I stumbled across something on Twitter that has got my mind going. There was a book recently written and published by a prominent pastor on the topic of American slavery and racism.
That's good right? We need more voices within the church speaking Biblically into these issues. But there might be a problem - this book was written by a white guy from Idaho. I say might because being a white guy from Idaho doesn't necessarily disqualify you from writing about slavery and racism. I would think, however, that it makes the topic a bit more difficult to write about in a nonacademic way. I'm sure Idaho has its fair share of racial strife and history, but I'm betting it is not quite the same there as, say, Montgomery, AL.
One of the things I read about the book was a blog post written by a black pastor of a church in Tennessee called Fellowship Memphis. In the post the pastor challenges the perspective of the book's author and comments on how the tone and content of the book seem to point to the fact that there was very little authentic relationship and influence from an African American point of view. Then he writes this, which hammered me right in the chest, as it relates to the relationships in my own life,
How does racial insensitivity continue to flourish, especially in the evangelical world? We just refuse to get to know the Other.
You know what saddens me as I write these words? Once again, it’s a black man who is crying for help here, wondering where my white evangelical advocates are? Maybe conversations have already taken place and Pastor Wilson has been confronted. Maybe, the circles that he runs in- very prominent ones I might add- those who sit on those boards have told him to knock it off. But the fact that I don’t know these things, that I as a black man in 2013 am wondering where my white brothers are who will have my back here tells me we haven’t come as far as we can.
I just…I just want someone to care enough to stick up for me. Someone who doesn’t look like me.I added the bold in those comments to highlight what was most striking to me. Having grown up in a white town, gone to a mostly white college, and now living again in a prominently white town, it has always been quite easy for me to form opinions about race and racial issues without ever having deep meaningful relationships with 'the Others' in my life.
To my black brothers, I confess that I have been mostly ignorant of your history and have spoken things without first considering the influences and situations in own life that may have formed those thoughts. I have worked hard in the last few years to intentionally build relationships with people of color at my place of work. I want to get to know people different from me by being authentic and real. This can get a little awkward sometimes but I think it is the call and example of Christ.
Brother Loritts, I'm working to become someone who cares, who advocates, and who will stick up for those who don't look like me.