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american-flag-black-and-whiteOne of the confusing things about the fallout from the shooting of Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri, is the differing perspectives of many blacks and whites, even those who are united in the gospel and share the same theology.

There seems to me to be four basic positions one could take—and have been taken—at this point:

  1. We know that the shooting of Michael Brown was morally unjustified (i.e., murder).
  2. We know that the shooting of Michael Brown was morally justified (i.e., self-defense).
  3. We do not know whether the shooting of Michael Brown was morally justified or unjustified because we do not yet have enough clear and official information to form any settled conclusions with confidence.
  4. Whether positions 1, 2, or 3 are the correct positions to take at this time, Christians should be concerned with the larger systemic pattern of injustice in America that occurs when a predominately white law enforcement interacts with African Americans in particular, as borne out by similar cases and by social science studies.

There are African American brothers like Thabiti Anyabwile who want to focus upon #4, while he is being understood to say (incorrectly, it turns out) that he holds to #1.

Many white evangelicals, on the other hand, want to focus upon #3 before it can be determined if this is actually an illustration that substantiates #4.

I do not know all of the answers. At times I don’t even know how to ask questions or attempt answers for fear of misunderstanding or being misunderstood. There is an enormously complex constellation of presuppositions, history, psychology, inclinations, suspicions at play here.

What I do know is that we all can learn from one another on this, and that interacting without understanding is counterproductive.

It would be the height of folly to pretend these can be sorted out in a blog post. But let me point to one factor as illustrative of others, well expressed by Pastor Bob Bixby:

Whites are confused by the outcry of blacks from all over the country when a black boy is killed. This is because whites do not value their white collective in the same way that blacks value their black collective. The black culture values the black community. They value the black collective. It was through community that the blacks prevailed through the Civil Rights Era. In fact, it is through community that African Americans survive still. They feel much more dependent on community than we whites do.

Whites, on the other hand, simply do not see themselves as a collective. We are the proverbial fish in the water that sincerely asks, “What is water?” We see ourselves as Missourians, Bears fans, cowboys, motorcyclists, Democrats, evangelicals, and countless other possibilities, but we do not feel ourselves to be part of a white collective. Thus, when our black friends feel the impact of Ferguson even though they are three states away we scratch our heads and wonder how in the world this whole affair became a white/black thing when it just happened to be a white office that killed a black youth while in the line of duty. How, we wonder, can this be so visceral to them? As one black pastor friend said, he was vicariously traumatized. Honestly, I was not similarly traumatized. I went to bed that night without the feeling that one of us had killed one of them because as a white I don’t even get the feeling of a white us. In the same week a white teenage girl was shot and killed by the police three blocks away from my home. Naturally there were questions about the police procedures and an investigation is taking place, but no white person felt like one of us had been eliminated by a large impersonal other. It wasn’t until I consciously chose to respect the understanding and interpretation of black Christians that I sorrowfully recognized my slowness to sympathize with them.

White Christians trust too much their initial feelings, not realizing that feelings are shaped by understanding. I do not say that black Christians do not have the same temptation. I am speaking, however, as a white Christian preacher, trying to model ambassadorial effort. We have to understand that our instincts and knee-jerk analyses are products of our culture.

The reason for this is in the question of value. The fact that trumps all other facts emotionally in the culture that values the black collective as a minority community is that there is one less black boy of an already too-few number, dead at the hands of a white system that seemingly does not share that value. This assumption that a white system does not value black life seems proven when the force seems more trigger happy when the black youth is the target or when the force leaves his body on the street for hours before picking it up. As the value of a child would call up from deep within me a visceral, passionate, death-defying lurch toward the street in the flash of an eye, in the same way the devaluing of a chicken fails to to call up the visceral reaction in my soul and body to do something about it. In the same way, the black community senses from whites who calmly munch on their sandwich and say, “We don’t have all the facts yet” a devaluation of a black life. They do not see what whites think they are conveying, a calm deliberation that waits for due process and accepts the rule of justice. Instead, they hear from our inability to sympathize, “It’s just another black thug with sagging pants that wasn’t respecting authority.”

White evangelicals need to learn that it is not enough to have a black friend or to love a black person. One must love the black community. We who are white have grown up in a world where blacks must learn to live with us but where we have never had to learn to live with them. We love to go to a black church as tourists, but we do not want to go there as members. One must love the community that an individual comes from to truly love that individual, especially if the culture of that community places such a high value on its community.

That this is just one presupposition at play here illustrates the messiness and complexity of understanding one another.

Let me add one more encouragement (to myself as much as to anyone). In his book Bloodlines John Piper addresses a common the temptation in these difficult discussions:

Of all the moral issues that challenge the church from decade to decade, this one we are tempted to abandon more often, because in this battle we get more quickly and deeply wounded along the way. If you have thin skin, or if you have a bigger sense of rights you are owed than mercies you need, or if you have small faith in God’s preserving grace, you will set out on the road of racial harmony and then quit. Because you are going to be criticized. You will try to say something or do something that you thought was helpful, and the first thing you hear is: you said it wrong, or you should have said it a long time ago, or you should have also said such and such, or it was not the time to say anything. . . .

Will we “stay on the table”? Stay on the road? That is what the doctrine of perseverance is for—to keep us faithful in the kind of obedience that is sustained by the foretastes of heaven and leads to the glory of heaven. Christ has purchased our perseverance. The Holy Spirit applies the purchase. None of us will persevere perfectly. But getting up when you are knocked down is a mark of Christ’s followers. We know life is short and eternity is long. This eternal perspective does not take us out of the world. It gives us freedom from self-pity. We are about to inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5). We don’t need to have it now, or the ease and comfort that go with it. We can work at this till we drop. For our labor is not in vain in the Lord.


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88 thoughts on “America in Black and White: Why Do So Many of Us Respond to Ferguson So Differently?”

  1. Jake Phillips says:

    Very helpful.

  2. Nathan D says:

    Thank you! Clear and helpful.

  3. Denny says:

    “This is because whites do not value their white collective in the same way that blacks value their black collective. The black culture values the black community. ” If this is the case I do have a question. I am not asking this to start a flame war or as a push back. I am asking really is to try to understand. If the black collective and community is so important and valuable, why aren’t more done, more internal outrage at black on black crime and black broken families that is destroying their neighborhood? Why is the outrage only on selective instances where a white (or Hispanic-white as George Zimmerman was described) kill a black person?

    1. Jennifer says:

      I agree with Denny. Where is the equal outrage and concern from the black community when blacks kill blacks many times more often?

      1. Peter B says:

        Hey guys, it’s there. Problems are entrenched. People disagree on how to go about it (see Cosby vs. Michael Eric Dyson). I attempted a fuller answer in my own comment beneath. Please don’t take my comparison of your remarks to ‘swinging a cudgel’ (esp. Denny because you made it clear that you are not) as a shot at your intent. That’s how the remark feels to me. But I want to, for peace’s sake, acknowledge that you aren’t saying it to that end. Good day, friends.

      2. Eric M. Washington says:

        Jennifer, let me be a clear as possible in responding to your question. First, your question assumes something negative. It assumes that we, as African Americans (and Christian), have been desensitized by intraracial homicide. That is simply untrue. There have been countless efforts within African-American communities to help curb the violence. This has been going on for decades. Where would you learn about these efforts unless you are part of an African-American community in some fashion, or read African-American media. My heart is broken by the senseless homicides occurring in Chicago just 170 miles from where I live. Here’s the difference with Ferguson. An institution (the police force) run by whites primarily has taken the life of an unarmed citizen. Whether it was self-defense, or not, that’s immaterial at this point. The source of the outrage is that an American institution that is to protect its citizenry is at the center of the loss of a young African-American man’s life. This is only the latest segment of a long American narrative. The situations are different, and this is something white brothers and sisters have to understand.

        1. Doug Maxwell says:

          I policed in a prodominantly black neighborhood for years. I ask the same question now as I asked then: where is the outrage over the culture of violence within the black community? Sure, I saw the occasional rally to stop the violence, and the marches…but the mantra passed on from generation to generation is that the police are the enemy, PERIOD. – In order to understand we are told that we must accept the narrative that “white institutions” are set up against black communities and in particular against young, black males. That narrative is at best incomplete and at worst dishonest and manipulative. When I worked within these communities I was often accused of being a racist, after all I was always chasing, arresting and fighting black males and since I am white I must be a racist, what other explanation could it be? The only problem with that conclusion is that it leaves out the other side of that coin, the victims that I took reports from, accompanied to the hospital, notified of the loss of a loved one (most of the times at the hand of another black male) were also black. The decent, hard working people that I fought for (many time literally) day in and day out who had to live in fear were black…what kind of racist did that make me? Or my brothers of all colors who worked along side me? Not very good ones I guess. What about my brothers who died in the line of duty who happened to be white and were killed by blacks, and in one instance the young black teenager (as everyone loves to describe Mr. Brown) was unarmed…until he finally over powered my friend and killed him with his own gun. And the injuries that I and many others have sustained while protecting the community and dealing with an increasingly violent and bold culture, particularly within our cities. And I cannot tell you how many times I caught people for various violations, in the act, and they were adamant that I only stopped them because they were black. Sometimes I thought they were making excuses like we all do when we are caught doing things wrong, but many times I believe they really believed it, and that really bothered me. – The problem is that this “black collective”, like most other collectives, tends to operate in an “us vs. them” mentality and in doing so stifies individual thought and responsibility. If one within the collective speaks against what has been deemed acceptable to it, they are ostracized as a “sell out”. So I ask again, where is the outrage? That an 18 year old would feel so bold as to rob and assault a store owned and not 10 minutes later walk down the middle of a street and refuse to move to the sidewalk whan approached by police (knowing what he had just done) and then attacking the police (keep in mind this “child” was 6’4″ 300 pounds)..where is the outrage that this type of behavior is acceptable and that those who do it are lauded as heros when they die in the act?

