“We the people of the United States, in order to form a perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…”
These 19 words enshrined at the start of the preamble to the U.S. Constitution provide a vision for a republic yet established. They offered a new way of self-governance which entrusted people (defined as landholding white men)—not some deity—with sustaining a civil peace absent of social strife or fear of governmental encroachment upon one’s unalienable right. In the founders’ minds, the establishment of justice ensured domestic tranquility.
But domestic tranquility for whom? Physical walls on international borders and invisible ones in local neighborhoods separating whiteness from color, for-profit prisons housing Black and Brown bodies, and local law enforcement militarization: All these ensure the domestic tranquility of those whom society privileges.
Upon scattered indigenous bones, Eurochristians built a new nation which ensured their domestic tranquility. Capitalizing upon the sweat of another’s brow and the strength of another’s arm, an emerging republic Christianized enslavement to ensure its domestic tranquility.
Roads built into sovereign, southern neighboring nations ensured domestic tranquility through thieving of raw material and cheap labor. Domestic tranquility is patriotic code language masking the domestication of all falling short of the white ideal.
To create a more perfect union, communities of color were crucified on the crosses of racism, ethnic discrimination and classism so that Euroamericans can have life, and life abundantly.
Darker bodies of color kept hungry, thirsty and naked validates whiteness’ supremacy and vindicates neoliberal advances. The minds of the disenfranchised must be colonized, taught to define their bodies through Eurocentric political paradigms like “ensuring domestic tranquility.”
If we wish to decolonize our minds, then Eurocentric political and religious jargon requires complete and total rejection. No person can serve two masters, for they will love Eurocentrism and despise their community.
Any colonized person who loves Eurocentric political and philosophical slogans and the accompanying Eurochristianity created to spiritually justify their segregation, will learn how to despise the religious, political and philosophical wisdom embedded among their people.
I’ve been advocating an ethics “para joder,” an ethics “that screws with” (although the Spanish is a bit more vulgar). Before immense structural racism, institutionalized violence and embedded oppression, resistance is futile and victory over evil hopeless. Few alternatives exist. Our ethical response is to “joder,” to screw with the prevailing power structures.
Liberals and progressives talk a good game but seldom lift a finger to dismantle white affirmative action. A full-frontal rebellion against white affirmative action that threatens upsetting Euroamerican domestic tranquility is suicidal.
How then can liberation be brought forth without becoming martyrs? By screwing with the power structures. If law and order maintain and sustain oppressive structures, then subversion provides opportunities for a possible more perfect union.
When marginalized communities “joder,” Euroamericans’ domestic tranquility is threatened. To “joder” is a subversive praxis that refuses to follow rules created by those preserving a social order which protects their privilege, power and profits. To seek a more perfect union, by definition, requires overthrowing the current unjust one.
Think of Jesus “jodiendo” when he walked into the Temple to overturn bankers’ tables. This badass ethics is not a new concept but has always existed as a survival strategy employed by the dispossessed.
Consider coyote and spider of the indigenous community, or br’er rabbit of the African American community, or Cantinflas of the Mexican community, or Elegúa of my own Cuban community— all tricksters who through lies, humor, tricks and tomfoolery unmasked the dominant culture’s hypocrisies, hiding behind their rhetoric of insuring domestic tranquility.
Consider the antebellum enslaver who hired a minister to preach to those enslaved not to steal, to work hard, and obey their master as unto the Lord. The thief of Black bodies established rules defining stealing, laziness or disobedience as illegal and immoral.
An ethics “para joder” argues the enslaved have a moral obligation to steal from the master’s chicken coop to feed their family, to pretend to work while conserving their energy to survive, to be disobedient, and at the first opportunity—free themselves.
What Eurocentrism normalizes and legitimizes requires overcoming and overpowering. Unfortunately, the roots of slavocracy have morphed into what we have today—a MAGA America. If we desire a more perfect union, rather than unquestionably seeking domestic tranquility, then we would be more successful if we pursue a chaos which subverts and disrupts the peace and societal equilibrium needed for oppression and repression to flourish for the benefit of Euroamericans.
So here are the questions: How does one ethically lie to discover truth? Cheat to create a level playing field? Steal to feed those whose dignity has been stolen? Joke to state serious facts? Disrupt and deceive to usher in liberation?
How does one joder?
Professor of Social Ethics and Latinx Studies at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, and a contributing correspondent at Good Faith Media.