Dr. Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.
Peggy McIntosh, author of the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”.
Daniel Hill, author of White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to be White.
Steve Garner, author of Whiteness: An Introduction
And the list goes on…
We seem to be obsessed with whiteness, and especially with white privilege. The subject matter is being taught on college campuses.
After the death of George Floyd, when whites began to closely examine why blacks felt the way they did about their treatment in America, they were advised to be quiet and listen. I, on the other hand, have always questioned the effectiveness of this decision in the long run however, mainly because we have been talking about racism since before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and more boldly so by blacks since the Civil Rights Act. The problem I saw with the talking is that it tended toward pointing an accusatory finger at whites without any accountability on the part of blacks for the condition of race relations in America today (I am using the terms race, racism, and race relations for the sake of clarity, even though I am well aware that the existence of actual races is debatable). So, what we end up with is not a discussion in a mutual effort to end the tension between the races and foster better relationship, but instead, we have a debate which sniffs out guilt and screams a demand for capitulation to the other’s pattern of thought.
Initially, the be quiet and listen admonition served a purpose to wisely afford blacks the opportunity to open the discussion first and to reiterate their reasons for feeling as they do after the on-camera death of George Floyd for all the world to see. In communication, you can’t listen and talk at the same time. In an effort to show empathy to someone, you don’t argue about their feelings. But in the long run, something has to be done differently if we want to see a different outcome from these “talks”. A question that begs an answer here is—have blacks really done nothing to derail the relationship between the races? Do you, the black person, genuinely believe that to be the case? Do you, the white person, believe that as well? What is a discussion without a civil back and forth, with each side exhibiting an approachable and receptive attitude?
Based on the literature mentioned at the beginning of this post, the talk appears, still, to be about accusing whites and making sure they know that they are guilty—this is seen even to some degree in the Church, propagated by some among both blacks and whites. It is this perceived headway into the Church which leads to this blog.
As discussions have taken place, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization (This is the organization distinct from the popular sentiment that black lives matter) has gained national and world-wide recognition and support, it is difficult to speak about this issue without bringing BLM into the mix. Many of you might have heard the group referred to as a Marxist organization. You might have also noted that there is debate around this idea of Marxism associated with the group (among Christians as well as the world). Those who resent the reference to Marxism accuse those who refer to them as such, of being racists who are using negative name-calling to turn people against the group; using conspiracy theories and scare tactics so that the message they proclaim is derailed. Maybe these accusers believe this about the people who consider BLM to be a Marxist group; or, with this bit of negative name-calling themselves, they wish to shut down any resistance to their cause.
What about those accused of being racist, mean-spirited conspiracy theorists? Upon what do they base their insistence that Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and many of the theories about whiteness are steeped in Marxist theory and ideology? Could it be because two of the founders of BLM, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, are trained Marxists as relayed by Cullors in a You Tube video from 2015? Could it be because Opal Tometi is described as a student of Liberation Theology (theology which focuses on aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs; influenced by Marxist philosophy)? Could it be all the talk of oppressors and oppressed? And talk of the overthrow of the oppressive systems? Does all of this give one some sense of “Marxist-ish” leanings even if you are not willing to call them Marxists?
I think there are times, in the political landscape today, that we easily get caught up in accusing those having different view-points from our own as being Marxists, Fascists, Communists, Socialists, or Nazis in an attempt to discredit the political opposition, knowing full well that the person is not actually full-fledged Marxists or Nazis. But in the case of the BLM organization, you have leaders who are admittedly trained Marxists. And if many of the liberation theologists or Whiteness experts who want to teach you how to get over your whiteness, teach methods whose philosophy eerily resembles a Marxist thought process, there is at least the possibility that they are Marxist-ish and their work may very well bring about similar outcomes if they succeed.
