White Privilege

A pastor and writer for the Gospel Coalition I greatly admire, Thabiti Anyabwile, wrote this* in a series of tweets Saturday night — which would have been Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday:

Tamir Rice would have been 14 today. Life cut way too short. Remembering the family in my prayer tonight. Hugging my son tighter tonight. Just left Toys R Us [with] my son. He had gift cards from his 9th [birthday]. He wanted to buy a Nerf Gun & Nerf bow. I let him. I thought VERY hard. While in the store and driving home, I kept asking myself, “Where can he play with these safely?” The only answer I have is “in the house.” I hate the notion that Titus’ boyhood play must be curtailed because of a society’s unjust judgment. But I love him too much to be blasé [about] it. I don’t want my son to love guns. We talk about it often as he just does what boys do. The reality is he cannot love guns safely. Love for guns is a right some people take for granted and others cherish and guard. It’s not a right that can be so treated by my son. For some he’s a menace on sight. He has no idea that’s how some see him. So his legal possession of a gun or play [with] toy makes him vulnerable. He’s not old enough to understand or negotiate this deadly vulnerability. But he should be able to play. Play should never be deadly. I’m not sure he’d be safer if I were outside playing [with] him. I’m a large man. Even unarmed, being large is justification for deadly force. It’s not difficult for me to imagine playing [with] him in our neighborhood and [one] or both being rolled up on, finding ourselves in a lethal [situation]. If it’s my son in crosshairs and things go bad, what would my son see? What would be the last image of his father? How would he cope? It just ain’t right. So we will play inside and he’ll wonder, “why not outside with more room?” I know it’s [because] there’s not much room outside. I let him buy the Nerf gun and bow. I hate the anxiety so he could be a boy. Being a boy is so precious to me. A gift I hope to guard and nourish. Okay. I’m done. Now to talk to God on behalf of Tamir Rice’s family, my son, and yours. Good night.

I will never have to worry about my sweet boy playing with a Nerf gun in the front yard. Atticus is too blonde, too blue eyed.

I see a plenty on social media about how White Privilege isn’t real, the media is biased, whatever. Or, more generously I guess, about how all of us are equal and we should just realize we’re all the same (cue Justin Timberlake) instead of focusing on race but here’s the deal: if all the studies, statistics, and stories from Black communities (and not to mention other non-Anglo communities) about White Privilege are wrong — they’re not but for the sake of argument let’s wonder if they are for a moment — and all the systemic benefits of being white (pay grade, police interaction, educational opportunities, etc) don’t actually exist White Privilege is still a thriving reality for one reason:

As a white person I get to choose when or when not to think about my race or the race of others. I can blindly assert that “we’re all equal” when we’re not.

I don’t ever have to consider what it means to be the father of a White boy playing with a Nerf gun in the front yard.

At the 2016 BET Awards last night Grey’s Anatomy — which I’ve seen now in completion twice — actor and equal rights activist, Jesse Williams, gavea powerful speech, which you can watch here.

A few choice quotes, the full transcript is here:

Now, what we’ve been doing is looking at the data and we know that police somehow manage to deescalate, disarm and not kill white people everyday. So what’s going to happen is we are going to have equal rights and justice in our own country or we will restructure their function and ours.

Now… I got more y’all – yesterday would have been young Tamir Rice’s 14th birthday so I don’t want to hear anymore about how far we’ve come when paid public servants can pull a drive-by on 12 year old playing alone in the park in broad daylight, killing him on television and then going home to make a sandwich. Tell Rekia Boyd how it’s so much better than it is to live in 2012 than it is to live in 1612 or 1712. Tell that to Eric Garner. Tell that to Sandra Bland. Tell that to Dorian Hunt.

And let’s get a couple things straight, just a little sidenote – the burden of the brutalized is not to comfort the bystander.That’s not our job, alright – stop with all that. If you have a critique for the resistance, for our resistance, then you better have an established record of critique of our oppression. If you have no interest, if you have no interest in equal rights for black people then do not make suggestions to those who do. Sit down.

