Applause for the unified anger from the American public. I see folks from all political and religious backgrounds unanimously condemning violence against black men.
But it’s a mistake to think that convicting the police officers who killed George Floyd will solve the problem. The questions we ought to be asking: What is behind the violence? What led us to this point?
It’s not just plain old racism, there is a monster that feeds it from behind the scenes, a monster we let grow like a cancer; the true enemy is when the privileged don’t stand up to white privilege.
It is this passive allowance that attempted to lynch Christian Cooper in Central Park. When we leave privilege unchecked it emboldens white people to become the vigilantes who lynched Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight. When we are too afraid to speak against white privilege we press our knee down on George Floyd’s neck, staring into the camera without remorse.
The Festering Beneath our Pews
When I was in high school I went to a Christian summer camp. I recall one of my cabin mates putting up a confederate flag in our window. My adult leader, a man I truly respected, dismissed it as: (and I quote) “that’s just them being white boys”. In other words, he defended the flag as celebration of whiteness, but not racism…
Not an actual picture of those white kids in my youth group, but the pick up trucks and hunting caps are universal
To this day that white privilege survives like a dormant tumor within the church. The Christian Church represents the religion of the privileged, and based on the life of Jesus, it is by design an institution that ought to regulate the white privilege in its congregations.
The church has failed.
During my years as an evangelical I found this sickness all too often: we tolerate the racists in our community, it’s taboo to speak to them about it. It’s as if racism is sewn into the culture of evangelicalism.
Today I see evangelicals finally speaking up, but what about the decades of letting white privilege thrive in your congregations? When the church doesn’t hold white privilege accountable, it pushes down its knee on George Floyd’s neck.
We’ll never destroy white privilege, but we can keep it in check
Remember, it was white people who died in the Civil War for the North. Privileged young white men of the union lost limb and life in a violent and brutal war so that black slaves could be free. This is the prime example of what needs to happen in the US to stop white privilege manifesting its ugly face.
When we allow children to be separated from their parents and held in concentration camps at our border, we kneel on George Floyd’s neck.
When we brush aside the fact that Steven Miller, a known white supremacist sits in the whitehouse as the President’s most senior advisor, we put pressure down on George Floyd’s trachea.
When we defend the NFL and its racist retaliation against Colin Kaepernick, we ignore George Floyd’s plea for mercy.
Colin was right.
Stoke your anger, I’m with you. But don’t be satisfied with the conviction of a policeman.
The privilege is all around you, from the man sitting on the same pew as you who entertains the idea that Obama is a Muslim, all the way up to the white man crying and sniffling before the senate and becoming a Supreme Court Justice. You’re mad at the injustice? Great! What about your white friend who is curiously silent on the issue?
I am a Chinese American male and, ironically, I have been welcomed into the ranks of privilege by the white society of the USA. This is my penance: my words here along with my actions in protest and vote are what I am doing to compensate for my own privilege. Won’t you join me?
What can we Do?
The easiest thing you can do is commit to and be public about voting for Joe Biden. He is a flawed candidate, but as a senior senator in 2008, he never complained about playing second fiddle to a young, inexperienced, black senator from Illinois for eight long years. Of the two candidates for president, he is by far the best example of a white person working against his own privilege.
A privileged man would not have been able to submit so fully to Obama’s leadership
To the believers out there I challenge you: I understand the notion that the sanctuary is a place for all types of sinners, and that we should continue worshiping with the flawed while patiently hoping their hearts change. But white privilege is not slowly being redeemed in the church; rather it is a festering disease getting worse, emboldened by the silent enabling of lay and clergy alike. Speak out against the white privilege worshiping with you in your sanctuaries. Expose it, challenge it, change the culture in your churches.
In 1 Cor. 5 Paul wrote about an egregious sin that was overlooked and tolerated in the Corinthian Church, his command? “Expel the immoral brother”. It is time to expel white privilege, the root of racism and all sorts of evil.