Mark Charles: Decolonize Racist American Exceptionalism

on June 30, 2017

Mark Charles was back at Peace Fellowship Church for his lecture series on the Doctrine of Discovery. He followed his first and second talks by offering some more diverse reflections on white Christian racism and his notions of racial reconciliation.

He prefaced his comments with highlighting national holidays our society views as holy. These “civic religious holidays” are nearly impossible to celebrate because of their racist, bigoted roots. Challenging the audience to lament these celebrations, he began his reflections with criticizing the “mythological potluck” of what some Americans think of as Thanksgiving and lamented the celebration of Columbus Day. “When you believe in your own exceptionalism, the only thing you can do is celebrate,” Charles said.

Further, the allegedly “deeply racist tendencies” of President Lincoln, specifically his controversial involvement with the Dakota 38, should lead us to ask the question, “What are so great about these presidents?” He sustained this disapproval by portraying Americans’ skewed perspective because “we’ve never lost a war that matters.”

Continuing this criticism, Charles movingly described a traumatic personal accident that reveals his perspective of Veterans’ day. He was the driver in a horrific car accident that killed his brother, but Charles’ life was spared due to doctors on the scene. Despite many assuring him of his innocence, he powerfully claimed, “I didn’t find any peace until I came to terms with the fact that it was my fault.” In his mind, the challenge with Veterans’ Day is “we have these people coming home from war, and we treat them as heroes…Because of our mythology as a nation that all of our wars are good, all of our wars are holy, we’re always the good guys.” He also suggested that “churches begin to hold services of lament on the Third of July” so that we do not overlook the consequences of white Christian racism.

Charles further described the American cultivation of a dominant culture and a “community that by and large sucks in our nation.” He proposed a Truth and Reconciliation Commissions (TRC) similar to the ones held in South Africa and Canada, where victims of white Christian racism and American oppression could publicly share heartbreaking stories of traumatic abuse. Churches and community members would respond to these tragedies by offering statements of reconciliation. However, Charles “knew that our nation was nowhere near ready to have a TRC…because you can’t reconcile if the offending party doesn’t want to admit they’ve done anything wrong.”

Because we aren’t ready for this fantasy, Charles posited the formation of a comprehensive national dialogue centered around the “human construct” of race that “was constructed for the purpose of oppressing and dividing.” He specifically cited the Native American blood quantum laws as evidence that “the American Indian was race was constructed in a way that allowed us to be bred out of existence.” This demonstrates the inadequacy of framing racial tensions as black versus white. Until Americans are forced to reckon with the devastating legacy of the Doctrine of Discovery propelled by white American racism, effective reconciliation will never occur.

Charles expanded on this conciliation by illustrating the four primary groups he targets to prepare the masses for the possibility of a Truth and Conciliation Conference. The primary recipient of rebuke is, once again, the white Church. This institution wrote the Doctrine of Discovery, is complicit in it, and is perpetually in bed with the evil empire. Therefore, in order to prepare for conciliation and to atone for the grievous errors of the past, white Christians need to enter into an indefinite season of lament.

The second community is Native Americans. He passionately claimed that they “are not the helpless victims of an oppressive colonial government. We are the host people of the land, and we need to be acting like the hosts.” Expanding the victims of the trauma of the white Christian racism, he instructed communities of color to view and interact with white American racism as a symptom of “another group of traumatized people.” America is “looking for legitimacy in its land.” He repeatedly hypothesized that this subconscious insecurity is rooted in the violent origins of the American Church. Thus, fostering reconciliation with an institution supposedly rooted in unending terror is seemingly impossible.

His final target was the millennial generation. Charles argued that millennials “haven’t drunk the cool-aid yet. They’re much less likely to buy cars; they’re much less likely to join a traditional church.” In other words, they are not buying into American colonialism and have a “much more inherent value for pluralism.” Interracial marriages are happening at unprecedented rates, and “sexual identity and gay marriage are completely open and on the table.” The lack of a “constrictive and restrictive view of marriages as just between a man and a woman” is evidence of what Charles’ theorizes as “a huge foundation for decolonization.”

Charles urged the white Church-at-large learn from millennials. He claimed that American Christians believe that, whatever the cost, “our job is to make someone believe.” As white Christians, we need to follow the millennials who “value pluralism and allow people to have their own belief…Our values are for assimilation and colonialism, and Millennials value pluralism and allow people to have their own belief.” As Christians from a dominant and oppressive culture, when we have “a colonialist faith, a pluralistic environment is very scary.” Charles passionately affirmed these beautiful values for pluralism. Referencing societal perceptions of Islam, Charles described his struggle to “find a way to live side by side with people from this religion that my nation tells me to hate.”

Bringing his talk full-circle, he reintroduced his imaginary Truth and Conciliation Commission. He wants to model this after models of disruption that have supposedly succeeded in some form of reconciliation, such as the movements of Black Lives Matter (BLM), Standing Rock, and Occupy Wall Street. He believes that “the strength of this disruption model is the act of disrupting.” But even these do not “bring about the depth of dialogue that we need.”

To illustrate his point, he discussed the Civil Rights Movement. The power of this movement lay in its embrace of the moral authorities of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. However, this approach is deeply blemished because of white America’s racist foundations. Implying that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision was somewhat inadequate and defective, he turned to Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign as a more appealing and persuasive model of conducting a national dialogue. Just like Sanders ran on a platform almost exclusively devoted to idealized economic equality, Charles desires to conduct a national conversation that solely critiques “the racist foundations of America.”