Perhaps it would be better to weep with those who weep, stand with those who stand, fight injustice, seek forgiveness and reconciliation, maybe these instead of defending the high ground we sit on.


  • I gently edited Anyabwile’s quote for readability. Mostly just spelled out words the short hand used to get around Twitter’s 140 character count restriction.
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White Privilege

The Subtle Racism of a Buffered Self

I tried watching Breaking Bad when it initially came on but I couldn’t get past the second episode when Walter White melts two corpses. It was just too gruesome. As the show went on and grew in popularity I paid attention to the reviews. The show was getting high marks for its production value, story telling, acting, etc. etc. And then I noticed commentators from the Christian sub-culture discussing its spiritual value. So, once the whole series was on Netflix Alyssa and I watched in its entirety. Everybody was right, the show is damn near perfect. Just a few quick thoughts now.

BreakingBad

The chief moral lesson of the show is that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” From the get-go Breaking Bad is an exploration of human hubris and our desire to save ourselves. When Walter White gets the diagnosis that he has terminal lung cancer his initial thought isn’t to ask for help in paying medical bills and supporting his family after he’s gone but to figure it out for himself, leading him to becoming a meth cook. But, the show isn’t necessarily about White providing for his family, the show is about his character’s descent into darkness. Vince Gilligan, the show runner, said that his goal was to “turn Mr. Chips into Scarface.” But, the problem is that Walter White was never good, just well-behaved. Actually, not even that well-behaved. In the pilot White is an awful human being. He goes from bad to worse. The show just peals off the superficial layers of White’s character and reveals what’s at his core and was always there. It’s bleak, horrifying, stressful, condemning, dark. And it’s fascinating.

We loved watching the show but at the end of it Alyssa and I agreed that it was too dark to watch through a second time. Our thinking was that what goes in must come out so we want to be careful with how much darkness we fill our time with. Which I think is wise. Of course, we knew how dark it was before watching the first time and in the midst of it. We were okay with it then.

In my lifetime there’s been some fascinating television that explores the dark corners of human psyche; The Sopranos and Mad Men come to mind but every station is trying their hand at dark explorations of human psyche. Which is great and why so many film auteurs are leaving behind the multiplex for television. The thing is that the predominate protagonists of these shows are white guys.

In the past few months I’ve been made aware of the hip-hop artist Kendrick Lamar. His performance on Saturday Night Live last fall ahead of the release of a new album in March, “To Pimp a Butterfly” blew my mind. So, I checked the album out but a few tracks in I had this thought, “This is incredible but I’m not the target audience” and turned it off.

A few weeks ago the editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture, O. Alan Noble, had a brilliant essay in First Things about Kendrick Lamar, his faith, and his art called “I’ll Write Til I’m Right with God.” The article was thorough, deep. I tried out Lamar’s earlier album “good kid, m.A.A.d city” and I said to myself, “This is incredible but I’m not the target audience.” I listened through the second track of the album, “Bitch, Don’t Kill My Vibe” and couldn’t finish as it became more profane.

Though I was particularly enthralled with the beat and lyrics in the chorus:

“I am a sinner, who’s probably gonna sin agin/ Lord, forgive me/ Lord, forgive me things I don’t understand/ Sometimes I need to be alone”

I’ve prayed that prayer before. I’ve prayed that prayer today. Noble opens his essay:

Kendrick Lamar’s breakthrough album, good kid m.A.A.d. city, is a conversion narrative, tracing the moral journey of a young Kendrick through vice, violence, and grace. I don’t mean that the album is just redemptive or that one can interpret it as a conversion narrative if one tries hard enough. It is simply and unapologetically a conversion narrative.

With all this in mind I attempted to listen to the album again and got midway through the third track and thought to myself, “This is incredible, but I’m not the target audience. I hear what Lamar is trying to do but it’s simply too profane [i.e. dark] and I have to be careful with what goes in…” Sound familiar?

