White People of Faith Who Affirm #BLM: How Ya Doing??

White People of Faith Who Affirm #BLM: How Ya Doing?? June 7, 2020

While researching for our book, The Struggle Over Black Lives Matter and All Lives Matter, Amanda Nell Edgar and I interviewed several white people of faith who supported and affirmed Black Lives. They attended protests and they were active in other social movements that centered Black lives. In short, they publically declared their allegiance to the radical idea that Black Lives Matter. However, when asked how their faith lead them to protest or to serve in those other movements, many of them struggled to answer. Their struggle forced them to see, many for the first time, that the faith they grew up with or the faith that they still professed to practice, did not or could not speak to Black Lives Matter. In short, they had no theological foundation to draw on to justify their actions of being on the street and protesting police brutality, systematic oppression, and white supremacy. And for many of them, this recognition caused some tense moments with family, friends, and neighbors; both in-person and online. Here is what we wrote about this in the book:

Faith worked as an individual lens that allowed many to see their role in BLM as a continuation or renegotiation of Civil Rights history. This was a logical extension for participants with a connection to the Black church, but it posed some challenges for white participants. As we have argued here religion still functioned as the personal lens that united movement history with BLM, but in this case, the relationship was self-reflexive; BLM members who worshipped in white evangelical churches had to reexamine those traditions and find spiritual homes outside of the traditions. This speaks to the fact that a majority of white Christians simply do not affirm or understand BLM. Though most of them have a cerebral understanding of the theological doctrine of the imago Dei (the image of God), in practice, white evangelical Christianity has a legacy of racist and sexist ideologies and structures. Not only were some white Christians drawn to BLM through their religion, then, but their expressions of faith and spirituality were also shaped by the anti-racist, anti-sexist messages of the movement. For participants of faith, BLM offered a way of understanding (66).

So as I continue to watch the different protests throughout the country and saw many white people taking part, I wondered about white people of faith. For those who affirmed Black Lives and who fully believe Black Lives Matter, drawing from our research, I wanted to know how were they doing through all of this. Below are some of the many responses I received.

About Andre E. Johnson
Andre E. Johnson is the Founder and Managing Editor of the R3 Blog. You can read more about the author here.
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