We Must Listen: Suggested Readings on Ferguson for My Fellow White Christian Friends

As a white male, I will never know what it’s like to grow up black and male in the United States. I will always wear the skin of privilege and I will — whether I like it or not — constantly be participating in a world that was built on the backs of marginalized people groups. This is one of many reasons why I care about Ferguson and why I desire to listen to those who have experiences vastly different from my own. In light of the recent lack of indictment of Darren Wilson and all the Facebook arguments I have witnessed, I am even more motivated to speak less and listen more.

So in that spirit, I want to share with you some links to posts by people of color who are speaking up courageously about what it means to be black and Christian in the United States today. I tried to create a diverse list that includes conservative, moderate, liberal, and progressive voices — but all voices that need to stop being marginalized because of racism (whether intentional or not). I urge my fellow white Christian friends to sit down, open your hearts, and listen with compassion and empathy.

We’ve had the microphone for long enough. 

*****

Jacqueline J. Lewis, “Release. Repair. Restore: Thoughts Beyond Ferguson Toward Racial Healing”:

I suppose if Ferguson was an isolated context or if Michael Brown’s death was an anomaly, congregations this Sunday might simply pray for the families, for the burning buildings, for the broken glass in the streets, and the broken hearts in Ferguson and around the nation. But neither is true. Eric Garner. Marlene Pinnock. Akai Gurley. Trayvon Martin. Emmett Till. The stories attached to these names break our hearts and make us feel the past is pressing into the present. Even when we are not sure that circumstances are motivated by racism, race is “read” into these events due to our history.

Lisa Sharon Harper, “Why Ferguson Must Lead to Change”:

What is the effect of more than 350 years of viewing black people as less than human and inherently criminal? What is the effect of more than 350 years of policing and criminal justice structures constructed with that fundamental belief woven into their foundations? It is only natural then, that in Ferguson and in many small towns across the country where the unconscious beliefs about the value of black life are still prevalent, a white officer can shoot a black boy or man and legally get away with it. We crafted the system over 350 years to work that way.

Morgan Parker, “Reports From the Field: White People Love Me: Dispatches From The Token”:

Here is the curse of the token: the tokenizer (see: white supremacy, see: white men, see: oppressor, see: majority) thinks they are doing the token a favor, giving a gift. The gift is isolation, is limitation, is submission. The trauma, of course, is centuries old. The pedestal is an auction block.

Christena Cleveland, “The Cross and the Molotov Cocktail”:

Seeing the suffering Christ in these young men isn’t achieved by theological gymnastics, deep pity, or altruism. It’s done by listening to their stories, sharing life, standing in solidarity with them, and experiencing their rage… Can you learn from the violent protesters as well as the peaceful protesters? Can you see the Imago Dei in both?

Osheta Moore, “I Raise My Hands: A Prayerful Response to Ferguson”:

Today, I raise my hands because the truth is Black Lives Matter and black kids don’t have to be college-bound for their deaths to be tragic.   I raise my hands for the truth that Jesus identified with the poor, broken, marginalized, and ignored.

h00die_R (Rod), “good cop, bad cop routine?: on police brutality & systemic racism”:

This is not about individuals with views like the Ku Klux Klan. Participants can include your run-of-the-mill carceral feminist or businessman just wanting to make a few extra bucks. Racism isn’t about issues of “mistrust” or dead-wrong personal opinions. White Supremacy is a system, organized institutional negative, lethal, discriminatory policies by the public, private, and religious sectors versus people of color+ false myths and stereotypes to keep racial hierarchy in power.

Thabiti Anyabwile, “The Ferguson Grand Jury Has Given Us Our Marching Orders”:

There is no way people of good conscience or people of Christian faith can look at the events in Ferguson and conclude there’s nothing left for us to do or nothing that can be done. No, both pure religion and good citizenship require we not settle for what’s happened in the shooting of Michael Brown and the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision. The Ferguson grand jury has given us our marching orders. They have ordered us to march for a more just system of policing and the protection of all life. We are obligated–if we love Christ or love this country–to find a way forward to justice.

Austin Channing, “Demonstrating Christ”:

I serve a Christ who disrupts.

And we are called to demonstrate Him, right?

So how long before you unseat privilege and power? How long before you turn over the tables of injustice?

Featured image: “Ferguson protest in downtown St. Louis” by velo_city on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.

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5 thoughts on “We Must Listen: Suggested Readings on Ferguson for My Fellow White Christian Friends”

  1. I can’t help but wonder, as much as I want to see racism defeated, if we will reach the place where certain areas become hellishly anarchic simply because the police will be too afraid of being called “racist” if they do their jobs when a “young man of color” is involved. Will a white police officer have to submit to being seriously wounded or killed just so a crowd won’t protest/sue/riot? Will it get to the place, as a sign I saw said, that “a mother shouldn’t have to fear for her son’s life if he decides to rob a store”?

    1. Well given that as things currently are police officers can openly, publicly, in broad daylight shoot unarmed Black kids who did absolutely nothing, admit they did it, describe the person they killed as a demon and refer to him as “it”, openly state they’d shoot him again, and then not be punished for it in any way–indeed, profit half a million from donations that came with messages thanking him for getting rid of another Black person–I’d say we have several hundred years to go before that becomes a concern.

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