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It’s almost too risky to join the chorus of reactions in the wake of the Zimmerman trial. It seems everyone has an opinion–most strongly held and some volatile.

Some voices loudly declare justice has been thwarted. Some other voices quietly doubt the injustice is as great as claimed. These latter voices tend not to speak up for fear of being labeled and harangued. Christian voices make excellent appeals to Scripture, to forgiveness, prayer and a host of other spiritual virtues–all of which can sound hollow to unsatisfied viewers hungering for justice, for a verdict that seems to affirm Black life and exonerates the country of its racist past.

Words fail us. World-renown columnist Nicholas Kristoff tweeted pictures in place of prose:


I suppose it’s twitter’s version of that powerfully moving closing argument in “A Time to Kill.”

President Obama offered prose instead of policy:

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.

Charges of racism are met with quick agreement or stony fatigue. Calls for peace get met with skeptical stare and suspicion. Calls for action get met with anger and apathy. Calls to empathy are met with hardened face. It’s a situation that defies an easy match of feeling and action. It’s a situation where feeling becomes an act–and for some an end–in itself.

But We Need More Than Feeling

We cannot do less than feel. But somehow in our corner of the world we’ve got to do more than feel. We cannot do everything, but we must not do nothing. But what?

I shouldn’t write this post because I don’t have any more answers than you. I have as many questions as you. I’m likely as suspicious as you–suspicious of the verdict, suspicious of a system that seems to miss the obvious, suspicious of the obvious, suspicious of race and class and geography and how they conspire to create situations like this, suspicious of my own heart–but not nearly enough. So what to do?

I’m thinking of several things for my own soul’s sake. I’d be happy to hear what you’re planning to do, how this might make things different for you.

1. I’m going to play with my son.

I neglect this too much. And I know how deeply broken I would be if I expected him to come home from the store or the basketball court or a ride with his mother only to open the door to uniformed policemen telling me he had been killed. The words would be an atomic bomb in my ears and heart, its blast radius multiplied by the many moments I missed with him. It’s not that I feel more vulnerable or that I fear more for him in the wake of Martin and Zimmerman. I don’t. It’s that I’m aware of how precious he is and how precious little time we have in this life. It’s also time I realized how precious his little friends are and played with them, too. Some have dads. Some don’t. All can use one more arm around their shoulders. So, first, I’m going to play with my son and his friends.

2. I’m going to remember 1950.

It could just as easily be 1940 or 1850. But I’m going to pick a year not that long ago and remember what it was like for African Americans and White Americans then. In 1950 there would not likely have been a Zimmerman trial. In 1950 there might not have been an opportunity for Trayvon’s family to bring suit or seek justice. In 1950 Martin wouldn’t have been able to walk as freely in a White downtown area or neighborhood, and his parents would not have been free to move in those areas either. In 1950 there would have been zero media coverage. And though you can’t tell it by the widespread public reactions in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, in 1950 there would have been no outcry or protest. Most likely deflated Martin supporters would have only been able to huddle with their grief in very quiet homes or church services filled with muffled sobs and primordial groans of “How long, O Lord?”. I’m going to remember 1950 because we couldn’t vote, assemble without repercussion, or tell a White person to their faces what we thought without being another Trayvon. In 1950, many (most?) Whites would have hardly noticed Martin’s death. Many might even have co-signed his death with a “Serves him right” or “He shoulda kept his place” or “He shouldn’t have sassed a White man.” I’m going to remember 1950 because while Whites were suckled on the breast of racism then, it’s not the same now. I’m going to remember 1950 because we–African Americans and America as a country–have traveled an incredible distance. I need 1950 to help me with the distance left to travel and to help me with my perspective.

3. I’m going to finally commit myself to a Quixotic quest to rid the world of “race” as a category of human identity.

I’ve been avoiding this… all the while knowing its inevitability. I’ll be jousting one of the largest and longest operating windmills in human history. To mix metaphors, I’ll be spitting in the wind–especially as so many right now have recommitted themselves to the seeming reality of “race.” I suspect I’ll be largely alone. And I suspect that any Whites who join this cause will make the cause suspect in the eyes of angry racialists, and any African-Americans or ethnic minorities who join will draw the ire of the same. But what does my Bible tell me? And how does our fixation on “race” square with its pages? “From one man God made every nation (ethnicity) of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth…” (Acts 17:26). African-American fathers and mothers valiantly used that same passage to fight for the full humanity of both African Americans and every White people in this country. Now it seems we need a fresh appropriation of it to fight for a human self-understanding free of the lie of “race,” a lie that poisons everything. I’m tired of drinking that poison. So I’m committing myself to an open campaign of resistance–resistance to the tired old social script that never gets rewritten and always gets replayed, like reruns on the classic TV channel. I’m committing myself to being rigorous and tenacious in appropriating an ethnic and cultural identity free of race-based theory, intolerant of it, and hungry for a greater immersion into my identity in Jesus Christ. I’m committing to disentangling “race” from ethnicity and culture, to rejecting the former as a fiction and bringing the latter under the lordship of Christ. I’m committing to disentangling class, privilege, and cowardice. And I’m committing to being misunderstood by others so in love with the current categories they can’t imagine life differently. But what will I have lost if I’m misunderstood? Because men currently view skin the way we do, most of us are already misunderstood. I’m seizing a chance at a new understanding.

4. I’m going to pray and preach.

It’s what I currently do. It’s what I can do. The airwaves will be filled with proposals and solutions. Some will be good. Some won’t work. I applaud them all and say, “Let a 1,000 flowers bloom!” But I can pray. And I have the privilege of preaching. And I believe those are the two most powerful weapons in the world. I believe God hears my prayers in Christ. I believe he makes my words powerful when I preach Christ. I believe mountains get moved, hearts get changed, hands are put to work, and heaven comes down again when I pray and when I preach. I’m so weak. I’m so foolish. I’m so limited. But God is not. The Lord is so strong. The Lord is all-wise. The Lord is unlimited, unstoppable, unshakable, unchanging, and un-anything else that might be a human handicap. So I’m going to God. Not as a means of escape or simply to lament and mourn. Lamentation and mourning have their place. I’m going to God because He is God. He can fix it. He does all things well. He is great. He reigns. And He will do all what I can’t. He’ll even do what I can do far better than if I did it in my own wisdom or strength. Actually, apart from Him I can do nothing. Apart from Him I don’t want to do anything. In fact, I don’t want to be apart from Him. So with faith and desire I’m going to God in prayer and gospel preaching.

No doubt there are better plans. Certainly there are folks with stronger feelings and louder voices. But this is what I can do living on a Caribbean island and looking for the coming consummation of the Kingdom of God when Jesus returns. Because He is coming, I’m hopeful.

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201 thoughts on “Yet One More Personal Take in the Aftermath of Trayvon Martin and the Zimmerman Verdict”

  1. Jason Hughes says:

    Please stop. This is not about race unless you allow Sharpton to make it about race, and you are enabling him.

    A violent, drug-using teenager committed aggravated assault on an armed Hispanic man, who then defended his life with his legally owned gun. The police didn’t arrest or charge him because there was no crime. Not until Sharpton and the media declared him “white” and a “racist” did things pick up. Then the President weighed in only due to racism. He said Trayvon “looked” like him and his people. Therefore, he pronounced George guilty. That’s racism. And it’s terrifying to white people to know that the President is willing to pronounce white people guilty before their trial if the “victim” is black.

    It is sad that Trayvon is dead. It is tragic that he caused his own death by committing aggravated assault on an armed Hispanic man. It is also tragic that George has had to go to these lengths to preserve his liberty. The race mob has been powerful. Even now there are bounties on George’s head from black groups.

    And yet you ignore the text messages from Trayvon’s phone showing him using drugs, buying guns, and bragging about all the fights he’s won (including a week before this shooting). That disgusting picture you included with this post is of a 14 yr old Trayvon. Not the 17 yr old violent drug using Trayvon.

    The reality is that white people must now live in fear. We aren’t allowed to defend ourselves or our families against attack from black people. If we do, we are racist. The president and even TGC will declare us racists and declare us guilty. Shame.

    Please stop. You claim this type of article helps heal race issues. It only makes them worse. Educate yourself about the facts of this case. If you’d have watched the trial, you’d know that Zimmerman had to be found not guilty. The evidence was overwealming.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      I want to welcome everyone to this discussion. Thank you for taking the time to chime in on my little personal reflections. You didn’t have to do that, and I take your doing so as an indication of passion about community, justice, neighbor and life. I’m grateful people still care–even if they end up on different sides of an issue.

      But it seems to me the comments have mostly missed the mark of the post. So, I want to try to clarify for the reader what I am saying and what I am not saying. I’m changing the time stamp on this comment so I can “cut in line” to frame what follows.

      First, I am not retrying the case here. Sometimes when you write and review a piece as often as I’ve reviewed this one, you lose the ability to see what you’ve said. But I can’t see where I’ve offered an opinion on the verdict, the trial, the evidence or anything of the sort. Folks who now want to retry Zimmerman or defend the verdict are not actually engaging this post. Along with inquiries into the character and past of both Martin and Zimmerman, some comments here prosecute parents and entire communities. I think that’s unfortunate–as if “bad parents” can’t also grieve the loss of children or communities facing real social issues (whether in rural Appalachia or inner-city) aren’t also filled with valiant people doing the best they can against tremendous odds. This post is not about trying the case, the people involved, or their communities. It’s really about trying my own heart and life.

      Second, I am not trying to bait anyone with “race” or charge anyone with “racism.” I wish point #3 of my personal application would have made that clear, but apparently it didn’t. I reject every charge that this post race-baits or that I am projecting “race” on top of this trial. I’m not. I hate the construct. And I’ve written and spoken to that end several times. And, yet, the comments here make it clear that a lot of people of all hues think in racial categories and spend a lot of energy either explaining or defending their perspectives. Even in this thread the charge of racism has been made and rebuffed a number of times. But, again, apart from my opposing that way of thinking, there’s nothing in my post that commends it.

      Third, folks should understand the opening paragraphs as an attempt to explain why it’s risky even offering a personal reflection. The field is crowded, divided, and heated. That’s all that’s meant in the introduction to the post. And, I should think based upon some of the comments, my point is illustrated and proven. The Kristoff tweet moved me to write because (a) a man whose trade is words resorted to pictures and (b) he provoked strong racial sentiment in doing so. I included Obama’s comments because though he used words he really didn’t say much. Thus the topic sentence of that section: “Words fail us.” People are grappling, as is often the case after major cultural and social events. I’m simply illustrating the grappling that’s out there before I share my own take-aways.

      Fourth, I’m quite aware of my own heart’s feelings and deceits. That’s why I write, in part, I’m “suspicious of my own heart–but not nearly enough.” The heart is deceitful. And that’s why I try to reduce my feelings to some very local action. I hope we’d all be careful of our hearts, suspicious of them. Some very well-meaning and passionate people have accused me of various things in this comments thread. But their comments resemble me very little. I suspect we all need to be more suspicious of our hearts, more suspicious of what we think we know, and more suspicious even of our ability to say things well.

      Fifth, I’m not making any political points–whether big “P” or small “p”. Folks who read this site during the elections probably remember my disenchantment with the entire political system. I don’t put any hope in Sharpton or Obama. I don’t place any trust in Democrats or Republicans. This isn’t an attempt to endorse or recommend anything political. Comments to the contrary read into the post things that are neither in the post or in my heart.

      Sixth, and finally, I recognize that most of the people responding to the Martin and Zimmerman situation are not Christians. Perhaps many of the folks commenting on this particular post here at TGC are not Christians. Certainly some of the comments fail to communicate Christian grace. I well people to comment who are not Christians. And we should not assume that any commenter here is a believer and then over-generalize to all “White Christians” or all “Black Christians.” It’s simply another form of stereotyping. And though some defend stereotyping because of the kernel of truth they exaggerate, rarely have stereotypes generated real understanding and human community.

