Christian rapper LeCrae. LeCrae decided that he was going to distance himself from white evangelicalism. This saddened me. I’m not judging what LeCrae has done. I know that he is far from the only person who feels this way. This reminds me of the sad reality that white evangelicals and evangelicals of color in the United States are not as close as they could and should be.
That said, I do understand it. I can understand particularly why African-American evangelicals would feel like they don’t belong in white evangelicalism.
This has led me to think about my behavior as a white evangelical. Do I do things that make white evangelicalism unwelcome for my brothers and sisters of color?
But this issue seems so big. What can I do? Especially, what can I do concretely? I came up with a few ideas. Here are a few things that I think I should do in regard to the race issue. I’d be interested in hearing what your thoughts are on this issue and what white evangelicals should do.
- Listen. James 1:19 says, “Let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” For example, when my brothers and sisters speak about racial injustice, I want my first reaction to be to listen rather than to speak or react emotionally.
- Be honest about the history of the relationship of African-Americans and Whites in this country. A lot of it is very bad. I want to try to understand how this has worked out in my own area, family, and church and be honest and open about it.
- Be humble. Humility does not mean thinking lowly of myself (though that may be a part of it), it means thinking highly of others. For me, this means genuinely trying to understand the interests of others and see problems from their point of view.
- I want to make efforts to connect with non-white folks in my community. I want to make these efforts irrespective of how they react to me. One thing this means for me is sharpening my Spanish skills so that I can connect more effectively.
- Read material by and about non-white Americans. Not too long ago, I read The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr. compiled by Clayborne Carson. This book was more than a biography. It also contained some of King’s most famous speeches and writings. It was much more moving for me to read about the civil rights era in King’s own words than just reading an account. It also helped me understand his thinking on a whole host of issues that still affect us today.
- Go to places and events where whites are in the minority and see what that experience is like. Then, take that knowledge back to organizations of which I am a part to make these organizations more welcoming to minority folks who come into them.
- Invite someone of color to come and preach at our church. I would like to include in this a time of fellowship to get to know this brother.
- If I support Donald Trump, do so with a great deal of humility. Recognize that most Christians of color in the United States do not support him. I would like to do my best to make it safer for those who do not support Donald Trump to share their reasons with me as a white evangelical and in the communities where I have influence.
- Attend events that celebrate different cultures and try to get to know the people involved.
- Attend a predominantly African-American Church. Ultimately, I would like to have some sort of regular participation in a church that is non-white where I can learn from these brothers and sisters on a regular basis.
These are some things that I will try to do because I think they are right and good and consistent with my Christian principles, thoughts, and values.
Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day!