I’m not the target audience. Lamar doesn’t write for suburban white hipsters, but the thing is that I enjoy hip-hop as much as the next suburban white hipster. Especially some excellent Christian hip-hop artists that I listen to regularly enough to get email updates about their ministry and I’d be lying if I didn’t mention that I casually, and only casually, enjoy Lupe Fiasco, The Roots, Kanye West, etc… But, of course, I listen to the Christian artists more because I have an entry point to their music that can get me past the cultural touchstones.

In fact, I like how easy it is to enjoy the beats and musicality of the Christian Artists because I’m not distracted by the lyrics. While listening to them I don’t have to clean things up. I don’t have to worry if I’m listening to them while sitting in the church offices. This isn’t to say that these albums lack depth, not at all, but they do lack foul language, overt descriptions of sex, and other such “darkness”.

I prefer my hip-hop when I’m not distracted by the lyrics which is hilarious because hip-hop is a lyric-centric art form. Hip-hop is the only genre that I’m okay with being Christianized, tidied up and packaged in family friendly plastic wrap. Imagine that, a white guy wanting to appropriate black culture and turn it into easy-listening.

Leading me to this:

I might be a racist.

Maybe that language is too strong. I’m not a full-blown monster, nor am I intentionally racist. But, I was okay watching Don Draper bed every woman he came across, drink his liver to oblivion, abandon his children. I was okay watching Walter White cook meth, murder many, attack his wife and kidnap his child. But when it came to Kendrick Lamar working his way through his conversion experience in Compton I wasn’t okay with filling my head with that kind of content.

Robin DiAngelo in “White Fragility” writes:

If white children become adults who explicitly oppose racism, as do many, they often organize their identity around a denial of the racially based privileges they hold that reinforce racist disadvantage for others. What is particularly problematic about this contradiction is that white moral objection to racism increases white resistance to acknowledging complicity with it. In a white supremacist context, white identity in large part rests upon a foundation of (superficial) racial toleration and acceptance. Whites who position themselves as liberal often opt to protect what they perceive as their moral reputations, rather than recognize or change their participation in systems of inequity and domination. In so responding, whites invoke the power to choose when, how, and how much to address or challenge racism.

I’m not comfortable assuming the racist label, for several reasons particularly because doing so may dilute the offense of intentional and deliberate racism, but I have benefitted and am complicit in a system of white privilege. The chief benefit being my ability to not have to think about, or in terms of, race. I’m awarded the privilege to not have to think about being white. I can identify as a husband, as a father, as a pastor, as an artist without ever having to identify as white. The only time I think about my race is when external experiences force me to. In those moments I have the choice not to think about race and race related issues. I can always walk away from or ignore the situation, I can pontificate and moralize about that problem out there without ever having to personally engage in it, thus maintaining racial equilibrium and moderate white comfort.

DiAngelo writes,

Race is for people of color to think about – it is what happens to “them” – they can bring it up if it is an issue for them (although if they do, we can dismiss it as a personal problem, the “race card”, or the reason for their problems). This allows whites to devote much more psychological energy to other issues, and prevents us from developing the stamina to sustain attention on an issue as charged and uncomfortable as race.

This brings me back to Kendrick Lamar and Breaking Bad. I was able to withstand the evil perpetuated in Breaking Bad because Walter White was familiar. It was by no means difficult for me to relate to a white guy who thinks he’s owed more than what he has and deserves it due to his intelligence and ability. But, Lamar’s lyrics were other. Remember “I’m not the target audience.” In my immediate world, race is something out there, separate from me and the intrusion of race into my world makes me uncomfortable. So I choose not to listen to Kendrick Lamar.

The example of what television shows I choose to watch and what albums I choose to listen to is ultimately petty, but it is endemic of a greater issue. It is not unique to my experience as a white man to buffer myself from “race”, to consider it as existing beyond me as something other. In the last year though race relations have been forced to the forefront of the national conversation.

