Race, Reconciliation, and Phil Robertson

Phil-Robertson-Duck-Commander“Evangelicals are outraged at A&E’s suspension of Phil Robertson, patriarch of the family in the hit show ‘Duck Dynasty,'” wrote Jemar Tisby, president and co-founder of the Reformed African American Network, “But did anyone hear what Mr. Robertson said about Black people?”

As someone who wrote about the recent controversy I had indeed heard about Robertson’s remarks — and all but ignored them. I’m ashamed to admit that I elided over those comments in order to focus on the threat to religious liberty angle. That was wrong of me, and I appreciate my friend and brother reminding me of that fact so I can rectify that oversight.

For those who aren’t aware, what Tisby is referring to is this quote from Robertson’s interview with GQ magazine:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

I’ve watched every season of Duck Dynasty. I’m a fan of the entire family, and especially of their patriarch, Phil Robertson. Robertson is funny, intelligent, and oddly charming. But one thing he is not is articulate. Although he’s a man of relatively few words, Robertson has a tendency to ramble, as if he needs to keep talking while he’s searching for the right words to make his point. From watching his TV series and listening to his sermons it becomes apparent that his ending sentence is usually the key to understanding what he’s trying to say. Indeed, I believe that in those rambling discourses you can often start with his last sentence and read forward and his thought makes more sense. His quote on growing up in a pre-civil-rights-era Louisiana is a prime example:

No one was singing the blues. They were happy; they were godly.

Although the journalist doing the interview was interested in framing the question in the context of segregation-era Southern politics, Robertson appears to have been trying to steer it back to one of his primary themes: Happiness is a result of godliness.

The context makes it clear that Robertson is not addressing the situation of all African Americans in the pre-civil-rights South. He is relating his own experience, what he saw (“with my eyes”), in the narrow context of impoverished agricultural laborers. And what he claims to have seen is people who were happy because they were godly.

Even as an expression of personal experience, it is woefully naïve. White Americans, particular of Robertson’s generation, tend to think that what they see from black Americans is how they really feel. As Tisby says,

It’s possible that Phil Robertson knew Blacks who were genuinely happy. It’s possible that in his community there truly were exceptionally positive relationships between Blacks and Whites. It’s possible, but not likely. What’s probably closer to reality is that he saw Black people who knew the rules. They knew what the could say and do around Whites who held the power. Even if those Whites were lower-income or “white trash” as Mr. Robertson describes it. There was still a cultural curtain separating the races.

That “cultural curtain” prevents Robertson from seeing the reality of the Jim Crow era, allowing him to look back in wistful fondness. Yet I think there is also a personal element that keeps the former “white trash” farmhand from seeing the segregation of his youth as it truly was.

Robertson makes it clear that he didn’t come to Christ until the late 1970s. During the 1960s he was abusing drugs and alcohol, cheating on his wife, and hiding out in the woods to prevent being arrested by the authorities. His former fellow farmworkers might look on the 1960s as an era when African Americans were gaining access to long-overdue civil rights. But for Robertson, that decade was a time of self-destruction and familial strife. Since then Robertson has turned his life over to God and become, to use his catchphrase, “Happy, happy, happy.” In his mind, godliness is equated with happiness.

That is why I believe that when Robertson looks back on his youth, what he sees is not African Americans suffering under the evil of segregation, but men and women who were godly, and thus obviously had what he has now: a happiness that transcends mortal woes. He seems to think that because they were godly, the exterior signs of happiness (singing, smiling, etc.) can be construed as a sign of their having inner peace, if not peace with the world. It’s a noble, if naïve, idealization of his neighbors.

Does that noble intent excuse his insensitive remarks about the segregated South? Not at all. Robertson is a public figure and when he gives interviews in the media, he must take responsibility for how his words are perceived. While I believe he was attempting to pay tribute to the African-American Christians who preceded him in the faith, he has inadvertently offended many of his African American brothers and sisters.

