Disturb the Silence

6

January 21, 2015 by Kyle

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“…You deplore the demonstrations taking place in Birmingham. But your statement, I am sorry to say, fails to express a similar concern for the conditions that brought about the demonstrations. I am sure that none of you would want to rest content with the superficial kind of social analysis that deals merely with effects and does not grapple with underlying causes. It is unfortunate that demonstrations are taking place in Birmingham, but it is even more unfortunate that the city’s white power structure left the Negro community with no alternative…” ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail’ – MLK

I must admit that I love the audacity of the young people who have led the ‘Black Lives Matter’ protest over the past few months. There is an inherent boldness in declaring the truth that the bodies of American blacks are not an extraterrestrial presence among ‘us’.   A few weeks ago I walked alongside protesters half my age and they understood what was at stake.  They took to the streets to raise awareness among the populous about the injustice of brutality against unarmed black men and women.  They stopped traffic, blocked intersections, shouted, pointed, agitated and all within the parameters of the law. As expected, there were folks who did not have the capacity or empathy to understand these happenings and they bristled at the audacity of the unorganized masses disrupting life. Many redefined protest as violence and brutality as self preservation. These peaceful protest were put through the grinder of majority culture and what we found on the other end was something more palatable for the masses—a collection of tatted, shirtless thugs looting and creating civil unrest in the streets of America.  What was produced was something that majority culture could label and understand.

Philly March 2014

Philly March 2014

Protests are meant to disrupt the norm in order to bring attention to the absurd. The powerful among us are holding onto an America void of disruption. Traffic flows, commerce continues and money accumulates, but those within the underbelly of society remain hidden in the corners of until diversity needs a token. The march is about calling attention to those who are invisible as well as the visible structures of inequity. In the book, Divided by Faith; Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, authors, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith state the following, “White conservative Protestants, it appears, are more individualistic and less structural in their explanations of black-white inequality than other whites.”[1] A chapter that is worthwhile reading explores various reasons why many within White Conservative Evangelical circles understand so little about marches and themes like, #blacklivesmatter.

Many exist in a dystopian world and the act of protest becomes as important as prayer—in fact they are inseparable. God create man, yes,to be more specific, God created a black man and woman in His image. To be seen as human is where we find ourselves—we thought we were further along, but many of us are not and we must go back theologically and establish the ‘Imago Dei’.  As a pastor, I’ve come to the realization that theological truth can miss our hearts on the way out of our mouths. It is also true that truth can miss our heart on the journey from our ears to our brain. We must rediscover the humanity of those around us and be comfortable with sounding liberal to the theological gatekeepers. An easy to ignore casualty of living within a pseudo-utopian world is the pain of those in distress.

We must look on evil and resist it. This is gospel living. The gospel must be more than something observed and forensically dissected. If I preach good news but oppress my brother then my message rings hollow and no amount of contextual reassessment can undo my sin. I pray that God’s mercy rest upon that individual who carefully crafts a theological treatise only to destroy another’s humanity.  A disconnected or unrealized gospel can lead to a kind of self righteous laziness. During the past couple of months I have heard, “the Gospel” as a rejoinder from many well meaning Anglo brothers and sisters. This response is their solution to 400 years of race inspired oppression.  Many of the responses were void of an understanding of the issue facing those within the underclass. I wish someone would just say, “Spurgeon says…” it actually would have been more relevant than some of stuff left in the comments sections of blogs, FB walls, etc. Utterly detached and unsympathetic would describe the collective stubbornness to admit that structural and systemic racism exist.

Add insult to injury would be the onslaught of evangelical institutions sending out publications with articles about engaging the culture for Christ. Most articles in these publications ignore one of the most urgent issues of our time–a racialized culture. The reality is that most of the ‘cultural engagement’ happens within circles dominated by non-persons of color. No real cultural engagement outside of white evangelicalism. Yes, preach the gospel, but one must go beyond simple discourse in order to rectify injustice. Many discussions on race within evangelical circles starts and ends in Ephesians 3 and John 17, but are hush on the topic of justice and the systemic results of racial oppression. (Jeremiah 22:3; James 1:27; 2:14-19) I have nothing against multi-ethnic churches, but the reality is that a multi-ethnic church without a commitment to root out injustice and systemic oppression could be yet another photo-op. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. (John 1:14) The real work of reconciliation is exemplified in the One who came and reconciled.

As the church, we must be very careful chastising folk who march and protest against forms of injustice. In a sense, demonstrating and declaring the gospel is a protest against the system of evil within society. The softened Christianity of the West seems more comfortable creating fences around our culture and establishing as doctrine the uninspired traditions of men. I applaud those who march and I join with them because it is godly to resist evil.