          1. williamfrancisbrown says:

            Amen to this clear-headed post. And God bless you for your service.

            We now have videos of Brown assaulting the store owner. We also have videos of Brown ‘rapping’ about killing white people and specifically white police. He described his desires in a graphic manner. We know he attacked the police officer. This is the guy that we are supposed to believe was just an innocent victim. The true source of racism is not the police but the inner city black culture. There are points of light here and there in the inner cities, but one can only pray that Biblical values might be restored. Currently it’s an almost hopeless culture devoid of role models or intact families. There are many lessons and many stories that Ferguson should alert us to. But it seems the easy (and lazy) cliches are trotted out and the wrong lessons are learned. The media narrative almost always gets it wrong, and overlooks the real story. Most are unwilling to look at the true root problems of broken families, a depraved and corrupt culture, the constant reinforcement of a victimhood mentality, a dysfunctional (largely due to gov’t mandated political correctness) educational system, glorification of sex, drugs and violence, an entrenched welfare dependency, etc. Almost every problem has been directly caused and maintained by the federal and state government.

            1. Jonathan says:

              And Johnny Cash shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die.

          2. Jonathan says:

            John Maxwell, I was very sorrowed to read about the death of your friend. What was his name?

            On your main point, it appears that for years you saw a major conflict between the people in authority (which included you) and the community you worked in. Yet, from your post, it appears that you believe all the blame for the conflict rested with the black community.

            At the same time you tell us all sorts of negative things you know about these black communities, without one positive word. At the same time you have nothing but positive things to say about yourself and your fellow authority figures, without one negative word.

            I certainly believe that it takes major failings on both sides to lead to a divide this large. Since you have such a insider position for this exact debate, would it be possible for you to tell us more about the changes that might be possible for you and your fellow officers to do a better job of loving the Black community, and explain how you could see steps for reconciliation from your own side? You know, remove the log in your own eye before the mote in the other’s?

        2. Larry Geiger says:

          “Whether it was self-defense, or not, that’s immaterial at this point.” Is this a serious comment? Seriously? If this statement is true, then we can talk all day about “collectives” and other nonsense, but if we can’t agree on this then we might as well all give up.

          1. Ryan P says:

            Agreed. This would be the most racist position of all.

    2. Before I reply, let me be clear that I’m also not trying to flame or push back here. Internet tone is hard to read, and I know what I’m about to say could sound snarky or condescending. I promise, that’s not where I’m coming from (and I think that will be clear if you read to the end rather than reacting to the first few sentences).

      I think your questions highlight not the black community’s silence on these issues but rather your own lack of listening unless it affects you. As the black community does have internal outrage and action toward issues within their community, why would you, as a white man, be privy to that, especially when most (all?) major media outlets are also led by white men who aren’t plugged into the black community? Could it be that the problem isn’t that you’re not hearing the black community address internal issues but rather that you’re not listening except at times like this when the topic affects you more directly? Once again, I’m not baiting you or trying to start something here but rather asking you to examine yourself as you and others are questioning why you don’t see the black community examining itself.

      I’m a white mom, but about a year ago, I became a mom to three black children. I didn’t realize how many misconceptions I had about the black community until we became more vested in it. I just didn’t know. And as I know more now, I’m seeing my own previously held misconceptions mirrored back at me by white friends in the wake of Ferguson, and I’m trying to figure out how to respond (and if I even should, rather than just amplifying the black community’s voices who have taught me much).

      Finally, I’d encourage you to examine whether or not it’s fair or just to cry out about “black on black crime” when statistically we could argue that white on white crime is out of control and something that we, as whites, ought to be addressing more. I’ll be right there with you in examining that, as I didn’t realize the limitations of my own assumptions about black on black crime until recently so I’m wade through this (and working on my own answer to my question in the last sentence about whether or not this is fair or just). Here are a couple pieces that piqued my processing on that front:
      White-on-white murder in America is out of control
      Don’t White People Kill Each Other Too?
      (I also think it’s worth noting that the sources above are ones that have a much higher minority reader and writer base than most new sources I read. I’ve found it immensely helpful to diversify where my information is coming from, especially on race related issues.)

      1. Denny says:

        Hello Shannon,
        I will read through your response and respond in greater details in a bit. But just FYI, I am not white. I am an Asian immigrant from Hong Kong and I live around a place called City Heights in San Diego. While it is not quite Watts in LA, it is a diverse neighborhood with police helicopter (the “ghetto bird”) flying overhead almost nightly. I worked in a church with mostly SE Asians, some Hispanic and Black, with most of the members being jailed one time or another.

        Denny

        1. Sorry I made that assumption, Denny. I know another Denny who occasionally comments here, and he is a white pastor in a different part of the country from you (well, I “know” him online through his comments but not beyond that), and I was guessing you were the same Denny. Please forgive me for jumping to that conclusion.

          That said, I still stand by my comments, as I was naive to a lot of what I shared even while heavily involved in an Asian community here (as we have another child from Taiwan). Black parents have mentored me on parenting our black children, and they stress both holding high standards for behavior (i.e. that they not become criminals) and teaching different standards for how to behave with law enforcement (i.e. that they not be targeted in a way that my white children or Asian child would not, statistically speaking; as one data point to support that, take a look at this profiling data of police stops, searches, and contraband hits from Ferguson, MO, last year: http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/2013/reports/161.pdf). It’s not an either/or thing: either care about profiling and actions that follow or care about crime within your own community. I see several commenters after me also pointed that out by sharing their own personal experiences, so I won’t belabor the point.

          1. TQ says:

            Shannon,

            This may be said later, but I’ll just say it now as I read your comments. I’m Black, my parents are Black, my wife and kids are Black so there’s no confusion.

            Murder is the #1 cause of death for Black males between 15-34 (http://p4cm.info/1pFvWaS) and more than 90% of those murders are committed by other Blacks. That type of behavior causes me, a Black man to behave differently around young Black men. And in quiet conversations where they won’t address it in public, many of the Black people you know and many you don’t are the same. It’s not because we’re racist, it’s because the potential danger is real.

            I’ll teach my Black boys how to behave with cops in part to obey the authorities placed over you as we’re called to in the Bible, but in part because all of these violent young men are creating a poor perception of young Black men. And I can forgive a cop whose life is on the line for being a bit on edge when they see much more of this violence up close and personally than you or I do.

            I don’t think people understand that the pathology creates the perception. Just like there’s a stereotype that Black people like fried chicken because… Black people like fried chicken. Not all Black people do, but it happens enough that the stereotype didn’t come from the ether. Not all Black men are violent criminals, not even most of them. But the problem is bad enough in a particular segment that it’s creates a stereotype that’s backed up by the evidence.

            If we Blacks cleaned up our own “community,” we’d save a whole lot more Black boys than if there was a ban on white cops shooting Black boys tomorrow. You’re right, it’s not either or, but the priorities are clear when situations like this arise. You heard about the Million Man March. If cleaning up the Black community was a big deal, I’m in a place in the community where I’d hear about it. I live there and serve there actively and I neither hear nor see it anywhere near the degree that I’ve heard about Michael Brown.

    3. Etienne Douglas says:

      That’s a complicated question. Which demands a complicated answer.

      There are several assumptions in the question:

      1. Is that we don’t have issue with black on black violence.
      2. That a black person dying by the hands of the police = a black person dying by the hands of another black person.
      3. That black people have control over the violence in their communities.
      4. That all of our problems are self-inflicted.

      Let me set the record straight, most black people in America have a problem with black on black violence. We hold vigils and non-violence rallies whenever someone gets killed. We preach messages of repentance, non-violence, and solidarity. I don’t know where the idea comes from that we don’t care. Maybe it’s because the everyday happenings don’t get as much media coverage as police shootings. Maybe it’s because we expect it to happen. Maybe it’s because people whose job it is to protect us, shouldn’t be shooting us. Maybe because historically in America authorities and the ruling class have been our biggest threat. White on black crime has been around much longer in America than black on black crime. Maybe it’s a psychological holdover from a system of slavery that separated families, emasculated men, raped women, slave masters abandoned their slave children, instilled a culture of fear, murdered with impunity, treated slaves like animals, denied education, and so much more that can be said. This is American black culture. It was instilled in us and passed on to their children. What you’re seeing is part of a psychological side effect of a brutal institution.

      We are powerless to change it by ourselves. Just like we needed the help of all Americans to overcome in the Civil Rights Movement and slavery, we need all Americans now.

      My question is: How does the existence of so many hate groups make you feel? Does it make you feel bad? Does it make you feel like, well they’re bad, but I’m not. How do you think it makes us feel? Do you acknowledge that this is huge potential lifelong hurdle in every black person’s life?

      This question is more to make a point. Where was the outrage from Americans over slavery? How long did it take to end it? How much of a fight?

      If you answer those questions, you can start understanding why it’s hard to deal with problems in our neighborhood. It takes time.

    4. Rollin says:

      Denny,

      To answer your question brother, there is outrage at Black on Black crime in the Black community. I am Black, I grew up in Detroit, MI one of the worse place when it comes to black on black violence, we had event held by Churches and other organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, the United Way, the Detroit Lions etc that sought to speak out against black on black crime in the city. The problem is that CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC, ABC Worldnews and other National News outlet don’t report that. They report the protests for the Trayvon Martins and the Michael Browns and the Eric Garners. So It’s not that we don’t exhibit the same response for Black on Black crime, so just has to come to the city in order to see.