But we want to turn it off like I did with “good kid, m.A.A.d city”. Or, worse, reframe the conversation. When white Dylann Roof tries to incite a race war by murdering nine black people in a church during their Bible study we call him “mentally ill.” And perhaps he does have a mental illness, but anybody who openly tries to start a race war is a racist. Full stop. The headline to Anthea Butler’s op-ed on June 18 in the Washington Post, right after the Charleston shooting, posits the dichotomy well: “Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?” It is well worth the read.

(Photo credit: “Black Lives Matter protest” by The All-Nite Images – https://www.flickr.com/photos/otto-yamamoto/15305646874/. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

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The national conversation has galvanized around the sentiment and protest: “Black Lives Matter.” But again, the intrusion of other makes us uneasy. Not a day goes by where I don’t see some version on my Facebook feed of “Why do only ‘Black Lives Matter?’ Why don’t ‘All Lives Matter?’” But this reveals a lack of understanding of the protest. The hashtag “Black Lives Matter” could be best understood by a white audience as: “Black Lives Matter, Too.”

The “Black Lives Matter” movement focuses on the fact that black citizens have long been far more likely than whites to die at the hands of the police, and is of a piece with this history. Demonstrators who chant the phrase are making the same declaration that voting rights and civil rights activists made a half-century ago. They are not asserting that black lives are more precious than white lives. They are underlining an indisputable fact — that the lives of black citizens in this country historically have not mattered, and have been discounted and devalued. People who are unacquainted with this history are understandably uncomfortable with the language of the movement. The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter‘” The Editorial Board of the New York Times

By responding to the “Black Lives Matter” movement with “All Lives Matter,” maybe inadvertently though likely not, betrays history and then suggests that black lives matter less because, as is proven time and time again, black lives are treated as disposable when white lives are not. And anyone who suggests otherwise is a “thug.” The response “All Lives Matter” is born of a discomfort with discussing race issues. “All Lives Matter” is a poor attempt to minimize the reality of systemic racial violence and brush it underneath the carpet.

Saying that “All Lives Matter” is a privilege afforded to white people because of an inherited cultural authority. Anecdotally, caucasians – excluding certain examples like the discrimination towards the Irish in the late 19th-early 20th century (and others, but never as severe as suffered by other races) – have by-and-large always held the position of authority in America. This cultural position of power is a hanger-on from the days of slavery, Jim Crow Laws, anti-Civil Rights sentiment, and such. So that when the issue of race has again been brought to the forefront of the national dialogue there’s a temptation to defend that authority and maintain social equilibrium.

This social structure is a caste system of prejudice. To remain complicit, to ignore or explain away difference, to deny differences is to prop up a culture of white comfort. Of which whites are the benefactors. Again I will cherrypick and quote Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; … Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection. 

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.” I confess that I have maintained a shallow understanding to sustain my own comfort. As our country addresses, poorly, race issues once again I think it would do well for us, moderate whites, to no longer remain moderate.

Dr. King, in his letter, goes on to ask,

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label… So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?

The first place to begin becoming extremists for love and justice is with, I believe, empathy. But empathy is hard. Empathy is what makes marriage, parenting, friendship so difficult. Empathy requires “climbing into the skin of another and walking around in it” (paraphrase of Harper Lee’s not-racist Atticus Finch). To consider the viewpoint of another requires intense effort and discomfort. It requires removing cultural buffers and engagement in conversation with people who are different. It requires consideration of experiences that don’t fit into carefully constructed social narratives. It requires lowering our guard and laying down binary self-defense mechanisms.

It requires admitting the potential that we might be wrong and maybe we have benefited from a subtle racism.


Many of the ideas of this blog are in response to these articles:

I’ll Write Til I’m Right With God” – O. Alan Noble (First Things)
I, Racist” – John Metta (Those People)
White Fragility”- Robin DiAngelo (The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy Vol 3, No 3)
The Truth of ‘Black Lives Matter’” – the Editorial Board of the New York Times
Shooters of color are called ‘terrorists’ and ‘thugs.’ Why are white shooters called ‘mentally ill’?” – Anthea Butler (Washington Post)
Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Subtle Racism of a Buffered Self

To My Brother and Sisters in Christ, Regarding McKinney, Baltimore, New York City, Ferguson

Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this blog are my own and do not neccesarily represent the views of New Song Community Church.