“Thus says the Lord: Do justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor him who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the resident alien, the fatherless, and the widow, nor shed innocent blood in this place.” Jeremiah 22:3

[1]. Emerson, M. O., & Smith, C. (2000). Divided by Faith; Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America. New York: Oxford Press. 96

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6 thoughts on “Disturb the Silence

  1. DR says:

    ” I applaud those who march and I join with them because it is godly to resist evil.” Please tell me you also march relentlessly to help stop countless POC’s from aborting. Please tell me you do. Please tell me that unborn black lives matter as much as these who you and the others have recently marched for, burned down businesses for, looted businesses for, shot cops dead for… Please tell me how many times you have rallied and marched for the unborn murdered black lives… Please. Are you planning a rally to demonstrate against the POC who set her infant baby on fire in the middle of the street in NJ this past week? Please tell me you are because if you aren’t – you are no better than the whites you accuse of picking and choosing the evil things they will or will not address.

    I understand that because you are black you take up sin against blacks as a cause because of how intimately acquainted with it you are…. but I think even you pick and choose what’s evil enough to merit your attention.

    Speaking as just a regular person – I’m turned off when anyone wants to tell me that “This or that sin is the one I should be focused on. If I had a blog, I’d be telling people about all sin and that reconciliation first and foremost begins between Jesus and us and until it does – it won’t happen between us and anyone else.

    Just sayin.

  2. Kyle says:

    Correct DR…you don’t know what I have done and continue to do to support “life” in the black community born and unborn. You’ve assumed and that’s cool and you can be turned off–this blog post wasn’t written to address every issue but one particular issue. There are those who have the luxury of ONLY focusing on one particular ‘life’ issue- I don’t have that same luxury–I live and pastor here in the community and have supported efforts that give options for young girls who are contemplating abortion. Somehow I believe that you have chosen a topic that you’re going to focus on…in fact, I see that you’re sacrificially trolling for that very issue.

    • DR says:

      Kyle, thank you for the reply. “… I see that you’re sacrificially trolling for that very issue.” I’m sorry, not true. It’s just the easiest subject of black on black violence for me to bring up with you and those you know and love who also Blog that addresses the fact that you all (and I will say – you less than the rest) have the greatest tendency to address the violence in your blogs when it involves a white person. Otherwise, I find black on black violence ignored unless it can be blamed on white on black racism… as in the case of your 4 friends and their response in the blog post :BLACK-ON-BLACK VIOLENCE: PASTOR VODDIE BAUCHAM’S ASSAULT ON BLACK PEOPLE. Among many many many others.
      That’s it – no issue – just an observation.

      • Kyle says:

        You are deflecting…again, you don’t know what I have been doing to address black on black crime…Question for you “DR” – what are you doing to address the fact that 83% of homicides in the white community are committed by other whites? Voddie B. has been addressed repeatedly and you should probably look at the number of responses to his unsubstantiated claims by Thabiti Anaywilble. You don’t want to discuss anything of value and I’ve been in these kinds of exchanges before and rather not. Like I said go troll somewhere else. One of my rules is that I don’t engage with folks who are anonymous. Peace

      • DR says:

        Thank you again for your reply Kyle. And by way of introduction, I am Drew Hart’s father in law, how rude of me not to have said so before, please forgive me. And no, I do not know what you are or have been doing while not blogging and that is why I asked.. But when you take the time to write a blog that mimics too many I’ve already read which just use the opportunity to bash whitey – I get sad. I find no balance, no even handedness, no Christian love. It’s the same way I feel when I hear whites bashing blacks for anything, everything or for no good reason at all.
        To your question: “…what are you doing to address the fact that 83% of homicides in the white community are committed by other whites?” I can tell you this in absolute sincerity – first and foremost, I do not try to look for any means to blame blacks for it. The next thing I do is I look for all the ways to create and support a society that is: law abiding, fair, good, loving – this includes but is not limited to – who I vote for, what ministries I support with my gifts of money, what candidates I support with my money and time. I also support prison ministries in order to help ALL colors of people to not return to crime and or violence. My efforts are for the good of all because the reasons things happen (even murders) are as varied as snowflakes and I find that it is good policy to help all equally.
        Now, as far as me not wanting to discuss anything of value… I am guessing that black Christians writing blogs that trash whites on a frequent basis for anything they possibly can is not something you consider “of value” and I will respect your opinion and also wish you
        Peace.

      • Kyle says:

        The reality is that I find it hard to believe that you respect my opinion (I’m good with that) and you also seem to be unaware of the narrative of the land we call home (the one that is ignored by so many). The fact that you are unaware of structural and systematic racism and how it impacts my community underlines my point. Many write blogs, some march and still others push legislation to change those things that are impacting marginalized communities. I will continue to write whether you approve or not. In fact, the ideology that you lay out is why I write these kinds of blogs. By the way, I would never use the term, “whitey”–its derogatory and doesn’t help the conversation. I would add that an advantage of white privilege is not having to understand or deal with these issues. You also get to claim that you’re colorblind but based on your first response I think its safe to say you’re not committed to being colorblind if its not to your advantage. (e.g., black on black crime, etc.) I’ve had conversations with you online before and they have led to nothing fruitful and so with all due respect I will allow you the last word but will no longer respond to you.

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