      So, take the post for what it is. One man’s personal reflection on how he can better parent his son and his son’s friends, keep a little historical perspective for encouragement, work for a society where “race” is an abandoned construct, preach and pray. Thank you to all those who gave me a fair reading and saw the heart of the post. Thank you to all those who want to do similar things. And thank you to all those who stumbled over pictures or quotes or heard things that I wasn’t saying. Your opinions count, too. They’re welcome here. But I hope you can now hear me a little bit more clearly.

      I have more to say tomorrow. Perhaps that’ll help, or at least trigger more discussion.

      The Lord bless and keep us all,

      1. Daryl Little says:


        Thanks for this.

        I think I should say, though, that the same apparent blindness that was attributed to Doug Wilson in your exchange with him earlier this year, can be seen here.

        That is, you both said (honestly) that you had no intention to hurt or cause offense and that you chose the words you chose because they best described what you were after.

        But you really did do, in your original post, what you said Doug was doing. You unintentionally used phrases and words indicated, to me at least, that you believed justice was not done and that you were disappointed with the verdict and thought we ought to be as well.

        I recognize (now) that wasn’t your intent, but still, that’s what I read. What you have now identified as all sides grappling with how to deal with this case, came across (to me at least) as what you thought we should think about the racism you seemed to feel was part of the verdict.

        Even in re-reading the post after your comment, it’s hard to read it as meaning what your comment says it means.

        May I recommend re-working the post so that future readers, who don’t read the comments, don’t come away with the wrong impression?

        1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

          Dear Daryl,

          I don’t doubt that I’m blind to a lot of things. That’s a certainty.

          Yet, I don’t think this post comes anywhere near anything Wilson wrote in Black and Tan. For starters, I don’t accuse anyone of improper use of state power or try to explain the merits of what most people regard as a racist practice and society. I don’t impugn anyone’s motive or attempt to point out what I think are pathologies in any community. I don’t question anyone’s manhood or intentionally write to provoke anyone. I acknowledge that differences exist and are strongly held without characterizing them. Honestly, this post and Black and Tan are apples and giraffes in my mind.

          It seems to me that your reading of the post requires you to assume and supply a great deal that I neither say nor think. Ironically, what Wilson would say about his critics–except me. The entire first section makes only one point, a point illustrated by this comments section: Everybody has an opinion and nearly everyone holds their opinion with a lot of emotion. That’s it. That’s the point of the introduction. I don’t know what more I can do to say we’re all struggling??? I even express suspicion of my own heart. What exactly would you have me rewrite?

          The real heart of the post is found in the four things you have yet to comment on to my knowledge. Amidst the din of comments, one man is going to play with his son, teach and pray, continue to work against the construct of “race,” and try to keep a little historical perspective that should be encouraging. That’s the “it” of the post. The rest is preamble and context.

          I’m serious when I ask, “What would you have me rewrite?” But at this point, it seems to me reactions have more to do with people’s own perspectives on the trial and the social factors at play than they do with what I’ve actually written.

          For Jesus,

          1. Daryl Little says:


            As I said in a different comment, your four points are exactly what I’ve learned to expect from you. Wise, measured and biblical.

            It’s the preamble that gives me trouble.

            Not all of it, you are clear in much of it, but when I see a photograph of Trayvon’s father, the (seemingly)deliberately misleading tweet from Kristof and the platitudes from Obama (who has already played his assumption of Trayvon’s innocence for political gain as he also does in the quote you provided) all wrapped up with this:

            “I’m likely as suspicious as you–suspicious of the verdict, suspicious of a system that seems to miss the obvious, suspicious of the obvious, suspicious of race and class and geography and how they conspire to create situations like this, suspicious of my own heart–but not nearly enough. So what to do?”.

            Why the suggestion of suspicion over the verdict and of a system the misses the obvious?
            I guess that’s what I’m confused about. That statement alone, seems to suggest that the picture, the tweet and the quote reflect what you imagine we should all be thinking. And, for that matter, it seems to stand directly against the 4 points, particularly number 3.

            You’ve been so clear on this issue of racism for so long, and the first half of the post, for me at least, muddies the waters tremendously.

            And, for the life of me, I don’t get that.

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Hi Daryl,

              It may be you don’t “get” that section because you’re trying to make me say something I didn’t say. I certainly could have said it poorly, but if you just read and accept what is said, then I think it’ll be easier to understand.

              Here are the main topic sentences in the four paragraphs of that section:
              1. It seems everyone has an opinion–most strongly held and some volatile.
              2. Words fail us.
              3. It’s a situation that defies an easy match of feeling and action.

              So: we’re in a context of strong feeling, weak words, and difficult expression. Everything else illustrates these basic points.

              The paragraph on suspicion simply represents one man questioning his own knowledge and heart. The thing I suspect most is my heart and how it reacts to the other things listed. And that paragraph occurs not in the preamble but in the section where I’m setting up a call to do more than feel and not to trust our feelings. It sets up point 3 rather than contradict it. We can only imagine it contradicting point 3 if we read into it all the race-based motives you want to assign to me. Take me at my word and you should be better able to understand it.

              I hope that helps.

            2. Daryl Little says:


              That helps.

              Not trying to assign any race-based motives, just trying to understand is all. But it was my attempt to “read and accept what is said” that confused me.

              Your summation in this last comment helps clarify things though. Thanks.

              Always appreciate your willingness to interact with comments to help sort stuff out.

              Take care.

            3. Thabiti, I feel Daryl’s made some good points here, and I think you’re still missing them to some extent. Let me try probing at a different place. Your entire point 3 was about going back to 1950. You talked about how in 1950 there would have been no trial, no media outcry, no national drama, etc. However, this seems to imply naturally that you believe all of the above were GOOD things about this case. You seem to think Zimmerman should have had a trial (which is debatable) and that there should have been a national outrage. If this were a clear-cut case of racially motivated murder, that would be one thing. But it’s not. So what’s the point of drawing comparisons to 1950?

            4. Sorry, your entire point 2, not 3. My mistake.

            5. Thabiti says:

              Hi Esther,

              Thanks for joining in! At first you had me scratching my head about point 3 :-).

              Point #2 is about perspective. It’s about taking the longer historical view on the country. It’s that longer perspective that I need to keep in mind when thinking about “race” in this country. I would suggest we all need the longer view because it breeds optimism rather than pessimism and defeatism when we look at something like the Martin/Zimmerman situation. The punchline is in the last three sentences:

              “I’m going to remember 1950 because while Whites were suckled on the breast of racism then, it’s not the same now. I’m going to remember 1950 because we–African Americans and America as a country–have traveled an incredible distance. I need 1950 to help me with the distance left to travel and to help me with my perspective.”

              This is about choosing to view the Martin/Zimmerman episode in the context of a longer story of progress, progress we have all made. Otherwise we’re going to be left with descending into either “we’ve not made any progress” or “there’s never any problem.” Both are false caricatures of the real work of God’s grace in the country.

              To be clear:

              I do think that a trial held when a young black man was killed was a GOOD thing. Not long ago black men could be killed without any recourse.

              I do think that media coverage of such a tragedy is a GOOD thing. Again, not long ago few papers would have reported on it outside the independent African American papers that once were the only source of such reporting.

              And I do think that national interest is a GOOD thing.

              Saying these things are “good” and that they’re a marker of progress between now and a more tragic time (say 1950) is NOT the same as saying that all the factors in the Martin case are the same as what we can imagine in 1950 or that these are “unqualified goods”. Surely there were abuses of media, manipulations of information, calculated depictions, and downright misrepresentations. Surely there were outcries that were themselves sinful, and denials that were just as sinful. All on both sides. But, imo, the fact that we (a) have these things and (b) can debate them inter-racially is an incredible marker of progress! So I choose to remember 1950 and to see the work of God’s grace in our lives. It helps me with my perspective.

              That’s all that paragraph means. It does not endorse any particular comments or actions that made bad use of good things.

              I hope that helps.

            6. Thanks for your response. Let me offer a perspective that might surprise you. I want to get your reaction on this: What would you say if I told you that I think there shouldn’t have been a trial or a national outcry regardless of the races of the people involved? What would you think if I said that even if Zimmerman had been a black neighborhood watch officer and Trayvon a white teen, this should have not been a major case? The implication seems to be that if you believe Zimmerman has been done wrong in this case, you must automatically be a racist who would have a completely different reaction were races reversed. But the truth is that I simply care about truth and justice, and I would have spoken up for anyone in Zimmerman’s position who was treated the way he was, no matter his color or the color of the one he accidentally killed. People are killed in fights and such all the time, and the perpetrator isn’t even always arrested, certainly not always tried. I wonder if you would still insist on a trial if races were reversed. If you wouldn’t, then it seems to me that you’re the one who’s making a race-based judgement call on the whole thing.

              I just feel like you’re still barking up the wrong tree to some extent with this case. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like in your heart you still believe Zimmerman was aggressively pursuing Martin out of sheer racial bigotry. And that’s just not proven or clear at all.

            7. Thabiti says:

              Hi Esther,

              Some quick answers to your questions:

              What would you say if I told you that I think there shouldn’t have been a trial or a national outcry regardless of the races of the people involved?

              I would say that’s fine.

              What would you think if I said that even if Zimmerman had been a black neighborhood watch officer and Trayvon a white teen, this should have not been a major case?

              I would say you’re entitled to your opinion. But, it seems to me that any time a life is taken it’s a “major case.” Life is precious. There are no minor deaths no matter the skin colors involved.

              The implication seems to be that if you believe Zimmerman has been done wrong in this case, you must automatically be a racist who would have a completely different reaction were races reversed.

              Between the two of you, you’re the only one who keeps saying this and insisting on it. I haven’t called anyone a “racist” or argued that “race” was the factor involved here. Thus far, various people in the comment thread have argued that.

              I wonder if you would still insist on a trial if races were reversed.

              Yes. Absolutely. I can’t conceive of a situation where an adult kills a minor and there doesn’t need to be an investigation and trial. Life was taken. Facts need to be substantiated. A verdict rendered. That’s what we’ve had in this situation. And that’s precisely what we should have in any situation like this.

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like in your heart you still believe Zimmerman was aggressively pursuing Martin out of sheer racial bigotry.

              You’re wrong. I’ve never once said or written that. The Lord only knows what motivated Zimmerman. I don’t know his heart or pretend to. With love, I wish you would stop pretending to know my heart.

              If you “simply care about truth and justice,” you might show it by treating my comments fairly and engaging what I actually write and think. Neither truth or justice are served when you attribute false things to me.

              Thank you for your comments. I’m going to play with my son before bed. The Lord’s grace be with you,

            8. I did ask you to correct me if I was wrong, and you’ve done so. Thank you for that, I don’t demand anything else of you.

              Here in America, we don’t have a trial every time a person is killed, and this is in fact a just thing given the variety of circumstances under which life may be taken. I agree that as Christians we should recognize the image of God in every person, but different cases need to be handled differently. When it’s clear that murder has taken place, the murderer should rightly be charged and executed. However, when it looks like a tragic misunderstanding and a death by self defense, it’s not just to drag the person through a legal ordeal.

              I think a national conversation about race needs to happen, but this case has only generated confusion. I wish the nation would mourn just as deeply over the many men, women and children who are explicitly murdered by black people for racial reasons, instead of fastening on Zimmerman as the killer that wasn’t.

              Thanks for the respectful conversation.

          2. “There are no minor deaths no matter the skin colors involved.” Amen!

