The BLM movement has issued a clarion call to the church, the black church in particular, to affirm a theology of resistance, not respectability. This means reckoning with who Jesus is.
Most white Christians, and many middle class racial minority communities, have cut themselves off from any intimate life together with poor black communities that struggle every day with a multiplicity of oppressive obstacles. But a movement is happening all around us.
Most white people now say race relations are bad and getting worse. Black people overwhelmingly agree. Will we stop talking and do something?
At our church in Ferguson, people are no longer afraid to bring up the pain of last year. But anxiety over the deeper issues remains.
In “God of the Oppressed,” James Cone recounts how Christian responses to the 1967 Detroit riot revealed not only an insensitivity to black suffering but a larger theological bankruptcy on the part of white theologians. As he saw it, they were not genuinely concerned about all cases of violence. Worried about the threat of black revolutionaries, they did not see the structure of violence embedded in U.S. law and carried out by the police. Cone asks: “Why didn’t we hear from the so-called nonviolent Christians when black people were violently enslaved, violently lynched, and violently ghettoized in the name of freedom and democracy?”
America’s conversation about race has, like all of our public conversations, come to consist largely of a running commentary on viral spectacles. Recent weeks have been rife with them—the Oklahoma University SAE video chant and the dreadful scene of the double shooting of police in Ferguson; the awesome images of a sitting and a former president crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, heading a massive multiracial and multigenerational crowd; the face of University of Virginia student Martese Johnson, bloodied by Alcohol Board of Control officers.
In Romans 7, sin seems to have at least as much agency as Paul does.
In light of the annivesary of Trayvon Martin's killing, which is 2/26/12, I thought it would be appropriate to share 3 of my old posts that were written during that time. In many ways, Trayvon's death radicalized my mouth and pen to speak more truthfully and transparently about what was going on in me and our white dominated society. Each piece was different, and served various purposes and intentions. Let me know what stood out to you. If there was something you appreciated, disagreed with, or need more clarification on, please start a conversation below in the comment section. Of course, also remember these were written about 3 years ago, and so my thoughts have and are always maturing, and when necessary, radically changing directions and trajectories. May we all stand in solidarity with all the particular bodies that are more vulnerable than others in our society, as Jesus himself did in his own life.
Langston Hughes challenged our consciousness by asking, “What happens to a dream deferred?” What results when hope, aspirations, callings, and promises are delayed, put off, postponed, or thwarted? Were they flawed expectations? Do such deferred dreams become burdensome desires that fade and never manifest, forever haunting us? Six months after Michael Brown was fatally shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri—where I serve as a pastor—there are families still wrestling with the question, “What would have happened if...?”