I hope his family and friends will point out that in a moment of inadvertent carelessness that he has caused damage that needs to be healed. I believe Robertson when he says, “I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

But we must make amends for the harm we cause, even if it is not intentional. I believe he needs to do more to reconcile with those he’s offended. And if Phil Robertson is the godly man many of his believe him to be, I think he’ll do just that.


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  • Daniel Mann

    These are his observations even if they failed to descend into the depths of the human soul. Meanwhile, You are entitled to your politically correct post-civil rights observations, even if naive.

    However, whether right or naive, your comments fail to embrace the crying issue – should he be censured for saying things that many blacks have even said!

  • David

    Joe, glad to know that you are an expert on what actually happened during the civil rights era. Of course, you know better than Phil how it all was. Anyone offended by his comments is just plain ignorant.

    • angie


      While you are certainly entitled to your opinion, labeling someone who is offended by his comments as “ignorant” reflects neither compassion, nor an attitude of humility.

      Philippians 2:3-4 “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

      As a white woman, my primary concern is not whether I am offended by his comments, but rather whether he has offended African-Americans who remember the era quite differently. If we are truly looking to the interests of others, we could have authentic conversations with African-Americans about this topic to find out why these comments may be perceived as offensive and inaccurate.

      • John Sather

        Right on Angie! 100% agree with you sister!

      • David

        Anyone offended by his comments, whether white or black is just plain ignorant. Pointing out ignorance is not unbiblical.

    • Jennifer

      For goodness sake David, Joe did not imply that anyone who was offended is ignorant. He also didn’t hold himself up to be an expert on the civil rights era. But apparently you believe yourself to be an expert on Joe.

      Excellent post, Joe. I hope people will read this and take a step back before rushing to judgment on Robertson’s motives.

      • Lezi

        Quote from post

        “Anyone offended by his comments is just plain ignorant.”

  • Sam

    I’m 25 and have lived in Kentucky my entire life. I too cannot recall ever witnessing a systematic act of racism against a black person.

    If someone were to dig up an article written in my home town paper that reported such an incident, does that make me a willfully ignorant racist?

    • Elle

      Same, you’re 25, you’ve grown up in an entirely different era, it’s not the same.

      • Brian

        Indeed. I’m 21 and have lived most of my life either in North Carolina or South Carolina, and have not seen any systematic, overt act of racism against an ethnic minority, but then again, I was born in pretty recent history. That being said, I do on occasion still see some non-overt racism, often in people from the midwest. Make of that oddity what you will.

  • Adam

    Come on now…how can you really argue with Phil’s experience Joe and Jemar? On what basis are you going to argue with his experience? Yours?

    I think that you need to realize that that guy has no problem saying what he really thinks on any subject and is giving an honest recollection of his memory. maybe he was right and maybe he wasn’t. Even if he wasn’t a believer at the time it is remarkable that these people left him with the impression of happiness and godliness. Do you know the names of the men and women he worked with?

    You guys seem a little too quick to pounce and give an endless parsing of his comments about a time and place that you didn’t live in.

    • http://www.corinthtoday.org paul Cummings

      I agree. He was making a personal observation. From my perspective having grown up and lived in North Carolina for 40, I haven’t either seen or witnessed an act of systematic racism. I’m not saying it didn’t happen, just that I’ve never witnessed it. I’d be more apt to say that poor people in general have been the victims of the system rather than a specific race that might be poor.

  • val

    Are we that desperate for culturally acceptable Christians to have to defend this reality star for his ignorant ramblings? Let his words speak for themselves. Maybe God is using this to help him learn to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Not every believer who speaks into a microphone speaks for God or His Kingdom.

    • Hoot

      Val, maybe we, the audience, need to be quick to listen and slow to speak? Phil spoke out of experience. The Bible teaches us to be happy in what we do. If that’s working in the farm, then be happy and do a good job as if you were working for God. In Phil’s defense, he said “godly”, that the people he worked with were so.