      2. Barchetta says:

        Love you Thabiti. :)

      3. Eric says:

        God bless You Thabiti,

        Funny how the same crowd that is so careful about exegesis in the Holy Scriptures throw out their interpretive skills when assessing the writings of the brethren.

        It’s extremely risky to say anything about this case among so many of our brothers in the faith… but that’s exactly why it’s so necessary that we do speak out honestly about our fears and disappointments while seeking to honor Christ. May the Lord have mercy on us all and especially in the Body to at least hear/read each other without assuming the worst.

    2. Josh says:

      Jason, this is the most sane commentary on the trial I have read or heard. I have yet to see anyone else speak of the wrong that Trayvon Martin did. They assume George Zimmerman’s guilt and will not consider for a moment that Trayvon Martin could have or did do anything wrong.

      1. Hmm, you must not be around many conservatives or christians. All I hear from my side (I’m both of those things) is constant talk about how Trayvon was guilty of his own death and George was basically a martyr for his community.

    3. ETS says:

      ‘The reality is that white people must now live in fear. We aren’t allowed to defend ourselves or our families against attack from black people.’

      Actually, you are. That’s what the verdict means. Keep calm and fear not.

      1. Richard Fremont says:

        Wrong. The Obama justice department is currently weighing bringing additional charges despite the jury verdict.

        Also, if it takes 16 months and millions of $$ to preserve your liberty, that is not freedom.

        Also, the race mob has pledged to find and slaughter Zimmerman because he defended himself. He will never be safe. That is not liberty.

        So yes; think twice before you defend yourself and your wife/kids against an attacker. Consider the attacker’s race before you act. There will be different consequences depending on the attacker’s race.

        1. ETS says:

          ‘There will be different consequences depending on the attacker’s race.’

          HA! Please show me an example supporting this.

        2. Philippe says:

          “So yes; think twice before you defend yourself and your wife/kids against an attacker.” – Agreed. If an “attacker” entered my home, I would absolutely defend my family from an “attacker”. But concerning the Martin/Zimmerman case, who is the “attacker”? I dont believe a car/home/property was broken into nor did the slain have intent to “attack”… Please clarify your statement.

          1. Larry Smithfield says:

            If someone punches you in the face, straddles you, and repeatedly bashes your head into the concrete, I would say there is an intent to attack. Those face are all supported by evidence. No evidence presented to disprove that.

      2. William says:

        Thabiti article’s provides a sober pespective of the issues that this case seems to present to lots of people; race, justice, fear. But you can certainty guages the wide range of attitudes that are so opposite of Thabiti’s comment that from the prespective of God there is only one race, and we all are members of it. That seems to be a point that many here in the comments gallery certainty would not hold to, although it is the truth and it is a truth that will only be presented by someone who has some fear of God and respects the truth of his word.So, that would eliminate the media, the political parties,non-Christians and many Christians. It is a wonderful prespective Thabiti and one that needs to brought up much, much more.

  2. Jason Hughes says:

    And you put up a picture of a crying Mr. Martin. Do you know he stood side by side with Sharpton? Do you support that?

    1. Brad says:

      Thank you Jason.

    2. Who cares? It’s a dad who lost his son. Do you have ANY compassion?

  3. JoseRoberto says:


    Your post said you were “suspicious of the verdict, suspicious of a system that seems to miss the obvious, suspicious of the obvious, suspicious of race and class and geography and how they conspire to create situations like this.”

    What about the black culture in America? What should we be saying about a culture that brings 75% of its children into homes with no father, fails to discipline them, and basically abandons them to the streets? Whose responsibility is that?

    You quoted Pres. Obama’s statement, which blames the gun instead of the family who launched Trayvon into the world. The Prez called for “compassion and understanding” — no mention of discipline and fixing the black family problem. Why do you think that is? A: Not politically expedient. The Prez doesn’t give a flying flip about Trayvon or any of the other kids like him — and we might also say with considerble accuracy that neither do their parents.

    There is a reason most stereotypes exist. Why is the aggressive young black male a stereotype? Could it be because it’s based on fact? And who is to blame for that?

    Why isn’t Trayvon’s father on trial here? Where was he in Trayvon’s life before he showed up for the cameras and public photo opportunities? And while we’re on the topic, where are the Jesse Jacksons, Al Sharptons, and Roland Martins in the non-existent national discussion of the deplorable state of the black family in America?

    1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      And the white family in America is doing fine? And hispanic families in America are all okay? We aren’t talking about how Christians complete abdication to the American dream has provided the means for the destruction of family structure in the US. That’s another topic. We are talking about a Justice system that is supposed to represent all its citizens, not some. And we are talking about Christians unqualified love for a country that routinely oppresses and marginalizes entire people groups.

      I find your comments racist and completely without merit. Sad sad day for America. Sad sad day for American Christendom (as evidenced by JoseRoberto’s comments).

      1. Jacob Phillips says:

        Well said, Peterson. If these comments don’t (inadvertantly) prove everyone’s point about the racist response to this trial, I’m not sure what will.

      2. JoseRoberto says:

        Hey Peterson and Jacob –

        Couple of Qs for you:

        1) Is everyone who doesn’t follow your liberal script a racist?

        2) What other evidence would it have taken for you to side with Zimmerman?

        1. Jacob Phillips says:


          As a conservative Christian with a brother who is active in Tea Party circles, I find your assumption that I have a “liberal script” amusing.

          Second, “side with Zimmerman”? What? I wasn’t aware there were “sides” in this case. My point is not whether Zimmerman was technically innocent or not (he almost certainly was at least innocent of the main charge); the point is more that people a) are willing to extend Zimmerman the benefit of the doubt by believing his testimony but are unwilling to do the same for Trayvon and b) are refusing to acknowledge that this situation is at least somewhat about race. This is simply another of many cases in which a black male was profiled (although I’m sure in this case, he was profiled for walking in a neighborhood while wearing a hoodie. Probably just a coincidence that he was black) and, in that, of course it is at least peripherally about race. The insinuation that anyone who sees the racial undertones of the case itself and the reaction to the case (Thabiti, Lecrae, John Piper, TGC) is on par with Al Sharpton is intellectually dishonest.

        2. jasdye says:

          Well, you are, Jose… So there’s that…

    2. Jesse P. says:

      “There is a reason most stereotypes exist. Why is the aggressive young black male a stereotype? Could it be because it’s based on fact? And who is to blame for that?”

      And why is it, Jose, that the stereotypes of white people as racists exists? Could it be because you basically just black males are dangerous?

      And why is it that the stereotype of Christians as judgmental exists? Hmmm.

      – Jesse Phillips
      (aka Jacobs tea party brother)

    3. JoseRoberto, I’m going to give you a chance to redeem yourself because I’m sure you aren’t as horrible a person as your comment made you out to be. What we all are probably reading when we read your words is “There is something wrong with black people because for some reason those people just create troubled kids and a bad environment. There must be something wrong with them.” I mean, I know I’m not supposed to assume that everyone here is a believer, but I imagine you have some connection to Christianity since you are reading this post and I know you would know that Jesus wouldn’t throw out an entire race of people. So, maybe you should try to explain your comment again.

  4. Jeremy says:

    Dear Pastor Anyabwile,
    Let me say first that I’ve enjoyed your preaching and writing in the past and believe you to be a man saved by God’s grace and mercy. But you have really missed the mark with this article. Did you even watch the trial or know all of the facts? Not guilty is the ONLY verdict that could have been returned. I’d be very fearful to live in a country where our juries start pronouncing guilty on people where the prosecution failed to prove guilt. It is always been that the burden of proof falls upon the prosecution. They were unable to do that. What else did you expect these jury members to do Mr. Anyabwile?

    More articles like this one does nothing to help any race relations which many Americans are getting sick of hearing about. The heavy leaning liberal media along with the “reverends” have worn that race card out. I’m not saying Zimmerman did everything correctly, but we honestly don’t know. We do know he was attacked and defended himself. Can’t prove otherwise. I’m very disappointed in this article from you and the pictures that show in it.

    1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      No, what you are saying is that this article doesn’t help race relations since it doesn’t do it in the way you would prefer. I think it is helpful because Thabiti presents from the heart how men and women in the black community feel about this tragic event.

      Tragic event AND tragic verdict. That you would impugne Thabiti who has been a stalwart for racial reconciliation and who goes to great lengths defending the ideals of love and careful reflection shows that you have not been thoroughly attentive to his past posts (no worries, neither was I initially).

      I think Thabiti has more than proven his ability to carefully consider all sides in a discussion like this and to offer a clear and biblical approach on what we do next.

      The problem you have with his approach is the fact that it goes against the narrative you want.

      Let me make this clear… A lot of African-Americans are saddended by this verdict. A lot of whites too.

      For Christians to go along with the priveleged perspective that often rises in discussions like this once again shows how far this country is honest and pure biblical practice which counts its neighbor higher than itself and which mourns with those who mourn.

      Sad day for America. Sad day for American Christendom.

      1. Daryl Little says:

        Tragic verdict? Seriously?

        We you there that night? Did you see what went down?

        Didn’t think so.

        Sometimes, when something bad happens to a black man, it’s not a white man’s fault. Or the Hispanic man’s.

        But I don’t think you’d agree with that Peterson, and that’s the real tragedy here.

      2. Adriel says:

        So true, Peterson, so true.

      3. Jeremy says:

        Peterson, it doesn’t matter what I prefer and you don’t know me either so you’re assuming. I choose not to see race anyways, and you and I both know this would have never made national news if Zimmerman were black. I do wish more blacks would address the violence that blacks are doing to one another, instead of trying to convict a non-black in the court of public opinion every time they might be involved.

        I love Thabiti and he certainly is entitled to his article and opinion, but I honestly would have thought better from him. We have a justice system and while it may not always be perfect we must respect it. AGAIN, with the facts presented by the prosecution and defense, the jury had no choice but NG. I’m sorry that a lot of African American’s are upset over this, why aren’t you upset over the hundreds that are killing each other daily in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, etc?? Huh? Are you not upset over those too? Or is it just because this was a white/hispanic man?

        You’re assumptions of me are amazing. But I pray God’s grace over you and may he bless and keep you.

  5. Timothy Jarnest says:

    That picture you put up from Kristoff is offensive. First, that is an old pic of Trayvon. It feeds the lie that he was just some sweet kid. Put up the recent pictures we have of him.

    Second, it suggests that Zimmerman was found not guilty due to his race and not the evidence. Is that your contention? I assume you watched the trial?

  6. Bob says:

    The Guardian Express 07/2013:
    “In addition, police reports in Chicago show most of the city’s massive murder mayhem is black-on-black crime.

    During the period of 2003-2011, blacks were the victims of 75 percent of 4,265 murders. Blacks also were the offenders in 75 percent of the murders.”

    Until blacks (especially black pastors) address statistics like these, they carry little credibility with me. Trayvon’s death was tragic, but no more than those aforementioned. You would have us think it is tragic only because Zimmerman was half-white.
    It is frustrating as a white person to desire to not define people by race, only to have race force fed into society by the President, Al Sharpton, MSNBC, etc etc. I wonder if the agenda isn’t justice, but revenge.

  7. Jack Kingster says:

    I’m so very grieved by this post.

    Tracy Martin, the man you picture above in a supportive way, is no hero and is no model. His son was in Sanford because he was kicked out of school for drug use. He regularly participated in fights and his phone contains texts from his brother asking him to teach him to fight. He called Zimmerman a cracker just minutes before the shooting, and yet Zimmerman is the racist?

    Tracy Martin stood up with Al Sharpton and called for “no peace” in Sanford. He will do it again this week when Rev. Al gets to Florida. That is not ok.

