The Apology Every White Christian Needs To Give To Black America

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I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am sorry.

I have sinned against you and God in thought, word, and deed—even more so, in the brutal absence of thoughts, words, and deeds rendered on your behalf.

Where words of fierce solidarity were desperately needed, I have been cowardly silent and withdrawn. Where you have been crying out to simply be heard, bestowed justice, and afforded basic human rights, I have been tone-policing your every move while sitting in the comfort of my white Christian couch, staring down my nose at your plight.

My ignorance to my own white privilege, my apathy to your suffering, my comfort in comfortable living, and the worship of my status—all complicit evils to the undeniable hell you have been living.

History tells the disturbing and diabolical tale, I am the reason for your slavery, your continued discrimination, and your unending quest to grasp what God has already bestowed upon you—equal value, capacity, dignity,  beauty, and worth in every way and in all things. You don’t just matter, you are the majesty woven into God’s tapestry of life.

I have declared peace where this is no peace—to your destruction and my shame.

I have highjacked Jesus and turned Him into my personal cruise director, sipping Christian cocktails while the conservative evangelical Titanic plows through and vomits out hatred, bigotry, racism, and greed from sea to shining sea. Not just towards you, but the LGBTQIA community, women, the impoverished, and the immigrant included (to name a few).

At times, I have assumed the worst in you while blatantly dismissing the obvious systemic and intended desire within significant segments of my faith and country to erase you.

I have not resisted nearly to the needed measure, but rather have even participated in a faith system that has been the source of more discrimination, abuse, and destruction of your being and community than perhaps any other racist evil manifestation on earth.

I have become the onward Christian soldier who pierces your side as you hang on racial crosses.

I have blindly turned my brain, conscience, soul, and mind off at church and in society—numbed and satisfied with only having, at best, a passing knowledge and compassion for your history, story, suffering, divine worth, and life experience.

My shrinking back at the Thanksgiving table, the church picnic, the office water cooler, the Facebook comment thread, and the sideline at soccer practice. My carting off the kids to schools where diversity in status, intellectual intelligence, emotional intelligence, and color of skin is subtly, but surely discouraged. My laziness and chilling absence in being an active force for equality in the public arena with my words, my votes, and my resistance. All, scream of my resounding confession—I am the reason for your living hell. George Floyd, just another page in the nightmares of your story.

When you were thirsty for equality, I was watering and walling-off my privilege—using God and the Bible to rationalize my evil.

When you were naked and vulnerable as a despised minority, I looked away sitting on my hands, and therefore exploited you and raped you of your humanity.

When you were hungry to create a world where all are given equal value, opportunity, freedom, and worth, my irresponsiveness and complacency stole from the table of your divine affirmation and significance in order to fatten my own.

I am appalled at myself as I come face to face with the personal responsibility I have surrendered, the indoctrination I have allowed, and the contamination I have embraced through the spiritual justification of hate spewing out of the sewers of America, largely from the toilets of right-wing, conservative Evangelical Christianity.

I repent and agree with God—until my voice and actions of non-violent solidarity are as loud, numerous, and desperate as the cries of your oppression, I have deeply failed in being Jesus, living His Gospel, and extending His Kingdom to you.

For Jesus did not consider His heavenly privilege with God as something to be used to His own advantage. Rather, He made Himself a minority by taking the very nature of the religiously oppressed, being made in true human likeness and meekness. Being found in appearance as humanity, He humbled Himself, standing in fierce solidarity with the least of these unto death—even death on a cross.

As Jesus has done for me, I will do also for you. We are all equal, affirmed, and loved in His sight—period, the end of all debates.

Black America, my heart is sickened to the core at the evil racism I have allowed and therefore have adopted as my own.

For I am white, I am Christian, I am the problem, and I am deeply sorry.

 

Grace is brave. Be brave.

7 Comments

  1. Marc Bergeron

    June 8, 2020 at 1:23 pm

    This is some of your finest stuff Chris; a compelling big picture plea for accountability that is frankly an all too searingly honest picture of a self assessment that many should make…

    Some have started to:
    https://arcdigital.media/im-sorry-colin-kaepernick-189f904543d

    But I am expecting all too many to be unable to shift their inner observer into a higher inward gear (letting denial and defensiveness dominate) – and thus be butthurt offended and attack you and the principles put forth as just baseless sour grapes and heresy.

    Thank you for the continued grace and bravery to speak out as an honest man of your convictions

    • ckratzer

      June 8, 2020 at 2:05 pm

      Marc, thanks for these encouraging words! These are tough times to navigate for all of us!

  2. Chris –
    I read your article right on the heels of listening to two black men, one a police officer and another an advocate for good policing, both of whom basically said that it does not help for white people to cry over their sins of white privilege while letting black folk who hurt and kill other black folk off the hook because of their supposed social disadvantaging. The officer, in particular, takes the Black Lives Matter movement to task for doing the same and dragging us penitent whites along. So here we are. You are right, and they are right. And somehow we need to think both and find a way to make the right kind of change that does not smack of a benevolent sympathy..

    • ckratzer

      June 8, 2020 at 2:05 pm

      Rich, thanks for reading and commenting on my article though I don’t agree with comparisons being made.

    • They are not right. They are comparing apples to Studebakers. The murder of Black men, women, and children by *law enforcement officers* is absolutely, inarguably, a wholly separate issue. No one is “letting black folk who hurt and kill other black folk off the hook,” for one thing. For another, *law enforcement* is murdering innocent Black men, women, and children. Many of us “white folk” are outraged and appalled, and we’re starting to understand our own culpability that comes from our silence. I am so, so, so very sick of this tired trope.

  3. Per my previous comment. It was not meant as a comparison. What struck me in the second video I saw is the black fellow saying, in effect, “Spare us your tears, your self-loathing, your confessions of unintended complicity. All of that accomplishes nothing.” And that last sentence is one he repeated again and again. And then just now I read another and more powerful analysis of white Christian penitence by Angela Nagle under the title: “When politics becomes about tallying sins, it ceases to accomplish meaningful change.” In this paragraph below she shares a surmisal that sounds all too familiar to my white Calvinist-heritage ears:

    “Even the cruelest alt-right critics tend to regard extreme forms of liberal
    social media self-hatred as simply pathetic, a sign of a lack of
    self-respect. But in my own more ungenerous moments I wonder if it is
    something worse. Rather than merely being of benefit to no one, it could be
    of quite a significant benefit to just one person – the self-flagellator
    themselves. Publicly declaring your sins makes you appear a better person
    than those who have not declared them. It is not really a put-down of
    oneself, but a put-down of others, who are less morally worthy for having
    been less forthcoming in their confessions.”

  4. I honestly feel like all this “black lives matter” stuff just perpetuates racism.. All of our cries of whit privelage and this and that.. I think ANY time race is used to describe someone, it is perpetuating racism. Until we all just think of each other as “human” and not white, black, etc. then we will always have racism.

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