      In the end, Phil clarified his thoughts on others. He loves all, as we are all loved by God. Ask yourself…do the people of GLAAD or the race baiters of today say that? Do you think they even think that? Do you understand their thought processes?

    • Melody


      It’s called 1 Corinthians 13. We are expected to practice it in deed and thought.

      God probably is using it to teach something personal to him. If the angels are watching and learning from it then why would we be left out of it? What about it will the Holy Spirit use to teach you and me?

  • george canady

    Perhaps Mr. Robertson is another example of our “Crazy Confederate Uncles” as described by Thabiti Anyabwile in his post on thefrontporch. Joe, is it possible, that in the context here in your article, we Evangelicals have on display the “willful ignorance” as articulated in the post “Why Focus on African American Churches?”

  • s

    Thanks for addressing this. I am a white woman in a white town, but God has been working on me about the prejudice around me and in my own heart. We may not see “visible” racism, but it is still there if you look hard enough. Praise God that He breaks down all barriers!

  • Richard Muller

    So he saw some godly black folk being happy, which doesn’t make a lot of political correct people happy because they would rather he saw some blacks who were sad?

    Seriously, a culture (and church) that worships experience has now even ruled that experience is not good enough!

  • Kelly

    The offended want to be offended.

  • Josh Manning

    I think the author read a lot into what was said, probably less than was meant by Phil. I am not a Duck Dynasty fan, or a watcher, but the statement has been echoed to me by others who grew up in that era, many of the older black men and women during the Civil Rights era were spiritually thriving under a cultural oppression. They were happy and godly. Many of the younger black generations who took up the cause of Civil Rights are those who view their place as one of perpetual struggle (perceived as ‘the blues’ by Robertson) whereas the older, serene, “as God wishes” generations had given into their oppressed status and grown accustomed to it.

    It happens in Communist countries that are liberated, the older generations pine for the days of security when the government took care of them, one might say “People were happier back then, we were one people, not classes fighting, etc.” It’s just a perception. I don’t think it should be parsed until Phil needs to repent publicly for it.

  • William

    I’m a bit disappointed in Carter and Tisby’s approach to analyzing Phil’s personal experiences. First, Carter points out that Phil framed his comments within the context of his own personal experiences and what he saw with his own two eyes. Yet, Carter and Tisby both suddenly double back and claim that while Phil’s experiences were his own, he was incorrect in the interpretation of his own experiences. I truly appreciate the intent of this article and support the overall argument, but I can not agree with the obvious fallacy that either Joe or Jemar know more about what Phil personally experienced than Phil himself. The comment that really has me puzzled is: “What’s probably closer to reality is that he saw Black people who knew the rules.” This statement implies that Phil didn’t really see what he saw and that Tisby knows what was going through the minds of everyone at that particular event in time in Phil’s own past. I’m not saying that Phil’s words could not be seen as offensive nor am I saying that I know that Phil’s account is 100% accurate, but I am saying that we walk a fine line when we try to over analyze a person’s personal experiences when we weren’t there with them to witness what happened.

    • Chris


  • Justin

    This is silly. Stop saying what Phil did or didn’t see. The fact of the matter is that you were not there. Period. Maybe Phil lived in an area where there weren’t problems, but to throw conjecture and hypotheticals at it is tantamount to gossip. ‘It’s possible, but not likely.’ Wow, glad Tisby was there to know for sure. Oh, wait…

    How about we show Phil some grace and give him the benefit of the doubt instead of accusing him of something he did NOT say.

  • george canady

    Check out articles on thefrontporch by thabiti Anyabwile “Crazy Confederate Uncles” and “Why Focus on the African American Church”.

  • Tom

    I view Phil’s comments as his personal recollection of how things were. He didn’t state that Jim Crow laws were good. He didn’t state that the civil rights movement was bad. He was simply stating what he remembers from working alongside his black coworkers.