    We should grieve the loss of any life. We grieve even when a murderer dies. All life is precious. But stop acting like Trayvon was innocent. He directly caused his own death. Grieve the loss but don’t blame Zimmerman. Don’t play into the racism of the media and the Jackson/Sharpton/Obama gangs.

    There will be riots the next few days, egged on by things like the dishonest picture you posted from Kristoff and from the supportive words of black pastors. You are better than this. Always have been. Don’t believe the lies about this case.

    Did you watch the trial? What evidence do you believe shows that Zimmerman was not attacked and did not act in self defense?

    It is not honoring to God to perpetuate the lies of the race mob. It is things like this that perpetuate race issues in this country. Not a peaceful Hispanic man defending his life against a drugged-out violent thug.

    1. Jared Olinger says:

      I was with you until “peaceful Hispanic man.” Yes Zimmerman is half-hispanic, but I think it’s a stretch to call him “peaceful.” Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but while Trayvon had drugs in his system it was at low levels showing that he wasn’t high or “drugged-out” at the time.

      I agree with the verdict of the trial, I just don’t think it helps to pretend either person was all right or all wrong. Zimmerman likely provoked Trayvon, Trayvon resorted to physical violence, and Zimmerman defended himself according to his legal rights.

      Neither man’s character is perfect, and they were both in error at various points of the altercation.

      1. Richard Fremont says:

        Did you watch the trial? What evidence was presented to show that Zimmerman provoked the fight? I’m aware of none.

        Also, what evidence was presented to show that Zimmerman was anything other than a model citizen? Why do you say he wasn’t a peaceful man? What specific evidence are you referring to?

        Again, did you watch the trial? Did you review the evidence?

        1. ETS says:

          You really think Zimmerman did the right thing by getting out of his car despite being told not to, huh? Disobeying law enforcers is okay for some, I guess.

          1. Larry Smithfield says:

            He wasn’t told not to. Please listen to the call. He was asked “which way did he run” and was also asked to provide the address of the house he was in front of. Please don’t say he was told not to get out of his car. You obviously didn’t watch the trial and haven’t even listened to the call.

            1. ETS says:

              Not true. And just because someone does not agree with you does not mean that they did not watch the trial. I have been very plugged in. Disagreement I can welcome. Disrespect and a condescending tone, I will not. You don’t have a monopoly on anything but your opinion.

              Your point is clear. You think Zimmerman did the right thing and that Martin deserves to be dead. I get it. Please say nothing else to me.

        2. Jared Olinger says:

          The fact that Zimmerman was out of his truck and there was a fight. What crime was Trayvon actively committing that necessitated Zimmerman getting out of his truck and pursuing him?

        3. Well, his ex asked for a restraining order against him and he was charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Let’s not make martyrs while accusing others of making martyrs shall we?

  8. Rory Tyer says:

    I’m not sure some of these commenters are taking into account the fact that this entire confrontation would not have happened had Zimmerman simply chosen not to pursue Martin. While the jury’s ruling may be legally correct, is it not obvious that a large part of Zimmerman’s initial suspicion included stereotypes about race, and is it not obvious that this makes it seem to some blacks that they now need to be extra cautious about how they appear in certain situations for fear of being scrutinized and actually pursued by someone with a gun? That’s how this ends up being, at least in part, about race.

    And Trayvon wasn’t “drugged out”- there was debate about whether the trace amounts of chemical in his blood (from weed, which does not typically make people more violent) actually would have affected his state of mind or not.

    What I don’t understand is how some of these commenters don’t see that all if this is lamentable. I don’t want to live in a society in which there are large numbers of men involved with crime and drugs, but there are; I don’t want to be part of an evangelical church that has largely abandoned this particular demographic (urban black men) and the urban spaces where help is most needed, but I am; I also don’t want to live in a society where civilians with guns actually feel they have the duty to pursue someone on the basis of a strong suspicion about what they might be doing, because that is frankly terrifying and begets more violence.

    We have nothing but Zimmerman’s story. I get that it’s important that the jury system works the way it does. I just wish that some of you (commenters) would respond with more nuance than conservative talking points. I see in Thabiti’s column an attempt to do that.

    1. Richard Fremont says:

      Did you watch the trial?

      The police dispatcher asked him twice to update him on Trayvon’s location and behavior. There is zero evidence that Zimmerman “pursued” Trayvon. Please stop spreading that lie. He didn’t feel like he had a duty to pursue. He was just following the request of the police dispatcher. Again, did you watch the trial? If not, who are you believing for your news on this?

      Also, following someone is not a crime. Aggrivated assault is a crime.

      And yes, he was an active drug user. The only reason Trayvon was in Sanford was due to being suspended from school on a drug violation. His phone has pictures of him doing drugs. And there were drugs in his system. Zimmerman accurately told the dispatcher “This guy looks like he’s on drugs or something.”

      We have much much more than just Zimmerman’s story. That is a lie. We have multiple eyewitnesses that backed up his story. We have forensic evidence and other psychical evidence that backed up his story. Did you watch the trial?

      Reciting the evidence-based facts of this case is not parroting conservative tapping points. Your attempt to dismiss facts has failed. Did you watch the trial? Have you looked at the evidence?

      It is not Godly to spread false information or flame racist fires. Don’t act like you have the spiritual high ground just because you believe lies about Zimmerman.

      It is a tragedy that Trayvon is dead. It is always sad when criminals die. But I’m grateful that Zimmerman was able to defend himself in a legal way against the aggrivated assault perpetrated on him by a physically superior thug.

      1. Rory Tyer says:

        I did watch the trial. You are incorrect that Zimmerman’s continued proximity to Martin was at the request of the police dispatcher. The exact words of the dispatcher to him (mentioned in testimony in court) were: “We don’t need you to do that”:

        “When Zimmerman told him he was going to follow Martin, Noffke said, “We don’t need you to do that.”
        Noffke testified that dispatchers discourage confrontation and avoid giving callers direct orders because it could make them liable.” [This is from CNN’s week one summary here:

        You seem much more confident about the number and agreement of eyewitnesses than I would be were I in your position. Also it is not clear to me that what I am doing – or what Anyabwile is doing – is “flame racist fires.” Don’t act like you are automatically more intelligent because you believe you have seen through some sort of liberal-media complex.

        1. Richard Fremont says:

          You selectively quote from the call. The dispatcher said “let me know if he does anything else” and ” which way did he run.” That same dispatcher also testified that he would see it as reasonable if someone attempted to gather the information he requested.

          Once he told him not to follow, Zimmerman said ” ok” and headed back to his car.

          Your selective editing of the testimony from the trial shows that you either didn’t watch the trial or you are being deceitful. Either way, you are incorrect. I don’t blame you for being wrong, as your information came from CNN.

          1. Rory Tyer says:

            Nothing you have said rebuts the point that Zimmerman could and should have chosen not to follow. You do realize that it is often possible to tell where someone has run without needing to personally confront them?

            1. Larry Smithfield says:

              There is zero evidence that Zimmerman confronted Martin. Please don’t say thing as facts that aren’t supported by evidence. If he wanted to confront him, he would have had his flashlight on and probably gun drawn. Neither happened. Again, did you watch the trial? Zero evidence shows that Zimmerman confronted anyone.

  9. Ashley Williams says:

    I’ll preface this comment by noting I am African-American (whatever that means).

    This was a just sentence. The jury correctly kept this tragedy from becoming a travesty. I think Zimmerman was frustrated and overzealous. I think Travon was a thug. We all profile. I see a black man in a wifebeater and I lock my car doors. I see a white man in a wifebeater and I do the same. Profiling is discernment.

    I will not act like I’m color blind. I certainly had to fight off the strong instinct to go all Black Panther about the verdict but when I was honest with myself, when I realize there is no Greek or Jew, the truth is that Zimmerman was not proven guilty and is, thus, not guilty. No one said he is innocent because none are innocent. All have fallen short of the glory of God.

    Race is pseudo-science and nonexistent. It has no biological basis. It is a myth that is perpetuated by men like Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan, not to mention by heavy left white men and women as well. There is one race- humanity. And to be honest, I have a greater race to identify with. I am a part of God’s chosen and adopted people, a race of royal priests.

    But back to the case at hand, I think instead of allowing Obama and his obamites to further promote his government of class and race divisions, we need to only be about the business of our Father.

    1. Chris says:

      Not sure this comment can be improved upon. Those are the words and thoughts that I wish had come to my mind.

    2. ladybird says:

      perfectly said.

    3. Blinded Eyes says:

      There’s more truth in your comment, then Thabs article. Thank you.

    4. Anna says:

      So well said. I felt the same way. I am white, but love many hispanics, blacks, and other people who the world tries to classify as “different”. We are all made in the image of God and our skin color, or place of birth, or ethnicity should not define our treatment, the way we treat others, nor the way we judge the court’s decisions and every other human being who looks like the jurors. The media and the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world take every opportunity to create racial tension among the masses every time a crime is committed that involves a white person (or in this case hispanic person) against a black person. This is a single case of two human beings who happened to be of different race, and whatever the heart of Zimmerman or Martin, they should not be projected on everyone who looks the same. The case played out in court, and we need to respect the justice system and the jurors who the Prosecution selected and trusted to make an impartial decision. This was a difficult case, and while many feel Zimmerman is not innocent (in that his actions lead to Martin’s death), the legal hurdle for all such cases is guilty beyond reasonable doubt. And the prosecution failed to prove that Zimmerman was not defending himself at the moment he shot Martin. The problem is when we make this about race and accuse all jurors of racism, and when we pretend that this only happened because Zimmerman was “white” and Martin was “black”. I think the same verdict would have been rendered regardless of the color of the skin of those involved. But we live with the reality that there has been a hurtful history of racism in this nation, and thus I understand how anyone who has black skin can view this case as another instance of painful racism. It does still exist, but not to the extent that the media and Sharpton/Jackson claim. And it also goes both ways. We ALL need to answer charges of racism on either side with a commitment to love one another as brothers and sisters through a single Creator, and be able to listen to the reasons others feel so deeply about this case with compassion. We have no right to tell people they should not feel a certain way about the verdict, but we need to call people to love one another and move on in love.

    5. SuzanneT says:

      Adding my *Amen* to Ashley’s wise and well reasoned words.

      ~Blessings, all

  10. Nathan says:

    These pictures and the Obama quote are problematic.

  11. JoseRoberto says:

    ps – will the real Trayvon please stand up?

    Whistle-blowing state official fired after testimony in Zimmerman trial
    Published July 14, 2013

    The special prosecutor appointed to the George Zimmerman case has sacked a whistle-blowing colleague who testified at the trial that the state attorney’s office failed to comply with the rules of discovery. Ben Kruidbos, the state attorney’s office IT director, was reportedly fired in the wake of rendering testimony during a June 6 hearing that was potentially damaging to the prosecution regarding cell phone photos and text messages discovered on Trayvon Martin’s phone that were not furnished to defense attorneys.

    The Orlando Sentinel reports Kruidbos received a scathing letter from State Attorney Angela Corey’s office Friday morning, calling him untrustworthy and adding he “can never again be trusted to step foot in this office.”

    The cell phone photos reportedly depict, among other things, a clump of jewelry on a bed, underage nude females, marijuana plants, as well as a hand menacingly holding a semiautomatic pistol.

    Zimmerman’s attorneys were reportedly seeking sanctions against the state for not properly turning over the evidence from Martin’s phone. Judge Debra Nelson said she would revisit the matter at the trial’s end.

