If anyone out there still recognizes that line it comes from the king. No, not King Jesus, but that other king with a small “k” – Elvis Presley. Unlike rockers of today’s era, it was not unusual for a classic rockers of the 50’s to also release an album full of songs of faith. Many came from small town America. Despite being caught up in a lifestyle of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, they sometimes did see themselves as trapped in a lifestyle though not necessarily choosing the lifestyle. But I digress.
He released a song in 1969 called Suspicious Minds. The chorus goes:
“We can’t go on together
With suspicious minds
And we can’t build our dreams
On suspicious minds”
Many in white evangelicalism are rebelling at the notion of white privilege. They do so in part because they interpret the word “privilege” as if they receive some sort of perks for being white. This was mocked by none other than Eddie Murphy (a black comedian) in a 1984 on Saturday Night Live skit White Like Me where a black man dresses up like a white person and is given all sorts of freebees.
However, what most white evangelicals don’t realize is that by being white, they are given quite often the benefit of the doubt of not doing wrong based upon how they look. This “not under suspicion” is indeed a racial perk.
While I still beleive that most police officers do try to be impartial with their justice, unfortunately it has been proven, thanks to cell phone videos, many are not. Let me give you the closest example I could come up with from my life. I used to live in a midsize town that had a very large downtown intersection. The funny thing about this intersection was that you could be traveling well underneath the speed limit, enter the intersection while the traffic light was still green, have it change to yellow and then red before reaching the other side. At which point a police officer would throw on their lights and pull you over. It was a classic speed trap.
One day I pass through this intersection in my home vehicle, dressed in a suit and tie with a then fashionable briefcase sitting on the passenger seat. I got pulled over. The officer approaches my door, does not ask to see my drivers license and asks me some basic questions and then lets me go with a word of caution to be more careful in the future. It just so happened I was on my way to a job interview at a youth facility.
Two weeks later after getting the job. I was dressed in a fluorescent hoodie, driving an unmarked youth van (with no passengers) and get caught in the same speed trap. Now I must produce my driver’s license. I was asked to do a walk around with the officer of the van to check for vehicle violations (this is known as trying to catch someone driving dirty). I was given a huge ticket and informed though I entered the intersection on green, the law clearly stated I had to exit the intersection before the light turns red.
I did not argue with the office because I grew up in a racially mixed neighborhood. Though white, I was still instructed to always keep my hands on the wheel and respond: “yes sir, no sir” or “yes mam, no mam.” Because I had no way of knowing if the officer was corrupt or not. And if he was corrupt, the judges most likely knew it, and any resistance would be used as posing a threat to the officer. The place to argue the validity was in the court room.
I showed up to court once again in my suit and briefcase, present diagrams with the measurement of the intersection, my speed and how quickly the light changed. The judge laughed and said I did a great job but if I agreed to pay the fine then I would not have any points assessed against my license. If I looked a certain way, then it was a misunderstanding. If I looked another way, then I am presumed at fault.
The unspoken theology is that we in the church have no such bias. Up until recently, the white evangelical movement has spoken its mind freely with no preconceived notion of inciting violence when using warlike metaphors. Now that privilege has been revoked. Google, Amazon, and Apple all shut down the app Parler as unfortunately, many violent hate groups began using it in addition to the peaceful conservatives. As a result, the white evangelical has now been declared a threat to the rest of society all based upon appearance and association. The white evangelical is now seeing for the first time what systematic racism and bias is genuinely like from the other side. Millennials and Gen Z view not being racist as not enough if you don’t work actively against it. Conservatives have long quoted Edmund Burke for the saying:
“All that is necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.”
Now they are truly learning what that really meant.
I remember the leaders of the black community where I grew up always teaching their young that the world is not a fair place, but it is where you live. To avoid suspicion, you have to behave twice as good, achieve twice as much, in order to be accepted in white society. Now the white evangelical is about to learn the same thing regarding their “free speech.” By 2040 some estimate that the white male will be a minority. In order to be heard and accepted, they will have to ensure their tweets are twice as peaceful, and twice as nice to be accepted by society; the same standard by which the black community has had to operate under in the past. And sad to say, I am not sure that most white evangelicals are ready to realize just how good they had it. And nor have they realized by doing nothing in the past to address such double standards, it has now only hastened their own demise.
In order to escape the trap of suspicious minds, once again we find loving others as being the solution. This has led me to this inalienable truth:
“You can be nice to someone and still hate them in your heart, but you can not claim to love someone and still harbor hate.”
And in the mindset of the Millennial and Gen Z this translates to being nice is not enough, but demonstrating love is.
My advice still remains the same, to love much my friends . . . because its going to be a bumpy ride.