    He considered himself in solidarity with them: “I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash.”

    And, he remembered the joy and happiness they expressed while working: “We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy.”

    But, leave it to our modern sensibilities to interject and insist to Phil that either his black co-workers were faking their happiness or Phil’s “cultural curtain” blinded him to how his black co-workers really felt. Either way, it’s Phil’s fault for what and how he remembers growing up.


    • Dillon

      Hear, hear.

  • http://Marine4Christ.com Burns

    I read most of the article on GQ, and I saw nothing that would bring offense to of the blacks. I’m a white living in Memphis which is most black city. And I agree with Phil, no one whether it be white and black nor purple, the Almighty which is Jesus Christ the Son of God the Father with the Holy Spirit living IN each one of us if you are a child of God!

  • Frank Emrich

    “he must take responsibility for how his words are perceived. ” Are you serious? In today’s world of thought and word police (especially amongst professing Christians) your words are going to be perceived according to ones agenda. Phil was saying what many people his age (I am one) would say. Because whether you can accept it or not there were happy , contented people both black and white and Hispanic and Asian etc who worked side by side etc. during those days. He has nothing to apologize for.

  • Graham Carmichael

    Oh please! No offense, but only Phil Robertson was actually there. How could anyone say, “He may have thought he saw…but in reality…” He said nothing disparaging concerning African Americans. This is ridiculous!

  • Olwe Sereson

    Reading Joe’s article on Phil Robertson I think is a dis-service and some additional research may have been needed. Phil lived in a shack of a log cabin in the poor south. He owned a bar and through a christian sister came to know Jesus as his Lord and Savior. He is a member of his “Jesus is the only way” church. As far as growing up, I have never seen any blacks being mistreated either, and the ones that lived near me were God fearing and attended church every Sunday. Were they godly?. If you go up into the poorest areas of Louisiana or even the Kentucky hills, there are probably blacks and whites living in the same area attending the same church and are happy praising the Lord. I think the article written by Joe is based on information he read from GQ, a liberal magazine who will no doubt attempt to discredit any person who claims they are a christian. The fault I find with Phil Robertson is his accepting an interview with a magazine who is against Christian values. Phil should have passed on it.

  • David Negley

    I am trying to see what Mr. Tisby’s point is. It seems to be that he is upset because Robertson assumed they were happy, while Tisby himself is assuming they weren’t because there was racism.

    I think all this talk of “Robertson should have been more articulate and nicer” discourages inarticulate believers from ever talking. Because of the backlash amongst the brethern toward him, other folks could be less likely to take the risk of sounding foolish.

    The truth is that the Truth will always sound foolish to a self-willed nation.

  • Virginia

    This “analysis” of what’s wrong with his comments is a microcosm of everything that’s wrong our society. “I disagree with you” should not equal “You are insensitive, hateful, etc.” Why is it insensitive? Because you think he’s wrong? 1. You have no idea what his personal experience was, really. Only he does and that’s all he was speaking to. It’s his perception. 2. Being wrong doesn’t equal being insensitive. In fact, the only way to clear up misconceptions is for people to feel free to speak honestly. When that happens we can talk and learn from each other. As it is, most people don’t speak honestly because they are afraid of being called insensitive, or worse, racists. So we just carry on, making wrong assumptions about each other and harboring resentment. When someone speaks honestly, we are so unaccustomed to it, it blows our minds and everyone freaks out.

  • http://tbrainerd.wordpress.com Tom Brainerd

    From Twitter:
    ‏@ThabitiAnyabwil 5 Dec
    Sometimes people want you to comment on controversy not b/c they’re interested in your thoughts but b/c they want to add to the controversy.

  • Alan Foster

    Great article, Joe. It exhibits some of the balance that we need in all of this hullabaloo. My concern is with Jemar Tisby. He says that Roberson’s experience was “possible, but not likely.” Then he claims to know what was “probably closer to reality.” No matter what he heard from his wife’s grandmother, he simply doesn’t know what Robertson experienced. It seems that he is also using “anecdotal proofs” for his theories. Conveniently he doesn’t condemn the grandmother’s hatred.

