Christian Censorship: I Talked About Race And Was Silenced

Christian Censorship: I Talked About Race And Was Silenced January 14, 2017

I’m not surprised, but I am angry. I got censored by a group of Christians because I talked about race, and it is not okay.

 

A few days ago, I posted this piece, called An Apology To Black Women. Per my usual modus operundi, I posted it in various Christian Facebook groups. Within a few hours, I received a message from an admin of one of the groups. It said, essentially “We, the admins of ____ removed your post because even our one black admin found it offensive.”

Don’t misunderstand me: I am white. I’m no victim. But the decision to censor a post that talks about how black women have been silenced because of racism is, well, in one fully-loaded word, racist.
The fact that my post was not just the subject of censorship, but Christian censorship is, well, disgusting.
I get that the post is uncomfortable. If it wasn’t, it wouldn’t be doing its job.  White people especially are all at different places in our journeys, different points of awakening to how we participate in a racist society, willingly or not. It’s time we do the work of unpacking that participation. That’s why I write about race.

WHY I TALK ABOUT RACE

 

Trust me when I say that I’d much rather talk about, I dunno, kittens.  But talking about race is important work. It’s obvious that our country still has deep, unhealed racial wounds, and they are festering. We keep trying to cover it all up with the same old dirty bandages.
It’s not working.
It’s time to rip those bandages off and air some of this shit out. And white people need to do our part.
Please don’t talk to me about progress. I know we have seen a lot of progress. But to sit back on my haunches and smack my lips in satisfaction because hey, black people can vote — that’s not enough. That’s nowhere near enough. And to tell black people they should be happy with what they’ve got, because hey, progress — well, that’s just insulting.
A lot of white people don’t even think about race, and it’s not because we want to be intentionally racist. It’s because we confuse two issues. We think that because we are not bigoted assholes, that means we also don’t participate in and benefit from a racist society. We think if we have a few black friends, then hey, we’re cool, and totally not racist.  We think we can live life “color blind” and we think that’s actually “good”.
We’re wrong.
As white people, we don’t have to think about race if we don’t want to, and that proves our privilege. When we silence the people who do think and talk about it, we are participating in systemic racism (hey, admins of that Facebook group — I’m talking to you!). Usually, that’s out of fear.
I talk about race because it’s time for white people to enter into this discomfort. It is not the black person’s job to educate us on what they experience, but when they choose to share it, our job is to listen and learn. If our first response is to tell them:
  • to get over it
  • to look at the progress we’ve made
  • to silence them, or
  • to tell them to stop being so angry

 

then we are practicing white frailty and exerting our privilege. We want them to stop making us uncomfortably by rocking the status quo boat.

Do all black women feel disassociated from white feminism? Of course not. We are all individual human beings with our own thoughts and opinions. But just because one alleged black admin who never spoke to me directly woman feels one way does not mean that women who feel another should be silenced. Especially when that one woman is in power, or, e-hem, the admin of a Facebook group.
I mean, really. Isn’t it just a tiny bit possible that out of 2700 members someone might have a different opinion?

FACEBOOK IS TO SOCIETY WHAT CHRISTIAN CENSORSHIP IS TO…

 

What’s scary to me is that this group’s censorship is reflective of society at large. Let’s be real. In the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly insignificant. It’s just a Facebook Group. But what happens on Facebook doesn’t necessarily stay on Facebook.
Much like in larger society, when something I said made the powers that be uncomfortable, instead of allowing for a nice, healthy dialogue, they shut me down. They didn’t even have enough respect for the 2700 members of their group to think that maybe, some of them would think I was right.
What disturbed me about this incident was the fact that one white woman spoke for many. And she said, essentially, that even her one black friend found it offensive. Now, both of these women have the right to their opinion, but does the black woman really need the white woman to speak for her?
Additionally, she said, and I quote, “the white feminist that is another admin that has several black feminist friends that she said would have been upset by that.”  (If you are having trouble translating, she is essentially saying that a white feminist is sure her black feminist friends would be upset by my post.)
So again, let’s let the black women speak for themselves, heh? Let’s not assume that the white feminist can fairly represent the black one because she’s cool and not racist enough to have a few black friends.
Which, in a completely reductionist manner, was kind of the thing my original post was saying not to do.

WHERE IS THE CHURCH IN RACE RELATIONS?

Most of all, I’m bothered by the fact that this was a Christian group more than anything. If anyone should be attempting to foster healing, it should be Christians. And healing comes through dialogue.

