Last week, Evangelicals for Social Action sent out a tweet in support of Drew G.I. Hart’s website that has as its tagline Anablacktivism, which is an amalgamation of Anabaptism, black theology, and activism.
The specific entry the tweet highlights is called, “Black-on-Black Violence: Pastor Voddie Baucham’s Assault on Black People,” an intentionally provocative piece co-authored by Austin Channing Brown, Christena Cleveland, Drew Hart and Efrem Smith – a multi-authored response that racially and morally condemns Baucham’s personal but public response to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The condemnation wasn’t limited to Baucham; Brown, Cleveland, Hart and Smith also condemned The Gospel Coalition for allowing Baucham the use of its platform as an opportunity to express views on racial issues that diverged from their own – views they felt were inappropriate and oddly enough, “anti-black.”
By now, many people have read and reacted to both Baucham’s initial reaction to the officer-involved shooting of Mike Brown, in addition to the rejoinder of these four authors who took Baucham to task for it.
Open, straightforward, and respectable debate should be welcomed as needed when it comes to the church’s approach to effectively confronting ethnic and racial issues — particularly the task of ethnic and racial (re)conciliation. What isn’t needed, however, are Christians who view things through racial lenses rather than the lenses of the gospel when attempting to address racial issues relating to “non-white minorities.” Specifically, it’s wrong and unworthy of the name of Christ to racially castigate anyone who dares to offer differing, evidenced-based opinions that counter the prevailing racial narrative that infantilizes blacks by excusing and justifying inexcusable and unjustifiable social behavior.
But that’s exactly what the Anablacktivist’s racial police did – blaming the social menace of black-on-black violence and criminality not on black people, but rather as the result of being, “an extension of white-on-black violence,” in the form of “internalized racism.” Hart, et al. defines this “extension” as,
[The] result of growing up in an anti-black society in which violence inflicted on African Americans has been historically judged less harshly than violence against Whites, regardless of the perpetrator – black people begin to believe that their own life and the lives of other black people are worth very little. Due to internalized racism, they become more willing to engage in violence against other black men, women, and children – so-called “Black-on-Black violence.”
For Hart and company – and a growing number of people, Christian and non-Christian alike – even when blacks are terrorizing, victimizing and murdering other blacks, it’s not their fault, it’s the fault of… white people, of course. It’s clear that the contemporary Christian view of blacks mirrors the leftist social justice warriors’ view of blacks in that blacks are depersonalized non-moral objects, unprotected from the external whims of circumstance. How can blacks be made in the image of God while at the same time lack the capacity of free will, personal responsibility and moral agency? What a thoroughly condescending and unbiblical (indeed racist) position for Christians to have and hold of people who’re supposed to be fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Again, we see people – Christians! – excusing all that happens to blacks as the result of outside, agitating influences that blacks (and only blacks) are powerless to stop, control and overcome.
But the racial police went a step further.
They disparaged Baucham’s position as, “extremely anti-black,” and confusingly claimed that Voddie Baucham – a black man – suffers from “internalized racism” against other blacks. Their diagnosis stems from Baucham’s courage to call out the selective moral indignation that engenders little-to-no condemnation of socially contemptible behavior by blacks, of blacks, but who shower disproportionate and melodramatic outrage against white police officers for shooting black criminals. Here too, Hart and company engages in the black-as-eternal-victim-of-external-forces narrative when they claim,
By conveniently omitting any discussion of the ways in which the long-standing system of white domination contributes to fatherlessness in the black community, police brutality of black people, negative societal perceptions of black people, the systemic disempowerment of black people, the internalized racism of black people and even Black-on-Black violence, he assaulted the character and worth of black people, suggesting that black people like Michael Brown deserve to be killed. In doing so, he made a statement in support of White-on-Black violence, an argument that many whites have used throughout history.
So according to this line of emotionalism, blacks are always and everywhere, powerless and permanent victims of the external forces of “systemic disempowerment,” “white domination,” and “internalized racism.” Any issue that plagues or infringes on the quality of black life, or whatever socio-economic racial discrepancies exist, is reflexively explained away by the ongoing effects of anti-black racism. Any and all black contribution to the fatherlessness that plagues black communities, the negative racial stereotypes, undermining black achievement, and the excess of black criminality, are all consequences of some form of internalized self-degradation that stems from the omnipotent force of white racism.
Members of the racial grievance industry believe that bringing attention to these wretched influences on black life is to be guilty of committing the sin of victim blaming/victim shaming. If you do this and you’re black, you’ve sinned twice by bringing attention to it as a tool of white racists and using it to further oppress blacks.
In this case, the sinner is Baucham. Using the narrative of the racial and religious guardians of the status quo, Baucham isn’t a Christian black man who’s expressing an independent, fact-filled opinion regarding Ferguson and black life; he’s a racial and religious sellout who employed a form of “white-on-black violence” to publicly berate black people.
These are self-identified Christians peddling and defending this hopeless black-as-eternal-victim narrative that actively reinforces ever-present forms of nihilism in black communities. It’s of little wonder the gospel seems impotent in many of these areas.
Very few people deny the historical racial injustices committed against blacks and other racial minorities. The problem with the racial grievance industry is that’s where they indeed choose to stay – in the past. Grievance peddlers, like the Anablacktivist, are constantly highlighting historical periods of racial injustices and subjugations- a time where blacks didn’t have control of their fate- and attempting to draw parallels and consequences to our contemporary situation where blacks have almost total control of their fate.
Further, purveyors of racial grievance think and act as if blacks can’t be self-reliant or self-determined until what the purveyors define as “systemic racism” is completely eradicated. The worldwide portrait of Jewry would look much different had Jews decided to embrace a paralyzed identity of victimization until anti-Semitism was completely eradicated. Instead, many Jews around the world persevered and prospered, despite varying and threatening levels of anti-Semitism. Why can’t blacks do the same?
Evangelicals for Social Action, and by extension, the Anablacktivist, are far more concerned with social action than they are with evangelicalism and clearly demonstrate just how much more influential Leftism has been on the church than the church has been on Leftism. If Leftism wins, we all lose.