antiracism antichristian

Anti-Racism 101 is anti-Christian

on September 14, 2020

The police-involved shootings and deaths of George Floyd, Rashard Brooks, and Jacob Blake have currently made “racial justice” the cause of all causes.

Consequently, antiracism has become the go-to, socially approved means to challenge what its disciples claim are the broad repercussions of racial injustice. Devotees of antiracism insist that being “not racist” is insufficient to overcome the pervasive effects of systemic racism; action is needed.

Antiracism teaches that white people who claim to be “not racist” are essentially racist. According to antiracism, being “not racist” is a passive position in the face of racial discrimination. Additionally, it absolves white people from actively acknowledging their participation in – and preservation of – structural racism through a framework of white supremacy and privilege.

The two most visible practitioners of antiracism are Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Kendi’s book, How to Be an Antiracist, and DiAngelo’s book, White Fragility, are popular bestsellers that are used to legitimize, advance, and indoctrinate people in antiracism orthodoxy.

Antiracism has become so trendy that Christians have embraced its doctrine.

Last week I completed a course called, “Antiracism 101,” sponsored by the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR). According to its website, GCORR was created by the United Methodist Church to address racial issues both in the church and society at large. The course was led by the Rev. E. Michelle Ledder, a white woman who serves as the Director of Equity and Antiracism for GCORR. A Ph.D. candidate, Ledder’s dissertation is titled: Preaching Truth: An Anti-Racist Anti-Racism Homiletic for 21st Century White Preachers.

At the outset, Ledder is clear about what the course is about and who it’s directed to:

This course was designed specifically for those of us who are white who want to learn the necessary, foundational information and real-life, proven strategies that will interrupt and dismantle racism… The course isn’t for white people ‘who deny that racism exists’ or white people who ‘demand proof that racism has been perpetrated’ … It is simply for ‘white people who want to be allies.’

The course defines racism as:

  • Racialized prejudice/discrimination valued, sustained, and protected by institutional power, and;
  • A system of policies, practices, and procedures which discriminate against and harm People of Color (PoC) while benefiting or protecting people racialized as white.

Antiracism is defined as “the practice of interrupting and/or dismantling racism.”

Participants learn that discussing “race,” “racism,” and “racial justice” with respect to individuals is the wrong approach. The preferred method is to focus on “systems” and “structures.” Ledder teaches that racism is communicated in four categories. Each category should be considered when doing “justice work” to mitigate racial bigotry. They are:

  1. Interpersonal racism;
  2. Internalized racism (these first two focus on individuals and are the easiest to draw attention to);
  3. Systemic racism: institutional racism that consists of racist policies and discriminatory practices that produce “unjust outcomes” for people of color;
  4. Structural racism: unjust racist patterns and practices that are in the institutions that make up society.

Several vignettes are presented to demonstrate various examples of racism. These examples are to help participants acquire familiarity with racism and to respond in a suitable, antiracist manner. Here’s one of the vignettes:

In response to the latest murder of an unarmed black man, a white person says this. ‘He looked like he could have been my neighbor. I see Mr. Smith every day, and I never even think of him being black. I just see him as a person. I just see him as my neighbor. This is unimaginable.’

Antiracism teaches that white people are racist when they deliberately ignore or avoid race and racism. When white people discount someone’s race or evade the “particular consequences of what it means to be racially positioned within this system of racism,” white people are guilty of ignoring the “consequences” of racial identity.  The consequences of racial identity for whites – they’re “privileged and protected”; for “people of color,” the consequences are “fatal harm” resulting from racism.

Antiracism ideology is very clear that colorblindness is an affront to the humanity of blacks and other “people of color” because it ignores the very essence of what centralizes them in a system of oppression. Race neutrality is, therefore, racist.

The curriculum then informs participants that “church language can be used by white people to ignore race and racism.”

White Christians suggesting we focus on our common humanity – being created in God’s image – to overcome racism is inadequate. Although everyone is created in God’s image, this language overlooks the real-life consequences of racism. Therefore, imago Dei language doesn’t qualify as antiracist. Biblical anthropology must be subsumed into antiracist rhetoric that adopts action toward reducing racism to be sufficient.

In a nod to the concept of “white fragility,” Ledder prepares participants for the prospect that when discussing racism, white people might cry. She says: “In conversations or actions around racism, there are moments where white people will begin to cry because of an increased awareness of the consequences of racism and our perpetration of it.”

Ledder says that the tears themselves are not perpetrating racism. But: “The centering of whiteness or the centering of the care of a white person in the midst of conversations or actions about race, racism, or anti-racism is the perpetration of racism that we want to avoid.

Attending to the emotional needs of white people takes attention away from racism and its proper antiracist response.