  • Brenda

    I have read Phil’s comments again and again and cannot see what could be offensive about them. Perhaps there are those who are so articulate and intellectual that they cannot understand the thoughts of a simple man. There are no innuendoes or double speak there. I am not a self professed intellectual and have never found it difficult to follow Phil in his sermons or on the show. I believe what we have here is a failure of the author to be able to relate to someone of Phil’s ‘class’. This piece feels like it is dripping with intellectual supremacy. There is a large segment of our world who would relate to Phil Robertson far more readily than from someone with great ‘articulation’. Don’t discount the way he communicates…some of us get it.

  • Anita

    After recently reading Frederick Douglas’ autobiography, (NARRATIVE OF THE LIFE OF FREDERICK DOUGLASS AN AMERICAN SLAVE), I have tried to come to grips with the fact that historically, Christians were often the ‘best’ slave traders and owners – they had God on their side, after all. Moreover, being of Dutch persuasion, some of these slave traders were my ancestors. Since welcoming a daughter-in-law of color into our family several years ago, I’ve become rather sensitive to comments and attitudes about her in particular, and people of color, generally. In a closed society like the one I was raised in, I’ve heard the following and worse from fellow church members: “She’s not black, she’s too beautiful”, “Won’t their baby be the cutest pickaninny?”, “You’re not really going to let your son date a n…er are you?” I believe that some comments were meant as compliments but ignorance is no excuse for… ignorance. As Christians, we must be(come) sensitive to the ‘other’ for isn’t that what we were to God before He cleansed us and made us whole through the blood of His Son?

  • Doug

    This article is so presumptuous. Nothing at all about Phil’s words are offensive. Only if one is looking for something evil there will one find offense at all. Perhaps Mr. Robertson is a racist. Or perhaps he does have something for which to apologize, but nothing in his statement quoted in this article demands it. This is ridiculous.

  • David

    Are you really taking the position that a person can’t be happy because he or she isn’t treated equally? This seems to be an extremely difficult point to hold historically! Is it not possible that a person can thrive in an environment in which he or she is not able to express his or her opinions openly, not able to partake in societal functions equally, and limited in upward mobility? Do we not realize that an unequal reality like this has existed really since the beginning of the world? In the Roman world, you needed money and influence to be respected and treated equally. You could be treated with inequality and discriminated against based upon race, social status, work, etc… In the feudal system, you needed to be nobility to be treated with respect. You could potentially work your way to knighthood, but even still were excluded from certain things for not being of noble blood. Eating a meal within the palace would remind you of your “inferior” position. Even within God’s chosen people, the Israelites, you needed to be a circumcised male from Jewish descent to fully partake of the covenant blessings of the law. You were excluded from the inner courts of the tabernacle for simply not being born a Jew.

    I’m not excusing inequality, but I think it’s silly to view African Americans as the only underprivileged and socially discriminated people group. Even more, I think it’s silly to conclude that, because they didn’t have the exact same privileges as the “ruling” white class, they couldn’t possibly be content with life. Even more, to then make a leap from that faulty position to conclude that Phil must have ignored the plight and horror of being an African American and should apologize for being insensitive seems crazy!

    Please help me if I’m wrong about this, but I just don’t see it. For me, it seems that the author looks at our modern sensibilities of equality as a requirement for happiness. This simply isn’t true. One can have a joy-filled and fulfilling life even in the midst of inequality. Inequality isn’t new. Really, the only thing that seems new is the idea that complete equality in a necessity for a fulfilled and happy life.

    To me, it seems like you are saying, “How dare Phil claim that the African Americans weren’t unhappy with their life!” Perhaps Phil could have said things differently. He could have avoided the issue altogether. But, certainly you have no authority to claim that he was wrong in what he said.