Some of the confusion may be over Classical Marxism versus Cultural Marxism. Most people cringe over the thought of being considered a Marxist, considering the classical meaning of the term. The classical Marxist ideology is one of economics—the bourgeoise vs the proletariat (the haves vs the have nots); the middle- class vs the working class. When the expected worldwide uprising of the working -class overthrowing capitalism did not occur as Karl Marx was so certain it would, later students of the ideology attempted to discover why, and they came up with the idea that the culture influence had not been taken under consideration. It was the oppressed vs the oppressors. So, capitalism was considered the oppressor and the working class was the oppressed. Today, with cultural Marxism, the majority culture (white) is the oppressor and minorities have taken the place of the working class. The agenda of the oppressed is to overthrow the systems of the oppressors. Anything “white”, and part of that “system”, is racist, more specifically, you have systemic racism. There is no individuality now when it comes to racism because it is a system. If you do not lay down your “whiteness”, you are racist no matter what is in your heart, or think is in your heart, because you are part of the system of the oppressor. By the way, this would exclude blacks from being racists.
I would hazard a guess that many of the people locking arms with BLM and Antifa would resist the label “Marxist”. They just want to fight what they consider to be injustice, but they can’t see, or just don’t know enough to know that they are following a playbook reminiscent of Karl Marx and his students. Some of the people accusing them of such may not know enough to recognize exactly what they are accusing them of being and so just throw out a wholesale accusation of Marxism. I have had to do quite a bit of reading just to give you what I just gave you in the effort to understand myself why these groups were being called Marxists.
Some who have read my book, 9 Things Kaylan Should Know, or have read some of my comments on social media, know that I absolutely do not like the term White Privilege (Dictionary.com—the unearned, mostly unacknowledged social advantage white people have over other racial groups simply because they are white). I go into details about why I find this term objectionable in the book. I now have two other terms to go along with that one—White Fragility (Oxford dictionary—discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice) and Whiteness (Oxford dictionary—The fact or state of belonging to a human group having light-colored skin; From the Urban dictionary—a socio-economical identity pertaining only to white americans; a term that defines family structures and organized systems as only coming from Caucasian cultures). Most of the times that I hear these terms or read them in a book or a blog, they have greatly negative connotations and sound like an accusation. How can one not become defensive when one is constantly being accused of something negative simply because of the color of one’s skin? Notice how these terms have been turned into racial labels. Now, I ask you, how do those terms/labels, tossed about with reckless abandon, help to foster racial harmony or reconciliation? How does “check your privilege!” exhibit humility to your brother and sister in Christ? These are philosophies, and the motivation behind their use do not appear (in my mind) to line up with God’s truth. And whatever does not line up with God’s truth, I don’t care to embrace.
In my most recent reading in regards to whiteness and white privilege, there are a few conclusions I have drawn about these topics (I am writing this as commentary for my Christian brothers and sisters, for I know that those who do not claim Jesus as Lord would probably not receive the Bible as their authoritative influence in regard to thoughts and instruction):
- Based on the explanation of these philosophies, and the instruction given by their teachers to overcome this condition, white privilege and whiteness are treated as though they are sin. You have sinned just for being born white, and you are being blamed for something you had no control over (the amount of melanin in your skin). Not only are you in sin, you have committed an unpardonable sin, because the instructions usually given to whites who are attempting to shed their privilege or whiteness come with the caveat that you can never obtain the goal. You can become “woke” and continue to work on your penance in order to be a better person, but you will never arrive. Calvary took care of all other sin but this one, they appear to say. There is no true redemption. Well, this certainly does not line up with Scripture. Jesus says that when you repent and accept the gift of calvary, you are redeemed and there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ. You are a new creature. His blood covers all your sin.
- The talk of whiteness and white privilege from a Christian perspective, makes much of mourning with those who mourn, but what about the part of Romans 12:15 which goes with that—“Rejoice with those who rejoice”? In these discussions of race, we apply the mourning aspect to those who are considered to have suffered injustice (during slavery and present day) and are marginalized. How, and to whom, do we apply the rejoicing? Whites maybe? In the same vein as the application of the mourning to the minority, can minorities find it in their hearts to rejoice with their white brothers and sisters when they are celebrating the accomplishments of the founders of this nation during the Fourth of July? These verses possibly point to the hopes and answered prayers for which we rejoice, but when placed in the social arena, I believe the example has merit.