    5. Rachael Starke says:

      I’ve seen several people offer up plenty of links to protests and non-profits dedicated that issue. But this one is about an officer of the peace himself being a possible perpetrator of criminal violence. It’s dereliction of duty in the extreme. That their races are different technically is not relevant, as far as the law is concerned.

    6. Jonathan says:

      William, I spent six years of my life living in two black communities, and there is enormous moral outrage regarding black-on-black crime. However, black-on-black crime is considered pretty much irrelevant to White society except when they’re using it to criticize black people, and so the outrage of black communities towards this crime is either unknown to the white majority or simply ignored.

    7. Ms. Ward says:

      Its starts at the head or Head. Black on black crime is almost always a topic of discussion when an African-American male/female is killed by law enforcement, armed security, or other citizens, and then the African-American community decides to take a stand against it. So let me give you an example(s) and or answer to your question.

      What if Jesus who is the Head, hated us, spewed derogatory comments about us, placed us in bondage and then laughed in our faces at our hurts, then killed our innocent sons and daughters without a care. How would we then feel about ourselves? Would we be good upstanding Christians, or would we be paralyzed by how our Father feels about us and so in-turn, since our Father doesn’t care about the quality of our lives, take no care and concern about our own? Its starts at the head and if this nation doesn’t take care and concern about the African-American life, than why should we? The same as if a parent doesn’t care about their child, the child then doesn’t care about themselves.

      And so uneducated African-American boys and men end up taking each others lives based on that which has been held over this country since slavery. Black on black crime is a symptom of a much greater ill, and the greater ill is how we are being treated as a citizens of the United States. Are we treated as equals or 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class citizens? Do our lives matter just as much as our white counterparts or are we easily targeted, removed, and then forgotten?

      So, once again it starts at the head and trickles down, until we are treated as equals and given the same educational, business, and personal opportunities as our Caucasian brother and sisters, we will always feel as if our lives don’t matter. Once we come together through community, Love, and unity and start respecting all of God’s children as equals, all made in the image of God, nothing will change.

      Read “The Accidental Racist” – The Healing of a Nation #Healing #Love #Community #Unity #LoveYourNeighbor

    8. Erin says:

      I don’t know why there isn’t outrage, but I do know that when you look at statistics for black on black crime and white on white crime they are exactly the same. Something like 80% of crimes against blacks are ommited by blacks, but the same is true for white people. Our crime is mostly segregated. The larger issue here is that police brutality and/or overuse of force seem to disproportionately affect the black populous. That is what makes people mad. That is what raises calls of racism

    9. johnny says:

      Denny, Let me try to explain your very understandable question. [I also recommend an excellent interview by award winning NPR ON POINT by a professor and journalist who visited Ferguson during 8 days of its unrest http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/08/28/ferguson-race-mike-brown-class-legacy ] It is not accurate to make moral equivalents of criminal black violence on blacks (or anyone) with white police on black violence when the white person is one charged with authority and pledged to safeguard and protect all of society. The power dynamic is totally different (the levels authority, especially when abused), even more so when police harassment and assaults on minorities, especially blacks, is systemic. When almost two blacks are killed per week by a white officer, this is not a anomaly of a rogue cop. Stats show that though whites use more marijuana, it is blacks that are stopped, arrested, and locked up for it at a much higher rate, both in Ferguson and nationally, Contraband was found in a higher rate of the whites stopped and arrested in Ferguson though they are only 33% of the population, but it is is blacks who are stopped and arrested at 86% and higher rates in Ferguson, thought they are only 67% of the population, yet only 3 of the 53 police are black, one of the city council members and one of the school board. 86% is the percentage of traffic stops in Ferguson that targeted African-Americans in 2013, according to a racial profiling report by the Missouri Attorney General’s Office. African-Americans were targeted for 92 percent of vehicle searches, though searches of white suspects were more likely to turn up contraband (34 percent of searches of white suspects found contraband, versus only 22 for black suspects).

      Coincidentally, 86 percent is also the percentage of African-Americans who think city police are usually tougher on African-Americans, according to a recent HuffPost/YouGov poll.
      92.7% is the percentage of total 2013 arrests in Ferguson that involved African-Americans, also according to the attorney general’s report. Of 521 arrests made by the Ferguson Police Department in 2013, 483 involved black suspects. Only 6.9 percent involved white suspects. 19% is the percentage of Ferguson’s general budget that was paid for by revenue from fines and court fees in the 2012 fiscal year. It was forecast to account for an even larger share of revenues (21 percent) in the 2013 fiscal year, which ended June 30 — making it that year’s second-largest source of revenue. FROM http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/22/ferguson-black-america_n_5694364.html
      other stat FROM http://northdallasgazette.com/2014/08/20/2-black-men-per-week-are-killed-by-a-cop-in-america/

      1. williamfrancisbrown says:

        Firstly, NPR is renowned for it’s bias. Secondly, these statistics alone do not lead to the conclusions that ‘johnny’ wishes us to take away. There are many possible explanations that could account for these numbers other than an inherent racial prejudice.

        1. Jonathan says:

          NPR is renowned for its bias? Since NPR has a more diverse funding base than almost any other media outlet in America, and since its listener base is 80% White, I’d be interested in seeing you pull out any facts that support your claim of any kind of bias relevant to this issue.

          Actually, I just found a fact that shows the opposite. A survey by The Tarrance Group and Lake Snell Perry & Associates found that about 70% of Americans think that NPR is not biased. Of the rest, about 20% think it has a liberal bias and 10% think it has a conservative bias.

          That doesn’t sound very “renowned for its bias” to me.

          1. jimpemberton says:

            Interesting statistics. Only about 10% of the population ever listens to NPR, based on common ratings data, so I’m not sure what constitutes the sample for them. I know I don’t listen to them. The one time I did the content was decidedly liberal so I decided that there were better things to listen to. Most people in the United States aren’t very discerning so I wouldn’t trust a sketchy opinion poll. It’s far better to analyze the content directly against a standard.

  4. I’m going to start the same place the Denny just did and go a different direction:

    “This is because whites do not value their white collective in the same way that blacks value their black collective. The black culture values the black community.”

    First, this is an astute observation. I hadn’t considered this. It makes sense now why blacks consider all whites to be guilty when only one group behaves unjustly.

    But secondly I have to wonder: if we are supposed to understand the black community better (which white Christians especially should do), shouldn’t the admonition be directed to blacks to understand whites as well?

    There’s a reason I don’t feel guilty for another white man’s sin: there is no widespread white identity that we can feel some collective unity. For what it’s worth, For example, I’m a mutt being part English, part German, and part Cherokee, with a tiny drop of Irish for flavor. My ancestors oppressed my ancestors until they finally married and had my mutt ancestors.

    My greatest solidarity isn’t with any ethnic group. I’m a Christian and that’s the greatest unity I have with anyone. Was Michael Brown or is Darren Wilson a Christian? I haven’t heard. If they are my brothers and they sinned then, in the case of Michael Brown, I’ll thank God for his forgiveness, and, in the case of Darren Wilson, I’ll pray for his repentance since I’m not in a position to speak to him directly as a Christian. If they aren’t then, in the case of Michael Brown, I’ll grieve that he passed from this world not knowing his Creator, and, in the case of Darren Wilson, I’ll pray that he hears the gospel, repents, and comes to faith in Christ.

    Finally, for what it’s worth, and given the last statements I just made, I have to say that while it’s right to recognize how bad death is we should also know that it’s not the end. We place too much stock in this world. If Michael Brown was my brother and if Darren Wilson is also my brother, they will worship Christ side-by-side in the resurrection. If neither one was, or is, or will be my brother, then we know that right now the proclamation of the gospel is of the utmost importance as Black and white brothers and sisters stand together in a greater unity than any ethnic solidarity that we could have.

    1. Deb says:

      Amen, Jim!

    2. Jonathan says:

      I don’t think you realize the enormous degree to which the Black community has already been exposed to White culture for generations, while most White people can spend their entire lives without ever having a significant experience from within the Black community. Until I was 19 my entire experience of the Black community was the Cosby show. But Black people in America are almost constantly exposed to White culture, White media, White institutions, White expectations, etc.

      That doesn’t mean that it’s not still a two-way road. It very certainly is. But one of those sides has a lot future to go than the other does, and especially for us White people, we really should be more focused on how far our own side has to go than trying to keep yelling at the others. In fact, if people like you continue to attack the other side, I have a strong feeling that will increase, not decrease, the gap.

      1. jimpemberton says:

        “…if people like you continue to attack the other side…”

        What about my comment here constitues an attack?

        You mention “exposure”. What constitutes “exposure”? Are you implying that exposure necessarily leads to someing in particular? In other words, just because someone has more “exposure” doesn’t mean that they have necessrily gained greater insight. How would one determine such things?

        You also talk about how far each side has to go. There are a few ways that something like a social movement can go. One is in simply understanding. Another is in altering personal interactions. A third would be to change social institutions. A fourth would be to change legal institutions. Given that the article referenced here points out that the black community is far more cohesive than the white community, there would be a difficulty in measuring movement in the white community. I suspect even that most people, white and black, judge the whole by their limited personal experience. That is to say that people in areas that have experienced more racism would tend to think that the same level of racism is present in areas that in fact do not experience the same level of racism. This pattern, of course, can be exploited to generate socio-political momentum and anyone who points that out can easily be vilified by those exploiting such patterns among groups that experience more racism. So my question to you is this: What manner of movement are you suggesting and how do you measure it?

  5. Barnabas says:

    It looks like only comments supportive of this irrational racialist piece will be allowed through but let my try one more time.
    Do you think that you are doing the black community a favor by blessing racial solidarity over the rule of law?
    Do you think that the people in the black community can reasonable demand segregation on their terms? What about other races?
    Are you helping black men when you treat them as if they have no moral agency (“child”)?
    Are you helping the black community when you treat them as if they have no moral agency?
    Do you think that you are helping young black men when you reinforce the narrative that they should view criminals as heros?

