Whiteness, Blackness, Christless

The racial reconciliation movement within the church is supposedly intended to reconcile White people to Black people. It’s apparently designed to rebuke racism within the Church and culture. But it’s doing the exact opposite.

It’s ironic, though predictable, that the racial reconciliation movement is actually fostering racial hatred, not racial harmony. If the racial reconciliation movement is designed to produce unity, why are so many of its leaders divisive?

By now, you’re probably familiar with the fallout from Sparrow Women’s conference. The controversy surrounding that event is actually a good illustration of what the racial reconciliation movement is really producing within the Church.

The Sparrow Conference was intended for racial reconciliation. In fact, the organization’s entire mission is social justice and racial reconciliation. However, last week, one of the conference’s speakers—Ekemini Uwan—called the entire organization racist.

Ekemini Uwan is the co-host of the Truth Table’s Podcast, and she’s written articles for The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, Huffington Post Black Voices, and Christianity Today.

The fallout from the Sparrow Conference stems from Ekemini’s words during an onstage interview when she said:

So then when we talk about white identity, then we have to talk about what whiteness is. Well, the reality is that whiteness is rooted in plunder, in theft, in slavery, in enslavement of Africans, genocide of Native Americans…It’s a power structure, that is what whiteness is, and so that the thing for white women to do is you have to divest from whiteness because what happened was that your ancestors actually made a deliberate choice to rid themselves of their ethnic identity and by doing so they actually stripped Africans in America of their ethnic identity…Because we have to understand something – whiteness is wicked. It is wicked. It’s rooted in violence, it’s rooted in theft, it’s rooted in plunder,  it’s rooted in power, in privilege.

People chose whiteness – they chose a man to be elected in office who is all about whiteness…So there’s real political consequences in here, so you have to divest from whiteness, you have to divest from patriarchy, white women specifically – because over 50% of you all voted for Trump and you got to ask yourself why.”

Ekemini Uwan wouldn’t describe her words as racist. That’s in part because like many within the racial reconciliation movement, she doesn’t believe Black people can be racists. She believes only White people are racists—and she doesn’t think that notion is racist either.

Ekemini claims that her words were not an attack on White people. But her reasoning and rhetoric in that interview suggest otherwise. Whiteness is a racist concept by critical race theorists. Whiteness ties White identity with White supremacy. It suggests that White people have unconscious, implicit biases against non-White people, especially Black people. According to Whiteness studies, it’s natural for White people to be White supremacists. And that is why people like Ekemini suggest that White people need to divest from Whiteness so they can become “allies” to Blackness—allies to oppressed Black people.

The critical theory and Marxism have become a driving force within the racial reconciliation movement. Despite all evidence, many refuse to accept this fact. But at the end of her onstage interview, Ekemini recommended books by two self-proclaimed Marxist authors, David R. Roediger and Noel Ignatiev. And her colleague, Jemar Tisby has openly embraced James Cone’s heretical, Marxist Black liberation theology.

Evangelical leaders within the racial reconciliation movement haven’t addressed some of these divisive and destructive philosophies and rhetoric. And though there is more evidence of anti-White racism than anti-Black racism in the Church today, not a single evangelical leader within the racial reconciliation movement has shown any apparent interest in addressing anti-White racism.

And it’s especially difficult for me to accept the sincerity of the racial reconciliation movement when some its leaders use or tolerate racial slurs like “coon” and “oreo” against Black people like me. If a White evangelical leader called Black people niggers, I imagine that he wouldn’t be invited to speak about racial reconciliation at the MLK50 conference. But racial slurs like “coon”, however, are respectable sins within the racial reconciliation movement. And for that reason, it’s enabling many strangers and some people I considered friends of mine to feel justified in labeling me as a coon.

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This inconsistency, this hypocrisy by many within the racial reconciliation movement is dividing White people and Black people, Black people and Black people, and all types of people within the Church.

The Sparrow Conference was intended for racial reconciliation, but it ended in disaster. And in the same way, the racial reconciliation movement as a whole is actually producing racial tensions in the church. The American Church is more divided on race today than it was 5 years ago.

I am convinced that’s because we’re abandoning biblical theology for wordly philosophies and political agendas that cannot unify God’s people the way the gospel does. And that’s the point, isn’t it? Racial reconciliation has already happened on the cross. Jesus Christ has reconciled Jews to Gentiles, Black people to White people, all people together for God. We simply need to believe it and live like it.

Therefore, we need to put on Christ and put off every argument, every lofty opinion, every thought that isn’t captive to Christ. Otherwise, we’ll idolize Whiteness and Blackness and become Christless.

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