White Fragility is anti-Gospel

Original post from Facebook (links below):

I’ve been hesitant to speak on this and have been reading and watching stacks of material to make sure I understand it correctly before I do, but I think it needs to be said: not all efforts against racism are created equal.

Before you go assuming I’m on whatever side you think that statement puts me on, the disclaimers:
Yes, racism exists (both individual and systemic, in the original sense). Sadly, I’ve seen it first hand even in the church and have heard plenty of accounts from others as well. Yes, it’s important we fight racism. I’ve been writing on this matter long before the events of the last 2 months, so don’t take any of this as me downplaying racism. However, it’s incredibly important we choose carefully in our approach to this matter.

Specifically, I want to address the “White Fragility” theory presented by Robin DiAngelo. First, because it has become the go-to resource in our national discussion, racing up the bestseller charts and even selling out on Amazon and being handed out and suggested by many within Christendom. Second, because it is representative of much of the ideology of Critical Race Theory, the prevailing viewpoint in our national discussions. Learning DiAngelo’s work helps one see much of the ideology being shared on television and in print today.

You can read the book, or you can watch the interviews, and you can read and watch the counterpoint articles and videos being produced. There is no shortage of her material available right now. However, the best entry-level summary is DiAngelo’s interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show from June 17. Asked by Fallon how white people can say they aren’t racist, DiAngelo answered, “I think white people should remove that phrase from their vocabulary, ‘I’m not racist.’ … When I’m talking about the racism that I have, that you have, it’s the result of living in a society in which racism is the foundation. We all absorb it, we all absorb it, there’s no exempting ourselves from it.”
She goes on to say that white people should stop trying to decide if they are racist… because they are. In the book, she sets up a trap to drive home the racism of all whites. Are you a racist? If you say yes, then you can admit it and live with it. If you say no, you’re both a racist and a fragile white because you can’t come to grips with your own racism. It’s the classic “have you stopped beating your wife?” trap translated into racial matters.

This is anti-Christian in every way. Either she’s saying that because it’s natural, racism isn’t a sin (which is not what she’s saying, and would be wrong), or that racism is both natural and a sin. If people are guilty of a sin solely because they are born into a certain race, then the Bible lied to us. If people are guilty of a sin solely because of the color of their skin, and cannot change it, then they cannot be forgiven. This kind of thinking also makes a mockery of biblical unity. Being “colorblind” isn’t the answer, but seeing everything as a matter of color and seeing races as different teams, all of which are inherently opposed to each other, leaves no room for the unity Jesus brings.

3 sin categories in which someone can show racism are hatred, pride, and/or partiality. You hate another person because of the color of their skin, you view someone as lesser than you because of the color of their skin, and/or you treat them differently because of the color of their skin. If you’re guilty of any of those three, repent. The Good News is that there is forgiveness and transformation for you in Jesus Christ. If you’re not doing those things, and you are loving your neighbor as God commanded, you aren’t guilty. Period.

Because these ideas are anti-Gospel, one would expect to see side effects that go in the opposite direction of the Gospel’s destination, and that’s what’s happening. We’re seeing the return of segregation, but this time voluntary. We’re seeing moral relativism that says the wrongness of an act depends on the color of the skin of the perpetrator. We’re seeing the sin of partiality being endorsed. We’re seeing the biblical concept of assuming the best about each other flipped on its head, teaching instead that we should assume the worst. (Spend any time with DiAngelo’s work and you’ll see that she trains people to constantly be looking for racial slights, whether intended or not. If you’re constantly looking for something, guess what happens?) We’re seeing the commands to be patient with one another and tolerate one another in love for the sake of unity be ignored on multiple sides. The mild, unintended insensitivities that may arise and the difficulty of hearing out a brother’s stories are not proof a person is racist. They are proof that cross-cultural issues can be difficult to navigate and will need Christlike patience and love to overcome.

The binary thinking I wrote about recently tells a person that you either accept every issue on one side, or you belong to the other side. Binary thinkers will think that because I’ve taken issue with these things, I must be the racist. Because I said that DiAngelo trains people to see racial slights that aren’t there, that racial slights don’t exist. We are smarter than that. There is room for nuance. Very few things in life are an either/or, and this one isn’t either. One can be fully against racism and still take issue with the methods and ideas of other people who are also against racism.

We must realize the way we fight it, the teammates we choose, and the ideas we espouse in opposing racism make a big difference as to the outcome of our efforts. An ideology that undermines the Gospel and totally precludes the possibility of unity and equality cannot be embraced if we want to reach those ends – as we should.

So, in the sermons we preach, the articles we write, the Facebook posts we make, and whatever else we say, it’s of incredible importance that we let the Gospel be the answer. We can say the Gospel is the answer all day long, but our actions and the ideas we hold to will determine if we truly believe it.

