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Pastor William H. Lamar: “My church will replace our Black Lives Matter sign. Will America replace its racist myth?”



Do you hear what I hear? I hear the imperial American myth in the throes of its own death rattle.

With these words, the Rev. William H. Lamar IV, pastor of the Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Washington, DC, opens his response (in the Washington Post) to the December 12 attack on Metropolitan AME, during which a Black Lives Matter banner was torn down and destroyed. The attack on the Metropolitan AME Church and another Black church, Asbury United Methodist, was part of a rampage by MAGA fascists in DC that day and night.

Rev. Lamar lays out a searing indictment of the truth of America’s centuries-old historical myths, linking them to the intensifying reactionary violence of today:

The United States does not like to call itself an empire. But it is. Through military and economic force, the United States extends its narrative, politics and culture throughout the globe for good and for ill....

The myth of the American imperium is deeply rooted in falsehoods and forgetfulness, in intentional historical amnesia and obfuscation. Liberty was not the founding American impulse; genocide was. The blessing of God did not secure this nation’s prosperity. The forced labor of my ancestors did. The founders were not committed to a republic or a democracy. They were committed to a racialized plutocracy led by propertied White males.

Everyone else was excluded by law, custom and violence.

He goes on:

A sign came down on Saturday.... I am deeply disturbed by this incident (one of several incidents targeting houses of worship), but I am more disturbed by the continued mythology of imperial America. This mythology supports those who commit violence against human beings for political ends, deny citizens their right to vote, denigrate sacred spaces and claim as their own whatever they survey....

That is the history written into this nation, into the bodies of those brutalized by this mythology.

Rev. Lamar decries the fact that “The political imagination of this entire nation is captive to a white-supremacist myth. Only a new narrative can change the way we order this society.” And, “This new narrative must question everything if we are serious about imagining a better world.”

Lamar depicts this contention between opposing futures as:

a showdown between the God of the universe, the God of all people, the God incarnate in Jesus Christ, and the god of white supremacy.

One God is for all. The other god is for some. One God has chosen humanity. The other god has chosen whiteness, imperialism and human subjugation....

The United States of America must abandon this god, this story and the violence that flows from fidelity to the same....

A sign came down on Saturday. Metropolitan will replace the sign.

Will the United States replace the story that makes such acts of desecration inevitable?

We communists are atheists, and we do not think, based on a scientific understanding, that divine intervention of any type shapes humanity’s past, present, or future. And we understand that white supremacy is more than a “narrative”—it is a pillar of the economic, political, and social structure of the U.S. from slavery down to today.

But the clear-eyed political and moral challenge of Rev. Lamar is an insightful contribution to impelling ordinary human beings to acknowledge, confront, and act courageously to transform this world of “whiteness, imperialism and human subjugation.”

So check it out, and share with others.

The Black Lives Matter banner is restored at Asbury United Methodist Church, Washington, D.C.



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