    1. buddyglass says:

      “Do you think that you are doing the black community a favor by blessing racial solidarity over the rule of law?”

      I doubt it, because that’s not something he’s done.

      “Do you think that the people in the black community can reasonable demand segregation on their terms? What about other races?”

      Doubtful. Are the demanding segregation?

      “Are you helping black men when you treat them as if they have no moral agency (“child”)?”

      Did he do that? I didn’t see it. He compared the death of a child to the death of a chicken to illustrate the differing levels of emotional response each one should illicit.

      “Are you helping the black community when you treat them as if they have no moral agency?”

      Certainly doing so would not help the black community. Thankfully he doesn’t do that.

      “Do you think that you are helping young black men when you reinforce the narrative that they should view criminals as heros?”

      Some criminals are heros, but most aren’t. Thankfully Taylor doesn’t portray criminals as heroes, generally speaking.

  6. nobu says:

    To answer your question in full will take a great deal of time but lemme give you a quick answer. The reason for this is because when it is the government system that seems to support the way in which s minority race is treated, thats more disturbing. The history of the treatment of black people by the government has not been good and police brutality played a big part. It reminds black people of how little value the black life is to the ‘white’ system. Look at the stats from Ferguson. They clearly indicate that there is racial profiling that takes place. I am a south african and every time I see a young black man murdered by the police in the states,, my heart bleeds.
    Also to the reaction by Christian white people, I am sorry but I don’t care what the exact details are, shooting an unarmed young man that many times is NEVER okay.

    1. don bethel says:

      “I am sorry but I don’t care what the exact details are, shooting an unarmed young man that many times is NEVER okay.” Then you’ve never worked in law enfocement or served in the military. I’ve served in the military for 24 years. When the time comes to pull the trigger, the rule is simple: emplty the magazine. You keep firing until what your’re firing out stops moving. The fact that Michael Brown had no gun doesn’t mean he was unarmed. He was the size of an NFL lineman. He could easily have beaten that officer to death if he had gotten his hands on him. The number of shots is immaterial and the fact that Michael Brown didn’t have a gun likewise means nothing. He wasn’t running away from the cop, he was running AT him. The officer did what he was trained to do, and he was right to do it.

      1. Jonathan says:

        Michael Brown was 35 feet from the car when he was killed, and there were shell casings in the car.

    2. Eddie says:

      And one point that must be represented here is the side of law enforcement. I’m not in that field but I have many friends that have been and still are to this day. They are trained to use deadly force only as a last resort. If Michael Brown bull rushed the officer how can you say six times was too many. He probably didn’t know how many times he pulled the trigger. The only thing he knew was if he let this suspect get control of his weapon he would be the one that would die. It becomes a whole nother perspective when you have to make those decisions within seconds. I pray Michael Brown is with The Lord and I hope Darren Wilson is a member if His flock. I pray for grace and peace for the families and the town. But please don’t assume he just held the gun and looked at him while pulling the trigger six times. That’s what your verbage says to me.

      1. Jonathan says:

        The audio shows a significant pause between shots, so even if there was a “bull rush”, it didn’t come until after other shots had already been fired. The final shots were fired 35 feet away from the car even though the shooting started at the car, which implies that most of the movement was away from the officer and the officer would have been a long safe way from the suspect, unless he was chasing Michael Brown as he ran away from the shots. Which, according to several witnesses, is exactly what was happening.

  7. Muteyi waters says:

    I live in a white community and I would not change it. I was born in Kenya,Africa. What I’ve seen in African Americans and Africa’s on races is about the same. As a black man I’m thankful, and also as a Chrirstan. But I’ve seen tht there are more black pple playing the race cards. And thou races has gone, but it’s still not forgotten. We see it everyday. The shooting was bad. And I’m not saying it because he was black, but because he was a young man. A human. And how many young black people get shoot by there own pple? U don’t hear it from the news. I belive tht the majority of the “white” people have been great to the minority . Also more so then the minority them selfs. It’s not a black and whit thing, it’s a human thing. I mean look at Africa, there are more hate then there is more wars on each other then hear. I’m not saying tht the killing was right.but what I’m saying is how many kids get shoot in ganbang? Let’s have a cow about tht. Or the broken homes in America.

  8. Barnabas says:

    A lot of black people will be killed tonight in this country and they won’t be killed by white cops. They will be killed by lawless men like Michael Brown.

    1. Rachael Starke says:

      The law that you respect include the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven *in a court of law*. Justice would likely have meant his being declared guilty in the aforementioned court, and being sentenced to prison, where he might have had an opportunity to repent and believe the gospel. He no longer has that opportunity. And that is something to *weep* over.

      1. Rose Mead says:

        Rachael and also to the others who have commented, I’m blown away at your assumptions. Maybe what really needs to happen here is a lesson in what it means to be a police officer, what they go through daily on the job, the risks they take, AND what the law really is. They are not security guards. And they are not automatons. They are real people with families and the majority want to do what’s right. They are there to keep order, protect the community, all the while trying to get home alive. Getting home alive isn’t easy in some of these communities. Just because someone is “unarmed” doesn’t mean they are “undangerous”. One of the most dangerous event a police officer faces is a physical confrontation where a perpetrator takes away his gun. Because when that happens he’s dead. The perpetrator WILL use it on him. He (or she) is trained to stop a threat and to keep firing until that threat is stopped. If the facts show that officer Wilson had a broken eye socket from being punched by Brown that is one explanation of the 6 shots (his vision could have been affected). Also he was shooting a moving target and 4 of the shots were non lethal. Only two shots were lethal. Those were the two that stopped the threat. A 6’3″ inch 18 year old is just as dangerous as a 25 yr old. They are both men both dangerous. An officer has the right to detain someone based on suspicion. He fit the description of someone who had just robbed a convenience store and as the video has proven he WAS the person that robbed the store. This man would be alive had he not robbed the store and had he not tried to assault the officer. This is not about race. This is about rebelling against authority and the rule of law. Take color out of the equation and you can see more clearly. I assume some on here are Christians. Do you remember what Romans 13: 1-5 says? Its very clear. The evidence that we do have shows that this man committed a crime and attacked the officer. What happened after that which involved the shooting and death of Brown remains to be seen.
        I have seen videos and read articles on officers who abuse their role and their power and I’m appalled and angry. These crimes happen to people of BOTH races. When this happens they need to be punished in the strongest way.
        But, there are thousands and thousands of interactions between police and the public that are lawful and uneventful. These events are in the minority. According to Romans 13:1-5 show some respect towards those who keep our communities safe. And one last thing, God is sovereign. If Mr Brown was going to repent and place his faith in Christ then God would have spared his life.

        1. Rose Mead says:

          If I may, I would like to add more to my comment. There has been so much talk of empathy. I’m a very empathetic and compassionate person. My friends all tell me that I’m one of the most empathetic people they know. That being said, have any of you thought about what officer Wilson and his family is going through? What if he was completely within the law and his life was threatened and he had to shoot this man in order to save his own life? How would you feel if you were this officer, an officer who has nothing negative on his record, and who received and commendation earlier this year, being kept in seclusion due to death threats? This officer and his family are going to have to relocate. Probably to another state. He has medical bills. Who knows what kind of legal fees he might incur. Hopefully the department will take care of that. How would you feel, knowing that you did what you had to in order to survive, in order to stay alive, that you did what was lawful, and to have to endure Jessie Jackson’s remarks, AG Holder’s remarks, the President’s remarks and Al Sharpton’s remarks, and threats by the governor of MO to prosecute you as though you were already guilty? And if Wilson did do everything within the law, in light of Romans 13:1-5 how would you feel?

        2. Jonathan says:

          Why would the officer be scared of Michael Brown taking his gun if the shooting started at the car, but the last shot wasn’t fired until Michael Brown was 35 feet away from the car? I would think that if the officer’s safety was the primary concern, there’d be no reason to shoot at an unarmed man 35 feet away from the safety of your car where you began shooting him.

          Also, there was no broken eye socket (that’s just repeating a rumor that no one has been willing to take credit for) and your reference to Romans 13:1-5 is badly out of context. The Bible isn’t a list of proof-texts meant to be picked out of their context. Romans 13:1-5 is part of the continued argument of Romans 12:1-13:10, which includes especially 12:17-21 and 13:8-10, which I’m only pointing out because they summarize the continued message of the whole thing. Love does NO HARM to a neighbor. Do NOT repay anyone evil for evil. Do not take revenge, but leave room for GOD’S WRATH. Overcome evil with GOOD. The whole point of having Romans 13:1-5 in there was for Paul to point out that God could use the evil Roman government if he wanted to enact violent justice (just as he had used evil non-Israel governments throughout the Old Testament). But Paul made very clear that we Christians are NOT to be the ones carrying out that wrath…the Roman government, like the Babylonians and others before, would be judged for the very wrath they inflicted, even though God would direct it to his own purposes.

  9. Bryan says:

    What if the answer to why this issue is so confusing and calls forth such radically different responses is idolatry? An essential component of idolatry is that you derive your identity from whatever you worship. If you worship sex your identity will either be a stud or a loser depending on how successful you are in pursuing your idol. If you worship money your identity will either be as someone who has “made it” or as a financial failure. If you worship your children you will either be a “good father/mother” or a failure. But one thing that they all have in common is that when someone fails to please their idol or their idol is not faring well they will usually not accept the blame, they will normally be willfully blind to their own failure and point the blame at someone else. What if you worship your race and your “community ” is in really bad shape? Your identity will become that of a victim and you will find someone to blame. And then when an incident occurs that looks like it proves it you may very well explode with anger or grief.