DiAngelo on Fallon: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rZfiSjTHVqA

DiAngelo on “Challenging White Fragility”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xtZ0nAFHow&

Secular writers on White Fragility:

https://taibbi.substack.com/p/on-white-fragility

The Problem with White Fragility

Ben Shapiro also did a video on the matter, but I’m not linking it because A) I haven’t watched it and B) He wouldn’t be taken seriously by many

Christian writers:

The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity

The Worldview of White Fragility – A Review of Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility

Segregation:

https://www.thecrimson.com/article/2019/3/12/editorial-defending-black-commencement/

My articles on racism:

https://jackrwilkie.com/2017/09/02/racism-is-real-and-it-isnt-what-you-think-it-is/

Race, the Police, and the Christian’s Response

Why “I’m not a racist” isn’t good enough

focuspress.org/2017/08/15/how-you-can-fight-racism/

3 myths about racism

Binary thinking:

https://jackrwilkie.com/2020/06/18/please-i-beg-you-dont-be-a-binary-thinker/

Further useful reading: 

The Woke Breaking Point

 

Racism is real, and it isn’t what you think it is

What most people think when they hear the term racism is someone saying “I hate you for your skin color” or “I’m inherently better than you based on the race I was born into.” Charlottesville showed us that that attitude does exist in America, but as many (correctly) pointed out, the percentage of people who truly think and talk that way is very small.

So, they insist that the racial problem in America is overblown. They post things like the following on Twitter and Facebook – an image that has been shared thousands of times

21230763_1158852327582136_4566710883254970368_n.jpg

That’s great, it makes a perfectly fine point, but it completely misunderstands the issue. It’s an oversimplification. Those types of posts are held up by many, many people as if to say, “SEE, racism isn’t a widespread issue.”

Ask minorities if they agree. Ask them if they think those pictures signal an end to racism. You’ll often get a different answer. When minorities in America talk about racism, they use a much broader definition, one that means the kind of racial division that leads people to openly hate others but also includes a deeper, less directly obvious racial injustice.

I wasn’t sure how to explain this deeper racism until a Utah police officer recently provided the perfect example of what the REAL problem with racism is in this country.

What the video depicts is a police officer who grew frustrated with a nurse for enforcing hospital policy to the point that he literally dragged her out of the hospital and illegally arrested her. After watching this, I had a hunch what the response would be if the racial problem exists as I think it does, and a scan of people’s comments on various news sites confirmed exactly what I expected to see: the majority of people were calling for the officer to be disciplined.

They responded with comments like “I back police officers as much as anybody, but this guy needs to lose his badge,” and “There aren’t many bad cops, but this is one of them.” And they’re absolutely right.

You probably see where I’m going with this, but let’s talk about where race comes into this discussion. You and I know for a fact that every time a black person is shot by a police officer, regardless of the circumstances, and without variation, those exact same comment boards are filled with the exact same people insisting that if the person just obeyed the officer it wouldn’t have happened and that if the officer felt the use of force to be necessary than it must have been and that the person probably deserved it. Not only do they immediately decide the police officer was in the right, they start finding reasons to justify the killing. “Well, the suspect had been busted for marijuana possession 3 years before.” So he deserved to die? “Footage shows that he ran from the police.” So fleeing is now a crime worthy of the death penalty?

The policeman in Utah was clearly in the wrong, but so was the policeman in Cleveland who pulled into a park, jumped out, and shot 12 year old Tamir Rice, who was carrying a toy gun… and then neglected to give Rice medical attention… and then lied about the shooting in his statement.

If you find yourself drawn to criticize the police officer for mishandling the situation with the nurse but have never once seen a police shooting video and felt compelled to question the officer, ask yourself – why do I do that? 

Minorities want to know the same thing. For them, the only answer they can think of is racism. Not an active hatred of a person, not the kind of racism that would keep you from helping someone of another race, but a mistrust for other races, denying them the benefit of the doubt and ultimately treating them with a warped sense of justice. Racism isn’t hatred – it’s unfairness. It’s treating somebody differently than you would treat a person of a different race. You can say “I’m not racist” because you don’t hate people of other races, but you can still be guilty of racism if you don’t afford them the same trust and rights (such as innocent until proven guilty) as you do people of your own race.

But most people don’t take the time to listen to the nuances of the discussion. Most want the comfortable, easily-packaged answer to racism they see in the Facebook post above. Do you care enough about your fellow man to ask the hard questions about deeper, underlying racism, or will you be content with the superficial, easy to digest answer? Your choice will go a long way toward either fixing the problem or furthering it.