The course educates participants that “whitesplaining” – white people explaining away racism to people of color – is racist. Interrupting black people and other “people of color” is also racist. White people who believe they can interrupt a person of color at any time are guilty of “racialized privilege.”

But be careful. Apologies can either be racist or antiracist. When white people perpetrate or are complicit in racism, and are made aware of their transgression, they should:

  • Acknowledge when a “person of color” points it out;
  • Apologize without explanation. You’re racist and guilty; no need to explain away or contextualize your transgression(s). You’re not worthy; you’re guilty;
  • Be accountable and don’t perpetuate your racism going forward, even though we you will because, after all, you’re white.

Antiracism is dangerous on its own but especially when appropriated by Christians. One can count on one hand – and still have fingers left – the number of times God was mentioned during this course. I don’t remember Jesus being mentioned at all – neither were forgiveness, redemption, reconciliation, restoration or healing.

I’ve written elsewhere that Christians should reject antiracism. This course showed that antiracism is clearly anti-Christian.

  1. Comment by Jason on September 14, 2020 at 2:53 pm

    Thanks so much for this reminder, after being lectured twice about this very subject at my digital UMC area conference it is so very important to hear someone speak truth and that we should turn our focus on forgiveness and Jesus.

    It is no wonder our denomination is in the state it is.

  2. Comment by Peter james on September 14, 2020 at 10:44 pm

    Of course they must claim “Color blindness “ is the sworn enemy. Content of character is the enemy, and well, not really new, exciting, easy and , drum roll: profitable as packaged in a new boutique industry. IE, how to legitimize bottomless federally backed student loans into watered down curriculum ensuring 4 years with simple regurgitation of “buzzwords” that sew the wind. Coming to a orientation video near you. The goal seems not to make things better, just make them new for newness’ sake. The fallout is of little interest.

  3. Comment by Diane on September 18, 2020 at 12:26 am

    Anti-racism work is inherently spiritual work whether Jesus, reconciliation, forgiveness, etc. are mentioned. It’s justice work and surely, doing justice is what God asks of us.

    My late father, born in 1920, noticed that there were many unemployed Black men as he commuted to his blue collar job with the phone company in 1940. He was certain these men could do the same work, but the phone company was hiring White men only. He didn’t use the term “White privilege”, but he affirmed the concept. He knew his skin color pro legend him. He knew Black folks had fewer opportunities in the workplace. Before he died, he asked a member of his suburban well-integrated congregation, a Black man and owner of a Washington, DC, funeral home, to handle his and my mom’s funeral arrangements. My dad noticed that White folks in the church used a White funeral home business when loved ones died. My dad felt these were lost business opportunities for Dave, the funeral home owner. He hoped to model what today might be called “anti-racism” work, hoping others would follow. It worked. After my parents passed, several White families turned to Dave to handle the end-of-life arrangements for spouses or loved ones. I consider this nothing short of radical – these were all seniors who spent their younger lives in a segregated world. Funeral homes in many places are notoriously still segregated places.

    That was not the only time my dad actively engaged in anti-racism work. He attended a neighborhood meeting in the 1960s where White homeowners discussed pooling their savings o buy out any homes for sale in their neighborhood (to keep Black families from buying). One man spoke up, declaring it was not something he thought Jesus would do. My dad echoed him. The neighborhood soon had a mixed-racial family move in.

    Even with those examples, I now realize that I was raised in what I call a “White bubble”. Following the murder of George Floyd in June and the call for White folks to examine their history, I decided to do just that. I realized that my school system integrated only after the 1954 Brown decision. I never realized that I attended an “historically White school system”. Since they integrated by 1957, I went to integrated schools as a small child in the mid-1950s. I often bragged about the progressive suburban area I was raised in – but now I know it wasn’t progressive at all. Kinda stepped on my regional pride – a good thing, since humility is important. I also learned that the founder of the denomination I was raised in, which I thought was moderate-progressive, actually was on record for believing White people were superior to those of African descent (Alexander Campbell, Disciples of Christ). Another stepping on my pride!

    As I studied on my own, I realized that even though I went to integrated schools, the curriculum, devised by White men, served me well…European/American History, art, music, literature, etc. public school prayer was the Protestant version of the Lord’s Prayer – years later, a Jewish classmate told me how painful it was for Jewish kids (a third of the class) to have this prayer and Christmas sacred music imposed on them every year. My friend Sheryl, an African American, astonished me when she said she didn’t apply to college because it was a waste of money. She explained she didn’t believe she’d find employment in a field a degree would prepare her for. In all those years of schooling, I was totally ignorant of Sheryl’s history as a Black child in a culture of assimilation. For both Jewish and Black children, their histories, their racial and religious identities were erased in the public schools. I didn’t have a name for it then, but I recognize it now as unjust systemic racism. My anti-racism workshops have been in church settings and during COVID, I’ve taken advantage of the virtual presentations on UMC workshops.