To My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A few months ago I was having a conversation with a friend regarding race issues in America, because if you haven’t noticed…

I acquitted myself of the conversation, “What right do I a white, middle class, male from the rural Midwest have to discuss social injustice?” The conversation ended quickly after he encouraged me to share my thoughts publicly.

In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. writes:

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; … Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.

I must apologize for my cowardice. I have grown too afraid to be honest. In order not to appropriate the platform of those who have actually suffered injustices; or, condescendingly “give a voice to the voiceless”; or, offend loved one’s political ideologies; or, malign family and friends who have courageously served as police officers; or, for whatever bad excuse I could conjure I’ve buried my moderate white voice in the sand. I am sorry.

But the Internet is a large place and I’m not stealing anyone’s platform at tommywelty.wordpress.com. This bandwidth could be used just as well to post pictures of cats (#lawlz), or my meager attempts at poetry.

“Authorities can’t say if there was a particularly good reason why police arrested [Freddie] Gray. According to the city, an officer made eye contact with Gray, and he took off running, so they pursued him. Though he’d had scrapes with the law before, there’s no indication he was wanted at the time. And though he was found with a switchblade, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said, “We know that having a knife is not necessarily a crime.

The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray” by David A Graham, The Atlantic

This next bit is conjecture because I’m white and have never had to worry about police brutality, but I’d have run too if I were in Freddie Gray’s situation.

Monday night I wept as I read an article in the Baltimore Sun from September 2014 about how the city has paid out $5.7 million since 2011 in police brutality cases. The article states:

“Victims include a 15-year-old boy riding a dirt bike, a 26-year-old pregnant accountant who had witnessed a beating, a 50-year-old woman selling church raffle tickets, a 65-year-old church deacon rolling a cigarette and an 87-year-old grandmother aiding her wounded grandson.”

Undue Force” by Mark Puente, Baltimore Sun

This is not to say all, or even most police are racists, by no means! But, now the mere suggestion of systemic injustice is blasphemy. To hint that there may be an issue between law enforcement and race is to slap my cousin-in-law in the face as he’s putting his life on the line to protect innocents lives. Which is decidedly not my intent.

Over the last twelve months or so my Facebook feed has been littered with drivel on all sides after the events in Ferguson, and New York City, and now Baltimore. Tuesday morning I saw:

  • A picture of Willy Wonka declaring that if the police are arresting you then you’re guilty. The person who posted it obviously forgot about due process.
  • Another individual declared all officers bigots because the best cure for profiling is profiling, amiright?! Or, amiright Hammurabi?
  • I saw a political cartoon of a straw man, sorry, “looter” holding a sign reading: “Black Lives Matter but police, private property, and public safety don’t!” Forgive me, equating protestors to looters is a frustrating error but what is even more frustrating… No, frustrating isn’t nearly strong enough, maybe enraging? The suggestion that black lives matter a proportionate amount to private property is the apex of racial insensitivity.
  • And I will say nothing of the disgusting meme I saw juxtaposing the protests with a scene from Jumanji.

What is happening and has been happening in America is a complex, nuanced problem with seeds planted centuries ago taking root through generation after generation and we no longer know how to think. All our thoughts are memes. Blame Obama, blame white privilege, blame Bush, blame whoever you will, just don’t blame me. Before considering all aspects – the history, the socioeconomic context, the facts, the individuals, our own motives, worries, and prejudices – we choose a side and goddamnit whatever The Party says is true.

But, what should the Christian response be?

