Thursday, January 31, 2013

Black Girl, Light World XV: Racism in the Church


So I haven't really spoken much about ^this^ since my first Black Girl, Light World post, and I'm probably going to rehash a little of what I said in that post but it's worth it.

So far in the Black Girl, Light World series I've talked about racism and white supremacy but I haven't necessarily applied it in a Christian perspective. There is very much a disconnect with most white people about the reality of race relations, and this is not any different in the Body of Christ, especially in the Western Hemisphere as far as I can see.

This is most unfortunate because the Church is supposed to be the entity that shows the love of God to the world by loving Jesus and each other in astounding and inhuman ways. Instead we are very much fractured along the lines of race and class, the same as the rest of the world. Until minds and hearts are changed the Church will be a very poor witness to the world of God's transforming power because we have not allowed ourselves to be fully transformed. White supremacy is as much a part of the history of the Western Church as it is the Western world and often the Church has been used by different countries and empires to spread the idea that some people 9these particular people) are better than others. Please understand that I am not denouncing the good that has been done by missionaries seeking to spread the Gospel, but the evil that has been done by the ideas that they brought along with them: that non-white people are less intelligent, more criminial, more sinful and not really apart of the same fold or on the same level of humanitySuch ideas are directly contradictory to the scripture.

So often when examined the Church, Christians act absolutely no differently from the World and it became more and more stark for as I looked for Christian anti-racist blogs. There were none. (There are some now, at least there are some Christian bloggers that talk about anti-racism; and I'll follow up this post with links later).

Maybe that's a bit of hyperbole and there are a few isolated ones that I've missed, I don't claim to be the most completely versed in the anti-racism movement but I think with the searching I would have found something a lead anything. And it tells me that Christians are in the same place as the rest of the world, Christians have conformed to the image of the world in yet another way. Eurocentric Christianity goes unquestioned, White Jesus is the standard, and the reality of "Manifest Destiny" (rape; murder; physical, mental, and social genocide) is purposefully unrecognized. The fact that 25% of Americans during the 18th c. were slaveholders and that includes many of the founding fathers. And because the past is quickly being erased from public memory, the results of the past AND the ways the past is being reiterated are ignored today.

A look at most so-called multicultural churches reveals that women of color are routinely shuffled off to positions of childcare and told that that's their place of ministry, and that the senior pastors/elders are almost always white. youth pastors on college campuses that actually have said that Black people don't worship the same Jesus. And are supposed to be the ministers for the local HBCU. When marriage season comes around in the local youth/college group the woman who are left at the end are almost always Hispanic or Black. Even though these are the same guys who claim that they are wonderful friends, women of God, beautiful sisters in Christ who will make great wives. But not for these men or their families. They're good for a back pew roll  but marriage? Kids routinely make racist jokes that they originally heard at home. Young women of color ostracized when they become pregnant, but the transgression of those in the majority go unnoticed because abortion was chosen instead.

I'm young I know, but I've watched this all happen in my short 23 years in the Church. I've watched girls treat my sisters and I with snotty condescending attitudes and not know why until months later. We were those kind of people that they "just couldn't relate to." Nothing about People walking up to me offering dap and talking "ghetto", assuming that my cousins or god-sisters are my children, the list goes on. Everything from simple ignorance to actual malicious racism, exactly the same as the world.

And for some reason Christians don't see this as sin. 
They don't see it as hatred of their brethren, they don't see it as thinking of themselves more highly than they ought, they don't see it as divisiveness, and they don't see it as having an unrenewed mind. 

They pay lip service to being sorry about slavery but are completely unwilling to part with the results of racism in the present day. Unlike Zaccheus who didn't just apologize for his past wrongs but actively sought to make retribution for those wrongs, the White Christians on the whole want to pretend that they aren't doing anything wrong and they aren't a part of the problem.

And I don't know why. Actually I do. I didn't used to know why but I think I'm starting to get an idea.

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