When you hear the phrase “white supremacy,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of white men dressed in white sheets and committed to the lynching of black bodies. Maybe you think of white men with bald heads and red shoe strings in their black boots, men who are committed to the doctrine of white superiority and black inferiority—a commitment that they’re willing to enforce by means of violence if necessary. Or maybe you think of De Jure segregation, overt racist speech, and other overt corporate and individual expressions of blatant racism committed by white people against black and brown people.

In this piece, white supremacy means the prioritizing of whiteness (i.e. the values, experiences, agendas, and privileges of those socially constructed as white) and the devaluing of or the dehumanizing of black and brown people (i.e. non-white people).[1] This prioritizing empowers and advances the agendas and ideologies of the white majority for the purpose of benefiting the white majority and those who assimilate within the white majority culture.

But white supremacy manifests itself in many ordinary and less explicit ways in society everyday, via economic, educational, housing, and judicial inequality. White supremacy is also apparent by the various implicit biases and micro-aggressions that black and brown people experience in a society that prioritizes whiteness, assumes whiteness as normal, and considers non-whiteness as an abnormality. The following lists 11 observations as to how white and minority Christians can redeem the evangelical movement from white supremacy.

11 Observations

First, white and minority Christians should not limit the reconciliation discussion to the black versus white divide (Eph. 2:1-22). Jesus died and resurrected to unify all things and all people to himself.

Second, minority Christians need white allies in the work of reconciliation, not white saviors.

That is, we need a national and international multi-racial partnership of churches working together in our communities to advance the gospel of racial reconciliation.

As a racial minority in the evangelical movement, I have observed that many of our key leaders are white. And when a crisis arises, our white leaders are often the spokespersons for our denominations or our churches—even if the crises that emerge more directly affect minority communities. And many white Christian leaders too often try to speak for black and brown Christians, instead of giving them the space in the evangelical movement to speak for themselves.

In my view, if Christians are going to take serious strides toward liberating the evangelical movement from white supremacy, we must listen to and include even more qualified underrepresented voices of color in key spaces (i.e. conferences, publishing, institutions, etc.) in the movement.

Third, Christian leaders should enlarge their ethnic circles to include more black and brown people. If white and minority Christians only walk in predominately white circles or only read books written by white men, then they will have a limited perspective of the world—in fact, they will have a white male perspective of the world.

Fourth, more minorities should partner with majority culture churches to help lead them in the work of multi-ethnic ministry, if context allows for it, instead of choosing a church based solely on ethnic or cultural preferences.

Fifth, many evangelical conferences desperately need to become more ethnically inclusive. And white conferences need to stop choosing token minorities with celebrity status to fill sacred white spaces at conferences and on platforms. I regularly speak throughout the country in many multi-ethnic and predominately minority contexts. And I can testify firsthand that the evangelical movement has MANY minority brothers and sisters whose voices need to be heard. And I’m thankful for those evangelical conferences that regularly invite us, not as tokens, and joyfully desire our voices to be heard!

Sixth, the kingdom of God does not revolve around white evangelicals or minority evangelicals. Jesus died for all kinds of people, many of whom were black and brown with strange names and curious accents and white. And God is using many black and brown people within the evangelical movement to advance the gospel in some of the most difficult places in the world.

Seventh, white and minority Christians must resist the idea that whiteness is normal and everything else abnormal. What is normal is in the eye of the beholder. The United States is becoming increasingly black and brown. If evangelicals want to be culturally effective as we move forward into more black and brown ethnic territory, the white majority evangelical leadership and many of our still majority white evangelical churches and institutions need to become led by more black and brown people.

Eighth, white and minority Christians must stop insisting that color-blindness is a possibility. The very racist social construct of race in 18-19th century Europe and America based on illusory biological traits proves that the color-blind theory is a myth. Affirming color-blindness ignores the fact that many black and brown (and some white) people have suffered much because of the color of their skin.

Ninth, neither white nor minority Christians should play the race card only when it serves their political agenda. It’s easy to be pro-black and pro-brown or in favor of reconciliation and diversity at the big conferences or at conferences on race after clear examples of racial injustice occur in the culture or when there is debate about removing a racist symbol from the grounds of a state capitol. It’s also easy to be in favor of reconciliation when it benefits you.

But racial reconciliation is difficult when white brothers and sisters with privilege and power are asked to share their privilege and power with more minorities with more giftedness but without privilege. Too often I’ve observed that certain white brothers and sisters want reconciliation on the terms of the privileged and not on the terms of the marginalized.

Tenth, if white Christians want to gain credibility in black and brown contexts, they must be-friend black and brown people without celebrity status. I’ve observed in my 21 years of being a Christian that certain white evangelicals love to affirm black and brown celebrity evangelicals because such an affirmation reciprocates privileges to them and enables those white evangelicals to maintain their privileged status.

White Christians serious about reconciliation should pursue those black and brown people who are voiceless and marginalized because of their race. And minorities serious about reconciliation should pursue white and minority people who are marginalized.

Eleventh, minority brothers and sisters are not off of the hook. We have a BIG role to play in liberating the evangelical movement from white supremacy. We often internalize white supremacist ideas and believe their racialized constructs. Minorities must recognize that just as the white majority must share privilege and power with us, we too must be willing to sacrifice ethnic privileges and preferences when they interfere or contradict the gospel of racial reconciliation.

Yes, white Christians have a great burden of responsibility as members of the majority white culture in the U.S. However, black and brown people should not ask white Christians to be more inclusive if we are unwilling to do the same in those black and brown spaces where we have privilege and power.

Because of the universal power of sin and because of how sin and society use racism, black and brown people have the sin of racism in their hearts too. Black and brown churches need to become more diverse and inclusive too. The message of racial reconciliation in the gospel is a universal message for all people throughout the world who take on the name of Jesus Christ. The entire Christian community must work relentlessly if we hope to redeem the evangelical movement from white supremacy. O’ God, help us to do it!

[1]By whiteness, I refer to a social construct rooted in ideology and not biology.

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