    I also realize that when I started teaching, my White bubble hadn’t prepared me for a classroom of mostly Black kindergartners. I put up cute bulletin boards with store-bought White posterboard children. I sensed I needed help and sought out Black colleagues to critique my teaching and any White bias. My Black teaching assistant graciously pointed out those bulletin board accessories. How could Imbe so blind? They came down. I’m retired now, but if I could start all over, I’d still teach my students to recite Robert Frost and Christina Rossetti poetry, but I’d add Maya Angelou, Alice Walker, and Langston Hughes.

    Currently, I’m researching issues of racial equity in public schools, particularly in re to curriculum. I’m contributing my research to an integrated local group, most who are church clergy or laity, who are committed to working on racial justice.

    I don’t have a problem with the anti-racism initiatives in the UMC. They’ve helped me name (or frame) issues so that I can address them within my own history and how I respond now. It’s very Christian work. I invite each of us to stop the criticizing and do God’s justice work. Sometimes a little education helps in that regard, as I’ve appreciated such in my life.

    Be grateful for those who are working to make this world a more just place.

  4. Comment by Gary on September 18, 2020 at 7:21 pm

    Diane…good job you! Sure, DiAngelo is extreme and maybe God and Jesus weren’t mentioned specifically but surely this is Gods work. My “white bubble” Methodist church and lifestyle has allowed me to ignore issues of race. But I’m on it now and I realize that the vast majority of my white brothers and sisters have no interaction with people of color. Anything our Church can do to get us thinking is a good step ….it’s certainly a step that was avoided in past generations

  5. Comment by Rebecca on September 18, 2020 at 8:16 pm Here is a document which is being used both inside and outside of the schools, to give legitimacy to hating American culture including Christianity. It is straight out of atheistic, Christian hating Marxism. More can be found on the subject by doing a search on “Matrix of Oppression.” Marxism has been in the Methodist Church and other churches for years. Today the Marxists claim to be social justice warriors, and nothing could be further from the truth! They are against God’s justice, so their justice is not real justice.

  6. Comment by Leland F Curtright on September 19, 2020 at 10:35 am

    Why is there never anything said about the black people who are racist?

  7. Comment by Gary on September 19, 2020 at 10:36 am

    No doubt, Robin DiAngelo and others throw out some extreme concepts with their books and programs, and you offer a couple in your critic that seem extreme, but it is a shame how quickly some we move to dismiss their entire agenda as anti-christian – or worse yet – Marxist . If we are fortunate, more will take Diane’s comments to heart and at least consider where injustice might be in play in their life and community….where sin against our brothers and sisters of color might exist. Sounds like Christian work to me.

    Diane mentions that she has a black friend; that fact alone places her in a very small group of whites – less that 20% in fact (Pew Research). Regardless of any progress that might have been achieved in our society, the majority of us still live in bubbles and go about our busy day blind to the reality of others outside our communities. However off-base the GCORR program might be – I think God appreciates the effort to at least have the conversation and maybe, just maybe open eyes and more importantly – hearts – to injustice.

  8. Comment by Search4Truth on September 22, 2020 at 1:42 pm

    Please remember that justice without mercy is tyranny. Please tell me where you see the love that Jesus taught us is paramount in this so-called “justice” movement? Isn’t this just another rejection of the supremacy of God with the elevation of some men to divine status?

  9. Comment by William on September 23, 2020 at 7:27 am

    The UMC jumped on this run away train without doing its due diligence, without much historic perspective , without much acknowledgement of those of the past from all racial groups and their significant, game changing contributions. How about an honest conversation for a change? Race relations flow both ways. Stop the insidious classifications of people and trying to force them into fake stereotypes based on their skin pigmentation. Many white on black and black on white people get along much better than certain white on white and black on black groups. This is not an all white vs an all black issue. Race relations in 2020 have evolved to the point where racism can flow in both directions amongst the ignorant. And what about all the ethnicities in America today and all the various interactions daily that go on normally across all sorts of everyday living without notice of ethnicity?

    The church MUST preach repentance and Jesus’ salving grace, his love of neighbor, his golden rule. Yes, JESUS IS COLOR BLIND. Children of God are all ONE under Christ and that’s the Good News the church needs to be loudly proclaiming.

  10. Comment by William on September 23, 2020 at 11:48 am


  11. Comment by Michael Simone on November 22, 2020 at 3:48 am

    It’s worse. There’s no forgiveness bcz that would be complicity. There’s no redemption bcz lighter/lightest skin color is irredeemable. That really is the bottom line.

    I just had a vision where everyone suddenly became blind. It’s a world where some accents, some voice pitch and or some body odor were the immutabilities that defined us.

    Not much of a better world, huh?

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