Dear Fellow White Christians,
This post is a follow-up to my letter to white Evangelical Christians after the November 2016 Presidential Election. I am still longing to see some sort of bend in the long moral arc of the universe towards justice (Minister Theodore Parker, a white 19th Century Unitarian minister/abolitionist. White male fragility is like poison hemlock, a paralytic which immobilizes while allowing full awareness, encumbering required actions, which might lead to some sort of reconciliation, a word whose use has become a sore spot with me. The use of the word reconciliationis premature, in that America has not had any sort of conciliation to account for the horrors and atrocities of the slave trade, Jim Crow, the “War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and police murders. I like to think of the analogy of reconciling your bank account. The key is that to be able to reconcile, you need to have both your bank statement and your check register. One without the other is not true reconciliation. When all-white churches or communities talk about racial reconciliation and there are no people of color in the room, that is not reconciliation, that is nothing more than continued validation for what is wrong to begin with. I highly recommend that you all not only read White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Dr. Robin J DiAngelo but invite her to your churches/communities so that you can start to have real conversations about race.
What I have learned is that justice is a multidimensional concept that looks differently depending on who it’s applied to. Justice in one context has meant the indiscriminate murder of people of color in the forms of lynching, while justice in its purest form or its essence means equal treatment of all human beings. The only problem with the latter is how America has and continues to allow for the dehumanization of non-male, non-white, non-Evangelical, non-Christians. Since the election of this current President, I have watched the revelation of a state of dysfunction in America I would have thought only existed in novels like George Orwell’s 1984 or Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 or Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tales. I have observed in our most recent midterm elections that white woman in the state of Georgia overwhelmingly voted against their own best interests to elect a white man who has shown a disdain for equality by the use of voter suppression tactics; who has shown a lack of compassion and empathy for immigrants by running ads with him sitting in a pickup truck that he has talked about using to take Mexican immigrants back to Mexico; all while touting his “support of the Second Amendment” in the wake of one shooting tragedy after another in America. Overwhelming support for the gubernatorial by white males was expected but to watch the same women who have marched and protested under the guise of #metoo do what seems to be contrary to what they are saying is mind boggling to me. All this goes on while the impotent white Evangelical church is muted and refuses to speak and act prophetically, to be a witness for fear of the pews and the coffers being emptied. Today’s white Evangelical Christianity is not only a product of systemic and institutionalized racism and hatred but provides safe sanctuary for the very ideals of injustice and mistreatment which deprive other of the basics of humanity. I have spoken to more than my share of white pastors of prominent Christian churches who fear that speaking truthfully about the inactions of Christians would lead to the end of their paychecks or the demise of their church. The white Evangelical church has made an attempt to severe others from the body of Christ, while not realizing it is the severed limb and has amputated itself from the body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27). It is akin to sitting on a tree branch and making a cut between yourself and the tree. Some would say the cutting continues but I would submit the cut has been made and we are going to have to find a way to graft white Evangelical Christianity back into the body, once we rid it of those things which are incompatible to the love of Christ (Galatians 5:19-21). Business as usual is not going to cut it and the first step to repentance is admission that there is a problem and the source of the problem.
I write this with love and a great desire for the healing and restoration of the body of Christ, but white American Christianity has long since been a severed limb from the body in the way that it treats African Americans, Native Americans, women, immigrants/foreigners, and non-Christians. “America First” is about a non-Christian a statement as you can say. If my recollection is correct, G-d sent Christ because of G-d’s love for “the World,” not America. America was not even a glimmer in the eyes of the world when Christ walked among humanity. I would also encourage you all to read the following books: James Cone’s The Cross and the Lynching Tree, God of the Oppressed, as well as Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. You should also watch Netflix’s 13th. I also recommend that you leave your churches and join African American churches to begin to make more meaningful advances towards the work of reconciliation. Pastors are afraid to preach the truth because they are afraid of outspoken individuals who do not want to hear talks of social justice. It would be a beautiful thing if the pastors/ministers had just as much fear from the departure of the silent masses.
Blessings and may G-d have mercy on all our souls.
Rev. Corey L. Brown, MDiv