I recently did an interview on Crosswalk.com. I thought the interview was fairly balanced and I thought the interviewer asked really good and insightful questions. I’m under the assumption that Crosswalk is geared towards a more, mainstream, evangelical audience. So I was interested in what sort of responses I would receive from the interview. See below for one of the responses to my interview:

“White privilege places white expressions of culture and faith at the center. Privilege is power and the power of privilege is to create a world where one’s one identity, race, and culture rest at the center of the society.”

I really lost you here. I may be wrong, but it seems that you blame the “White Church” for a lot of problems with Evangelism. Your answers suggest that you may align more with minority churchs or basic minority groups. They love to play the victim when in fact most “White churchs” have their arms wide open to new ideas (of course there are exceptions to this). If there is racism in the church, a lot of it is coming from some of the African-American churches that teach Socialist ideas all while blaming white people for most of their challenges. As I said, I may be wrong but I sense this same attitude in your answers.

I am in full support of changing the church for the better but I believe your negative views of white churches is incorrect.

I don’t even know where to begin. How would you respond?

  1. Alan Chusuei says:

    I think the core question that most white evangelicals presume is that there is no WHITE culture or that race has been eliminated as a social category. Especially postmodern white folks, there’s a certain blindness to that fact.

    Until that issue is resolved, people will always presume that our introduction of race into theological discussion is racially motivated, because they haven’t accepted that fundamental social reality.

    • james says:

      Why have most of the white people left your church Alan? And why are there few whites left in leadership positions? Why do white visitors come only once?

  2. Amaryah says:

    Wow, that’s what I like to call “adventures in missing the point.” I think it would be really hard to respond to that because there’s already a wall of defensiveness up about your critique of white churches. Perhaps question this person’s willingness to listen to and genuinely care about perspectives on the church other than his or her own? It seems often times, these kind of responses are from people who talk as if they are experts on race, when really they are experts on what would require the least amount of change on the part of white churches. Good luck!

  3. bob smith says:

    Alan has nailed it on the head. As a White Evangelical it is only in the past few years that I have come to realize that I have an ethnicity. I apologize for the ways that I (though unintentionally) have forced people into white expressions of race.

    A great Mexican-American author makes similar statements in his book, Galilean Journey (which I can’t recommend highly enough):

    “The group in power will project its own image of itself — its color, its physique, its psychology, its culture, its foods, its language, its accent, its humor, its clothing, its religion — as the only one that is authentically human.” p. 96

  4. profrah says:

    Great reference to Elizondo. That’s a book I would highly recommend.

  5. Your book is the long answer to that statement. It’s as if the commenter did not even read “The Next Evangelicalism,” but put a label on you instead from the beginning. Those who have ears to hear, let them hear. What can you do with those who do not?

    We will never have ears to hear until we are willing to admit our own present racism, much of which has been passed down from generation to generation, and of which we are unaware. The commenter’s statement contains vast amounts of micro-aggression, and a defensive denial of his/her own racism and complicity in many of the problems that exist in America today with regard to race. There is a reason why many African-Americans blame whites for their present challenges: it is because we are largely responsible for creating them, we have failed to make amends, and to accept responsibility for the long-term consequences of the African American slave trade. The longer we wait, the harder it will become, because it will get easier and easier to say, “that was in the past.”

    Just a touch of humility and a little openness to the possibility (probability) that racism exists in me, is the first step toward reconciliation. Without it, there is not much we can do.

    Helpful texts:

    Volf, Miroslav. “Exclusion & Embrace”
    Campbell, Charles. “The Word Before the Powers”
    Takaki, Ronald. “A Different Mirror”
    Emerson, Michael and Christian Smith. “Divided By Faith”

  6. Jonathan says:

    I agree with the comments thus far. The sad fact is that whites in the church are seldom different from whites anywhere else in the US when it comes to recognizing white privilege. Like Bob, above, I’m white and it took me some time to come to grips with it myself. This website http://stuffwhitepeopledo.blogspot.com/ has what I think is a pertinent post for August 12.

  7. Jonathan says:

    “White privilege places white expressions of culture and faith at the center. Privilege is power and the power of privilege is to create a world where one’s one identity, race, and culture rest at the center of the society.”

    I should have added:
    How would I respond? By saying what you’re saying. “White privilege places white expressions of culture and faith at the center. Privilege is power and the power of privilege is to create a world where one’s one identity, race, and culture rest at the center of the society.” No one can change unless he recognizes the problem. You’ve already done a lot to educate me.

  8. JP Paulus says:

    I had to re-read the blog to understand that the controversial statements were NOT by the interviewer,but rather a user, who may be hard to contact, and talk to as an individual.

