I’ve never written about race before. And for that, I’m sorry.
The racism that is still prevalent in white Christian circles and in the structures of our society demands both words and action to make change. And those words and actions can’t just be the responsibility of black people – it’s for us to repent, to listen, to learn, to challenge, to change. So here’s a start.
The Gospel Coalition (an American conservative evangelical organisation, led by a Council of 55 men – naturally) has published an article called ‘When God sends your white daughter a black husband’. Have a read:
I tweeted about this article as ‘barely disguised racism’ – and although many people seem to agree, a few have asked me what’s wrong with it. Surely it’s a story redemption, of a woman overcoming her prejudice and realising that we’re all equal?
In response, I thought I’d show a few tweets and responses from others, grouped together by ‘ways this article is deeply flawed’.
- The premise of the article – that having a black man marry into your family is an issue to address. By publishing the article, TGC legitimises white people’s feelings of discomfort at black people being part of their family.
- The erasing of Glenn’s identity – the way that the writer comes to accept her son in law is to stop seeing him as black.
- The answers given are about learning to cope with the issue as a challenge or a trial, not to repent of your racism.
- It even suggests that white people shouldn’t challenge others on their overt racism – showing more concern to appease the prejudices of white family members and keep the peace than for black people being treated as less.
- The article addresses an issue of racism by giving voice only to the person with power and privilege – not to the oppressed person.
To sum up – the piece is apparently meant to show us how a woman overcame her racism and now loves her black son-in-law. But instead, it reassured racist parents that it’s normal to hope for your children to marry a white person. It framed a woman marrying a black man as a spiritual trial for her mother, who had to ‘die to her expectations’ – as if accepting a black son-in-law is a sacrifice for her.
The lessons for parents facing a similar situation don’t touch on repenting of your racism (the author bizarrely insists that she was never prejudiced, despite hoping for a white son-in-law), but instead suggest theological ways to erase the black man’s identity and look past it, rather than loving who he is as a black man.
The article prioritises white people – by suggesting that you take the side of prejudiced white family members over your new black family members, and by publishing the story of a white woman’s struggle with her own racism rather than the experience of black people on the receiving end of her prejudice.
White Christians, we have to do better than this.