    • george canady

      I am sure there were many “happy” Jews in 1938.

      • David

        George. I don’t really see how you’re reply had anything to do with my post. Perhaps, you just stopped at the first line? There is a distinct difference between being treated unequally and being exterminated.

      • Wysiwyg Mtwzzyzx

        I’ll go a step further and posit that it’s possible, perhaps even desirable to be living in a state of inequality and be happy- that one can even be a warrior against injustice and be happy- Think Ghandi, Think the Founding Fathers, think Jesus- Happiness isn’t just the superficial acts of smiling or singing (though they may indeed be indicators of an underlying happiness) nor is it contentment- Jesus admonished the servant who hid his talents so as not to risk loss- but one can be a ‘happy warrior’ and being godly is perhaps the best approach to that position. The bitter, offended warrior eventually is defeated or becomes the next bully…

    • Terry Hawley

      “I’m not excusing inequality, but I think it’s silly to view African Americans as the only underprivileged and socially discriminated people group.”

      Well, yeah, there are other non-white ethic groups, women, GLBT people. Good point.

  • Gaston Irby

    This quote, “No one was singing the blues. They were happy; they were godly” I believe this speaks more to the plight of all that are oppressed, not about happiness but about gratefulness to God, about being content in the state which they find themselves. Of course we are not promised happiness! But Contentment is another thing! I don’t take this remarks by Mr. Robertson as a negative just his opinion of what he saw as a lad. My Daddy who is now gone many times said the same things of pre-Jim Crow area. We all loved and got along….. for the most part there have always been abusers always will be…. but twas not the norm.

    • cisco

      Well said, Gaston.

  • http://outreachedhandsminis.wix.com/outreachedhand Tyler

    I don’t think he should have to apologize for anything. He answered what he saw with his own eyes. That is all a man can do, is answer truthfully what he truly saw. That does not mean that African Americans never saw harsh times. We as a people have allowed ourselves to get completely offended by the littlest comment that doesn’t completely agree with our politically correct minds.

  • Jim Hoipkemier

    You are wrong.
    Mr. Robertson is NOT responsible for how his words are perceived. Otherwise, his comments on homosexuality being sinful would have to be marked as improper since the gay community perceives his words as wrong and hateful, and those words were neither.
    Phil prefaced his comments with “my own eyes” so what he says he remembers from his youth is valid regardless what some hatemongers want to declare his words to mean.
    You, my friend, apparently were brow beatened by a friend that took offense. His perogative to take (though wrong) and your perogative to run with it (though wrong)

    Have you noticed that no one is questioning the reasoning of GQ to publish these quotes? No one is assigning motive to that magazines work, huh?

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  • L. Anne

    As an African American millennial (25 years old), I did not sense racism in Phil Robertson’s remarks. His observation of how black culture was deeply religious, God-fearing, joyful and happy despite the circumstances is contrasted by the relative ease people have now, but somehow a sense of entitlement has crept in. However, not all African Americans agree with the use of welfare as a way of life. If anything, I thought his comment was a political one. (But full disclaimer: I have not read the GQ article).

    All that aside, I don’t think A&E has treated the Robertson family fairly from the start. First, the company decided to add fake bleeps to the show (it was easy to read their lips). Now this dust up and the suspension. I like the Robertson family and the show. Maybe they can move to TLC and have their show come on around the same time as 19 Kids and Counting? At least TLC appears to stand by the Duggar family regardless of them being very vocal about their views on family, the sanctity of life, and faith.

    There are people who are much older and wiser than me that have made recommendations about what Mr. Robertson should have said. So I won’t comment on the appropriateness of what he said. But I am praying that God would give this family wisdom on how to navigate this season in their lives.

    • Wysiwyg Mtwzzyzx

      From your comment, you seem wiser than you give yourself credit for. Thank you for your addition to the discussion.