    There’s no miracle one-line soundbyte answer you can give him.

    The best I can come up with is “Let me disciple/mentor you.” (or place the name of an appropriate person; we’d have to find out where they live to help hook them up with someone )

    If it’s an anonymous commenter, then don’t spend too much time on them…unless thye are serious about establishing a relationship. (This is from years of experience with negativity on Uptown blogs & message boards).

    The responder may be feeling the effects of the “Jerry Springer syndrome”. The worst thing about the Jerry Springer show isn’t the guests; it’s the audience! Someone can watch the show and sit back and think “I may be sleeping with someone who isn’t my wife, but at least it’s not my sister”, and not address their own sin, since it’s not as bad as someone else.

    I think the problem here is a perceived lack of balance, and inaccurate (even if slightly so) metaphors. Such talk can create an avoidable backlash to an issue that needs to be addressed. We get into the danger of feeding on the yeast of the Pharisees and forgetting “for ALL have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Even if we are “right”, we need to be humble about it.

    One example I heard involves college education. He gave the white privilege example as someone on third base who thinks he hit a triple. (i.e. a white person making it to college & graduating).

    That is NOT entirely true/accurate metaphor. . It’s more like a person on SECOND base who hit a single but think he got a triple. The white privilege person DID work hard And it IS possible to strike out (i.e. Did Paris Hilton ever go to college?).

    A better analogy would be the Chicago Marathon. The white privileged person started on the 13 mile mark. They think the person without privilege has only come from the 12th mile, even if they actually started at the beginning (due to the winding path of Chicago, the white people don’t see the whole picture). If someone starting a marathon 1 mile before you, that doesn’t seem THAT big an obstacle, and things are ABOUT even…but if you don’t realize the person has had a harder path, then you won’t understand the reason why they don’t seem as good as shape as you.

    One other random thing: Black South Africans and the Vietnamese sought help from the US BEFORE they turned to the Communists. Certainly in South Africa’s case, they were able to transition to democracy relatively peacefully. So if it feels like blacks are turning to socialism…many of the capitalists abandoned them to begin with.

    All that said…probably one of the best things to do is give Scripture references on justice and “Christian socialism”, and condemning secular capitalism. Remind them that they shouldn’t reject God’s word, especially when it is direct. Because God’s Word trumps everything else,right?

  9. JP Paulus says:

    Did I kill the conversation on this blog entry? 😦

    • Alan Chusuei says:

      JP Paulus,

      I think your perspective is interesting because I don’t think anyone here thinks that race as a category is ultimately deterministic. I mean if we are doomed because of race, then what else can we do?

      I think your comment about analogies is correct because we need to take into consideration that our analogies can be politically motivated, and that we need to take care to balance our understanding of the reality of what’s going on.

      Of course, there are white folks who are poor, and ones who are really lazy, and there are people of color who are rich (having “made it”), and people of color who are the hardest working people that I’ve ever met, and none of these categories absolutely determines their standing in life. And it’s not that these things weren’t real, it just didn’t seem like reality until I started becoming part of the sphere where people aren’t just to well to do.

      It’s always ask the question, “what is the reality?” For many people of privilege in this country, their own privilege blinds them to the reality, and therefore their own definitions of reality don’t correspond to life. Our job, who sees this thing in another way (and not perfectly either), is to present our view of the realities of people of color, and hopefully people won’t just take them outright, but really carefully consider how their reality might not be valid (we’re not challenging everything, but a decent chunk of it). But in this way, it’s never to destroy anyone’s perspective completely, but to reform so that it better reflects Truth (this goes for both liberals and conservatives, and everything else in between)

  10. Coburn says:

    Respectfully I think that when you start throwing around words like “privilege”, “power” and “the center of society” like the responder does, it’s a clue that you are no longer talking about race.

    Still more respectfully, Dr. Rah, I think that it’s easy in exposing camouflaged racism to obscure classism. I think very often racism functions as a mere litmus test, as an instrument of classism.

    Why are non-white Christians so eager to be accepted on the corrupt church’s own terms? Haven’t we learned anything from the medieval Church? I thought we decided they were individualist, materialist, and discriminatory? Post-modern wannabes in cool shades?

    Why so eager to emulate Affirmative Action, or demand constitutional rights to equal treatment? Isn’t that exactly what the militant gay lobby is doing? “They run to gain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.”

    My point? Racism is weak by itself. When it becomes an instrument of economic, political, and social discrimination, that is, of social class, then it has power. But then it is no longer racism, but a tool of classism. And just like the Hispanics I work with, we’re all risking our lives to hitch a ride on that “Long Black Train.”

    What happened to Jeremiah 51.6?

  11. Coburn says:

    Sorry about the botched syntax on that quote…

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