The most dangerous aspect of reconciliationism is that it assumes an immunity to modern iterations of racism. There is no such immunity. There is only a fight – a never-ending battle against the virus around us and within us.
The experience of James Bradley as one of America’s first black seminarians can show us how far we have come. But, even as theology schools consider ways to address their culture of whiteness, it also shows us how far we have yet to travel.
The urban neighborhood where we have chosen to live is not always joyful. My heart has been broken more than a few times. But this place and its people have been my salvation.
We will not be afraid or lose hope or stop working for racial justice – meaning restitution and reparations – no matter how white supremacists and their quieter sympathizers sanitize bigotry, hypocrisy and addiction to greed with their hollow gestures.
A monument recognizing the 100th anniversary of the Elaine Race Massacre will soon be “dedicated,” not in Elaine, Arkansas, but in Helena, across from the courthouse where justice was not served, on ground that also hosts a tribute to seven Confederate generals.
Instead of worshipping a Cosmic Christ, many have settled for a tribal deity who suits our tribal behavior. The result? A nationalism which places country above God and uses religion to justify any means.
Jesus called out the hypocrites of his day with angry words. When white leaders misuse power to profit from past wrongs of racism and heap additional injuries on oppressed people, what words need to be heard?
Baldwin’s “mystical” solution to the lies of white supremacy is immensely practical. Such spirituality looks like organizing our communities to attend to the political and economic wounds our nation inflicts and to bring into practice a community that is at once more grounded and more beautiful than we have dared to imagine.
White Christians in America must see racism for what it is: sin. Seeing our sin and our complicity is the first step to repentance. We must see this because it’s literally killing our neighbors of color, all created in the image of God.