  • http://facebook.com/donte.bland.7 Donte Bland

    I agree with my brother/sister L. Anne above me. As a 27 year old black Christian I didn’t find offense in Phil’s statements. Anyone who knows anything about black culture knows that one of it’s strengths was our ability to withstand the most harshest of treatment and STILL find resolve and yes, joy, even in the midst of our dehumanization. Now obviously no one in their right mind is going to argue that blacks during the Jim Crow were HAPPY they were being dehumanized and being stripped of the most basic of rights, with the threat of lynching knocking on your door at the slightest offense, but even in the midst of all that, a lot of blacks still remained hopeful and clung to a joy that can only be found when one is in relationship with Christ. This has always been a trademark/staple of black culture (especially during slavery and Jim Crow).And in a lot of ways I can’t think of nothing that exemplifies James 1:2-4 more than that. Just my two cents.

    • george canady

      As a white man, when blacks are not around, I have to listen to things about blacks that turn my stomach.

      • http://facebook.com/donte.bland.7 Donte Bland

        Read your comment to me George: ”I believe you are somewhat naïve in the depth of the problem and source and become the poster boy for those who need a token”.

        You mind explaining to me how exactly I’m ‘naive’ and a poster boy for tokenism? It seems to me (and I could be wrong) that you’re a white man who’s gained a little bit of ‘enlightenment’ regarding some race issues (superficially of course, as revealed by your ignorant, insulting, and borderline racist remark) and now feel you’re in a position to ‘school’ others and call out their black tokenism. Interesting. Please do share and explain what you meant. I’m very curious to hear your reasoning.

      • Kim

        If it turns your stomach, then speak up to the crowd you’re around, don’t insult your Christian brother, Donte.

        • Kim

          My comment was to George, in support of Donte. Don’t know if I made that clear.

        • http://Facebook.com/donte.bland.7 Donte Bland

          Thanks for the support Kim. George’s remarks towards me were out of left field and very much uncalled for and very uninformed.

          • Kim

            You’re welcome. I think we sometimes, as Christians, get too caught up in the “world’s” issues and forget that there is a real, spiritual battle raging. The REAL enemy of ALL believers, whatever their ethnicity, wants to keep us at odds because when we come together as the CHURCH he is reminded that he is already defeated and his days are numbered! I believe Phil Robertson is the real deal and we, as believers, should support him and like Frank J. said, “we have all said things that can be taken any way someone wants to twist them and become a target”. I have way more respect for you (Donte), Frank J., and L.Anne for showing grace than most of the people (lay people and theologians alike) who have been making comments, on this website and others, since this whole thing started.

    • george canady

      Tony Carter wrote “I am openly, and confessionally Reformed. Make no mistake about it. And I won’t reject Reformed theology simply because some of those who hold to reformed theology are insensitive, hypocritical, and even wrong at times. Their sin does not invalidate biblical truth for me.”

  • Frank J

    I am a black man raised in the 60’s and I have seen racism both openly and subtly. I believe that Mr. Robertson is trying to say in a round about way is, that even thought the black folks of that era were under “Jim Crow” they still persevered through faith in God and chose to live above their situation by living in a way that glorified God instead of bemoaning the injustices that were put upon them. We can slice and dissect his comments any way that we choose, we can make him to be a villain or a saint just by opinion, but let us remember this: we all have all said things that can be taken any way someone wants to twist them and become a target.

  • http://bibliablogger.wordpress.com/ Bereket Kelile

    This seems to be an example of what I think may be a problem in the way we discuss racial issues. Are blacks the only people who need to be understood? Is all the learning that has to happen done by whites regarding blacks?

    I think that the issue is made complex by the fact that we also have to understand the perspective of people like Phil. If we treat whites as ignorant people who are oblivious to the oppression they inflict on blacks who are nothing more than victims then we run the risk of making caricatures out of everyone involved.