  12. Bernard says:

    I’m astonished by the vitriol in many of the comments above. Thank you Thabiti for your excellent, measured, thoughtful post. The picture of Tracy Martin is a picture of a grieving father and entirely appropriate. Shame on those who have criticized Thabiti for using that picture! The other picture is absolutely necessary because it helps to reveal the instinctive assumptions at work. If that is how Martin and Zimmerman had looked, it is inconceivable that the Florida police would have reacted the way they did initially. And it’s also more likely that Zimmerman would have been found guilty of manslaughter. Justice ought to be blind, but sadly it often isn’t.

    1. Larry Smithfield says:

      What evidence do you have to support the claim that Zimmerman is guilty? What evidence presented in court shows that the verdict should have been different? Our justice system isn’t based on what you feel, thankfully.

      Zimmerman (a minority) wasn’t charged with a crime because the police didn’t find any evidence of a crime.

    2. Larry Smithfield says:

      Do you support Mr. Martin as he stands with Rev. Sharpton and incites a race mob?

    3. Blinded Eyes says:

      What about the pictures of Tracy Martin, drunk, in the clubs with his other son? I’d say they are appropriate as well. They paint a picture of a father who was more of a buddy than a father. Perhaps, if he would have been fulfilling his role as a father, his son wouldn’t have been suspended from school on 3 separate occasions, not to mention posting profile pictures of himself on Facebook shooting middle fingers and blowing pot rings at the camera.

  13. This is the best article I’ve read since the Zimmerman verdict. Thank you, brother, for this biblical and refreshingly transparent perspective.

    1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      Yes. Unqualified yes. It will take a mob to wake up Christians in this country from their apathetic slumber.

  14. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

    Thabiti, I’m not sure how you do it. I think you need to change ships my friend.

  15. T. Webb says:

    As a Christian, I’m surprised how much anger and vitriol this post has created. I’m also surprised how many commentators have all the “facts” and how clear it is to them but not the rest of us. It seems, like so many things, that based on your demographic, you’re supposed to have a certain reaction to it. Most middle/upper class whites must automatically take Zimmerman’s side, most lower class minorities must automatically take Trayvon’s side.

    And of course, so many of us know exactly what happened when two men scuffled, and only one lived to tell the tale.

    I don’t have an opinion. I don’t know what happened. I have a strong suspicion that neither man is a “saint” (colloquially speaking).

    Regardless, the comments here show how strongly issues of race and justice continue to be a major, huge problem that Christians still must learn to grapple with — and no one more than my own other-hating self.

    Thank you for the post, Pastor. Peace in Christ.

    1. Larry Smithfield says:

      The facts presented above are not based on someone’s demographic. They are based on the evidence presented in court. Forensic evidence. Physical evidence. Eyewitness testimony. You don’t like the outcome so you can only resort to making this about race. Shame.

      1. T. Webb says:

        Dear Larry, please re-read my post. I never said I didn’t “like” the outcome of the case, instead I don’t like the outcome of the encounter between two men, where one troubled man was killed and another troubled man will live in fear of his life the remainder of his days. And I didn’t make it “about race”; I lamented the fact that I’m “supposed” to make it about race.

        In fact, the number of voices so loudly denouncing that the case is about race seem to be a strong indicator of how much race actually plays a part. It is a fact that race is a part of this trial, as much as the forensic and physical evidence, and eyewitness testimony. As much as all of the above is used to reconstruct the events that nobody saw about what happened in the encounter between two men where one was killed.

        I will assume that the fault is mine. I am a poor communicator, and I’ll freely admit I’m not very intelligent (you really don’t know how stupid I am, honestly).

        Again, I’m surprised how much emotion my comment provoked. From what I didn’t even say!

        1. “In fact, the number of voices so loudly denouncing that the case is about race seem to be a strong indicator of how much race actually plays a part.” This is the truest true ever said. EVER.

  16. Nathan says:

    Brother, I think your suggestions are all excellent. We can only do what we can do, and what we can do is love our children, faithfully pray and preach, and remember that the systematic oppression of an ethnic group is what got us in the mess we are in today. I did not know the verdict of the trial yesterday as I sat underneath a tent outside of Detroit MI and praised God with brothers and sisters in Christ, white, black, Hispanic, and Asian. I’m glad I didn’t know at the time.

    I have one suggestion I would add to your list: Remember that there is a day of perfect justice coming. There is a greater throne and a greater judge. Knowing then, the terror of the Lord, we ought to persuade people. People like Trayvon and Zimmerman. Troubled teens and angry adults. Broken people from broken homes. If we can agree on something, I hope it is that the gospel is the only answer to the curse of sin in our world. That every one of is already condemned and already guilty and that Jesus is the only hope we have.

    Thanks again for the response. Thanks, brother, for feeling out loud so we can join in the conversation.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear Nathan,

      Thanks for the interaction, brother. I’m grateful for your added suggestion/reminder. We should definitely be persuaded of the terrors of the Lord and work to convince men of their need to repent and trust in the only Savior, Jesus Christ. That Day approaches faster than we think!

      for Jesus,

  17. I’m not sure you’re being fair to those who insist that races are real entities. Most academics who hold that view nowadays do not think races are natural kinds, and thus no scripture that deals with what’s fundamentally true about human interconnectedness and the restoration thereof in the new covenant community has anything to do with that kind of claim of racial realities. I agree with all your reasons for rejecting races, but I just don’t think that conclusion follows.

    The main view that anyone actually holds among philosophers about this that recognizes real races is that races are social kinds, created by human practices and given reality thereby, the same way that money, universities, and the category of political libertarians are entities created by social practices. The difference with races is that they (1) have been generated in part by evil practices, which should require us to reconceive how we think of them and move our society to reconfigure the categories, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist and (2) there is a moral significance to those categories on a level that generates obligations, both in interpersonal relations between individuals where such obligations might not exist or not exist as strongly between two people of the same race, and on a larger scale where the sorts of things people refer to as racial justice would come in.

    And I think this is different from ethnicity or culture. Ethnicity is partly a sub-category of race. It involves smaller sub-groups of the racial groups. There are white people, and then there are varieties of white people — English, Swedish, etc. And someone’s race can often be apparent when ethnicity is not, and something socially holds together all the white ethnic groups as white in how our society treats people who get assigned that category. Also, ethnicity and race are assigned differently. Race is more often assigned by society based on appearance, although ancestry plays a role. But ethnicity is much less about appearance and much more about ancestry and cultural heritage. And culture is entirely different. There are plenty of people who almost anyone would consider racially black but ethnically white or (more controversially) the reverse.

    I would say that there’s something Barack Obama has in common with Chris Rock, and it isn’t culture or ethnicity. They likely don’t have any recent common ancestry (and if they did it would be on Obama’s mother’s side), and Obama’s cultural background is largely from his white mother and his Indonesian step-father (until he deliberately adopted black culture in Chicago, but that’s not his culture of origin). But the mere fact of how they are perceived by most Americans as being in the same race puts them in the same socially-assigned category as each other, even if there’s nothing more fundamental than social facts that could ground such judgments. But there’s nothing more fundamental in our nature to ground our assignment to categories like college students, Baptists, Democrats, or government employees. Yet we have no problem recognizing those groups, even though we don’t recognize those-with-attached-earlobes or those-who-can-curl-their-tongues, even though those are categories related to biology, precisely because those categories are not socially important for any reason. If government policy, patterns of discrimination, or stereotyped attitudes corresponded to such arbitrary categories, then there would be a similar social reality to such categories as there is with race.

    You can hold all that while rejecting the idea that racial categories get at some fundamental lines in nature and while insisting that all human beings in Christ are one in Christ without there being divisions along racial lines. You can hold all that while insisting that Christians should not form our fundamental identities in racial categories but in Christ. But we have to keep in mind that Paul’s insistence that there is no Jew or Greek doesn’t stop him from treating Jew and Greek differently in how he evangelizes them. We can recognize the reality of a social phenomenon and accept the categories made salient by that social phenomenon without denying any of what lies behind your resistance to races.

    1. Peterson Onyeukwu says:

      If I were a random African American coming to this site to view Thabiti’s opinion on the GZ verdict, I would come away refreshed and feeling a bit better knowing that the sadness that has resulted from this verdict has been felt and is known by this country’s Christian community.

      If I were to continue on and read these comments… Well what should I say? I would feel once again that White Christians continue to be the priveleged members of society once again offering opinions from priveledged perspectives.

      And generally that White Christians just don’t get and will never get it.

      Dr. Bradley’s new book title at this moment is completely correct. Man, I feel like an alien in the promise land.

      1. Blinded Eyes says:

        You judge, Peterson. Too bad, we can’t even have an honest dialogue as brothers and just talk about facts. That’s the problem with us “privileged” white folk, we just want the facts to be involved in the discussion. I can see how that is a problem for you and your high and mighty attitude.

      2. Daryl Little says:

        Why, Peterson? Why?

        Why the sadness? Why assume that Zimmerman is a racist killer?
        Why even mention whites in this case? No white man was involved except for some in the court room?

        Why should your minority trump Zimmerman’s minority?

        Yes, we don’t get it, because we hear all this talk about ending racism, until a black guy gets into trouble and (gasp) a white person is on the “wrong” side, suddenly then, to me, it feels like racism is fair game again.


      3. Tom says:


        I appreciate your zeal on this issue. But, your assertion about “White Christians” is neither accurate nor helpful because it, too, is the product of racism.

        1. Right, Peterson is saying if he were a random person (not a Christian) coming to this site he’d read the post and think “Well, that’s nice that Christians are trying to be balanced on this” and then if he read the comments he’d think “well, nevermind, guess they’re just as bigoted as I always thought.” I don’t think Peterson himself actually thinks that. He’s saying people already think we’re all white and privileged and we’re confirming it.

    2. Colby says:

      In regards to Peterson’s comments about white christians offering their opinions from a position of white privilege I do not understand what there is to disagree with. I am not sure why people would be so quick to criticize Thabiti on this. He is a reasonable, faithful man who is able to speak out of a different experience than me about this issue. Because of that it seems that I would not benefit from him if he only ever said things that I am naturally drawn to because they square with my own perspective.

      If you are white, it would not hurt you to stop and try to understand why someone who is black feels saddened or disappointed with how things turned out. It is possible to both accept the verdict as someone who recognizes the rule of law and to criticize the decision returned. There are many factors involved in this issue, for right or wrong. At the end of the day we should open our ears to understand Thabiti’s perspective (and others, Peterson’s, etc.) without branding them or saying they have fallen prey to wacko liberal agendas or whatever. That is an easy way to dismiss people you may not yet agree with and protect your own position.

      1. KG says:

        Thank you. But unfortunately many have no time or desire to listen (much less understand) to the perspectives of those who differ from them. So sad.

  18. Renee says:

    Why do you capitalize the word “white” when describing the color or race of a person? Just curious.

  19. John says:

    The black/white problem (insofar as that is a valid distinction) will not be over until whites see things through black eyes. It will also not be over until blacks see things through white eyes.

  20. ladybird says:

    this is a really bad article. I wish our pastors would give it a rest with this case. I 17 y/o didnt like a ” creepy ass cracker” following him… Getting into his business… so he circled back and jumped him. Only he jumped a guy with a conceal and carry permit.

    George Z didnt do anything wrong or illegal- he saw someone suspicious in his neighborhood- that had been ravaged by crime- and went to go check it out. Upon walking back to his car… he was assaulted. Sure Trayvon wasnt armed but he was by no means a lil boy slaughtered by a deranged racist. He was a tough teenager who wanted to show Z a lesson via his fists.

    Its a shame those two ever had to meet but Zimmerman didn’t do anything wrong or illegal and we as a whole are being played by the media and race baiters like al sharpton.

