It goes without saying that members of the Project 21 black leadership network are appalled by what transpired this past weekend in Charlottesville.
There is a lot to be angry about when it comes to Charlottesville. The hostile actions there that enflamed racial tension all over were unnecessary, and the loss of life was tragic.
There is contention about finding fault with both sides, but any rational analysis of the events in Charlottesville shows plenty of blame to go around regarding how things were handled. That being said, black conservatives with Project 21 are speaking out about the aspects of what happened in Charlottesville that hit close to home for them as well as the larger issues this event represents.
Project 21 Co-Chairman Council Nedd II, a long-time member of the conservative movement now living in central Pennsylvania and serving as a state constable, objects to the political orientation the white nationalists bestowed upon themselves:
I denounce those who sowed the seeds of hate in Charlottesville, and I particularly take issue with the white supremacists who claimed they were there because they are conservative. They most certainly are not.
What was all of this “Unite the Right” business? They’re not conservative, and there is no way they can unite any true conservatives under their agenda. I have been actively involved in conservative politics both in and outside of Washington for decades, and I’ve never run into the kind of people I saw in the Charlottesville coverage. For the Richard Spencers of America to claim conservative credentials is as silly as the left-wing agitators that day calling themselves the same.
The conservative activists I know want empowerment, fairness and freedom for all Americans. Racism is antithetical to the free market and true right values. We cannot excommunicate those who were never part of our movement. But it is nonetheless important for conservatives to speak out against these imposters and reiterate our own agenda to promote harmony and freedom.
Ted Hayes, a Project 21 member and community activist in Los Angeles, is focused on the nation healing its long-festering racial wounds. For the past six months, he has been calling attention to the 2008 congressional apology for slavery and for later institutional discrimination policies as an example of the intent of our society to establish common ground:
What I call the “Battle of Charlottesville” is more evidence of the racial tensions that, as Lincoln implied, create a “house divided against itself.” It seems more dangerous than ever, with our republic experiencing divisions not seen since the Civil War itself. This is happening despite the many achievements for the Civil Rights Movement, a national civil rights holiday honoring Dr. King and our first black president.
What happened in Charlottesville is part of a long-standing problem we aren’t talking about as a people. We tend to have to wait for an attention-grabbing racial incident to explode before we want to stop and examine ourselves. At that point, as now, we can be sidetracked by the tirades, diatribes and denouncements from the usual suspects of the organized left and the self-appointed black “leaders.” And, like always, silent indifference takes over again as soon as the matter quiets down.
We must abhor white supremacy like we must abhor all attempts to allow one race to hold power over others. There are earnest parties seeking healing, but their efforts don’t make headlines they deserve. Our Congress, for example, apologized for chattel slavery and Jim Crow in 2008, yet this admission and admonishment does not get the credit it is due. As a result, our nation continues drifting towards total destruction.
Project 21 member Demetrius Minor is an evangelical minister and author. He believes the solution to the problems exhibited in Charlottesville can be found in faith and open communication:
What is occurring will continue as long as we seek a political fix instead of a spiritual one. Too many of us are trying to be a voice instead of leading others to THE voice. Jesus Christ is the lone answer.
We must have a dialogue on race and culture. It must be done with transparency. The church cannot be silent. The generic, tone-deaf responses by politicians will not abridge or dissolve the tensions in our country. Only God-fearing Christians who are willing to not compromise on beliefs but willing to evangelize a lost, dying and broken world, can help change the direction in which this world is headed.
Racism, hatred and intolerance will be rooted out once Christians invoke the unadulterated Word of God into every culture and community. This comes with the ability to empathize with individuals whose beliefs, lifestyles and experiences differs from ours.
It’s worth repeating that Jesus Christ is the anecdote to our hurting communities. There’ll be various political commentaries on diverse issues, but I’m committed to leading people to the ultimate changemaker because He’s the only one Who matters.
Derrick Hollie, a member of Project 21 and the president of Reaching America, warned that President Trump needs to confront intolerance head-on:
Last week, President Trump declared a state of emergency for the opioid crisis. There also needs to be a state of emergency declared for race relations. What happened last weekend in Charlottesville should serve as a horrifying admonition of how much work is left to do. As a black American, it was a stark reminder of how many people still hate me and my family for no other reason than the color of our skin.
I support President Trump because I believe his policies will help low-income and minority communities. That being said, I pray he will be guided by the hand of God to bring our nation together, with a firm condemnation of any burgeoning white supremacy movement. The hatred shown last weekend runs deep – fueled by generations of misunderstanding, mistrust and misplaced frustration. For years, we were told this hatred was no longer prevalent. But today we must look in the mirror and be honest with ourselves and deal with it.
I hope President Trump sees how these types of incidents affect his supporters in the black community. Our nation is divided right now in ways it hasn’t been since the 60s and 70s. We must now address the issues that are right in front of us.
Project 21 member Derryck Green, who has earned a doctorate in theology and spiritual leadership, is skeptical of the media and how it describes the white nationalists. He says that the “alt-right” is neither right nor Christian as it is sometimes portrayed:
The media has been trying to tarnish the reputation of conservatives, Christians and evangelicals in particular for quite some time. But efforts seem even more noticeable since Donald Trump was elected. I believe it’s because progressives can’t accept what happened on Election Day, and now they feel they have to work overtime to tarnish the reputation of conservatives and evangelicals – specifically trying to identify both with the sins of white nationalism loosely identified as the “alt-right.” Charlottesville is the latest attempt.
To be clear, I don’t think the alt-right is as large or influential as the media would have people think. Further, it isn’t conservative. Many of its beliefs clearly contradict conservatism. I’ve been a conservative for more than 20 years. Never have I heard conservatives openly advocate expanding government to facilitate the preservation of white nationalism or supporting racial supremacy. On the contrary, I’ve had countless sincere white conservatives repeatedly ask what they can personally do to help more blacks escape the indignity of leftist policies. They also ask me how they can help spread the message of conservatism to more blacks.
More importantly, there is no explicit connection whatsoever between the media-hyped racists in the alt-right and evangelical Christians – particularly those who voted for Donald Trump. The only connection is made implicitly by ideologically-driven members of the media. I’ve neither seen nor heard white supremacists associated with white nationalism or the alt-right articulate anything remotely close to biblical values or Christian principles.
As a matter of fact, much of what white supremacists advocate – hearts full of hatred, anger, bigotry, violence and racial pride – is considered sin. This directly contradicts Christian teaching and character. Moreover, the racial supremacy of white nationalism is very much opposed to the theological anthropology found in Christianity. The Sermon on the Mount and “loving one’s neighbor,” for example, have nothing in common with the divisive racial platform of the alt-right.
It should be obvious that white nationalism is incompatible with the multiethnic composition of the Kingdom of God.