    1. Bryan says:

      This also explains why white people react so differently. White people generally don’t find their identity in their race, if they do they are real racists. White people have different idols and so cannot fathom the intense reaction to the shooting. Going back to the example of someone idolizing their children, have you ever witnessed a parent whose grown son or daughter is a trainwreck but who seems strangely blind to the truth and instead of acknowledging that they might have made serious mistakes as a parent, excuse their offspring’s behavior by blaming someone or something else? Weren’t you baffled by their reaction when it seemed so obvious to you?

      P.S. Please don’t delete my comments, I don’t say any of these things hatefully or spitefully. We are all idolaters by nature. I care about my black fellow-citizens and earnestly desire to see the blessed gospel of Christ transform black communities as well as all communities. But the first thing the gospel does when it is received with power is smash idols whether of race or anything else.

      1. Peter B says:

        Hey Bryan, I believe you when you are sincere when you offer these thoughts, and aren’t trying to be mean. I also think your comments underplay many realities (some shared, some not), and for that reason, the ‘idolatry’ line of thought is annoying at best.

        First of all, when you say “White people generally don’t find their identity in their race, if they do they are real racists”, is that true? Our identity is primarily in Christ. Amen. But we still have ethnic, cultural, economic, professional etc. identities; they’re simply facts of human social order. We wrest all of these from the pole position, by God’s grace, but we lie to ourselves if we don’t think they inform our identity. Even if they somehow didn’t, if everyone else assigned them to us, that would affect our lives here b/c we must interact with everyone else.

        For people who aren’t white in America and never see an ‘us’, do you think it is the case that they don’t want to let go of this ‘us’ or it is a fact of life in America? (If you think the latter, read Ta-Nehisi Coates “The Case for Reparations” on the Atlantic; maybe just Ch. 6 “Making the Second Ghetto”. It’s not a long read, and it’ll show you one instance of the separateness being maintained in American life within the last half century). If you don’t see a need for a collective, or you aren’t often reminded that you are not the among the majority, that’s one thing. But can you see how hollow it rings then, when the person who can’t see it tells the people who daily must see it that perhaps it is idolatry?

        Take this line: “But one thing that they all have in common is that when someone fails to please their idol or their idol is not faring well they will usually not accept the blame”. When black Americans fail to have their idol of community preserved, they do not accept the blame? I’m not even sure how you intend to assign the pieces of the idol analogy to this situation but it’s pretty muddled, and every option I pick vexes me. (Black people are to blame b/c they hold their collectivity to be sacrosanct. Black people should see police brutality toward other black people the way white people would. Black people deify their ethnic identity. These options are all untrue, so I will assign none of them as your view until you do). I hope this helps you see a bit how untenable this ‘ethnic idolatry’ thesis is. I’ll visit this page tmrw, if you wanna discuss further. God bless, bro.

  10. Jana Wallace says:

    One, I’m very appreciative of this piece. I’m appreciative that there’s discussion that’s not denying the issues at hand. What one can do, first and foremost, is pray. Pray and humble ourselves on both sides. As a Christian woman who’s also a Black American, I’m praying to remain sensitive to the plight of both sides. There’s a history that comes with my Blackness, like there’s history that comes from their whiteness. It’s not so pretty, but definitely redeemable with the blood of Christ. And that’s where I try to remain when having discussions like this…

    I pray for us all to humble ourselves, and be willing to at least mourn with those who mourn. There are people who are hurting, and yet we’re so quick to dismiss it and instead cast blame. “Why don’t they care about their people?” “Where’s the outrage?” If someone was to have a heart attack and die, would you accuse their family of not caring for them? Why they didn’t watch their health or have a sense of outrage of the way they lived their life? It may have been sudden… We don’t know all the facts. But one shouldn’t be so quick to judge or cast blame.

    We must continue to pray, but we must continue to humble ourselves in order to have these hard conversations. The church is not immune to racism. It is not immune to sin. The church consists of broken people in continual need of the Savior – praise God for Christ! <3

    1. Thank you for your voice here, Jana. It’s helpful to me.

  11. st louis guy says:

    You all realize Ferguson is a major gang territory in St. Louis? The bloods dominate most of that area. There’s a reason why that police department had the equipment they had. Gun shootouts on those streets are not an abnormal thing. The police react like they do, because they face this junk every single day.

  12. Etienne Douglas says:

    I thank you for this article. As a black Christian man. I am disappointed when people subscribe to #3. Why? Because there are blatant misdeeds done that don’t need investigation.

    1. Aggressive nature of the initial confrontation by the officer.
    2. The officer didn’t know anything about the convenience store incident. I say incident because it hasn’t been proven he robbed the store yet.
    3. The leaving of the body on the street for four hours and no ambulance called.
    4. No initial investigation of the scene.
    5. No police report filed.
    6. Trickle down releasing of information.
    7. Refusing to release information.
    8. Releasing information that has nothing to do with the shooting incident.

    I believe the problem is that most whites have the assumption that if you have a run in with the police that it is inherent that something wrong was done. Why would you believe different? You have no frame of reference in your own life. That’s not completely letting whites off the hook though. History paints a brush of what’s happening today. I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood, so I know by experience.

    The truth is that police officers are human. Humans are sinners. Sinners sin. Yes, we have forgiveness in Christ, but there are consequences to sin and overlooking sin, promotes sin. Just because an officer has a tough job, doesn’t give anyone the license to kill people without cause. Christians more than anybody should know this. We should know what a sinful heart is capable of.

    One more thing. The existence of “black churches” and “white churches” are part of the problem. Sunday is one of the most segregated days of the week in America. In my church my pastor stresses that we should bring the Gospel message to all colors and that your church should be a reflection of your community. This goes both ways. Blacks should evangelize whites and vice-versa. Our communities are somewhat naturally segregated by the income gap, but that doesn’t mean we should not actively reach out to all people.

    1. George says:

      Etienne,
      The fact of the matter is that virtually everyone offering opinions about guilt or innocence has no basis to make those judgments because they weren’t there. You weren’t there. I wasn’t there. We can’t know the circumstances surrounding the unfortunate event, and we really don’t know what preceded the discharge of the gun. To address your enumerated points:

      1. You don’t know if the officer confronted these two young men in an aggressive manor. You don’t know if the two young men responded to the officer in an aggressive manor. You’re making an unfounded assumption.
      2. The officer was unaware of the robbery at first contact. I’m not sure what you mean to show about the officer’s state of mind by making this point. It must be noted, however, that Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson DID know about the robbery, because they were the ones who did it minutes before the encounter. They did not know whether or not the officer knew about it. Does it relate to Michael Brown’s state of mind? You must be open to the possibility that it does.
      3. If he was dead, an ambulance would not have helped. The NY Times says that Brown probably could not have been revived. Certainly, the body could not have been moved because an investigation would ensue. Why they did not cover the body is something that would surely come out as details emerge, but it is a detail irrelevant to whether or not the shooting was justified.
      4. What do you mean by this? There is investigation of the scene, and the case is under investigation by the FBI and St. Louis County.
      5. There is no incident report from Ferguson because, as the St. Louis Prosecutor says, the case was turned over to the County immediately. Reports say that there is “presumably” a report from the County, but that won’t be made public until the grand jury phase is completed. We’ll have to wait and see. If there is no report at all, there will need to be an explanation for that.
      6. Irrelevant to whether or not the shooting was justified.
      7. Details will be forthcoming, especially since there is a County and federal investigation. We will learn the details. (If the details aren’t out there, how could you say that #3 option is illegitimate. You concede that there is not enough information to case judgment.)
      8. What information are you talking about? If you are referring to the robbery that occurred minutes before, it may be relevant to Michael Brown and Dorian Johnson’s state of mind.

      The trouble thing about your comment, brother, is that you make unfounded assumptions that lead you to a judgment when none of us was there to know the context for the shooting, and you concede that we don’t know all the details. The facts of this PARTICULAR case cannot be determined about speculation about what whites believe or speculation about what Blacks believe when a cop stops someone. We have to determine the facts of this particular incident.

      No one has a right to kill without justification, as you say. You assume, however, that the officer killed without justification. You cannot honestly claim to know whether or not that is true. It is troubling to me that so many cast judgments without knowing what in the world happened.

  13. Curt Day says:

    I appreciate what is being said here. It provides a positive contribution to the subject. But I want to suggest some modifications. Whites strongly see ourselves as a collective but in a self-serving way and in a different context. All one has to do to show this is talk about issues that appear to infringe on the Constitution. The immediate response is to talk about this nation’s founding fathers in a similar way we would talk about the 12 apostles. Why is that an indicator of a White collective? It is because all of our nation’s founding fathers were both White and wrote a racist Constitution. Nonwhites were relegated to being less than fully human. At least the Nazis were honest enough to use the term ‘untermenschen’ when they regarded others as less than. And when one challenges the founding fathers on an issue or criticizes the Constitution, we see quite a bit of White collective in the defensive response.

    Why this White collective is not as apparent as the Black collective isn’t because it does not exist, it is because it isn’t needed. Whites still have a privileged place in society over Blacks. The Stop and Frisk stats, incarceration rates, and the nonshrinking wealth disparity between the races are all strong indicators that, tragically, White privilege rules the land. And White privilege pushes others to margins. It is living in the margins that brings the collective out.

    But note the commonality between the above collectives. Collectives come out of their respective closets in the presence of criticism, persecution, and living in the margins. Think about the national collective we felt on 9/11 for example. Or go back during the Civil Rights protests and witness the White collective reaction in the South to the protesters. And just perhaps, the confusion over the outcry of Blacks in places like Ferguson shows our collective, and defensive reaction, to the guilt that is implied by the reaction in Ferguson.

