That Time I Met a Hella Messy Priest

Uhhhh Forgive me Father but you’re Super Racist. 

My mom often tells me that I am optimistic about humanity to a fault. That I see the best in people until it clouds my ability to advocate for myself. My brother and sister and all those close to me echo this sentiment. I have an empathy problem, I always have and I always will. At least, I felt that way until I met this Priest. And then I was kind of just like, “Oh some people really do suck and aren’t redeemable.”

Let me set the scene, I was invited to this d(isastrous)inner party with my good friend’s parents and their priest. Now my friend’s parents are super close with their priest and I knew this so it wasn’t out of the ordinary that he was present. I was actually pretty excited to get to talk to him about theology and ask him some questions too. I had been told that his theological views were pretty progressive, so I was even more shocked by his conduct, having been prepared for the opposite.

After our initial greeting, this man decides to discuss the diversity of the new parish that he is being transferred to. Immediately he sounded frustrated with the work that leading a diverse church entails, he also had a very reductive (read:ignorant) way of fostering and engaging a diverse community. *Trigger warning because this shit got messy fast*

So all of the sudden he confidently says, “To get the Latino community you just incorporate prayers to Our Lady Guadalupe and it’s important to get the Vietnamese community involved, because you know the Vietnamese have money because they do nails (At this point, and I am not lying, he fakes a Vietnamese accent).” It should also be noted that it didn’t seem like he actually had any plan to bolster Vietnamese involvement he just took time out of his life to propagate the racist idea that the only way Vietnamese people in the US make money is through nail salons. T.R.A.S.H. Then he goes, “To get the African American people involved just make good music.”

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At this point my friend look mortified and was trying to call out all of his racism, but he really had hit so much in 30 seconds that I think we were both in shock. High-key I was in the craziest #GetOut scenario of my life and felt frozen. I later realized that my experience of catatonia was a literal manifestation of The Sunken Place. And from this experience I now better understand the ways in which omnipresent white supremacy functions not only to subjugate, but immobilize its intended targets.

Throughout dinner, he and I argued as he mansplained why women shouldn’t be priests, why non-violent protest is the only way to go, and how MLK Jr. was a “Jesus figure” due to his non-violence. LOL Okay. And I told him that as a woman I am still going to seek ordination so he can miss me with that bullshit, that the Black community is allowed to protest however they need to in order to affirm their worth, and that glorifying the senseless killing of Black men as some sort of will of God was trash. We went toe to toe on every issue and I left feeling that I had shut down his problematic-self on every issue.

I also left feeling exhausted and broken and frustrate and angry. I also left feeling hopeless and violated and traumatized. I also left feeling frustrated that he was not white, but Filipino, and had internalized so much Anti-blackness, Anti-browness, Anti-Prostestantism, and Anti-Woman mentalities. I also left thinking wow this may be what Divinity School is like, an uphill battle to assert time and time again that dated theological views fail women, queer people, and Black people have no place in church spaces.

Honestly, I foresee multiple posts about this issue, because there is so much to unpack within Religion, oppression, and colonization. I believe this is also a space to critically analyze why Black people find themselves not only divesting from whiteness, but often times non-Black POC as well because Anti-Blackness is seen as the stepping stone to class-ascendancy and proximity to whiteness.

To all the Black Women who are tired today I feel you, I’m with you, and I’m gonna hold you down because this living thing ain’t easy.

Isaiah 40:31

but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

With Radical Love,

Ciarra Milan Jones

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