    • http://facebook.com/donte.bland.7 Donte Bland

      Very well said! I think we have to check our presuppositions. If the presupposition is essentially: whites=evil oppressors and blacks=eternal victims of oppression then we will most definitely make caricatures of one another as you stated and will NEVER come to any true reconciliation.

  • Tim Crook

    We must make amends for the harm we cause —

    Who was harmed by this comment, Joe?

  • Terry Hawley
  • http://www.dinglefest.com Shannon

    Thank you for this post. I heartily agree.

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  • Terry

    When did we get so sensitive in this country? It is certain that one man’s experience (or belief) is another man’s offense. It is time for us to be fast to love and slow to cast the stone.

  • Todd

    Thank you for your humility to admit your oversight and for sharing your thoughts in this article. I’m deeply discouraged by many of the comments on here, but I trust that Jesus can use this mess for good. I just have to ask, for those of you who are upset about this article and think that the author is making unfair statements and presumptions…how many of you have meaningful relationships with African American men and women? And specifically with high-identity African Americans (meaning they were raised in a mostly non-white setting and do not tend towards assimilation)? I think your perspective on this would be much different if you had your eyes opened to the experiences of many non-white people in our country…

    • http://tbrainerd.wordpress.com Tom Brainerd

      Well…that opens Pandora’s Box, now doesn’t it?

  • http://tbrainerd.wordpress.com Tom Brainerd

    “No more let sins and sorrows grow,
    Nor thorns infest the ground.
    He comes to make the blessings flow
    Far as the curse is found.”

    Into every dark corner…come quickly, Lord Jesus.

  • Kim

    I really appreciate Donte, Frank, and L.Anne’s insight because I was wondering how African American Christians felt about this subject. I, as a 43 year old white female, didn’t see anything offensive in Mr. Robertson’s comments and it saddens me that a brother in the Lord, Mr. Tisby, jumped on the persecution bandwagon instead of looking at the heart of what he was saying. Mr. Robertson is being persecuted for believing that every word of the Bible is true, instead of picking and choosing the verses that make us feel good and don’t bring conviction. He was quick to point out that judgement is not up to him and that he loves everyone, but still there are Christians who want to bash him and that makes me very sad. Christianity is under attack more and more every day in our country and we need to support each other, not join in the attack. I honestly believe that if Mr. Tisby had contacted Mr. Robertson personally to let him know that he was offended, Mr. Robertson would have been apologetic. But instead, Mr. Tisby took it to a public forum (or maybe he just took it to his friend Joe, and Joe took it to the public forum?)where it added to the hurt instead of attempting to bring healing. The saving grace, however, is that as Christians we should all be quick to forgive, right?

  • Leon

    After reading his comments over and over again it seems to me that his main point was not that black people were better off pre-civil rights movement. I doubt that Mr. Robertson would contend that point. Rather it seems he is trying to juxtapose his experience of the black community during an era when they were overtly oppressed to today’s environment where dependence on government aid i.e. welfare etc. has caused a sense of entitlement and an inability to be content.

    His main fault as Joe pointed out in his article is that he might not have thought out his statement fully. It’s a problem of articulation rather than some ignorant bigotry.

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  • CJ

    Please keep in mind also though, that differences between Northern and Southern worldviews color our perspectives on race too(I have lived in both).

    How? In the sense that Northerners tend to view most/all Southerns as given to racial bigotry whilst neglecting their own forms of isolationism, “white flight”, and de facto segregation.

    Of course racism happens in the South (as the North) But because of the history of closer mixing of the races –on plantations /in households, etc.– in the South, there tended to be opportunities closeness and camaraderie as well that I think Northerners overlook or don’t realize exist.

    It is entirely possible that given the Southern context of Phil’s upbringing then, Phil saw and experienced seeing –and therefore can relate anecdotally — folks who were doing admirably or well in spite of Jim Crow laws. I don’t think he is meaning to say (as some Northerners are taking it) that black people were a-okay with the Jim Crow laws/environment in and of itself!