    On my many activist trips to NYC, I have often noticed the warm greeting and embrace between strangers there who were of the same economic class–in particular, the lower class. These greetings and embraces cut across racial lines. Why? It is because their lives have much in common especially the hardships. Note that one can observe somewhat of a similar connection among middle class Whites when they talk about taxes. At that point, any possible solidarity with those in the lower class is all too often arrested because those in the lower class have been presented as a liability and cause for middle class tax problems.

    Regardless of the actual facts regarding the shooting of Michael Brown, the residents have had enough because of the prolonged suffering they’ve experience at the hands of what was acknowledged above as a White dominated system. And it is that privileged position for Whites that obscures the collective lurking beneath the surface.

  14. Barnabas says:

    TGC has fully embraced black Marxism.

    1. Justin Taylor says:

      Barnabas, if you really think that seeking to understand someone else’s perspective constitutes a full endorsement of “black Marxism” then I’m afraid there is little point in dialoging.

      1. Barnabas says:

        You base nothing in your column on scripture or facts. You address only emotion, community sentiment, perspective, etc. In this you undermine both objective truth. When homosexuals inevitably come and demand concessions based on similar “out-group” status and hurt feelings you will have no rational defense.

  15. As a black man I agree with #3 as well

  16. Peter B says:

    Mr. Taylor, thanks for this piece. It was illumining–esp. that Bob Bixby excerpt. Very well said. To add a few things:
    1) I’m reminded of Tim Keller’s words at that ‘Grace&Race’ event of 2012, where he said something that I think is a good litmus test of whether one understands what it’s like to be a minority (and thus value the collective to a greater degree than does the majority). He said that if you were confused by Linsanity/didn’t understand it, you likely don’t grasp the experience of minorities. Jeremy Lin’s sudden success made Asian Americans so proud, in a way that no white athlete could do for white Americans. As long as one know JLin’s story, I think that example is excellent at gauging one’s understanding.
    2) To the people who are asking where’s the similar/proportional outrage at murders in the inner-city, my first question in response is would you know about it if there was? It’s not rhetorical, but something for you to ponder. If CNN/OX/SNBC wasn’t flogging the story, would you have any other–communal–means of knowing? But to answer it, there is outrage when murders happen in the ghetto. There’s outrage that there *is* a ghetto (see Ta-Nehisi Coates at ‘The Atlantic’), there’s outrage that we glorify the thug life that necessitates gunplay (see Lecrae’s last ‘Dear HipHop’ tweet and his last, like, 2 albums), there are a smattering of concerned neighbour organizations that try to influence kids when they’re young to not go that route, despite its heavy pull (take your pick here; I’m from Toronto so I can’t offer you something American [save for maybe Carson’s Reading Room?] etc. Please don’t swing the ‘why do you only care now’ cudgel at us now because the most recent blowup caught national airwaves. That’s part of the reason everybody cares now. I feel like I have more to fear than gain from police on most nights. Brown’s dead heap on the street reminded me in a visceral way. That’s why I’m commenting here, that’s why you probably read this piece, heck, it’s likely why JT wrote this piece. It is high on the docket, and it remains there as the investigation drags on.
    Have a good day, all.

  17. Melissa says:

    This was so very enlightening. I’m going to be thinking on this for a very long time.

    Thank you.

  18. Sam Yates says:

    There’s a decent chance I’m just overlooking it, but I’m having a hard time remembering where we are called to love “communities” rather than individual people. Communities cannot be saved. Individuals can. Communities are not judged. Individuals are. Communities will not spend eternity in heaven or hell. Individuals will.

    1. Jonathan says:

      Hmmm, I’m thinking that you should reread the New Testament with different lenses. The Bible does not say all of these things about “individuals” that you do. In fact, most of the pronouns that are are probably assuming to be singular are plural in the Greek. Your deep focus on the individual is a very Western focus.

  19. Alicia Thoms says:

    Some ask where are the protests against black-on-black crime. I asked myself the same thing, so I Googled it (I exaggerate. I already knew the answer because I’ve heard of anti-crime rallies in the city near me). From Google searches of “crime rally” and “black-on-black crime protest” with a date range of July 2012 to July 2014, I compiled the following list of examples. Interesting, I don’t ever remember hearing a news report about Jesse Jackson’s 20 city anti-violence tour and those marches…

    The media is not a source of truth. THEY select what they want to report based on how it will affect the ratings. THEY select which protests/rallies they will cover and the amount of coverage they will dedicate to the event. THEY decide if an event is newsworthy. I never trust that I am getting the full story when I hear the news whether it is CNN or Fox or NPR. They all beat their own drum. If their lips are moving, they are lying. Pretty strong words but I have had enough of being lead by the nose by half-truths, willful misrepresentations and out-of-context sound bytes. I’m pretty disgusted actually. Do you want to know what I really think? ;-)

    Lest I am misunderstood, I am not a fan or follower of JJ. I have been anti-media before this event. Thank you for the article, it was helpful to me.

    http://www.cneonline.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Black-on-Black-Violence-Conference.pdf

    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-06-12/jesse-jackson-gun-violence-marches/55527742/1

    http://rainbowpush.org/news/single/rev._jesse_jackson_fr._michael_pfleger_to_lead_anti-violence_rally_friday_e

    http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/east-chicago/east-chicago-gary-rally-for-change/article_ff691235-688f-5846-8983-b21fbe0a12d8.html

    http://www.austinweeklynews.com/News/Articles/6-2-2014/Youth-rally-against-crime-and-violence-in-East-Garfield-Park/

    http://miami.cbslocal.com/2013/09/15/miami-gardens-residents-rally-against-crime/

    http://www.kmov.com/news/crime/Rally-held-for-grandmother-who-died-protecting-her-three-grandchildren–269481681.html

    http://miamitimesonline.com/news/2014/jul/24/pastors-lead-march-against-crime-liberty-city/

    http://www.arkansasmatters.com/story/d/story/stop-the-violence-rally-calls-on-community-we-need/20414/qq4GcCwes0CU9GK-nyBOqQ

    http://wreg.com/2014/07/30/south-memphis-neighborhood-fights-back-against-crime/

    1. Alicia Thoms says:

      *lead -> led

    2. Curt Day says:

      I am waiting for those who ask for coverage about Black-on-Black crime to also ask for coverage about White-on-White crime.

      1. williamfrancisbrown says:

        Both crimes are covered. What fails to get noticed or mentioned is the disproportions between the two sets of crimes, and the reasons for that. For example, missing fathers as a result of an inverted value system (actively reinforced and absorbed through the street culture, TV, the racial grievance media industry, rap music that glorifies adultery and rape, and even pastors who have bought into the ideology of victimhood) and the resultant moral bankruptcy of the culture that destroys families in the inner city. This reality is rarely addressed, except by a number of courageous blacks who get almost no press because they revel the lie of the PC narrative of systemic injustice and blame. The African commenter above, Muteyi Waters, has some clear sighted and perceptive insights I think. This is how most, who have not been steeped in the modern American (and I think horribly confused) false narrative, would see the reality of what’s going on.

        1. Jonathan says:

          Do you consider Rand Paul to be another purveyor of that PC message? His words appear to me to match reality moreso than yours do:

          This is Rand Paul, from the Washington Post:

          Paul said that his proposals to overhaul the criminal justice system are “part of the sort of libertarianish message that I’ve always had – that the war on drugs has been unfair and it just turns out that it’s had a real racial component to it.”

          “I mean, three out of four people in prison for drugs are black or brown,” he said in the interview. “Nobody sort of wrote that policy down, but it’s related either to poverty or ease of conviction. But for one reason or another, when you look at polls, white kids use drugs just as much as black and brown kids, but white kids aren’t going to jail at nearly the rate. Some in the government promote it too, because government actually gives out grants based on conviction rates. And you think, I’m a police chief, you might think, where’s it going to be easiest to wreck people, where they’re all standing outside smoking pot or doing whatever, or where they’re in the suburbs in grandmother’s million dollar house in the basement smoking pot? It just inevitably has led to more poor kids being arrested. But it’s also really bad thing that we’re doing, I mean decades in jail for possession and stuff.”

          And for CNN, Paul states:

          “Three out of four people in prison right now for non-violent crimes are black or brown. Our prisons are bursting with young men of color and our communities are full of broken families,” Paul said.
          Rand Paul fights for felon voting rights
          “There is a cycle of poverty that often leads to drugs, to debt, and to prison. In prison, child support can accumulate into the thousands of dollars. Release from prison then finds that employers don’t want to hire a convicted felon.
          “With few options of real work, the cycle begins again. I say enough’s enough. I won’t sit idly by and watch our criminal justice system continue to consume, confine and define our young men. I say we take a stand and fight for justice now,” Paul said.

          You should also read the American Conservative article, “Conservative Sentencing Reform: Politically Savvy, Morally Right”.

  20. Libby says:

    “I do not know all of the answers. At times I don’t even know how to ask questions or attempt answers for fear of misunderstanding or being misunderstood. There is an enormously complex constellation of presuppositions, history, psychology, inclinations, suspicions at play here.”

    Amen! Your post could have stopped at this point.

    We can know the church in Ferguson is awake, serving and proclaiming the news of Jesus Christ to all peoples.
    We can pray for the family of Mike Brown — that they would come to know Jesus, if they do not.
    We can grieve the loss of this precious life that has come to our living rooms.
    We can pray for the police departments to be held accountable for any wrong doing (IF).
    We can pray that officer Wilson come know Jesus Christ through this horrific time in his life (guilty or not guilty).
    We can pray for our own hearts to line up to the word of God and not allow emotions to rule us and possibly lead us to sin with worry, fear, hatred , and anger.
    We can confess and own our sin of despising another who is of a different ethnicity.
    We can know that we do not have all of the answers and our opinion is of little value or helpful in the scope of eternity if it is not based on godly wisdom.
    We can judge with righteous biblical judgment once we know the facts and have removed the log from our own eye.
    We can know that God is sovereign over all the chaos, the rich and poor, the black and white.
    We can know that we can offer up every scenario possible, but only God knows the motivations of each heart.