  21. Barb Farmer says:

    Thank you for your post Pastor Thabiti. As a middle aged Christ loving white woman, I was trying to understand how my African-American neighbors feel about this trial and verdict. Your article helped but more revealing were the harsh, even angry comments posted here. If this is the under current faced by African-Americans each day, then not only do I understand their distrust and suspicion of the system but I grieve that this is still the norm, apparently even within The Church. While I have no idea what to do about or how I should engage the on going sin of racism at large, I confess my benign neglect of the issue and will pray, along with you Pastor, for God’s redeeming work in my heart and in The Church. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. CA mom says:

      I’m having a hard time finding the anger in hardly any of the comments except those who are troubled by the verdict. Shock, disbelief, disappointment with Thabiti’s article is what I’m reading. Is there such a thing as an unjust verdict? Of course. But the assumption that this verdict was unjust is based purely on the fact that a black man is dead and the man who pulled the trigger is not. We need to think with our heads not our emotions.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Really? You’re “having a hard time finding the anger in hardly any of the comments except those who are troubled by the verdict”?

  22. ladybird says:

    oh.. and that doctored picture is disgraceful. Not only does it NOT show the actual age of Trayvon ( but instead his 12 year old past) but… oh my word … can the picture be anymore indicative of the race baiting going on due to this verdict? What if Travyon Martin was instead Travone Martinez? What then?

    Please – we must stand up to the media that is trying to play us all for fools….

    1. T. Webb says:


      I, on the other hand, found the picture to make me think hard about the case from another angle — as that is the point of the doctored pictures, correct? What if Afro-American middle aged Trayvon Martin, head of his neighborhood watch, had gunned down white troubled teenager George Zimmerman? Do you think the case would have played out exactly as it did? Can anyone honestly think that?

      All of this honestly troubles me, and that said my own corrupt heart is troubled and tainted with not only racism, but the hating of others for many reasons. God have mercy on me.

      1. Barb says:

        I’m not sure what the point of the doctored picture is, at least the point of the one who made it – which result is to once again use an older photo of a much younger Trayvon Martin, not the image of the young man who was killed. It seems the 9th commandment really has to come into play here, and keeps getting tossed to the side for something so personal as “perspective”.

  23. Rich says:

    In your “quest to rid the world of ‘race’ as a category of human identity”, shouldn’t we all just be referred to as Americans?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      “American” would be the citizenship of most people in this thread, I suppose. But citizenship is not the same things as ethnicity. Nor is loyalty to nation always stronger than loyalty to ethnicity–as evidenced in so much fallout over this case. I prefer the terms the Bible uses–ethne (ethnicities), clans, families, etc. These terms connote a certain kinship that’s real, a kinship that rests though under an overarching unity as one human family.

      Just some quick thoughts. Thanks for joining in.


  24. Thabiti, I support your effort to rehumanize humanity. We are all image bearers of God, not racial versions or sexual-preference versions of that. Human dignity shouldn’t be reduced to race or fetal age or sexual impulse, it comes because we are created in the image of our Creator.

    But like you said, I’m a white guy and I’m afraid that if I side with you in this quest, it will appear that I’m only seeking to extend the white, European, male hegemony. So know that I’ll be cheering you from the sidelines as you tilt at those giant windmills. I’ll be praying for the elevation of humanity to the position God created us to be in.

    “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27 ESV)

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Grateful for you, brother.

  25. Michael in Dublin says:

    When a child of the same race is treated despicably on the school playground by other children it is called bullying. When he is of a different race it is called racism and somehow viewed by some people as far worse.

    When a soccer player says despicable things about the mother of another player of the same race in the opposite team it is considered disgusting behaviour but if that player is of another race it is racism and not only viewed as worse but he receives a far more severe penalty.

    When families point out the sorry state of unwed mothers, biological fathers who do not contribute any support and bewail the disintegration of families among their own population group it is considered rather unsympathetic but if the comments are made about a community predominantly of another race it is racism and judgemental.

    Perhaps we need to get away from using or misusing the word racism and instead speak of how we all mess up both in the hurtful things we do and the kindness we fail to show others, both in the way we selfishly put ourselves first and relegate God. Perhaps we need to get back to the reality of our sinful nature and need for God to deal with it. We need a Biblical qualification of sin – not for it to be defined by a secular community that believes we are inherently good and that our “mistakes” can be fixed by a social or educational or economic progam.

  26. Blinded Eyes says:


    As someone who struggles daily, it’s comforting to see that a man of your stature in the faith, has blind spots just like the rest of us. It always amazes me how people like you and Tony Dungy, men that I believe are strong ambassadors of the word of God, can still be blind to obvious truth when it is staring you right in the face. I’ll never forget how saddened I was to hear Tony Dungy campaigning for Obama in ’08 even though he held the most liberal positions on abortion while in Illinois State Senate. He kept talking about how great it was that we were finally electing our first black president. He was more concerned with the man’s skin color than his character. If anything, the Martin family is a text book case of how the sin of broken families prevent children from getting the necessary guidance that they need to avoid situations like this.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi “Blinded Eyes,”

      Thanks for contributing to this conversation and for your warm address. As I say in an earlier response to a comment, I’m certain I have blind spots and I miss obvious things. No argument from me there.

      But I’m not sure what you think I miss in this case. I’ve spent a good deal of my life working to encourage family formation, child well-being and stronger parenting. I’ve done that in the pulpit and counseling room, in neighborhood programs, and at State and National levels. I don’t think I’ve missed the sin or brokenness of such situations.

      I don’t think Pres. Obama has anything to do with this post other than quoting his official statement as an example of piling words together that don’t do much to heal or guide.

      But it would be a perversion of truth to argue that this situation was only about that, that the only truth we’re meant to see is what you’re pointing to. There are other true things that need to be observed. We might all do well to expand our capacity for absorbing truth, even the inconvenient truths we don’t want to face. Whatever they are.

      Grace and peace,

    2. KG says:

      “Blinded eyes”
      I find it quite arrogant and presumptuous that you assume that Thabeti is the blind one in this situation and that you see clearly. Could it be possible that the opposite is the case? Isn’t that the very definition of blind to mean that you are unable to see. So I find it quite prideful that you take such boldness as to call Thabeti blind in a public forum as such without.
      If I am wrong, that it is possible that you could be the one who is blind then forgive me. I just don’t see how it is so obvious that he clearly can’t see something and you so clearly can.

      1. Blinded Eyes says:

        You must have ignored the first line of my post where I admitted that I had blind spots myself. There is no debating that the large majority of black people in this country are disappointed in the verdict because Trayvon was black. Children killed everyday and no one bats an eye. It is also a fact that Obama got 95% of the black vote in ’08 and 93% in ’12. Black people voted for him because he is black.

        1. KG says:

          So you are admitting that you could be the person who is wrong in your assessment of Thabeti’s words? Are you saying that is possible and that you may have failed to understand what he is saying or that his perspective may be legitimate? Or are you still saying that he is clearly “blind” on this?

  27. Wagon says:

    Pastor, I enjoy your blog, and I think that, on the whole, this is a measured and humble response.

    I think, though, that many people grieving the outcome of this case – particularly those calling for more charges to be ginned up against the defendant – are letting their emotions cloud their reason. I also think they’re being very shortsighted about the bigger implications for our justice system. We are a nation ruled by laws, rather than by the whim of the crowd. There are two bedrock principles of American law at issue here: 1) the government’s burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that a criminal defendant committed the crime with which he was charged, and 2) the right of self defense and its application. The law in the state of FL – and in every other state besides Ohio – is that the state has the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did not act in self defense. In other words, the defendant here did not have the burden of proving his side of the story. No criminal defendant ever does. The state has the burden of proving what happened, and it’s a very heavy burden – beyond any reasonable doubt.

    Those crying for the Feds to gin up something, anything to charge this guy with are basically saying, “We don’t care what the law is. We want blood for blood.” That view is both abhorrent – insofar as it advocates mob rule, rather than the rule of law – and shortsighted. It’s shortsighted because, assuming that their characterization of the justice system is correct and no person of color can get a fair shake, and taking into account that persons of color are the subject of a disproportionate share of the criminal prosecutions in the U.S. (for whatever reason, racism or otherwise), does it not follow that the same mob rule, the same desire to get a person for something, anything out of vengeance will be used against persons of color more than others? If we disagree with the outcome here, believe it unjust, the solution is not to ignore the law now, but to change it through the legislative process so that future injustices don’t occur.

    To be clear, I don’t celebrate or praise Zimmerman, Martin, this verdict, or this prosecution. It’s all a tragedy. The only people without blame in this mess are the jurors, in my opinion. Agree with them or not, they didn’t ask to be given this job, they probably didn’t want it, and they had a very difficult and thankless task. Now, they face potential reprisal in their communities and from persons outside their communities for simply doing their civic duty.

  28. Lowell says:

    Very disappointing article from a heretofore respected Christian brother. I believe there is no group that wants to be done with racism more than white evangelical Christian men. But this article is a slap to our faces. To insist that race be considered the PRIMARY fact in any pursuit of justice is just plain wrong. President Obama stepped in it the first day after Trayvon was killed, foolishly lacing his comments with racist inuendo long before the facts were known. This is the kind of leadership he referred to as hope and change? He and Holder are making race relations in this country much worse instead of better.

    My dear black brothers in Christ, how can we white guys come together in unity with you when you allow your “spokesmen” to stick it to us like this?

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Lowell,

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, brother. I appreciate your doing so with clarity and brevity. But however strongly you disagree with this post, I should think:

      1. Your respect for me shouldn’t be diminished by this post any more than your strongly worded comment should diminish my respect for you. It seems to me that when disagreements are sharp we need to work hardest to maintain high levels of respect and extend the benefit of love to one another.

      2. Nothing–nothing–in this article “insists that race be considered the PRIMARY fact in any pursuit of justice.” Such an assertion would be wrong. But it’s not made here.

      3. It would take more than Obama to make race relations worse in this country. It will take us all–from you and me to Paula Dean to anti-Cheerio commercial protesters to race-baiting politicians of every color and a whole host of other folks. This post isn’t about Obama, who has made his share of racial gaffes. It’s about me and how I hope to live in a way that’s responsible. Let’s keep it there.

      4. Finally, bro, toughen up a bit and stop trying to choose other people’s leaders. Reconciliation and peacemaking is hard, risky work. We all get offended all the time. And we don’t always get to sit across the table from the folks we most want to spend time with. Reconciliation means there’s some folks out there with which we disagree and maybe even dislike–some of them are leaders and others rank and file. When we sit with them, we take some kicks and punches trying to “win our brothers over.” All of us do. Let’s recognize that, pick ourselves up, and get back to the table of fellowship and love with more wisdom and heart.

      The Lord bless you and keep you,

  29. Daryl Little says:


    The last paragraph of the first section of the post says this:

    “I’m likely as suspicious as you–suspicious of the verdict, suspicious of a system that seems to miss the obvious, suspicious of the obvious, suspicious of race and class and geography and how they conspire to create situations like this, suspicious of my own heart–but not nearly enough.”

    I’m as surprised and saddened by the first part of the post culminating in that paragraph as I am heartened and unsurprised by the latter portion or your post.

    The first part, especially that paragraph, reads (to me) as though it was written to a crowd of people who hold to liberation theology and to the idea that any crime that involves a black and a non-black (Zimmerman was, of course, equally a minority that night) much involve injustice against blacks.

    Perhaps I just don’t understand the situation (although I’m sure that you understand what happened that night no better) and for sure I don’t understand what it is to be black in America. But that first part just didn’t read like something a Christian would write. It read more like something Obama would write.
    Even your quote from him talking about how to honour Trayvon Martin assumes his innocence and Zimmerman’s guilt.

    You talk about eliminating race as a category but yet you talk about this particular news story as if race either has, or ought to have, something to do with the verdict.

