This guest post is by Sheri Faye Rosendahl.
Telling me to lay off of calling out racism within white American Christianity is like telling someone to lay off the Nazi party shortly before the actual start of their genocide. I mean, I’m sure some of them were decent people, just trying to make Germany great again, right?
In my recent article, The Racist God of America, I caught a lot of drama from white people regarding two things. The first was my calling out racist tendencies in American Christianity … because of course not every American Christian is racist.
The other was this statement I made: “What about the video after video we see of flagrant police brutality and murder of our black neighbors? In those cases, we see white Christians actually defending the murder while crying their ‘all lives matter’ crap in complete ignorance of their own racist mentality.”
Surprisingly, it was this short paragraph that caused the most outrage. Multiple white folks literally tried to justify police brutality by stating, “black people commit crime at a higher level.” What the hell?
I can understand some snowflaking tendencies when a group you identify with employs racist ideologies. It makes sense to become defensive and give your input that not every member of the group thinks this way. However, attempts to justify murder are unacceptable.
I believe that many of these people who are essentially justifying racism are probably decent people — not all of them are raging bigots. But seriously white people, in a country that was literally founded on racism, arguing that racism isn’t a real issue — while we could produce a feature-length film based on the footage we have all seen of “legal” police brutality and murders of our black neighbors — is borderline delusional.
Why are so many white Christians unwilling to admit that there is a problem? Why is the first reaction that many white people have to footage of blatant murder not compassion, but vibrant defensiveness?
Is it because if we admit the problem we would have to face the monster of segregated oppression that we — in our white privilege — are immune to, even as it costs others their lives?
On top of those who straight up deny the reality of oppression, another major obstacle comes from those who clearly see systemic racism but refuse to speak out. Those who see it but believe we need to take a more moderate approach, to be less harsh when calling out the issue. I find an overwhelming amount of criticism from this group. They are upset by the candor of those of us who vocally and unapologetically fight against oppression.
In his Letter From Birmingham Jail, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, one of the most amazing humans, a man who truly and boldly followed the ways of Jesus, said:
“Shallow understandings from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will … we who engage in nonviolent direct action and not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can never be cured so long as it is covered up but must be opened with all its ugliness to the natural medicines of air and light, injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of the human conscience and the air of natural opinion before it can be cured.”
My fellow white people, to sit back quietly in our white privilege knowing that there is a major injustice of oppression and not vocally speaking out makes us almost worse than the completely ignorant bigot. And for those of us who try to follow the ways of Jesus, the lukewarm approach is that of pure cowardice. It is a complete dismissal of the greatest command of Jesus: love others. Without love, we are nothing.
Those of you who don’t feel the urgency to speak out: are you really cool with sitting silent through modern day lynchings?
We desperately need to back away from our ingrained arrogance and learn the reality of our nation. We need to learn from our neighbors who are Black, Muslim, Latinx, or part of any other minority group facing oppression. What if we tried to learn with the desire to understand and not the desire to express our white-washed views of distortion? And when you see the truth, which I hope you do, join your brothers and sisters facing hate and fight alongside them. Fight for bold love.
If we don’t fight against the bigotry that surrounds us, then we are part of the problem. We can’t ignore racism and we can’t sit neutral, scared to speak out. This is a war which we are all part of, whether we like it or not. This is a war where we can and need to see love win.
Photo via Stocksnap.io.
About Sheri Faye Rosendahl
Sheri Faye Rosendahl is a writer, lover of bold love, the Middle East, Yoga and cookies. You can find more of her writing at NotYourWhiteJesus.org, the HuffPost, or find her on Facebook. Sheri and her husband, Rich, also run a non-profit called The Nations, doing peace and humanitarian work with refugee neighbors from the Middles East, both domestically and abroad.