The Lord is in his holy temple;
   the Lord’s throne is in heaven;
   his eyes see, his eyelids test the children of man.
The Lord tests the righteous,
   but his soul hates the wicked
and the one who loves violence.
Let him rain coals on the wicked;
   fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be
the portion of their cup.
For the Lord is righteous;
he loves righteous deeds;
   the upright shall behold his face.
Psalm 11.4-7 ESV

First, God hates the wicked and those who love violence. Violence, just or unjust, is an assertion of self. The historic and current violent systemic injustices served to the black community are born of self from the individuals perpetuating these prejudices. The appropriation of peaceful, non-violent protests by rioters and looters – born of selfish desire.

Violence is pride.

To these the psalmist, David, prays that God would rain down a familiar judgement of fire and I was reminded of Matthew 25.31-46. There Christ repays the sheep and goats their dues. To the righteous he rewards their inconspicuous acts of charity. But the damnable sin of the wicked is violent inhospitality, their selfish refusal to feed the hungry, welcome the stranger, visit the prisoner. Whatever has been done or left undone, has been to done or left undone to Jesus.

Dr. King continues,

But though I was initially disappointed at being categorized as an extremist, as I continued to think about the matter I gradually gained a measure of satisfaction from the label. Was not Jesus an extremist for love: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” … So the question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice? … Perhaps the South, the nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

Secondly from Psalm 11 is this cup of wrath. In Gethsemane, Christ prays that the Father would take that cup of our just rewards away from him. Three times he begs, “Take this cup from me.” Our wickedness… No, my wickedness, my violence, my inhospitality is the fire in the bitter cup that Christ drank deeply from. On the cross is crucified all our cowardices and prejudices, our false dichotomies, our politics, our memes, our straw men, our rioting, our brutality, our violence. At Calvary’s hill the ground is level. In Christ Jesus there is neither black nor white, conservative nor liberal, male nor female, poor nor rich.

Let us consider all the facts with grace and love towards our neighbor. Let us sit and wonder at complexity before reducing it to low resolution memes. We must put away our shallow, caustic thinking and instead remember the gospel of Jesus Christ as the Spirit leads us in hospitality.

Father enthroned in Heaven, as you watch us in our struggles show us grace. See our anger and hostility towards each other. Do not repay us what we’re due. Spirit bind us together in love and bind us to the death and resurrection of the Father’s last Word: Jesus. That all our prejudices, anger, distrust, and fear mongering would be put to death and we can be raised up in love with him. Father, let the world know us not by our memes, bumperstickers, or politics but by the love You’ve shown Your enemies on the cross expressed to one another.

In Christ,
Tommy Welty


Addendum 1: The events recorded this past weekend (Sunday June  7th, 2015) in McKinney, Texas are horrifying. The video of an officer man-handling a 14 year old girl, resting both knees on her back, and then pulling a weapon is disgusting and heartbreaking. The responses on social media? Also disgusting and heartbreaking. I’ve seen levelheaded, intelligent people justifying an officer corralling only the black teenagers, letting the white ones be, and then throwing a child to the ground and pulling his weapon (regardless of if holstered later). I’ve seen the “I can’t be racist, I have a black friend” card played; “See it’s not a race issue this person I’m using as a token said so.”

Our ability to identify and address obvious problems, name them, claim fault, and get better has been ruined by memes and trolling. I was always certain I’d have to repost this. I wasn’t expecting to have to repost it a month later. Sadly, I’m sure I’ll have to repost it again soon.

There is a problem in America. Just because the police have a dangerous job, and just because most are kind and courageous people who aim to protect all citizens, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t call a spade a spade.

There is a systemic, historic racial problem in America. 


Further Reading:

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s: “Letter from a Birmingham Jail

David A Graham, The Atlantic:The Mysterious Death of Freddie Gray

Mark Puente, Baltimore Sun: Undue Force

Yoni Applebaum, The Atlantic: McKinney, Texas, and the Racial History of American Swimming Pools

Mike Cosper, Worship Arts Pastor of Sojourn Community Church in Louisville, KY: McKinney, Privilege, and Our Circle of Concern

To My Brother and Sisters in Christ, Regarding McKinney, Baltimore, New York City, Ferguson