Dear Servant of God: I am writing to you as a member of the Tea Party – and I am NOT a racist. Years ago it might have been good enough to make such a statement, but not today. Today even so much as claiming not to be a racist makes you suspect. So, let me take this a step further and tell you a little bit about myself and why I can say that will all sincerity.
I grew up in a predominantly Italian town in northern New Jersey. There were a few Black families in our neighborhood and all their kids mingled with the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. Were there any racists around? Sure, there were two women who I specifically knew were racists. One wouldn’t allow our Black friends in her house and the other used the “N” word repeatedly. Of course these were cruel and demeaning things, but they were relatively mild compared to what was happening in the rest of the country at that time. If these were the only racist experiences I knew, I would have been hard-pressed to appreciate the plight of Blacks in the civil rights era.
But in 1962, my family traveled south to Florida. En route, we stopped to visit with my father’s military buddy who lived in Alabama. It was one of those visits you never forget. “Uncle Richie,” as I called him, took us on quite a tour. We actually visited Tobacco Road and from there went into the heart of Birmingham, Alabama. Birmingham, Alabama in 1962 was just about as racist a city as one could imagine – separate bathrooms, separate drinking fountains; everything you could imagine was separate and segregated. It was quite a shock for a northern kid like me, but also for my father. Uncle Richie, who was originally a farm boy from Iowa, was happy to share his broken heart with us – his northern friends. I will never forget getting back to his house that night and the two men sitting across from each other, heads in their hands crying for the inhumanity of one man toward another. It still brings tears to my heart and to my eyes.
Yes, there was prejudice and there was racism. But there was also humanity and people who cared. Sometimes I think the Black community needs reminding of that. They also need reminding about the many Union soldiers that gave their lives so others could be free. Revisionists say the Civil War wasn’t fought over slavery but over economics. Well, the economics would have been affected by the abolition of slavery – and the slave states knew that. One particular stanza in The Battle Hymn of the Republic reveals the true story. Remember, a “battle hymn” is the song soldiers are singing as they march into the battlefield, facing the possibility of death. Let me draw your attention to one of the stanzas of this famous hymn:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, (emphasis mine)
While God is marching on.
Revisionists may refuse to believe that a man – any man – may be willing to die so another can be free, but the words of this hymn, being sung as men possibly went to their death tell a different story.
While the inhumanity of one human being toward another has existed since the Garden of Eden, compassion has also existed. Please do not misunderstand; I am not trying to marginalize the plight of Blacks in America. It is a scar on our nation to be sure. And I am sure that as a white woman living in a northern state for her entire life, that I cannot fully appreciate what it has been like to be the victim of prejudice and racism.
…and the Tea Party
Christopher Gadsden’s “Don’t Tread On Me” flag, the unofficial symbol of the Tea Party movement. Photo: User VIkrum/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License
What does all this have to do with the Tea Party? Plenty!
You see, I believe that the best thing for us as a nation is to move forward and start the healing process between Americans of all colors. Martin Luther King believed the same thing. However, there are those among us that profit – both economically and to advance their careers – by the continuation and escalation of past injustices. They are politicians and preachers, and men like Jeremiah Wright and the Black Panthers, and the Democratic Party. And believe it or not – based on my personal experience, the Republican Party does this, too. These men and women who make it their life’s work to capitalize on hate by keeping the scars of racism open. Recently, they have managed, through the use of propaganda, to keep us divided by perpetuating the concept that the Tea Party is racist – regardless of the lack of evidence. It keeps the hate going and it keeps their job secure.
At the beginning of this article I clearly stated that I was a member of the Tea Party and that I am not racist. I will now also state clearly that I would never be a part of any organization or group of people that I knew or suspected were racists. It’s just not who I am.
I also realize that just saying I’m not racist and that the Tea Party isn’t racist is enough – nor is it enough for any member of any Tea Party to say they are not racist. The repercussions of perpetuating such an idea are extremely destructive to our nation as a whole – whatever color you happen to be. In my opinion, we (the Tea Party) cannot dispel this notion on our own. We need help. And as odd as a request as it may be, if you are a member of the Black clergy, I am asking for your help. I am asking you to consider what I am saying with an open mind and to present it to God in prayer. As Jesus said and Abraham Lincoln reiterated,
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
We all have skin in this game – regardless of its color. A divided America cannot thrive; its citizens cannot thrive; its future cannot be secure.
Please consider what I have said. Join with the Tea Party in dispelling this ungodly myth that propagates hate through the use of lies. We, in the Tea Party and outside it, are all victims. We may all become slaves if we do not stand together – side-by-side – and let the powers that be know that as children of God, we are sisters and we are brothers. The Bible says that there should be no division between us. Will we believe the Word of God or will we believe the lies of men? The answer to that question will determine whether or not we survive as a nation. I pray we survive.
May God have mercy on us as a nation and preserve our life, our liberties and our right to exist.