To people of color like me, the movement toward a more level playing field is occurring at a painfully glacial pace. But to many white men, the change is happening so fast and it all seems so painful! Sociologists Henderson and Herring note that when white men begin to feel the effects of equality (e.g., they realize that they no longer receive preferential treatment or have power over others), it feels like discrimination to them. Being treated like everyone else is not discrimination (in fact, it is the textbook definition of equality). But when you’ve lived atop the racial hierarchy for your entire life and grown accustomed to preferential treatment and disproportionate amounts of power, it’s emotionally painful and destabilizing when they’re taken away. For this reason, many white men have a vested interest in upholding the racial hierarchy, even if they profess democratic ideals that suggest otherwise.
–Trump, the White Man’s last gasp, and the Resurrection by Christena Cleveland. I wrote, less intelligently than Cleveland, about this perception by some (many?) white men that we’re being discriminated against back in 2011 after Newsweek had a cover story about “The Beached White Male.”
Over the next few days of this Holy Week I plan to reflect on two simple questions: What might keep me from weeping on Good Friday? What might keep me from rejoicing on Resurrection Sunday? Weeping and rejoicing aren’t the only appropriate responses on these days, but the testimony of the Church has been that they are certainly primary responses as we consider the death and resurrection of Jesus in the most personal terms. So, contemplating the crucifixion this Friday without experiencing the grief of my complicity might indicate a heart that has been distracted from its own selfishness and sin. Likewise, if I don’t experience joy on Sunday – not, mind you, a manipulated happiness – then it’s likely that my heart has found its hope and meaning somewhere other than the empty tomb.
There is, thanks be to God, always time to repent. But maybe this last week of Lent, with the anticipation of tears and joy, provides a useful urgency to our prayer: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23-24)
In America, racism is a default setting. To do nothing, to go along with the market, to claim innocence or neutrality, is to inevitably be a cog in the machine of racist hierarchy.
These two sentences, by Ta-Nehisi Coates in a moving article about Nina Simone, perfectly summarizes why neutrality isn’t an option when it comes to racial injustice. The options are few: we resist or we collude.
A panel discussion about race and reconciliation.
I love our church for many, many reasons, but this panel discussion about race and reconciliation highlights a few that are especially close to my heart. First: I was away this particular Sunday and, as you’ll hear, the church didn’t miss a beat. Second: I love our commitment to balance theological reflection with courageous action. Two weeks prior to this panel I did my best to make the biblical case for racial reconciliation and then this panel helped the church imagine how that theology actually plays out. Third: We have amazing people! Pastor Michelle Dodson was a phenomenal moderator and the panelists were brilliant. Every time we do something like this I learn so much.
You can listen to all our sermons including the panel discussion via our podcast or just the panel discussion below.