I believe you when you say that you’ve lost all faith/but you must believe in Something.
In a matter of hours Advent will come to an end and Christmastide will begin. Advent is supposed to be a season of waiting , anticipation and hope. At this point in time , I’m lacking in all three areas; after a year like 2014 I feel as though there is little to hope for and nothing good to anticipate.
Why is this the case?
The defining feature of 2014 is the naked assertion of white supremacy. The police have been killing Black people with impunity for as long as they have existed so 2014 isn’t really different from previous years, but lets not get it twisted: this year was wack. What has come to light this year is the failure of the discourse of “white privilege”. This term does not even begin to dig beneath the surface and the way in which the term has been popularized actually makes it difficult for voices from the tradition of Black radicalism to be heard at full volume. Whenever I see a think piece with the word “white privilege” in the title , I’m inclined to think it was written by a white liberal. But this is still the soft end of this year! Black bodies are piling up in the streets; men , women , young , old , LGBTQ , poor , middle-class , skinny , tall , fat , etc. The black body in all its different shapes and sizes is the body upon which order stands. The police did not go on rampage in 2014 , they simply did they’re normal police work and it produced death. Layers of death! It wasn’t just bullet wounds or chokeholds that did the killing , it was leaving the bodies out in the streets as an example , as a mockery. It was refusing the victim medical attention , it was keeping them from their family after their death. It was the teargassing and shooting of protestors (or anyone in sight) , it was the incarceration of woman trying to defend herself from domestic violence.Buber’s dialogic principle does not apply to the Black body. We can be shot at, denied citizenship , incarcerated, and left to rot in the streets.We can’t even be sick with being identified with illness itself (i’m referring to the Ebola controversy). This has nothing to do with ‘white privilege’ this is anti-blackness.
What witnessed and experienced in 2014 is the ongoing productivity of the spatio-cultural imagination named ‘The West’. It’s tentacles reach all the way from Ferguson to New York to The Alexander docks on the Red River. In my own city we were confronted with the news of Tina Fontaine’s murder. Once again we were greeted with the naked assertion of white supremacy, as her death was simply brushed aside by our prime minister and of course we cannot forget the role of the police. Now at this point there are some reoccurring themes we can point out ,the first being regulation. If we think of whiteness spatially we can say that the police are given the task of regulating the borders of whiteness. I risk ontologizing whiteness by saying this , but whiteness has content and one of the pillars of whiteness is heteropatriachy. To state things clearly: The police are the extension of the state given the task of regulating the borders of whiteness in order to uphold the White Hetero-Masculine. This is why state violence against Black bodies , indigenous bodies , Queer and trans bodies are not unrelated to one another.
The problem of Advent: Why we cannot hope for more Christianity
What has made Advent 2014 especially disorienting is the fact that the disregard for Black life that we have been sing all year is a Christian operation, and not accidentally! From Saint Paul to Officer Darren Wilson, Difference has been the greatest problem for Christianity; and how can we forget its long history of favoring imperialism? This is a history that is often affirmed in contemporary theological discourse. It is the totalizing nature of Christianity , along with the fact that it is thoroughly complicit in white supremacy that raises the question of disbelief. In order for white supremacy we must be found unbelieving when it comes to the faith of the (Christian) King. By disbelief I mean the refusal to swear allegiance to the god of the present order.
Christian theologians often try to make a move similar to what I am doing here. For some reason it is edgy to maintain the belief that “only Christianity can truly embrace unbelief”. This is not what I have in mind , as I follow Ashon Crawley by saying that I am not particularly interested in atheism (at least the kind that keeps Radically Orthodox theologians awake at night); furthermore I, like Crawley think that Black disbelief and atheism can be distinguishable from atheism. I would like to think of Black life itself as a form of disbelief. It is important to state that Black disbelief does not rest upon conversion , as it is not a movement from belief to disbelief and vice versa. Black life exists within the now, and the present moment consists of both belief and disbelief. However , the form of belief that is produced by Black life is belief in that which produced and is producing our ongoing disbelief. In other words , Black life creates a space in which belief and disbelief can work together, and opens the possibility of naming God outside the regulations of whiteness. Disbelief in belief as determined by the present order , and belief undetermined by the present order, work together by bearing witness against the falsehood that upholds the current state of affairs. This is possible because Black life is a form of life that disbelieves in the ground of our being-in-the-world and simultaneously affirms (believes in?) the subject of disbelief. For theologian M.Shawn Copeland , the fruit of this (dis)believing form of life is a “distinctive religious expression , exquisite music and song , powerful rhetoric and literature , practical invention and creative art”. With Frank Ocean we can say “Jehovah Jireh” and “Fuck the police” at the same time as two sides of one act. In conclusion I would like to share one of my favorite examples of Black life operating in the form of (dis)belief. The great anti-apartheid singer Brenda Fassie. I offer no explanation: