The topic of racial injustice is one that weighs heavy on my heart and I’m committed to revisit this topic to continue learning and supporting those people of color in the community.
Summer of 2020 I participated in a virtual racial healing small group through our church. We used a workbook which brought us through several activities that revealed how you grew up, racial injustices you witnessed or were a part of, and how you responded to those events. These events help shape our view and actions towards people of color.
We also learned what white privilege is and how that can blind us from racial injustices. The Very Well Mind website defines white privilege as “an advantage that protects white people against any form of discrimination related to their ethnicity and race. White privilege, however, does not imply that white people have not or cannot experience challenges in life; it means that any challenges that a white person has faced or may face is not related to the color of their skin.” This was an enlightening piece of information, something I had never heard in my 14 years of school. Reflecting on my past verses friends of color and their history I could see this as a sad reality.
The podcast I am reviewing this week is “The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey; her guest Jemar Tisby.” Jemar is a Christian historian, podcast host, author and speaker whose goal is to propel Black Christians forward. Founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, a multimedia platform. Author of ‘How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice.’ He is also the co-host of the “Pass the Mic podcast.”
Jemar explains how his passion for racial justice began. “Everywhere I would go to speak or write about racial justice you always get that one question, what do we do, and that’s a great question. It started six or seven years ago, I began developing this framework I call the arc of racial justice, and it stands for awareness, relationships, commitment.”
Jemar talks a little about awareness and white privilege. “So, I call this racial justice practice, I call it writing your own racial autobiography, and I mean there’s so much that goes into it, we just have these unexplored inner lives when it comes to race, especially white people because the way white supremacy works is that it thrives on invisibility. That means everyone else has a race or his race, but you as a white person you’re just you. Right, you’re just John or Mark or Susie, and you maneuver life and whatever happens to you is because of who you are and what you’ve done it has nothing to do with your skin color or how the society has structured itself around race, that’s what white supremacy tries to tell you, that means you go about life and have these experiences and you don’t look at it through a racial lens, even though you’re experiencing it through a racialized society right. It is a very necessary practice on the part of the majority to stop and say, what is my earliest memory of race? Have you ever used a racial epithet? What did my parents teach me about race, when this big racial event happened in the world what did my church say or do?”
Jamie poses this question: “So talk about that a little bit for the person who’s going, Okay, this is great Mr. Jemar but this is for somebody else.”
Jemar’s response, “So, it’s not enough to be not racist, you have to be actively anti-racist because the inertia of society is toward racism is toward white supremacy. If I’m not mean to other people, if some of my best friends are black, if I’m nice across the racial and ethnic spectrum, quote, unquote, I’m not a racist, okay, I say great keep doing that. So now go the other direction. So, what we have to do is think on a broader scale, what actually brings equity. For instance, abolishing the death penalty, since 1973, 165 people have been found innocent, who’ve been sentenced to death row. 42% of people on death row are black, even though we make up only 13% of the population. I think part of the reason why we’re still talking about racial justice today is because so many people have that attitude is how does this affect me?”
Let’s dig into how this is biblically connected. Jemar points out: “Number one, it matters to Jesus, because justice matters to Jesus, I spent a good bit of time in the first few chapters of the book talking about the image of God. What does it say in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, God says, let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness? Every single person has a fingerprint of God on them and that matters, of course, for racial and ethnic relations. So, it matters to Jesus. So, if you’re a Christian, it should matter to you. Secondly, the world is changing, whatever is true now is not necessarily going to be true in the future. Already. The younger generations are majority minority. They’re not the minority anymore. So. in 2040- 2050 window, when there’s going to be that tipping point where there’s not going to be one clear majority of any racial or ethnic group that’s already happening with the younger generation. How are they going to be equipped?”
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28
“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” James 1:2
Jemar talks about how his book will help educate you into action. “The book is all about moving from conversation to action. When I say practical, I mean, practical. Every single chapter has what I call racial justice practices, these are things that you can go out and do. I encourage you to do it with a group, book, study, group, church, study, group. I cannot wait to hear about ways that people really put this into practice and are changing their communities changing their spaces for the better because they love God and they love their neighbor.”
This book is on my to read list. I recommend listening to the entire podcast as Jemar speaks more about racial injustices throughout history and Jamie gives examples of where she has experienced white privilege.
To answer the title question is racial justice connected to faith – the answer is yes. God has created us all in his image and wants us all to treat each other with kindness and love. Part of that requires us understanding the history of our nation and how we treated people of color in the past and how it has led to systemic racism. If you are white, there are ways for you to come along side people of color to support them and show the world they are not less than, they are equal, in our eyes and most importantly in God’s eyes.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:32
Thought you could use a laugh:
The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and guest Jemar Tisby
Jemar’s book “How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice.”
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