I began this conversation I called, See Me, Feel Me, Touch Me, Heal Me as a challenge to the colonial Western Church to be more inclusive of ethnic minorities at all levels. Here are titles of the prior post:
This series has taken quite a turn of events and has spread to voices well heard and seldom herd, representing both dominant and minority ethnic cultures. Feelings have been hurt and misunderstandings have occurred. In spite of all the uproar, the conversation is still going—and that’s the point. Bringing up the issue is not the problem, White Supremacy and White Privilege among Christians is the problem. Remember the Greek-speaking widows in Acts 6? They were not blamed for being hungry.
Why did I choose the Rock Opera “Tommy” as the theme of the conversation? Tommy, like Pete Townsend himself, was abandoned, abused and neglected. This paints a curious picture of White folks and their participation in the American colonial project. Perhaps you detest the thought of race being used for power over others and individually you abhor it. But regardless of your feelings, the system remains in place because it was set up to be that way. In other words, if we don’t change the structure intentionally, the status quo, racists system will remain the same and we all feel bad.
There is no argument concerning the facts of White Christianity’s active and passive participation in the destruction and continuous denigration of Native American and other ethnic minority spiritualities. What is left to be determined is the possible redemption of the abusers. “Wait,” you might be saying, “Don’t you mean the redemption of the abused?” As it turns out, our healing is inseparable. And that process is called reconciliation. Reconciliation without changing the system means that the one who was privileged unfairly, walks away on top, with the same privilege and that is not reconciliation.
So, what has this series produced? There are several action steps you can take to begin dismantling the system of racism among followers of Jesus and they are quite simple.
1. When you see a “Whites Only” or a “Tokens Only” or a “Men Only” Christian conference (except those by design, i.e., a men’s conference) you should contact the organizers and the speakers and bring it to their attention.
2. If they are not willing to adjust their line-up, contact your friends and ask them to put pressure on them so the whole Body of Christ is better represented.
3. Send the following statement out to the speakers and ask them if they will begin using it or something similar in their responses to conference speaking invitations.
“I am committed to expanding theological conversation beyond the circle of speakers like myself who have predominated in the past and continue to predominate in the present – usually white, male, straight, affluent, published, etc. If there are multiple speakers at your event and all of them are from these standard demographic categories, I would rather your speaking invitation be offered to someone else – someone from the diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and heritages that are too seldom heard from. I can assist in providing a list of potential speakers who could speak in my place or with whom I would be especially honored to present with at your event. Thanks for working with me to bring new and more diverse voices to the table of theological, spiritual, and missional conversation.”
4. If the conference organizers are not willing to work with the new dynamic by enlarging the conversation, you, and your friends should continue to apply pressure on them and the speakers so reconciliation can occur among us all.
In order to heal the broken system, we must all work together for each other’s healing-that is shalom.
“It is not enough to undertake works of charity to alleviate the suffering of the poor; we must transform the structures that create this suffering.” ~Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917 –1980)