 

But in general, many Christians seem to shy away from the subject. When I posted on Facebook about my post being censored, someone said in response, “They say the most segregated place in Church on Sunday morning.” That makes me sad.

 

The fact that our first instinct is to hide this topic away, to brush it under the rug and shush the people who are saying, “Yeah, but…” makes me grieve.

 

There is no doubt the work will be messy, and that the mess might get on our pews. But that’s the kind of life Jesus lived. His was a life of grit and mess, and he stuck his healing hands right in there. He didn’t shy away from the hard things. We shouldn’t either.

 

I’m angry that my post got censored, but it’s not going to stop me from talking about race. In fact, I’ll only talk about it all the more, because now I know just how much my voice is needed.

 

There are 2700 people who didn’t get to hear it.


UPDATE:

As of 12:19 pm, I just checked and not only has my piece been censored from the Facebook group, I have also been removed and banned.
Nothing like spreading the love of Jesus.
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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Bravo Sierra

    That was very white of them, and very Christian of them, too.

    • I admit your comment made me laugh. I should also say that in many other Christian groups, (mostly progressive ones) the piece has gotten some amazing response and is opening up dialogue, which is good and the point. Yes, Christians need to do better, as these admins do. But there are also a whole lot of Christians out there who are doing good. I am trying to be one by calling out the shit when I see it, as in this piece.

      • Bravo Sierra

        Though I bristle when people assert a causal relationship between Christianity and being a good person or say that non-theists can’t be good people (stupid BSA), I know a lot of good Christians. So thanks for your good humor, and your good effort. May you have much success at making allies.

        • Haha, and you as well. Here’s to all of us, good, bad, and fairly good looking.

  • jimoppenheimer

    People need to be held accountable for their behavior, even if they are part of a Facebook page, and threaten others that they’ll sue you if you mention their name (I assume that’s what’s going on).

    • They did not threaten to sue. I chose not to name the group or the admins because, while I know my tiny little blog has limited reach, I also know how the Internet can be. I have been the victim of some seriously disturbing harassment online, and what I have experienced is nothing compared to what others have gone through. No matter how despicable I believe their actions to be, I don’t wish them to be the target of that kind of hate (even though in my weaker moments I think they really deserve it). They are just broken like the rest of us. They’re kind of broken just takes on a particularly vile form.

      Also, I only ever heard from one admin, and there are 7. After I was banned, I did send a private message to all of them. I have yet to receive a response.

      • jekylldoc

        Particularly vile? Not particularly vile, I would say. They at least thought they were acting for peace and harmony and can’t we all just get along. Their censorship was just on one Facebook page.

        I think you have done a good job of keeping it all in perspective. That adds to your credibility. Which is important when you are trying to get people to see their own fragility, privilege and participation in a racist system by pretending it isn’t there.

        • Okay, maybe vile is a strong word. But maybe not. I think racism is vile. Even if it is covered by the mask of promoting peace and harmony. So I’m not sure if vile is the right word or not. I’ll have to sit on that for a bit.

          • jekylldoc

            The racism is the vile part. The mask is, well, maybe sad, maybe disturbing, but only vile if maintained in the face of direct evidence. No worries about the wording – I am inspired by your calling them out.

  • Agni Ashwin

    I got censored by a group of Christians because I talked about race

    Or, to be more precise, you got censored because you talked about racism. Talking about race would involve lots of talk about, say, human genetic variation and geographical populations–topics not usually subject of much debate with your average Christian.

  • John Gills

    Your conflict put me in mind of this great Woody Guthrie song. Hang in there as you walk your own lonesome valley.

    Lonesome Valley
    Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

    You gotta walk that lonesome valley,
    You gotta walk it by yourself,
    Nobody here can walk it for you,
    You gotta walk it by yourself.

    Some people say that John was a Baptist,
    Some folks say he was a Jew,
    But your holy scripture tells you
    That he was a preacher too.

    Daniel was a Bible hero,
    Was a prophet brave and true,
    In a den of hungry lions
    Proved what faith can do for you.

    There’s a road that leads to glory
    Through a valley far away,
    Nobody else can walk it for you,
    They can only point the way.

    Mamma and daddy loves you dearly,
    Sister does and brother, too,
    They may beg you to go with them,
    But they cannot go for you.

    I’m gonna walk that lonesome valley,
    I’m gonna walk it by myself,
    Don’t want to nobody to walk it for me,
    I’m gonna walk it by myself.