Prominent in Christian circles including the Black Church is the doctrine of “name it and claim it”, or the prosperity gospel, which says that if you name what you want and pray to God, you’ll receive or “manifest” it. I personally don’t think faith works like that, particularly in light of what the Christian scriptures say about suffering, but I digress.
Where the idea of name it and claim it actually does work concerns identifying the ills within our society.
For the last few weeks, we’ve seen numerous shootings targeting some of the most vulnerable and oppressed people in our society. The shootings receiving the most attention in Buffalo and Uvalde were aimed at Black and Mexican people respectively.
The dominant narrative concerning the shooters in these instances from conservatives and liberals alike is that they were lone-wolf actors with mental health issues, even if they were proven to be white supremacists, as with the Buffalo shooter.
The narrative is not true, deflects from calls for meaningful gun legislation, tiptoes around the truth and continues to cost us our lives.
In these moments, it is critical that people call a thing a thing — that they name it and claim it.
What must we name? We must name what the U.S. is and how its origins have led to its current state. That means calling the U.S. the white settler colonial project that it is. That’s why the great replacement theory, believed by half of Americans, is a thing; because the white settler body politic, which replaced first people, fears being replaced by non-white people… because the U.S. was a nation for white people.
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When I say that, I’m not saying that I hate white people, nor am I saying that I am anti-white.
But I think that there are some white people who hear a hatred for white people when you say what I said. What I said is history. The United States is a white settler colonial project, like South Africa, Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand and all colonized territories in the west since the age of exploration. That’s history.
The United States was formed as a nation to benefit and preserve the power of white people. We must name that. That is at the root of our body politic. Until all people in this country have the opportunity to reform and reshape this country with a new constitution, the white supremacy and privilege embedded in the constitution and institutions will not go away.
“Reform” won’t do it.
So, we must name who the United States is, but we must also claim history so that we learn from it to build the world that we want. Liberals and conservatives alike love to speak of progress, citing civil rights legislation, however, those are more concessions as a result of Black protests.
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Progress is people collectively doing the right thing because it is the right thing.
The reality is that Black people are still overly imprisoned and disproportionately so. Black women are more likely to die when pregnant, Black children continue to be suspended and arrested disproportionately, and Black people are more likely to be killed by police than white people. That’s not progress and as a country, we must own that so we can do something about it.
Sadly, the U.S. is too busy naming and claiming things in the name of whiteness. Whiteness doesn’t equate to prosperity.
Photo: Pamela Pritchett whose mother, Pearl Young, was killed in the Buffalo, N.Y., mass shooting, speaks during a news conference about a resolution condemning the great replacement theory, Capitol Hill, June 8, 2022. Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Md. is on the right. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Rann Miller is the director of anti-bias and DEI initiatives as well as a high school social studies teacher for a school district located in Southern New Jersey. He’s also a freelance writer and founder of the Urban Education Mixtape, supporting urban educators and parents of students in urban schools. He is the author of the upcoming book, Resistance Stories from Black History for Kids, with an anticipated release date of February 2023. You can follow him on Twitter @UrbanEdDJ .