    It’s also wise to know that police officers have a “community” and in this community there are multiple variations of skin color. Which “community” does one choose?

    I am not black, but I am a minority in a predominately black neighborhood with various other ethnicities.
    Daily I see little and big children of all colors playing together and the moms and dads at the bus stop enjoying life together in this neighborhood.
    Unfortunately, you do not have the correct view of how my neighborhood is responding to Ferguson, many assumptions written here.
    Although we come from differing backgrounds and religions we are waiting for “the facts” and the justice system to do its job.

    When all of this has passed, I hope TGC will come back around and let us know how these posts on Ferguson have helped the body of all colors to join together to promote and preach salvation alone through Jesus Christ.

    Let’s preach Jesus, He alone, is the community Changer and the One who has justice, for all.

  21. williamfrancisbrown says:

    “In fact, it is through community that African Americans survive still. ”
    Yikes, is that ever an unnecessary and racist comment by Pastor Bixby. How about just treating blacks as people and as Americans who can share the opportunities of being an American. It seems that he does a grave disservice to blacks in America. I have found it to be an almost ironclad rule that the people who incessantly talk about racism are the true racists that are (inadvertently perhaps) doing the most to entrench and advance prejudice. For God’s sake, why can’t TGC just allow us to be color blind and not obsess about race? Just allow us to treat each other with human dignity as equals in Christ. This confused talk just strikes me as so much PC parroting of the media narrative that seems to thrive on racism. I believe that the entire event is another example of the mainstream news media throwing as much gasoline into the fire as possible. If there’s a story here, it’s the story of media irresponsibility and culpability for riots, looting, and injury.
    Regarding the actual events, it seems that Brown was a thug. He had just robbed a store. He was 6 feet tall and almost 300 pounds. At this point, It looks likely that he attacked the officer. I await more information on the events. We know that there have been an awful lot of lies by the media and the race industry hustlers, both of whom gain a lot from sensationalism. If an officer is being attacked and threatened with injury or death, he’s justified in using lethal force. It makes no difference who was white and who was black. The more we obsess on the skin color of the individuals, the more we add to a racist narrative and the more we do injustice to the innocent party. This tiptoeing around the real concerns of truth and such fear of being labelled seems to me only an exercise in cowardice.

    1. Bryan says:

      I for one agree with you 100%

    2. Curt Day says:

      William,
      if Brown was a thug, what did his criminal record consist of? And what evidence do you know of that proves he robbed a store? And as for the confrontation, are you willing to wait for the FBI investigation to see what actually happened?

      1. George says:

        Curt,
        Dorian Johnson confessed that it was he and Brown that robbed the store.

    3. Tiffany Ima says:

      I don’t believe that comment was racist. I believe it was an observation. As a black woman, I know that leaning on each other in an environment where we are not always accepted is key to survival. I think the survival is more psychological – we encourage each other.

      We can’t ignore skin color. As much as I would love to be colorblind, I am faced with my blackness every day.

      The fact that you have called Brown a thug based on information that is not even correct (the surveillance video showed brown paying for his cigars.) Is a problem. We, as black people, but especially black man are often viewed as thugs and these stereotypes hurt.

      1. George says:

        Michael Brown was PAYING for his cigars? Why would the shopowner pursue him if he paid? And why did he return to push that shopowner if he paid? It’s pretty far-fetched to say that he paid for his cigars. Who made the call to the police about a robbery?

  22. Rob says:

    What I find interesting here, on a Christian blog site, is the lack of biblically based responses to an immense issue. I think this needs to be approached from a few points: 1) Scripture’s view of race 2) Scripture’s view of love 3) Scripture’s view of interaction with a lost world.

    First- the most difficult aspect of race issues for Christians, especially white Christians, is that we have been taught not only by culture to see the world in colorless terms because that will cure our racial prejudices (however false that logic is), but more importantly that the Scripture demands that in the perspective of the New Creation, race has little currency (Gal 3:28; Col 3:11; Jhn 11:52; 17:20-21 just to name a few). I understand that these passages are given in the context of believing Christians towards one another, but there is a principle that supersedes the Christian community. This does not mean that race no longer exists, but that the weight of its currency is reduced in the economy of the Christian, meaning- our response to people should have little to do with the issue of race and more to do with the common ground of humanity. The false premise of this blog is not that we should not understand the black community better but that we differentiate blacks into a different community than whites or any other race at all. Again, this is not to say that cultural aspects of different racial communities do not exist and do not have important cultural benefits as they contribute to the whole, but to differentiate the problem of sin, division, strife, brokenness, wounding based on race is to promote division and inequity… it is as useless as Shrek and Princess Fiona arguing over who has had it worse…. it amounts to an overly self-absorbed introspection that creates barriers not reconciliation: “For there is no distinction between [one race ] and [another]; the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'” Rom 10:12-13

    Second- By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35… it really is as simple as that. Although, again, this passage is in the context of the Christian community, its principle is the summation of the Jesus’ summary command to love God and love neighbor. The context of love throughout the Scripture is of unity (1 Cor 13 which is given in the context of the united body), there is no distinction in terms of groups, especially no mention of race…. there is an important point to be made here, but I will save it for my last thought.

    Third- The rest of the Romans (above) passage really speaks to how we interact with a lost world on this and any other issue: Romans 10:14-15 But how are they to call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” — Two points need to be made here… 1) Christians are called to go and love and reconcile to the whosoever… period. I understand that understanding the wounds and the brokenness of a community is important, and not to be undervalued… but something to think about is the fact that we see in the Scriptures only a small aspect of Christ or Paul or Peter dealing with cultural issues in order to live out the gospel among different races…. authentic transparent gospel sanctified living has a way of transcending those issues…. this is where Christians need to start, not with the politics of the situation. The only political issue Paul addressed was on the issue of circumcision and the law- a cultural issue yes, but only as it impacted the truth of the gospel, not as a means of racial reconciliation.

    My point in drawing attention to the Scripture on this issue is to say that Christians should not be following the world’s paradigm on race relations and reconciliation. The Scripture is pretty clear on how Christ impacted these types of issues, and it was not by navel-gazing self-introspective and analyzing strategies that amount to one race re-evaluating itself in relation to others and then acting. The Church and Christians have tended to get it wrong when using this form of paradigm to solve race issues as well as any other issue… mostly because it comes from a secular paradigm that lacks sufficient perspective and resources to truly address the needs involved. As a Scripturally informed Christian, I believe the Holy Spirit provides the resources necessary to live out the things mentioned above, and has the power Himself to change ME as well as others to produce genuine reconciliation… the problem is, most of us who call ourselves Christians (me included) will trust the strategies offered in the world around us rather than follow the example and direction given by the One who saved us. This is not a white Christian not understanding the black community issue, this is an issue of Christians not truly understanding the transforming nature of the Gospel that not only redeems one to Christ, but transforms the thinking and the acting of the believer in ways that no longer takes it cues from the world, but has been given over to the new economy of the new creation… that loves selflessly, sacrificially, and … simply… simply one human being at a time no matter which human being that happens to be. If Jesus waited to hear all the complaints the Jewish community had about how life (including the Assyrians, the Persians, the Romans, etc) had treated them before he acted to provide the means of reconciliation through love… we might still be waiting for Resurrection Sunday.

    1. I think you make some valid points. Now you need to put it into practice and tell us how it works out.

    2. Jonathan says:

      Justin, I don’t see this blog as differentiating Blacks into a different community, but acknowledging that that has already happened, for many different reasons. All that you say about the non-racial limits of our love and community are true…but how do we live that?

      Paul said, “there is neither Greek nor Jew”, yet he seemed to spend a huge amount of time and space trying to help Greeks and Jews reconcile to each other, understand each other, learn to live with one another, etc. In Galatians he gets personal about his own experience as a Jew to explain to the Greeks why they don’t have to take on Jewish characteristics in order to be faithful to Christ (his opponents there are reminiscent of modern situations of non-White people being asked to mime White culture by the White people who brought them the Bible, though the new covenant aspect obviously makes it a historically unique situation). In Romans 9-11 he carefully tells the Gentiles there about the Jewish story and how they fit into it, yet how the Jewish story has still be different than their own. In 1 Corinthians Paul states that he became “like a Jew to the Jews”, but like one not under the law to the ones not under the law, making clear that he saw the communities as quite different and requiring different cultural approaches. In fact, around that exact passage Paul explains how the food you eat should differ depending on the expectations of the people you are with, making it clear that different cultural contexts require “the strong” to adopt different rules in order to best show Christ (1 Cor 1 had also pointed out a major cultural difference between Jews and Greeks in terms of what blocked them from accepting Christ). In Acts, its even clear that Paul took part in a Jewish oath just to show the Jews he was with them, while when he was with Greeks (but not sensitive Jews) he was eating meat offered to idols in participation with them. On a different note, it is well-known that the writing style of Ephesians and Colossians differs markedly from Paul’s other letters, and seems tailored to fit into their Asiatic context. In fact, most New Testament books seem written not to a general “colorless” audience, but are contextualized to speak to different groups. The groups receiving, say, Mark, Matthew, John, Romans, Galatians, Colossians, or Hebrews were all quite unique.

      All I’m adding to your point is that in the New Testament it is clear that the apostles were quite aware of cultural and ethnic differences, and took them quite seriously. Nothing of what you say about those main points of the Gospel is wrong, but it would be wrong to suggest that understanding the cultural experiences of others, and with those reflecting on our own assumptions, is not vitally important. Paul did quite a bit of navel-gazing regarding the Jewish experience, especially how it was opened up to him when he saw the Gentiles getting saved, and that changed quite a bit for him.

