LJ Cunningham

White Supremacy Lies I Used To Believe

I wrote about being raised to be a Christian Nationalist in the U.S and my connection to white supremacy. It’s important for me to explain the white supremacy lies that got me to where I am today.

Post Published: September 19, 2023

In my last posts, I wrote about being raised to be a Christian Nationalist in the U.S and my connection to white supremacy. It’s important for me to explain the white supremacy lies that got me to where I am today.

Getting a secular degree and leaving my hometown erases the religious past I grew up in. I can start over.

It took me a decade to get my bachelor’s degree, but I got it. Then, I did another three years to get my Master’s of Education from Cleveland State University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. I’m one of the only people in my family (that I know of) to get an advanced degree. But everyone ignored this accomplishment.

If anything, going to school for mental health counseling was itself the, “work of the Devil.” I knew this, yet believed that I was “making it.” I wasn’t still in my hometown, I wasn’t still in church.

The thing is, though, my emotions and mind really never had left seeking that approval from those spaces and people. Getting a “secular” degree and leaving my hometown only buried what I had already survived. And it began to come back up for me after I had my first child, just before graduating as a single parent, unmarried, but with a Master’s of Education degree, in hand.

Having a career erases where I came from.

I was the boss. I had degrees, I had a state license to practice in the State of Ohio, and I loved what I did for a living. The money, I erroneously assumed, would come.

I thought that having a career and all these important papers made me somehow superior. More educated-LITERALLY. The work environments I began my career in enhanced this mentality. I had the keys to get into secret places not for the whole world to see; I had inside information on the workings of the human mind; I am a healer of traumas and other bad things.

Oops, I drank the Capitalism Kool-Aid. A tale as old as time, and one which many of my ancestors spent their shortened lives drinking as well: if you work hard to get the right papers: whether they be passports and immigration papers, or degrees and licenses, the world is right here for you.

This Capitalist lie is inherently one of whiteness. For the whole of U.S. history, the “American Dream” assumes this very thing, and it was only white Europeans (of specific national origins) who could achieve this very ideal much of this time.

Image of old cemetery in the foreground and white church in distance with stained glass windows. The church is white and there is overgrowth and green trees shading it.
Does one ever actually leave, church?

I can change the system from the inside.

The uprising in white supremacist ideology overtly controlling my license and how I practice, was the last straw for me. After writing to professional organizations attempting to create more action in my field and education on how unethical current anti-trans and anti-abortion laws are, I’ve found one truth harder to accept than most: the field of mental health where I am, is no longer fitting my own value system.

I was discriminated against for not being Christian, and publicly shamed repeatedly. Colleagues quoted Bible verses in “reply all” emails sent to myself and every single member of the Ohio Counseling Association last summer when I reached out to be actionable.

The state requiring counselors, social workers, and marriage and family therapists from keeping confidentiality or otherwise providing care is un-American, un-Democratic, and a level red threat to myself. Alas, I didn’t find this same sense of urgency from my peers.

Voting and protesting in the streets will make change

I’ve worked for individuals and organizations in the past who refused to make “BLACK LIVES MATTER” statements, or address police violence in the Black community. So I’ve decided to leave the rebuilding work to those most equipped,  to fix what is left of our “mental health” systems in Ohio and the U.S.

This summer, I am happy to report that I let my license lapse. I don’t plan to renew it. The license itself became weaponized as soon as I began calling out white supremacist behavior. The first time my license was under review by my state, it was after I called another colleague a white supremacist on Twitter.

Licensing boards are used to keep the public safe from therapists who abuse their power. The fact that I had to pay for representation and interview for this at all is concerning.

Voting and protesting in the streets hasn’t made change for the better. Nor had directly contacting others in my field regarding racism, abortion, and LGBTQ+ rights.

Image of a whilte hand holding a handmade sign reading in white print BLACK LIVES MATTER against black paint. Sign is brown cardboard
Black lives matter. They always did.

Professional orgs will lead us professionals

No, they unequivocally will not. What’s happening in Florida right now is also happening on a slightly different timeline in Ohio.

In Ohio, I’ve been contacting professional State and national professional boards with my concerns for future counselor education. The creation of Ohio House bills banning trans healthcare and language was obviously well-written by someone very aware of counselor laws here.

On June 2, 2022, I emailed CACREP, Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. Counselors and counseling students are very aware of this organization’s role in licensing in many states. Despite the fact CACREP provides counseling accreditation to Liberty University, I was hoping that someone there was working to stop government overreach into counselor education curriculum.

A person named Dr. Sylvia Hernandez responded to me the same day:

CACREP accredits counselor education programs that are in compliance with the Standards for preparing counselors. Any program that is in compliance is eligible to be accredited regardless of where they are located. The accreditation review and granting of accreditation is not influenced by the politics in any state. CACREP does not and cannot removed accreditation from programs simply based on the politics of the state in which the program is offered. Specific to Ohio, in order for an individual to be licensed in Ohio they must be a graduate of a CACREP-accredited program.

