Category Archives: Race and Privilege

The Separation of Race and Faith

Image result for draw a line

The social construct of race and its commandments are often used as supplemental material for the Bible.  Or, we take out the characters of the Bible altogether and insert our culture– but no one else’s.  God’s promises are for us and not them.  God is talking to us and not them.  The social construct of race empowers us to become replacement saviors and we step in as if Christ extended an invitation to us to fill his shoes.  Though often described as “the hands and feet of Christ,” there are no holes in either.

In fact, the social construct of race does not encourage us to open our hands to others but to walk in the opposite direction and self- segregate.  Our “color” made righteous, it is our skin that sets us apart.  The darkness reduced to flesh, we wrestle against flesh and blood (Ephesians 6.12).

For good or for ill, it is our race that gets the credit.  All glory belongs to socially colored beige/ black/ brown/ red/ yellow/ white people.  It is an accepted and understandable heresy.  We excuse this form of idolatry because it is the worship of self.

Race and its progeny do not echo the words of Christ; it does not enable or enhance his ministry.  Race is not a messenger of the gospel; it is good news is for “me and mine.”  Race leaves the world out and makes our culture the world around which everyone else should revolve.  This is why it is important to declare that the gospel of Jesus Christ is race-less.

Race does not work for God but against our humanity.  The social construct of race was and is not a part of the plan of salvation for human beings.  Our “race” does not gain us access to God.  Our righteousness is not in the social coloring of flesh but in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross.  Confessing a race says that we belong to a colored people but as Christians, we are the people of God.

So, what will it be?  You and I will need to separate race from our faith.  Made in the image of God, the social construct of race does not supplement our identity.  We cannot be a colored person and a child of God at the same time.  Because it was never about having the right skin but being in right relationship with God.  It was the blood of Christ not the skin of Christ that saved us.

It is our hands that have gotten in the way.  Consequently, our hands will need to do the separating.  Race or our Christian faith?  Choose this day which one you will serve.

 

If we think that God is ‘a white man’

Image result for God is a white man“God is a white man.”  This is not a new declaration but an old reduction made by persons who argue against a belief in the God of Christianity because in the name of this God, persons have stolen, enslaved, sold, raped, murdered, pillaged and annihilated indigenous cultures of the earth.  They surmise, God must be white because they are not being punished but are getting away with it.  It is a judgment against God, now viewed as giving them a pass and their privilege, labeled whiteness.  I suppose that many of us are looking for an Old Testament demonstration of who God is for and who God is against.

But, as Christians, it is not whiteness that saves any of us but the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. Our belief in whiteness suggests that there is within some of us, literally and quite physically on us, the ability to save us. Our faith in the deliverance of whiteness nullifies the salvific work of Jesus Christ on the cross.  It is whiteness– not his blood– that makes the difference.

“God is a white man.”  This is also a statement of faith for those who believe that they have a divine right to dominate, oppress and colonize other people, that “the earth is theirs and the fullness thereof” (Psalm 24.1).  It is the belief that socially colored white people were made by God to dehumanize other people.  This is a faith that denies the inherent worth of all human beings and the unconditional love that God has for all people.  And it is about the goodness of people, particularly socially colored white people, not Jesus and the two are not synonymous.

“God is a white man.”  If we think this is true, then we are saying that God is in cahoots with the socially constructed white race, that those who oppress are all- powerful because it is usurped from a divine source.  If we think that God is a white man, then God created some and not all in the Divine image.  The rest of us are rejects, having no place with God or humanity.  It also suggests then that God has a holy ax to grind against “them” and we are being used to cut them off– because they are not the right people because they are not white people.

But, while there is social support for this idea, there is no scriptural support for this confession.  God took on the form of a human being but God is not a human being.  Consequently, when we say that God is a white man, we are in fact interpreting God through the lens of race, making God one of us, writing another salvation narrative: “For God so hated socially colored beige, black, brown, yellow and red people, that God sent socially colored white people into the world.”

That’s not the gospel of Jesus Christ and that’s not the God of the Bible, of history, experience and revelation.  That’s our racialized imaginations running wild.

White Privileges Denied

Image result for deny privilegeI wonder what our lives would be like if those who are privileged by race would deny these social entitlements.  What change could be brought about if when persons are offered a pass, a perk, a protection or the benefit of doubt, they would reject it?  How might we be challenged if we did not accept what we did not earn, if we rejected those things that put others at a disadvantage?  What if we no longer feigned ignorance or blindness, if we stopped looking the other way for “us” and not “them”?

What kind of people could we be if when the privilege of whiteness was presented, we said, “Privileges denied”?  Because we provide its currency.  We are the medium of transaction.  We open the door, give the leg up, shake the hand and wink.  We give them more while paying less and less attention to who we become in the process.

We are cheaters, thieves even.  Robbing from “them” to pay for “us.”  Race is only a scapegoat used to cover up our greed and need for power.

I wonder if persons would be willing to post a sign on the doors of their businesses, schools, shared community spaces, government buildings, places of worship and homes that inform those who enter that we don’t accept white privileges here.  I imagine that persons would have to prove themselves and make their way without them.  Justifying their place in the world and their position of authority would get a whole lot harder.

Patting pockets, flipping through wallets or searching purses, what might we pull from them to cover our expenses, to explain our position in the world, to justify our preferential treatment.  If we take the socially colored white skin away and say, we refuse to privilege socially colored white skin here, what then?  What do we have then?

Tell us (because we all accept it) that the limit has been exceeded far too many times and for too long, that we can no longer afford its costs, that the card has expired and won’t be renewed.  We simply cannot afford to be people of any color any more.

A 3- Minute Lesson on Race

You’ve got time for this class and it is brought to you by Jenée Desmond Harris.  It is a lesson that must be learned and that bears repeating.  Harris starts from the beginning of race and no, she does not begin in the book of Genesis.  Lie #1 struck down.  Race is not that old.

Race is a lot of things but biological, biblical or original to our being are not to be included.  Still, the misrepresentation of who we are continues and so does the cycle of hatred.  Race wars are plotted against places of worship for African Americans and Jews.  Protests seem unending, CNN describing last year as “a year of outrage.”  The hashtag Black Lives Matter has become a movement.  Right now, the University of Missouri has been added to the list and to the ongoing conversation on race after accusations of racism on campus. Consequently, this class is always in session.

And while it won’t lead to an advanced degree, these truths concerning race as a social construct are certain to advance our understandings of self and our neighbor.  I’ve devoted my life to teaching about race and to the eradication of the racial category for human identity.  Week after week, I look for ways to say this because it is so much easier and less painful to accept this superficial existence.  I want us to go deeper and pray that this video and my words would peel away another layer of race’s deceptions.

Peggy McIntosh at Tedx

Famed author of “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Backpack,” Peggy McIntosh talks privilege and unpacks the meaning of social privilege, positive projections and unearned social disadvantages.  She dispels the myth of meritocracy, the oppression of male privilege, privilege systems and so much more at Tedin Timberlane.