However, he realized that recruiting a presidential candidate with this unpopular message will be virtually impossible due to the political costs of confronting racism. So he hypothetically volunteered by asking the audience, “Do I have to become that candidate?…That’s one of the things that I’ve been looking at very closely.” Ironically, his excoriation of political participation as perpetually oppressing victims of color does not seem to apply to himself. Indeed, for Charles, it is time to ask this nation plagued by white Christian racism, “Do we want to be a nation where ‘we the people’ means ‘all the people’”?

  1. Comment by Palamas on July 6, 2017 at 10:12 am

    I am not familiar with Mark Charles, but he sounds like a stereotypical far left secular academic. His apparent obsession with race, meanwhile, is a throwback to the 19th century. Someone should acquaint him with the writings of Martin Luther King, Jr.

  2. Comment by Ted R. Weiland on July 7, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    American exceptionalism may not be racism but it can certainly be sacrilegious, depending upon it’s focus:

    “…America has prospered like no other nation in modern times. However, she, like Israel of old, has forgotten where her success came from:

    ‘Beware that thou forget not Yahweh2 thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget Yahweh thy God…. And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.’ (Deuteronomy 8:11-17)

    ‘Thine, O Yahweh, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Yahweh, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all.’ (1 Chronicles 29:11-12)

    “Modern America’s concept of American exceptionalism was an inevitable consequence of the first three words of the U.S. Constitution’s Preamble—WE THE PEOPLE—and its audacious claim of establishing justice and securing liberty without Yahweh’s intervention….”

    For more, see blog article “American Exceptionalism” at

  3. Comment by Chris on July 10, 2017 at 10:34 am

    According to The Creator of All that there is, the issue Is Not, and never has been, Legal or Illegal Aliens, or even if their “culture” is “compatible”.  And it most certainly is NOT “the consequences of white Christian racism.” It’s ANY Aliens that are not of His people:

    So what should be done?

    Well, God forbid we look to what The Almighty has to say about all this !

    This is what happens when the Caucasian people anywhere think they know best and make their own laws in direct contrast to The Almighty’s Law, via the powers granted in the various state and federal constitutions, by the god “We The People”, who always think they know better than The Great I Am, e.g.,  allow the racial alien stranger to be here on a permanent basis in the first place.    

    Helping other peoples in their own country is one thing.   Allowing them to come here, stay and become “citizens” (14th Amendment) is another.   

    The issue is: ANY aliens allowed here on a permanent basis and the problems associated with allowing ANY aliens, legal or illegal, into this land in violation of The Almighty’s mandate to separate from other peoples, including the mixed.  And most certainly NOT be allowed to hold high office.

    ” … thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother”, (i.e., of your lineage).  Deuteronomy 17: 15.

    “A bastard (Hebrew: Mamzer = mixed blood, half breed, etc.) shall not enter into the congregation of Yahweh; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of Yahweh.”  Deut. 23: 2.

    Although we are not to oppress any stranger without cause, there’s a difference between a non Israelite, but Adamite “stranger” (i.e., the type of “stranger” allowed to integrate with and even marry into His people) and a non Adamite “stranger”.  There’s also a cursed (e.g., genetically messed up) “stranger” (e.g., the ones referred to in the following citations):

    This is what we’re commanded to do by The Great I Am that became flesh and dwelt among us:

    “You shall make no Covenant with them and show no favor to them.  Furthermore, you shall not intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughters to their sons, nor shall you take their daughters for your sons.  For they will turn your sons away from following Me to serve other gods; then the anger of Yahweh will be kindled against you, and He will quickly destroy you.”  Deuteronomy 7: 2-4.  (Note: Destroy your dreams too.)

    And: “You shall make no covenant with them or with their gods.  They SHALL NOT LIVE IN YOUR LAND, lest they make you sin (i.e., Law breaking. 1 John 3: 4) against Me; for if you serve their gods (i.e., their law system; think statutes, not statues) it will surely be a snare to you.”  Exodus 23: 32 (Emph. Added).

    Their god is not our God.  “Indeed their rock is not like our Rock, Even our enemies themselves judge this” Deut. 32 : 31.    

    And isn’t it the so so called “Judeo-Christians”, “Fundamentalist Christians”, “New Testament Only Christians”, etc., that teach the lie that God’ Laws, Statutes and Judgments have been done away with, “contrary to us”, etc., etc., when Christ Himself said the exact opposite: Matthew 5: 17-19 ???  

    I guess He didn’t get the memo.

    “Unless they speak to the Law and the testimonies, there is no light in them.”

    The only way to save this nation is to turn back to Him, His Perfect Moral Laws, Statutes and Judgments, i.e., His Kingdom/Will On Earth.

    “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, And I will give you rest. Take My yoke (i.e., His Law 1 John 5: 2 & 3, as well as His tithe [tax] sytem) upon you , and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and ‘YOU SHALL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS.’ (Jer. 6: 16). My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” Matthew 11: 28 – 30.

    He told us that if His people ” … shall humble themselves (e.g., quit thinking we’re the sovereign, take our proper place and quit usurping His), and pray, and seek my face (e.g., He’s to be the ONLY law giver), and turn from their wicked ways (e.g., seek His Kingdom/Will and promote the enforcement of His Laws, Statutes and Judgments); THEN will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

The work of IRD is made possible by your generous contributions.

Receive expert analysis in your inbox.