It would not be appropriate for CACREP to make public statements to the effect. It is however, well within the purview of membership organizations to take such a position. My recommendation would be to reach out to the Ohio Counseling Association, Ohio Mental Health Counseling Association and the Ohio Counselor Education and Supervision Association who would be in a better position to engage in the advocacy that you see needing to happen.

In other words, despite the fact that this IS the gatekeeper, they refuse to use their influence, as it’s inappropriate in political matters. What a strange thing to say, for the counselor education accreditation body, I thought. Yet it’s not at all strange, it’s the same neglectful and intentional turning away from action that could be exercised, that is facilitating state abuses of power, directly.

If CACREP isn’t going to care about whether or not Ohio has ethical education for future counselors, what does that mean for the future of Ohio, exactly?

Non-profits have the best interest of everyone at heart

Equality Ohio has a Christianity problem, and that’s directly emboldening anti-trans pastors in office at my personal expense. After I reached out to the local LGBTQ non-profit–the voice of anti-trans news in Ohio–they were welcoming of my idea to start a petition against these bills. I met with one of their lead staff before volunteering and acknowledging that this isn’t a business partnership.

I was asked directly whether or not I’m a Christian during this online meet-and-greet.

I’m not a Christian, and responded truthfully. Weirdly enough, I’ve never gotten to share my own written testimony publicly since that time.

Equality Ohio already has taken too far a reach in expecting Ohioans to stand down to white supremacists. This also enables sitting current Ohio politicians the ammunition they need to aim directly at myself and others who are trans and already under attack by them.

Pastor and Ohio state Representative Gary Click has decided to use this in back-and-forth with me on Twitter. And seemed to have a desire to throw people who work at Equality Ohio under the bus, whether or not they have this ability to control public opponent testimony of anti-trans legislation.

Equality Ohio has never responded to my email voicing my concerns about religious discrimination.

  • A counselor in Ohio named Dave thought "reply all" and psalms are what I needed when asking about action to preserve abortion.
  • to OCAMEMBERS Good Afternoon, Fellow OCA Members. Today is a day that I will not forget, as we have seen the overturning of Roe. Please take a moment to read this, and email me if you would like to be involved. https://medium.com/@lily.cunningham/now-is-the-time-for-a-general-strike-97de3dc57c8c In Warmth and Solidarity,

I’m powerless to do anything against white supremacy

This is an endless, anxiety-producing loop for myself and some other white people: I feel powerless. I’m not able to directly impact the white supremacists in the streets.

I’m not capable of being openly anti-racist and surviving.

This itself is really worth sitting with; if we, as white people, won’t put ourselves as being anti-racist and pro abortion out in front of what we are doing, how do we have any space to complain about other white people? WE as a collective, inherently create or tear down, this ideal. What I’m doing right now, is an experiment of sorts: is it possible for me to live and thrive, refusing violence, and white supremacy?


I’ve been doing it, and now I’m inviting others to do the same thing. It’s an option. And if you don’t think this is possible even if you think you want it to be possible, than that is violence in my opinion. A learned helplessness of sorts that is essentially laziness and hoping for the next generation to do better.

I reject that option, because it sounds awful, to be honest. The false boundary between abortion rights, trans rights, and Black lives is keeping us all in a worse living condition in real time. It’s past time to embrace and accept this truth, and move away from white supremacy to see that.

I’m not a white supremacist.

I can challenge white supremacists’ lies while including myself.

If I can choose to believe that I’m “not one of them,” I’m inherently othering white supremacists like they do to me. If that was productive in any way, I wouldn’t be writing this piece right now.

What I know and accept about my own life is, I thought I wasn’t a white supremacist. I thought that I could leave my little rural community and churches behind, and that this wouldn’t impact me. And, while not every single white person in Ohio has this experience, (and I’m giving more of you more credit than you may deserve) I know this: being silent is me being a white supremacist.

I am not any different than anyone with a skinhead or who drops their own blood in an oath to White Supremacy in a klavern during a Klan meeting. I come from the same people who built these very organizations, so it seems impolite not to claim my own peoples: from Baden-Württemberg, Germany; from the Kingdom of England, Ireland, and Scotland; from Sweden, Poland, and perhaps Finland; and Northern Ireland.

This is a Democracy

I know the United States is a Democratic government. The thing is, though, we do have a lot of ties to old England. It’s those direct ties, through bloodlines and so-called “pedigreed” families that largely colonized the Americas.

One thing I’ve learned while doing my own lineage: a lot of today’s nepo babies (and yesterday’s) have Royal ties to the nations above. White Christian Nationalist ideologies, regardless of whether they’re in the U.S. or European spaces, also have the same tie. The obsession with blood and lineage is an old Christian one; one that was used to claim “religious freedom!” when wealthy landowners lost titles in turmoil in their European homes and made a go of it here.

Colonizing what we call the United States and Canada was intentional in many ways. English, Scotch, and Irish nobility were prioritized, and those names and places still hold a certain social capital for today’s wealthy landowners and yesterday’s enslavers. The same mentalities from these places hundreds of years ago are right here, in Ohio, today.

I’m wondering if it’s possible to see a democracy that isn’t built on white supremacy and enslaving people.





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