      As Jim said, put your beliefs into practice in cross-cultural practice (if you aren’t already), really like out that love, and be willing to be changed and have your assumptions adjusted as you learn through the process.

  23. williamfrancisbrown says:

    From everything I have heard so far in this case, it appears that Brown was a criminal and that he was trying to harm or kill the policeman. However, I stated that I will await more information for more clarity. We know he robbed a store right before this incident. That’s not in dispute.

    1. Jonathan says:

      We also know that he was 35 feet from the police car when he was killed, that he was unarmed, and that shell casings from the officer’s gun were found inside his car. None of that is in dispute either.

  24. Curt Day says:

    William,
    Do you see your rush to judgment? You said that it seemed like Brown was a “thug.” And you declared that he just robbed a store. It appears that associating Brown with crime was easy for you to do.

    1. George says:

      Curt,
      Dorian Johnson, friend of Michael Brown, associated him with at least one crime. Is that a rush to judgment? Why do you not acknowledge what is manifestly true?

  25. wm brown says:

    No rush involved. I did not say anything was definite, although I might be wrong on that. It does appear that Brown both robbed the store and assaulted the storeowner. That would be a thug in my book. I’m just not following this story that closely.
    It is evident that as the truth comes forth and the racial narrative is not working any longer, the media circus just seems to disappear. Never an apology for the mayhem and damage that they created. And you’ll never hear any of the racemongers revoke any of their racist statements. Who is the true racist here?

  26. I just wonder if we really believe in God and his all created man. I just wonder if as believers WHY we do not have a fifth (5) position being that our Father allowed Mr. Brown to perish for such a time as this. I am an African American Mother of a son who is 15, stands 6’3” and weights 250 lbs. Our faith ought to be in the ONE who hung and bled on cavalry. America is watching! Are we a church of the nation or are we the nations in who hope in his name. It is time for us to side with our Father for Michael Brown is dead, our Father allowed him to die for a reason. Life is little about Justice and all about Jesus. The entire word of God is about Jesus. So, there is zero doubt in my mind, life and death is all about Jesus. The sudden, and untimely to us death of Michael Brown is about Jesus. The question we ought to ponder is did Michael Brown have an opportunity to know Jesus?

  27. Melody says:

    Two things:

    1.You’re right that white people (I’m white) don’t see themselves as one larger community. We wouldn’t think to, but also, we’re not allowed to. We are not supposed to be a community of white people, think how much effort has been put into us not being one! In the same way, we’re not supposed to see black people or communities as different.

    Most of my close neighbors are black. There’s one hispanic family and there are more white families in other parts of the housing complex I live in, but the only people I talk to at all are black (I’m not very social so this mostly consists of saying “hello”). But I would never have assumed they were personally upset about Ferguson. I would think that would be like asking a Canadian if they’re upset about a robbery that took place on the other side of their country. It seems like the kind of comment that would illicit a “Just because I’m x doesn’t mean I y” retort.

  28. George says:

    Are comments that agree with Mr. Taylor’s original post the only ones that get through here? If one wants to foster dialogue and seek “to understand someone else’s perspective,” shouldn’t comments that challenge points in the original post (or points made by those who agree with original post) be included? I thought I submitted a thoughtful, objection response, but it does not appear. It makes me less likely to participate in future exchanges.

  29. matt says:

    It would also be good to note that there are thoughtful leaders within the black community who would think quite differently than the opinion given by Pastor Bixby- with all respect for the brother- it would be rather slippery to take his generalizations to the bank with regard to the black community. It simply isn’t that monolithic and there are many within the black community- even perhaps the black evangelical, bible believing community- that would take exception to many of Pastor Bixby remarks.

    For other opinions -within the black community in general- one could start with the essays/writings of Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell. For starters see:
    http://blackcommunitynews.com/blacks-must-confront-reality/

    1. Jonathan says:

      It’s a bit misleading to refer to “thoughtful leaders within the Black community” and then refer to Thomas Sowell, Sowell is certainly brilliant, though I disagree with him on many subjects. But he has nearly always worked within the White community. It is primarily White-dominated conservative institutions that he has worked for and associated himself with, and primarily the White community who reads his work. If you search for him online you’re probably going to get Townhall, WorldNetDaily, Jewish World Review, etc. I’m not as familiar with Williams, except that he’s a good friend of Sowell’s.

      I don’t mean to pick hairs, but you say “Black community” five in your short comment and talk about their leaders, then cite someone who I don’t think most people would identify as the leader of any particular Black community.

      For some other thoughts from conservative Bible-believing leaders of Black communities, I would look here:

      Thabiti Anyabwhile, pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church and Council Member of The Gospel Coalition, talks about the fear that a Black father faces living in America: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/thabitianyabwile/2014/08/18/coming-back-to-america-my-one-fear/

      Pastor Thabiti goes into the Evangelical Church’s need to pursue a truly Biblical campaign for justice: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/thabitianyabwile/2014/08/19/is-it-goodbye-evangelicalism-or-we-join-you-in-your-suffering/

      Thabiti also weighed in on the second police shooting: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/thabitianyabwile/2014/08/22/i-wonder-if-seeing-really-is-believing/

      Bryan Loritts, pastor of Fellowship Memphis and an occasional Gospel Coalition guest writer, emphasizes the need to understand the feelings and not just the facts that are surrounding this case: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/its-time-to-listen.html

      Leonce Crump, pastor of Renovation Church and Acts 29 board member, with his own stories of facing racial injustice: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/its-time-to-listen-saved-and-silent-will-white-evangelicals.html

      Pastor Leonce Crump on the oppressiveness of the system: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2014/august/its-time-to-listen-will-white-evangelicals-ever-acknowledge.html

      1. George says:

        Jonathan, are we to disqualify the thoughts of people like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, etc., because their readers are white? When one speaks of the “Black Community,” does he refer to people who are simply Black or does he mean Blacks with a particular ideology? If one insists that only those views held by people with whom a majority of Blacks agrees (I’m not sure how one can determine this) are legitimate, does that mean that John Kerry is a “leader” in the Black commmunity?

        It is troubling to characterize things in this way. Does this mean that to be “really Black” one has to espouse a particular point of view? Never mind the fact that Thomas Sowell grew up in the segregated South. He might know a little something about that experience more than most people here. Does someone have to associate only with Blacks to present a legitimate viewpoint “from the Black community?” You suggest that if one has many White readers then their voice is not a legitimate voice “from the Black community,” particularly on issues like this. Thabiti Anyabwile (whom I admire greatly), whom you referenced, writes here at The Gospel Coalition. What do you think most of TGC’s readers are? Can TGC be considered a voice “from the Black community?” Does that disqualify Thabiti’s views as being legitimate?

        Ultimately, what is most important is the TRUTH, and truth has no color. God is not a respecter of persons. Sure, the world divides itself on many lines, including so-called race. We as Christians recognize that, but more important than all that, we must seek the truth. Speaking in terms based on the divisions that the world makes is unbiblical, in my view. If you speak the truth, it doesn’t matter the color of your skin or those of your readers.

        1. Jonathan says:

          Thomas Sowell simply isn’t a leader within the Black community, he’s established himself as a leader outside of the Black community. Thomas Sowell has gained a large following among the conservative White community, but he’s never caught on within the Black community. Since your post said “Black community” five times, it seemed clear that you wanted Sowell to represent that community, when he doesn’t really represented any significant segment of it other than his own individual opinion. I’m not disqualifying his thoughts, I’m just saying that they’re not representative of a leader in the Black community, which is the claim you seemed to be making.

          I hope that alone is enough to dismiss the completely false suggestion questions that you made in your second paragraph as having nothing to do with what I’m saying.

          I also am unaware of any segment of the Black community that would consider themselves in any way led by John Kerry.

          I would think that Thabiti Anyabwile would primarily define himself by his church pastoring roles, not by his Gospel Coalition roles. But why do you think that the Gospel Coalition does not have significant Black readership?

          If you really believe that the color of one’s skin doesn’t matter, then you probably shouldn’t have tried so hard to promote someone based on the color of their skin.

          1. George says:

            I believe I have identified the problem. I don’t think you mean “leader IN the Black community.” You mean “leader OF the Black community.” First, I should ask why Blacks need leaders? Secondly, at what ratio of black/white readers or followers would satisfy your criteria for a legitimate Black leader: 60/40? 75/25? I’m not even sure if you can determine who supports whom anyway? Is Al Sharpton a leader? Is Jesse Jackson? What about Malik Zulu Shabazz? This kind of talk is silly, and certainly unbiblical (or at least, non-biblical). Why not try to discern the truth and apply it rather than trying to find “legitimate” Black leaders (of the community) with “legitimate” points of view.

            I didn’t promote anyone based on the color of their skin. But, I don’t assume that Blacks need leaders and I don’t make further assumptions about the criteria for a legitimate Black leader. It’s just annoying when people talk about “Black leaders” then dismiss people like Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, etc. They then come up with some criteria for determining who the “real” Black leaders are. Somehow that becomes more important than whether or not the person is speaking the truth.

            P.S. The basis for my assumption of TGC readership (which is neither good nor bad) rests on a few things. If one looks at the composition of the churches led by pastors who blog here, if one looks at the staff at TGC, if one looks at the composition of the majority of Reformed congregations, they are predominantly White. If I’m off-base, I’ll accept correction. (That has been an issue raised by Anthony Bradley for years.) Am I wrong here? I would hope that all brothers in Christ, regardless of color, would worship together in unity and love in Christ. I would also hope that all vestiges of paternalism would be done away with.

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Justin Taylor, PhD


Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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