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Friday, August 19, 2016

What Is Needed To Redeem The Evangelical Movement

Jarvis Williams (click here for a bio) has just written a short but meaningful blogpost on the Evangelical movement in America and its ties to White Supremacy (click here for the article). It is one of those articles that I wish people would read for themselves rather than the review here.

Williams wants to save the Evangelical movement from White Supremacy. But he starts by defining what that supremacy is and listing where it shows in society.
In this piece, white supremacy means the prioritizing of whiteness (i.e. the values, experiences, agendas, and privileges of those socially constructed as white) and the devaluing of or the dehumanizing of black and brown people (i.e. non-white people). This prioritizing empowers and advances the agendas and ideologies of the white majority for the purpose of benefiting the white majority and those who assimilate within the white majority culture.
But white supremacy manifests itself in many ordinary and less explicit ways in society everyday, via economic, educational, housing, and judicial inequality. White supremacy is also apparent by the various implicit biases and micro-aggressions that black and brown people experience in a society that prioritizes whiteness, assumes whiteness as normal, and considers non-whiteness as an abnormality.

If we stopped at this point, we would have plenty to think about. That is because many of us like to define negative traits in ways that exclude our possessing them. For what morally sane person wants to be identified as a White Supremacist. But if we grew up in a nation that claims to be the best nation in history and in a culture that celebrates its ties to that history, supremacy, especially that of one's own group, is assumed. And we should note that from the beginning, America started as a White Supremacist nation. Thus, any pride shown in nation is bound to carry at least some traces of White Supremacy.

So Williams is basically saying that White Supremacy is deeply embedded in our society. And thus it is a problem for any religious movement that has, for a long time, played an important part in defining the status quo of our society--this is despite the fact that Evangelicalism is currently in the process of losing its privileged position in American society. It is also a problem for any group that points with pride to its links to America's past. And this is what the Evangelical movement does especially because of its ties to political conservatism.

Thus, Williams offers 11 obsergesstions--some of the 11 are observations, some of the 11 are suggestions, and some of the 11 are both--designed to help separate the Evangelical Movement from White Supremacy.  His points are as follows:
  1. White and minority Christians should not limit the reconciliation discussion to the black versus white divide.
  2. Minority Christians need white allies in the work of reconciliation, not white saviors.
  3. Christian leaders should enlarge their ethnic circles to include more black and brown people.
  4. More minorities should partner with majority culture churches to help lead them in the work of multi-ethnic ministry.
  5. Many evangelical conferences desperately need to become more ethnically inclusive.
  6. The kingdom of God does not revolve around white evangelicals or minority evangelicals.
  7. White and minority Christians must resist the idea that whiteness is normal and everything else abnormal.
  8. White and minority Christians must stop insisting that color-blindness is a possibility.
  9. Neither white nor minority Christians should play the race card only when it serves their political agenda.

  10. If white Christians want to gain credibility in black and brown contexts, they must be-friend black and brown people without celebrity status.
  11. Minority brothers and sisters are not off of the hook. We have a BIG role to play in liberating the evangelical movement from white supremacy.
Now I could comment on each of these observations/suggestions, but such would serve as a distraction from what Williams wrote. So rather than commenting on each point, I suggest that all readers reads the article for themselves (again, click here for the article).





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