    I’m trying to understand, but I just don’t get it.

    You write so well and wisely on so many things, race included (and especially) but somehow, when the rubber meets the road, it all seems to go temporarily out the window.

    I realize you probably don’t want to write another post on this mess, but I think one would be in order. Or maybe simply a recommendation to read something that would be helpful.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Daryl,

      You’re reading into that section of the post, friend.

      First, I’ve written a book-length rejection of liberation theology and I’m not trying to court that perspective. But having said that, I’m not willing to make “liberation theology” a political dirty word or code for some political position that “conservatives” and “Christians” are supposed to vilify. I find that happens far too often and just as uncomfortable with that attitude from self-assured Christians as I am “liberation theology.” Moreover, I’m not saying in my rejection of liberation theology that it’s completely useless. Questions are raised in liberation theology that don’t get raised elsewhere, and those questions need answering by those of us who fancy ourselves “orthodox,” as I do.

      Nor have I written as if to suggest any and every crime committed by a White person against a Black person is by definition racially motivated or racist. But every crime is, in fact, an injustice by definition. We can’t lament an injustice without assuming racism.

      Finally, dropping Obama’s name is simply an ad hominem. Let’s leave the red herrings out of this. The heart of the post was found in the four points of application. The thing that has made you stumble was simply a way of saying there are a lot of voices out there, most of them fueled by strong emotion. We don’t have to succumb to those voices or misdirected emotion.

      Grace and peace to you,

  30. Anne Vyn says:

    Thabiti, I have not followed the trial closely but the feelings behind your words have awakened the cry of my own heart. The feelings you associate with racism are the same feelings that women in the church feel when they are marginalized solely on the basis of their gender. We can’t change our gender any more than someone can change the color of their skin….yet the sting of inferiority FEELS the same to both categories of people. My post today reflects my thoughts on this:
    Thabiti, thank you for sharing your heart with us!

  31. Mark Duncan says:

    I do not understand the hurtful, violent responses from my brothers and sisters to this post. I do not understand the hate or callous indifference to the fact that a man, a child, son, image-bearer is dead. I do not understand how people redeemed by grace can say “he got what he deserved” and not be struck to the heart. It reminds me of the attitude of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18 who after being forgiven all his debt, went straight out and condemned his brother to pay his.

    Both individuals made choices that day, choices that took one life and left another forever damaged. This is what sin does, self-destruction…and the casualties are still coming as the church, the light of the world, the bride of Christ, divides itself based upon our man-made system of laws and justice. Regardless of whether you perceive justice has been served, a life has ended, and that is absolutely terrible. There is no way we cannot let that impact our hearts, no matter how well we convince ourselves otherwise. I don’t know if Trayvon knew Jesus, I hope he did, but my heart breaks to think that because of this issue and the church’s response to it that others may reject Jesus because God’s people cannot be united in love. Where is the love? Where is the compassion? Where is weeping with those who weep? How can you be so indifferent brothers?

    We are all each broken just as Trayvon and George, every one set on his own way, but God redeemed us. He offers forgiveness and compassion, it is He that gave us our sense of justice to begin with, and it is He that will reconcile all injustice, to wipe every tear from our eye one day. Until that day, I am absolutely broken every time I hear of a tragedy between individuals, regardless of race and the specific situation, who injure one another. We were not created for this, we and this world have been groaning until that day when we see the Lord face to face. Things are not right, we are broken, no matter how we convince ourselves otherwise. We break and destroy, even in the name of Christ and “moral values”.

    God’s people should look different.

    1. Kris Sexson says:

      thank you for this post

    2. Deninx says:

      Thank you for speaking the truth in love.

  32. Kris Sexson says:

    I am a white man in my mid thirties. My wife is half mexican but our children show little trace of that heritage. Color and cultural diversity will always create fear and suspicion, mostly due to the behaviors born out of the collectivism they breed. The mob has always been a criminal and the crimes have been horrific and impossible to forget. “Race” is a reality we cannot ignore or denounce as being invalid. We, who see the tragedy of this decease that corrupts the beauty of God’s created diversity, must fight for the reconciliation required to heal this great hurt. Until “all things” are reconciled, no issue of human significance can be void of the sins that plague us. Racism is just as important of a factor of influence on current affairs as it has been throughout human history. Lets stop screaming, “it doesn’t belong here,” and began dealing with the reality of its influence and power and begin to work toward the reconciliation needed to heal its wounds.

  33. Anon says:

    In all honesty, would this post (or any other since the trial) have been written by a white pastor had Zimmerman been found guilty of second degree murder? Where are the sad posts about the state of race relations in this country over the black community threatening to riot if the verdict wasn’t what they wanted? What about the fact that, while Zimmerman doesn’t view himself as white any more than the President does (both have one white parent and one non-white), the media and everyone else (the author of this post included) has made this into a white-on-black violence issue just because of how Zimmerman looks?

    1. Jim Hancock says:

      A white single mother of 4 young kids was brutally murdered by 3 young black men in my city last week. I’m waiting patiently for a post on TGC about it…

  34. Kevin Gwin says:

    It grieves my heart to see the need for so many to be so vocal that their perspective is the right perspective instead of taking the time to listen and try to understand the perspective of others.
    Can we learn in the body of Christ to not be so self righteous as to think that we have all the answers, but to be willing to listen and learn from people who see things from a different vantage point. This breaks my heart.

    1. Jacob Phillips says:

      Amen. What a discouraging day. Well said, Kevin.

      1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

        Amen and amen.

  35. Matt says:

    Thabiti, thank you for your pastoral wisdom and level headedness. Thank you for the graceful way you throught through this verdice. Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

  36. Stephanie says:

    I am going to risk being misunderstood but I also lived in the south and experienced some of the deep tragedy of the history of my country. Thank you, Thabiti, for your words and encouragement. Since I was not there on the night or there for every minute of court testimony or in the hearts and minds of all those involved, I cannot possibly know the truth. But I do grieve for these parents and families.
    Everytime something like this happens in my community or country I try not to go down the road of despair but instead:
    1. I cry out to God, listen to what He tells me to do and keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and pray without ceasing for all involved!
    2. I can do justly, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord in my own relationships and community.
    3. I can remember history – there has never been a perfectly just time or place or people in all of history but it is up to God’s people to be salt and light and work for peace and reconcilitation with God and His image bearers. I have to accept proximate justice in this world because true justice will be rare.
    4. I can choose to believe God’s truth about people groups and begin to renew my mind. There is only one race – human. There is only one color – melanin/brown. Very simply stated, humans either have a lot or have a little. Most people in the world are middle brown.
    When a human who is a dark shade of brown has a child with a
    human who is a light shade of brown they will almost always have
    a baby who moves toward middle brown. From Albinism to Melanism
    human beings are every shade of brown imaginable but none can be truly described as white or yellow or red. Though the basic components of human skin color include them. The enemy of our souls has chosen to use the two things that are not true to steal, kill and destroy. We are all human and we are all colored – brown.
    5. I can trust God and read, study, learn and practice love. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…Love your neighbor as (you love)yourself.” May God allow His perfect love to cast out our fear of one another.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:


  37. Daniel McFarland says:

    Thank you, Pastor Anyabwile.

    I am especially grateful for your thoughts on the annihilation of race as a biological category. Race, as we commonly define it, does not exist and is a lie. Race is the hierarchical categorization of humans according to biological features–yes, features. It is a mechanism that has not a single shred of evidence and holds nary a drop of water. The entire planet needs to abandon the concept.

    Race is not real, but racism is. In fact, the insistence upon the existence of race (racialism, you might say) is the very basis for racist actions and social structures.

    1. I’m not sure your view is coherent. If there are no races, then they’re in the same ontological category as unicorns, i.e. there are none, and therefore there’s nothing there to ground whatever it is that racism is against. If there’s such a thing as racism, then there are races, even if they turn out not to be what we might have thought they were. Even if we arbitrarily assigned people to four categories — the ones, twos, threes, and fours say (e.g. like when we divide people up into teams in gym class as kids), it’s true that there are those groups. If the other groups began to discriminate against the ones, then there could be bias against that existing group. It doesn’t have to be an ontologically deep group to be an existing group. But it does have to be an existing group for there to be bias, discrimination, etc. against the group.

      1. Daniel McFarland says:

        Jeremy: It is my contention that “race” (as commonly defined) does not exist. However, some of us do insist that race exists–as I did at one time. I further contend that the belief that race is a legitimate category is the basis for racism. I am not saying that everyone who believes that race is real is necessarily a racist–not at all, but I do think that the assumption of race forms the framework for racism–whether a given adherent is actually a racist or not.

        So, referring to your analogy, I am saying the groups do not exist. I am saying that there is no way to definitively identify the groups. While in gym class you might “count off” and everyone takes a number and thus forms the groups, I am saying that you can’t “count off” to form race groups. I contend that anywhere you actually try to draw the race line you necessarily will draw it right through individual people who sit on the line in various ways. Therefore, because you can’t draw the line cleanly, you can’t actually create the group.

        It should be noted that race, as we commonly define it today, is a relatively new concept that evolved along with Darwin’s concepts of evolution, but there is no scientific evidence that man is organized into so-called races. The things we use to define race are features that may strike us as visually enormous but what remains is that all humans are 99.9% the same.

        The connection of race and evolution is not trivial because race is not merely grouping, but hierarchical grouping. Ideas of race typically include notions of how one group has evolved further than another and that there is therefore some sort of implied subordination of one group with respect to another. And if there are subordinate groups then it follows that some group must be a superior one.

        I am saying that no such color-coded hierarchical categorizations of people exists. We are all just people. Sometimes we look different, or we talk different or we have differing cultural ways, but we are all still 99.9% the same.

        Finally, there is no logical consistency to the notion that racism cannot exist unless race exists. If I insist that race exists and that you belong to an inferior race and I treat you as inferior, then racism exists. I am saying that the groups in question are not real ones and therefore racism has no legitimate place and should not exist. There is nothing about racism existing that forces us to conclude that the basis for racism is a legitimate one. Consider: If I was claustrophobic and believed that the walls were closing in on me, that would not mean that they actually were closing in on me. And if the walls were definitively not closing in on me, the fact that they are not doing so does not mean that I cannot be claustrophobic.

        I hope that helps clarify.

        –Grace and peace to you

        1. But surely the existence of borderline cases isn’t enough to make there not be such groups. There are plenty of borderline cases for political groups, but that doesn’t mean there are no liberals, conservatives, libertarians, socialists, etc. The fact that it’s hard to decide whether to count bowling, golf, and curling as sports doesn’t mean there are no sports.

          Most scholars agree that our modern concepts of race (there isn’t just one) go back to about the 18th century. Kant is often taken to be the one who most developed it into what it is now. Virtually no one thinks races are natural kinds the way we generally take species to be. There are a handful of philosophers of race defending such an idea, but they stand out as exceptions. My view of that is that they groups those people are looking at are not the same that we standardly call races in our ordinary practice. Those groups are not based in biology but in social practice. I just don’t think that means they’re not real, any more than the group of political libertarians is not real because that’s not grounded in biology.

          I would admit that many people’s views of race involve false beliefs. But that doesn’t mean the groups don’t exist or that our racial terms don’t refer to them. When I say something about “black people” there is a group of people, with indeterminate boundaries, that I am speaking of, and pretty much everyone knows pretty much which set of people I mean. That’s enough for my words to refer successfully. That’s so even if many people have very false beliefs about what unifies those people. We once though atoms to be indivisible, by definition. We then started speaking of some divisible entities as atoms, and the name stuck. Then we discovered that the things we were calling atoms were divisible. But we still refer to those things by using the terms, because they became names rather than descriptions. People who believe God doesn’t exist and is even impossible can still refer to God by using the word ‘God’. People who think God is not trinitarian still refer to God when speaking about God, even though they have a false belief about God’s very nature. If they say Jesus is not God, they say something false, but the God that they’re claiming Jesus not to be is still God. Otherwise their statement wouldn’t be false.

