As I have written about in Part I, I am currently “reading” (listening as I drive) to Michelle Alexander’s amazing book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. This book was chosen several years ago as the Unitarian Universalist Association’s CommonRead – where the whole denomination is encouraged to read a common book in order to encourage a common conversation.
From reading this book, I am learning about various everyday non-criminal activities that were made criminal by vagrancy laws and applied primarily to African Americans. Such a “mischief.” Or “insulting gestures.”
This is serious stuff, for as we know, such twisted law results in torture and murder, as the killing of Emmett Till – who supposedly whistled at a white woman, though that is in dispute – is a horrendous example.
Another activity made illegal during the “Southern Redemption” era was for Blacks and whites to play chess together.
When I heard this, I was like
Then I remembered what I learned in my Hebrew and Christian Scriptures classes.
In reading Black Liberation Theology and Feminist Liberation Theology, we read in the story between the official lines of the Bible (or the law or history). If someone is making a law about something – for example, if Paul is saying that women shouldn’t speak in church like in 1 Corinthians 14: 34-36:
(As in all the churches of the saints, 34 women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to know, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.[a] 36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only ones it has reached?)
— it means is that somebody is already doing it. And more than likely, more than one somebody.
Women were speaking in church (and some men got all upset and felt threatened and so Paul, probably one of them, caved – because Jesus included women, so that was all on Paul, not on Jesus). And rightfully so.
African Americans and whites were playing chess together, or else there was no need to make a law against it. So, when you think about it, it was probably a subversive act, happening at a time when the powers that be needed not only for there to be a racial divide, but for it to be wide and hostile.
You can be competitive when you are playing chess together, but it’s hard to be hostile.
So, let’s be sure we keep playing chess together, okay?