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The Cruelty of the Color-Blind Theory of Race in Evangelical Churches

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Comments (12)
  1. Marc says:

    Words, words, words…

  2. Arlin Edmondson says:

    Dr. JARVIS WILLIAMS,

    Critical Race Theory is an intentional application of a Marxist ideology to the sociological field of interracial relations.

    Marxist as an ideology imbibes discontent, discord, controversy, and societal deconstruction.

    All Marxist Theories have as a goal and driving motive the ‘discovery’ of any and all possible inequalities or disparities, whether real or imagined, and using these to fuel discord and resentment, as well as jealousy of the ‘privileged’ classes.

    As a Theory, CRT is simply unable to offer any productive road forward in inter-racial dialogue or inter-racial reconciliation, as discord and division are at its heart.

    In fact, in every way, Critical Race Theory is a step backwards for harmony and the pursuance of conciliatory relations between different people.

    Colour-Blindness is not a theory, it is an ideology.

    The ideology of colour-blindness was the ideology behind abolishing slavery, abolishing segregation, abolition of Jim Crow, destroying the KKK, and every other progress that has been made to better the black american.

    Critical Race Theory, if taken to its logical conclusion regarding demands for safe spaces and safe conversations and the like would have us return segregation, would have segregated bathrooms for black men and black women to feel ‘safe’ away from the pondering eye of privileged white people.

    Critical Race Theory would have different Universities and institutions set up to divide black and white Americans apart and remove the black american from those monolithic towers of white privilege.

    Critical Race Theory has accomplished absolutely nothing of value for any black man or black woman, and it will only lead to further discord within the Church when employed by Christians.

    It should not be being popularized or continued among Christians, let alone a Reformed Christian cooperative such as this one.

  3. Dr. Williams,
    I very much appreciate the main argument of your essay. We need to be able to find both plurality and unity as God-given and good (see Vern S. Poythress and In the Beginning was the Word and Symphonic Theology). This is especially true when we want “unity” defined along our own racial and experiential lines rather than Biblical lines.
    I am very saddened, though, to see good brothers arguing for these things based on Critical Race Theory rather than “imago dei.” While I agree with your deconstruction of Color Blind Theory as harmful, would it not be better to do so based on biblical principles of pluralism and God-ordained difference rather than CRT? My concern about this is that my colleagues in the state universities use the very idea of CRT to also condemn Christianity, any form of free market, any idea of salvation by grace (or need for salvation), or any idea of differences between males and females. As such, as brothers in Christ, do we really want to promote CRT? I am not saying that CRT’s rejection of CBT is wrong but it just brings so much other baggage that I am not sure it is as helpful as this column seems to imply.
    Thank you!

  4. Matthew Werner says:

    Dear Dr. Williams,

    You write that CBT “basically asserts that a person treat all persons equally.” Then you say that this is “cruel and damaging” for a number of reasons. Then later you lament “the way black and brown people are disproportionately incarcerated for certain crimes in comparison to white offenders.” But isn’t the solution to that particular injustice for the courts to be color blind and treat all persons equally?

    What’s wrong with saying: In all your dealings with me, treat me as a fellow human being, made in the image of God without regard for my race, and at the same time, respect my historic and present sufferings as a black person in America?

    Isn’t that the point behind Martin Luther King’s dream–that his children would be known by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? King was not saying the black American experience should be ignored–how else is character formed but by suffering! Yet he was affirming that a just society requires colorblind dealings (such as the courts).

  5. Boyd Murrah says:

    Question for Dr. Williams: What part does the “Tocqueville Effect” have in this situation, if any?

    That is, a closer “equality” means more friction because of the (real) inequalities that are left. And, if this effect is real, how should it be dealt with?

    Thank you.

  6. Kara says:

    Thank you for a very thorough article to help people like me, raised with the moral goal of color-blindness, understand and explain to others the shortcomings of this oft-repeated ideal.

    I would love to read a similar article addressing how the image of God is reflected in different ethnicities and skin colors. I have my own ‘answers’ for those who believe that the idea of Image Bearers is limited to moral qualities and does not include physical or cultural/ethnic characteristics. But I’m sure there are better explanations out there. Can anyone recommend a foundational article to help those who respect the bible but have never been exposed to this idea?

  7. TexasPresbyterianPastor says:

    Thoughtful piece.
    Question–When athletes like RGII have said things in the past like: “I don’t see myself as a black quarterback. You all might. But I just see myself as a quarterback!” (paraphrase), is this an example of the CBT narrative that is not helpful?