- The “oppression” focuses quite a bit on inequality and specifically, inequality of wealth. It brings to mind a word—covetousness. God has commanded us not to covet our neighbor’s property. He has decided what we each will have, and it is all His. He has told us that He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. Jesus gave us the parable of the man who hired workers throughout the day and gave them what he wanted them to have. Those who worked few hours got the same as those who worked all day, and the ones who worked all day thought this was unfair. However, it was the owner’s choice to do so as he pleased. God is sovereign in who to give to and from whom to withhold. He wants us to honor Him with what we have been given.
Jesus gave us the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-15. This man was going on a journey and gave several of his servants some of his wealth. He did not give all of them the same amount, but he expected each of them to maximize his dividends on what he had given them. He did not spare the one he had given the least amount to who did not work his best with what he had.
Thomas Sowell states in his book, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, “Envy was once considered one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, ‘Social Justice.’”
- These philosophies are teaching whites that they are privileged, and blacks are victims. Do we really want to do either of these things? To teach blacks that they are perpetual victims, is to give them no hope of overcoming any challenges. God is their hope. Instead, they will tend to turn to government, and its laws, to deliver them. God word tells us not to put our trust in mortal men who cannot save.
As far as the privilege of whites and whiteness—do we really want whites to focus on being white? There was a point in history that they did just that, and it was the notion of white privilege (the true meaning of the term privilege, a special right or advantage) which gave rise to black slavery and Jim Crowism in America. Whites had the “special right” of freedom; blacks did not. Whites had the “special right” of sit- down dining in most restaurants; blacks did not. They also had the “special right” of going to certain schools or churches; sitting in certain places (including on juries, in spacious waiting rooms, and floor seats at the movies); living in certain neighborhoods; becoming supervisors on jobs. Blacks had none of these privileges. Now, we are yet again, planting a notion of white privilege into the minds of white people. We worked hard on helping them to see that skin color should not be what we judged one another by. Now, we are thrusting the idea upon them.
For now, it is an accusation against their advantage of being in the majority culture, but what effect does it have, ultimately, upon impressionable minds; this insistence to accept that yes, I am privileged simply because of the color of my skin? How long before we hear, “Do you know who I am?” from someone who has come to expect privilege? I am already seeing some whites who feel that they can tell blacks how they are to feel about their experience in this country (they insist that we should all feel oppressed, and there is something wrong with you if you do not). If we continue along this line, I pray we don’t end up back in the place that started all of this chaos and struggle between the races.
- When we have a “system” to blame, we are absolved from taking responsibility for our choices. We are not seen as individuals but as an identity group. However, when Jesus returns as the righteous judge, we will stand alone. God’s word to the Jews (and pervasive throughout His acts of justice) is this from Ezekiel 18:20– The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.
Since the death of George Floyd, chaos has reigned across quite a bit of America. Much discussion has taken place, but I have seen confusion in some of God’s people regarding where to go from here. I would remind my brothers and sisters of this—
God is not unaware of what is going on. He is powerful and He is wise. He is who we looked to for direction before May 25th, and we can continue to look to Him. I must say that it saddens me that we have some whose attitude seems to be that His Word is cliché for such a time as this; that they must look elsewhere for direction. God provides perfect justice, according to His will, not based on selfish human desires. His Word is about relationship—with Him and with others. Following His lead will lead us in the best direction for unity with our brothers in Christ and our treatment of others. We should not allow the world to guide us in this, for they have many vain philosophies.
Colossians 2:8 tells us—See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
The following was taken from a post by Darrell B. Harrison on July 18—
“George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. In the weeks since, several white Christians—many of whom are pastors—have asked me what they should be doing to come alongside their black brothers and sisters. My answer is: do what you were doing on May 24, 2020. Melanin should never be a factor in displaying the love of Christ. Love them because they’re brethren, not because they’re black and brethren.”