By Rev. Professor Keith Magee
Before I belong to a race, party, or gender, I belong to God. I believe that we’re all made in the image of God. As a follower of Jesus, I’m committed to the greatest of his commandments: to love the Lord my God with all thy heart soul and mind, and to love my neighbor.
America has long suffered from the sin of racism. Race is a social construct that was designed to create powerlessness, division, and fear amongst those who had been enslaved and deemed soulless. Today, as the election approaches, we stand at what I hope will be a key turning point in history. In the midst of the terrible division, sickness, fear, and grief we have experienced in recent months, we have a real chance to unite all America’s people in the causes of civility, healing, hope, and justice. To do this, we must remove Trump from office.
On Wednesday, August 19, Kamala Harris, an American-born, Jamaican-Indian United States Senator, became the first woman of color to be the vice-presidential nominee to a major US political party. As we celebrate this important moment, let us also rejoice in the myriad things that make us all so different and yet all so alike, all so unique, and yet all God’s children.
Although 60.3% of Americans are white, and 52.9% of them are women, no white woman has ever been President. However, it is now crucial that white women are galvanized to vote overwhelmingly for a male Democrat to take that office and perhaps pass the mantle on to a Black woman (in what would be another historic first). I believe that, as running mates, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris embody the unity and solidarity we all long for. Women understand perhaps more than anyone our country’s need for togetherness right now. But we have to ensure that all women feel part of our movement, and that must include white women.
I am a Black man for whom many pivotal moments in life have come through white women believing in me. Marie Bennett hired me, in spite of my dyslexia, to work on a project of federal significance. Caroline Cracraft, whom I adore as my British Mum, is the reason why I have a life in the United Kingdom. It was a ‘Karen’ who gave me courage to soar beyond where I was eight years ago and to flourish, fulfilling what I thought at the time were unrealistic expectations.
My first “granddaughter”, Eleanor Irene, was born on 07/07/2020. She happens to be white. She’s the daughter of my Jordan, who came to work for me as an intern in 2009. Jordan had lost both of her parents and was navigating her life as a beautiful soul without them. Ever since, I have loved her, and her growing family, as my own, because that is what they are.
I want our Democratic party to reflect all their hopes, needs, and aspirations, just as it must those of their Black sisters and friends.
I am so grateful to the white women who did and do understand the call of justice and equality within their hearts and souls. Many have stood beside us in the fight for equal rights, including Juliette Morgan and NAACP founders Mary White Ovington and Florence Kelly. Countless white women played an active role in recent anti-racism demonstrations, not just in the US, but all over the world. They give me hope.
But I am also afraid. We are at a daunting place. Our opponents may outnumber us in some of the states we need to carry, and they may well not play fair. I am worried for the America that our ancestors died to build, where our parents endured so much for us to have fairer opportunities and where is so much still to overcome. I am worried that as we rejoice in Biden’s choice of a Black woman as his running mate, we may forget to open our arms to the white women whose support we so badly need. We must do everything in our power to maximize the impact of the Biden-Harris symbol of unity and hope. We must ensure that white women of every age and socio-economic group also see themselves reflected in our messaging, our campaigning, and in those whom we ask to endorse us.
So here is my prayer, my Lord: Let this be a moment to heal the soul of America with love, compassion, equality and dignity. Let us be careful not to create another divide, but instead build a bridge to our collective humanity. Let us not make this a polarizing moment, but let us be all-inclusive and united. Let us inspire every single voter to join us, whatever their gender, and whatever the color of their skin happens to be. Let us beat Trump together.
Rev. Professor Keith Magee is a public intellectual with a focus on social justice and public theology. He Visiting Professor of Social Justice at Newcastle University, Senior Fellow in Culture and Justice at the University College London and Lead Pastor at The Living Room at The Berachah Church. For more information visit http://www.4justicesake.org or follow him on social media @keithlmagee.