anger as I watched domestic acts of terrorism, by design, play out at the Capitol during the Congressional certification of the electoral votes for President-Elect Joe Biden.

Colleagues, friends, family and I texted each other, posted on social media, discussed and posed the same question: What would have happened if these rioters and insurrectionists were Black women, men and children? Constantly bombarded with headlines of Black, Brown and indigenous life murdered for less, if any, egregious offences in their own homes, backyards, or for a jog, and mistreated and imprisoned during peaceful protests, we all know the answer to this question.

For those of us who are people of color in this country, we know too well the double standard that persists in spite of America’s mythology and decree that we live as one nation under God. There have always been at least two Americas with a different set of rules, different applications of the law, measures of accountability, and protections for different citizens by design.

Most of what we do, observe, or experience is by design, whether it’s intentional or not or explicit or not.

America, its policies and systemic inequity are no exception. By design, this country was founded by terrorists. By design, America’s economy was built from the forced labor of my ancestors. By design, we separate children from their families and lock them in cages. By design, we experience Black people either as menacing or threatening, expendable and consequential, taking their life at will. By design, we legislate policies that continue systemic iniquities. By design, America continues to advance a caste system, based on white supremacy. By design, we turn a blind eye versus hold accountable the kind of local and national leadership that instigate and ignite our worst fears and pathologies. This is America! But it is not representative of all she is or who she might become.

What America might become can only be realized by design or redesign.

The only way we can be and do better is to shape a future grounded in the lived experience of everyday people instead of the interests of wealthy and powerful people, and corporations. We can only become united when we join ancestral freedom fighters of this land in the longstanding, sacred struggle to design alternatives to the status quo of American imperialism. By design, we must fight like hell and do what Atlanta’s musical genius, entrepreneur and political activist Killer Mike says, “plot, plan, strategize, organize and mobilize” for a better us, a better future, and ultimately a better country.

This is why I am excited about the election of FTE Alum Senator Raphael Warnock as well as Stacey Abrams and Georgia leaders who organized to send him to Washington along with Jon Ossoff.

We need leaders who have a moral and ethical vision for what we can become together. Leaders who bring the concerns of everyday people to the legislative process. Leaders who will hold our country and institutions accountable for their shortcomings. Leaders who will design a way forward that enables all of God’s people to experience their greatest potential. And who will join the ancestral fight for freedom and justice for all.

Senator Warnock is such a leader! My colleagues and I take this moment to celebrate him and his election to the U.S. senate.

While today is blanketed by the thick, white fog of disillusionment in the aftermath of yesterday’s attempted coup and tragic fits and starts of our democratic process and progress, morning is coming! So we join the great senator from Georgia and put our shoes on, pray for the Eternal’s protection and guidance, and we get to work….working alongside Senator Warnock and others to shape a more hopeful future!


Photo by: Blink O’fanaye

Tags...: Design Thinking, Inside FTE, Thinking Out Loud


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