    Full disclosure: I think CRT (as you describe here) makes a lot of sense and helps in very constructive ways. But I can also see why CBT-ers (white and black) latch onto quotes like RGIII and run with it. In my middle-class suburban area, we’ve seen a sharp increase in black families moving in. At the church where I pastor, we have 4 families that are inter-racial (white/black), lovely families. That would have been unheard of 20-30 years ago in this community. But my sense is that the black spouses live their lives as CBT-ers. And this is what whites see modeled. CBT is already wired into their system because of their race, but then when they see this it’s just confirmation bias.

    I guess my question is this: how as a minister in this situation do I get other white folks to give CRT credence when they are meeting blacks who live according to a CBT narrative? Not sure I’m even asking the question right, but I think the CRT vs. CBT at least brings the discussion into sharper focus. Curious to hear your thoughts. Thanks again for posting on this.

  8. bbnks says:

    Is color-blindness a theory? Wikipedia defines color-blindness as sociological term for an ideology, which is different from a theory. From Wikipedia:

    “Color blindness (sometimes spelled colour-blindness; also called race blindness) is a sociological term for the disregard of racial characteristics when selecting which individuals will participate in some activity or receive some service. In practice, color-blind operations use no racial data or profiling and make no classifications, categorizations, or distinctions based upon race. An example of this would be a college processing admissions without regard to or knowledge of the racial characteristics of applicants.”

    So rather than being a theory or a statement of how society is already functioning is a process or processes that can be used.

    I don’t see the thoughts that color-blindness “denies the racialized experiences of those marginalized” or “allows the Majority Group to reinforce Racialized Stereotypes” as being necessary outcomes of pursuing color-blindness. However, if one accepts Critical Race Theory, then it would seem that those outcomes are necessary.

    What concerns me is that it seems that Critical Race Theory offers no way forward for reconciliation. From Wikipedia:

    “Judge Alex Kozinski of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals writes that critical race theorists have constructed a philosophy which makes a valid exchange of ideas between the various disciplines unattainable.

    —- The radical multiculturalists’ views raise insuperable barriers to mutual understanding. Consider the Space Traders story. How does one have a meaningful dialogue with Derrick Bell? Because his thesis is utterly untestable, one quickly reaches a dead end after either accepting or rejecting his assertion that white Americans would cheerfully sell all blacks to the aliens. The story is also a poke in the eye of American Jews, particularly those who risked life and limb by actively participating in the civil rights protests of the 1960s. Bell clearly implies that this was done out of tawdry self-interest. Perhaps most galling is Bell’s insensitivity in making the symbol of Jewish hypocrisy the little girl who perished in the Holocaust—as close to a saint as Jews have. A Jewish professor who invoked the name of Rosa Parks so derisively would be bitterly condemned—and rightly so.”

    In the example on Wikipedia about color-blind college processing admissions it seems that Critical Race Theory would lead to the thought that such admissions will always be unequal; that the systemic racism that the applicants or their ancestors faced is always part of the process, even if they were selected for admission. Christians know that sin will always be in the world, but I don’t see Critical Race Theory as offering productive tools going forward.

  9. Great question, Jared. From what I’ve gathered reading articles on RAAN and interacting with people in the comment section and on Facebook, the CRT does not merely teach that color-blindness is harmful, because of what it (supposedly) denies. They also teach that colorblindness is harmful as a goal. It’s not enough for me to admit that racism is a very real problem and we don’t live in a colorblind culture. I am wrong simply for the fact that I see colorblindness as a God-honoring, gospel-centered goal toward which we should work. From what I’ve gathered, racial preference in whites = racism (I agree with this), but racial preference in minorities = a voice. Thus, setting color-blindness as a goal is evil, because it is a barrier to racial preference for all, including minorities.

    1. Arlin Edmondson says:

      Dead on. And this is why Critical Race Theory is an enemy of the Gospel which demands a destruction of any ‘racial’ or ‘ethnic’ preference.

  10. Jared says:

    Thanks for the post! I agree 100% and am hopeful and prayerful that our churches and society will see the harm of promoting this theory!
    I did have a question though that I’d like help understanding if someone has time…
    So we say that race is not a biological, but rather a social construct. Specifically a social construct that was and is used to promote the idea of white superiority and non-white inferiority. The color-blind race theory is flawed and harmful because it denies the fact that this social construct is alive and well. This all seems plain and clear to me. My question is whether the color-blind theory is wrong ONLY because it denies sin that has (and is) taken place or is it wrong to its core. In other words, if we hadn’t created this social construct would the color-blind race theory actually be the ideal? My gut says no, and maybe this is a pointless question because we don’t and won’t ever live in a world like that, but I want to helpfully engage my friends, my family, and the Church and it’s helpful for me to understand exactly where someone’s thinking is flawed and unhelpful (and where it isn’t).

    Thanks again for the post!
    Jared

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