Comments 17

    1. Your blog brought back memories of instances and situations when my own “subtle racism” was exposed. Thank you.

  1. Nicole,
    I too was caught when I was 17. It was the civil rights movement that caught me. When I learned of the horror that white people did to their fellow creatures I was ashamed and repented.

    1. Shame is such an ugly emotion and one that threatens to hamper our growth if we let it. I think it’s much easier to refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing than go through the heart-rending process of repentance. Thank you for being tender enough to know a change was needed. I hope more people are given the freedom to repent and turn.

  2. Nicole,

    Thank you for your thoughtful remarks. I firmly agree that overt discriminatory hatred, either in the form of acts or words, should be forcefully condemned from the pulpit. The actions of groups and individuals that espouse hate are the antithesis of Christianity.

    However, I am a bit concerned with the title of your piece and some aspects of its overall message. Though I would ascribe to the notion that privilege among select groups (predominantly Caucasian in this country) does exist, I fear that a focus on white privilege can lead to a focus on white guilt. As Christians, we should be especially wary of guilt as the motivating factor for action. The guilt model has been shown to be ineffective, and even destructive, in the areas of conversion and charity. I fear that a guilt model would be similarly poor for the issue of racism.

    Overall, I appreciate your honesty and willingness to engage this topic. I hope my comments are seen as a measured response to a difficult topic and I want to express my strong desire to stand alongside victims of all forms of hatred and discrimination.

    In Christ,

    Steve

    1. I hear what you’re saying, Steve, and I agree. Shame is a terrible motivator and one I try very hard to banish from our home. However, I fear the American evangelical church has swung this pendulum too far in the opposite direction. I think a fair critique would be that we lean more towards pride than humility. I’m sorry if it felt like I pushed on this idea too hard and I hope that didn’t dilute the message too much. I believe we need to humbly admit that we’ve failed and repent of our sins of both commission and omission… And then rise in hope and in the blessed assurance that God is indeed making all things new. Even us. Thanks for taking the time to respond. (PS – I’m not a fan of the title either. It seemed raw and honest at the time–and we struggled to think of anything else that encompassed the depth of lament I hoped to convey.)

    2. The problem with “white privilege” is it’s simply a poor, outdated, non-expert idea that became popular but has no analytical value to sociology or anything else. Privilege is largely a function of socioeconomic class, which tends to correlate “white” strongly with “affluence” in some countries. But that’s hardly the whole story.

      I am not sure what you mean by the “guilt model,” but for Christians the image of agonized self-awareness that one has done wrong, sided with injustice, and played the persecutor — this is all quite clearly represented again and again in the Bible as the valid response, as the image of conversion and repentance. When I see so much blame and “guilting” coming from Christians, it is suspect when suddenly racial injustice is something they ward off as an attempt to lay some guilt on them. I would rather speak of responsibility, but even this is warded off as guilt and blame, identity politics, etc.

  3. Like Jonah, I don’t have trouble THINKING God-thoughts; I have trouble BEING God’s person.
    In actively ministering to the least, the last and the lost, one ceases (slowly, at first) to notice things like color, culture, language, etc.. One notices only the overwhelming needs (and odors, perhaps).
    Some Ninevehs we like to avoid: Homeless, Mentally ill, Recovering Alcoholics, Refugees, Recovering Drug Addicts, ex-Convicts, Rehabbed Prostitutes, Recovering Gambling Addicts, Terminally Ill, Teen Prostitutes, Foster Teens, Homeless Teens, Reservation Populations….
    ps Let’s help each other avoid Tarshish, with its petty appeals of fine diet, fine clothes, fine homes, and fleeting fits of temporal gratifications. The wrong-thinking of the head will follow.

    1. Thanks for taking the time to respond, Pete. I couldn’t agree with you more: “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” I would love to pretend that I am beyond all inclination toward prejudice, but I know that is simply not true. I believe admitting it is half the battle. I want to be aware of my weaknesses so I can make wise decisions about how best to the hands and feet of Jesus in whatever context I am called to. Blessings to you.

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