          I don’t think the claustrophobia analogy is apt. You can fear something that doesn’t exist or fear something that does exist but because of false beliefs about it. You can hate something that’s purely fictional but that you believe to exist. But racism is directed against actual people, and that’s the difference. Those people who are in fact victimized by racism are unified by that racism, even if by nothing else, as a social group. Even if that’s the only ground of social practice to explain the existence of races (and I don’t think it is), that would be sufficient for there to be races. Racism isn’t like claustrophobia, because some kinds of racism, such as discrimination, assume there’s a group being discriminated against. The actual facts of how racism works depend on there being a group that is negatively affected by the racism. That’s not true with phobias.

          1. Daniel McFarland says:

            You say that the existence of borderline cases does not negate the existence of the group. I say that the nebulousness of the group makes its existence exceedingly subjective and spurious. Furthermore, the fact that there is a person at every slight gradation between the darkest and the lightest suggests that there is no color group to identify.

            You say that the existence of a group of people that might all answer to the term “black people” proves race. I say that the term “black people” more precisely refers to a particular cultural identity rather than a particular color. Passing over the notion that “black people” includes many people that aren’t even close in color to “black”, if the term is precise, what can be said of all the people who in your mind are among the “black people”? And be careful here: generalizations of all so-called “black people” as being all this way or that way are very much the stuff of racism.

            I contend that there is no way that you might define “black people” that allows you to come up with a single statement that applies to everyone in that group. I challenge you to find that one thing that you can say that applies across the board. It doesn’t exist because the category you have defined does not exist. The only way you can achieve the objective is to exceedingly narrowly define your race scope, and if you do so, I suspect your own notions of race will have to fade into oblivion.

            And finally, I wasn’t comparing claustrophobia to racism. I was saying that a mental perspective derived from misinformation is still a real perspective–it is wrong because it is based on bad information but it exists nonetheless.

            Color, culture, tribe and tongue exist–race does not.

            1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

              Great conversation, brothers!

            2. Very few terms in any natural language can be defined in a way that you can give necessary and sufficient conditions for belonging to that category. You can get that kind of precision in mathematics, in physics, and in formal logic, but it’s not how natural language works. Any social category is going to admit of vagueness, and that’s not a good reason to abandon it. Look at the debates about how we should define the term ‘evangelical’. Yet it’s clear that the Gospel Coalition is evangelical and that liberal Episcopalians, say, are not. That’s so even if we can’t agree on the boundaries, and lots and lots of clear cases are uncontroversial. You don’t have to think there’s one core property everything in a group has to think it’s a real group.

              A desk doesn’t have to have four legs, or even any, since it might be attached to the wall alone. It doesn’t have to have a flat surface, since it might not be meant for writing. It doesn’t have to have a certain shape. There’s not much that you could find that is true of every desk and nothing else but desks. But we have no problem identifying desks and talking about them as desks. With most things we have no problem with this, but with race a lot of people don’t want to recognize that our ordinary criteria for group membership don’t require the precision of the natural sciences.

              If we’re going to insist that there are no races of the natural-kind sort, then we should abandon the idea that if races exist they will be like natural kinds. We should instead consider whether there are groups that are more like our ordinary, socially-identified categories that correspond closely enough to how we use our racial language, and it turns out there are.

              I do think there are important lessons to learn about how we should think, speak, and categorize from the pieces of evidence you point to. We should avoid assuming a black-white binary where we ignore other categories. We should avoid thinking that someone with black and white ancestry has to be exclusively in one of the two categories. We should recognize that our categorization criteria can change over time, in different locations, or even when different questions are relevant to a conversation. Racial categorization is a lot more fluid and contextualized than a lot of people realize, even many social scientists who recognize the categories as social constructions. But none of that is sufficient for rejecting that there’s any reality to the categories, since there is an obvious social reality that has significant implications.

              My contention is that our response is not to act as if that social reality is not real but to transform the social reality by informing people of the underlying facts and pointing out that it is a social creation, one that we can change by reconceiving and revising our views about race, correcting the false beliefs we do have and recognizing the evil present in the origins of the race concepts we’ve currently got. The result will be, I am convinced, not a rejection of races but a transforming of how we think of them, and a rejecting of any sense of all-encompassing identities with essentialized understandings of how people who belong to such groups must be, but recognizing the diversity among people who have been assigned to groups while affirming the good that has come from culturally identifying with others in the categorizes one has been racialized into, all the while retaining the categories to be able to name the evils of racial ills that rely on the existence of the social category (and even the historical reality if we get to a point where the current evils are gone). I think that requires recognizing the reality of races, since you can’t transform something you’re pretending isn’t real. But it also requires intensive efforts to inform, persuade, and reconceive our language, practice, and thought about race, and it’s going to take serious thinking about how to talk to small children and a large-scale effort on the part of a great many people to do that in a coherent and broad-scope way. I think I’m in agreement with Thabiti on much of that, even though I think we disagree on the core issue of whether races are real.

  38. Deninx says:

    I must say I am deeply saddened by the anger and vitriol being shared here by Christians… Where is the love by which all men will know that we are His disciples? This is a tragedy, for both Trayvon and George Zimmerman. Sin the hearts of both these men and and a belief in the lies of the devil that got each one of them to mistrust and view the other as an enemy (despite no real evidence whatsoever) has resulted in death for one and a lifetime of pain and hardship for the other. And we continue in that same vein of mistrust and suspicion even as we reflect on the situation and the responses it generates.
    May The Lord have mercy on us all, and continue His sanctifying work in all our hearts.

    1. Cheri Galloway says:

      I agree. The comments read like the ones found on the Drudge Report or the Huffington Post. Can’t read anymore. Too sad that there really isn’t any difference at all.

      1. Dude L. says:

        You can’t comment on the Drudge Report:) Drudge doesn’t write any of the articles.

  39. Joey says:

    Deninx, great comment. Thabiti I loved the article, it was very thought provoking for me, and despite following the case avidly, it brought up things I had not thought about at all. Thank you.

    As for a lot of these comments, the lack of reading comprehension they reveal is almost sad as the bias. Well, not really.

  40. Chad Damewood says:

    I thought the defense did a great job of letting the jury know to not fill in the gaps. Here we are with a bunch of people filling in the gaps adding more activity and intent than we know on both sides.

    Here’s what we do know. A family will never get to have their son back. That must be a pain that is horrendous to bear and it doesn’t matter whether or not their son was partly or completely responsible for that. Are we not a people of grace?

    I wonder what made Lazarus ill? Maybe he caught a venereal disease from a brothel in his youth. You know in those days there wasn’t any treatment. Maybe, just maybe, that’s what killed him. And if that’s what killed him I wonder why Jesus didn’t rebuke his crying sisters and tell them to get over it. He got what he deserved, didn’t he?

  41. Adriel says:

    Amen, Amen, AMEN!!!

  42. Wyeth says:

    Thabiti, Thank you for this post. I get it. The insensitivity and hostility of some theologically-conservative white Christians (amply illustrated in some of the comments here) sometimes make this theologically-conservative black Christian feel like throwing up my hands, saying “Forget it!”, and retreating back to the safety and security of the “Black Church” from whence I came (and I know some here will even find the very mention of that historic religious/cultural institution problematic). However, the Gospel tells me to take a deep breath, extend the same grace and patience that has been extended to me through Christ, and rise above the divisions of race inherent in American culture. Thank you for your positive example.

    1. Dude L. says:

      O how kind of you for your condescension to the common man.

  43. Stacey says:

    Thank you, Pastor Thabiti, first for sharing your heartfelt response to the sickening tragedy. It takes no small amount of courage to be transparent in this virtual world where the restraints of human decency need not apply.

    I thank you, secondly, for sharing at all. The silence of the American church on these issues of race, diversity and the hard work of unity-building can often be read as indifference or complicity, and in cases of justice, I’m unsure which is more disheartening.

    I thank you, thirdly, for giving those of us who are disappointed and fighting for joy your lovely guidance as to how to continue to walk forward – by loving more deeply our God and the communities in which He’s planted us, by praying more earnestly that God’s Kingdom would come on earth, by living compelled by the hope that Christ is reconciling all things and that even this heartbreak will be redeemed by a sovereign God who will not fail.

  44. Thomas says:

    Shame on me. God has given me an hour of time and I’ve been a disobedient steward reading all these comments.

  45. Thabiti, you are an exceedingly gracious and patient brother. I pray that God would help me follow your example, as you follow the example of Christ. I am too often quick of tongue and temper and I would not have hesitated to be harsh in response to the harsh words that others have spoken or attributed to you. This post was edifying to me. Thank you.

  46. Phillygirl says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog. There needs to be a good and honest discussion about these matters. I do wish you would have reconsidered this part of your blog:

    In 1950, many (most?) Whites would have hardly noticed Martin’s death. Many might even have co-signed his death with a “Serves him right” or “He shoulda kept his place” or “He shouldn’t have sassed a White man.”

    I do not deny the evils of racism and the reality that those quotations have likely been said more times than whites today would be willing to admit. Still, there were and are may whites who would never disregard human life this way. Saying “most” I believe is inaccurate and could be seen as hostile, causing people to miss the main point in your writing.

  47. Steve says:

    This is a tragic incident with extreme political & media hype designed to polarize & incite disharmony. We’re not ignorant of the deceivers devices or are we. I have 18 grand kids of mixed race some half black, some half Mexican. My warning to them is don’t walk into a guard who has a revolver in his hip pocket & try to bash his skull into the concrete whether he’s Jewish (the most hated race ever born) Arab, Chinese, Indian, or from Mars.
    I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony but until Lucifer is chained the lion is going to attack the lamb. If a guy has a gun or any other weapon run.

  48. H. Richard Bates says:

    As beautifully and powerfully stated, the only relevant perspective is that of our sovereign Creator and God and in His eyes there is no skin color any more than a distinction between Jew and Gentile. We are all one in Christ with our worthiness before God resting in Him alone.

  49. Jacqueline Owens says:

    Amen Brother, outstanding post.

  50. Jason says:


    I have tremendous respect for you but I disagree with how you republished Kristof’s white/black Martin/Zimmerman inversion photo. That picture turns Zimmerman into a white man–which he’s not. George Zimmerman identifies himself as a Hispanic and I think we should all respect that. That photo should only be posted if the photo of Martin is not that of a white kid but of a Hispanic kid.

    But overall, Thabiti you engage controversial topics humbly and respectfully. Thank you for that. It is very rare in our age.

  51. Michael Norman says:


    I really appreciate this article and thought you did a great job of expressing yourself regardless of how others perceived it. As 31 year old white male married to a Korean woman I have wrestled a lot with race and have slowly came to realize that few issues are as polarizing and emotionally packed as this issue. I think where I struggle is having the freedom to wrestle with these issues without the backlash, name calling, and labeling. As I’ve spent time reflecting and wrestling with my own heart on these matters, I feel that what is difficult for me to come to terms with is the balance between forgiveness and moving on (for both sides) and speaking out against injustice and social inequality. I think ultimately only God knows all the facts and motives involved in this case. At the end of the day, we have a young man who is dead and another man who is living all made in the image of our Creator. I think we as Christians should mourn the loss of Trayvon and mourn at the state of this fallen, broken world in which such tragedies take place. It makes me long for the day that Christ returns and finally consummates His kingdom and every tribe, tongue, and nation will be united as once race–those who have been bought and redeemed by the blood of the lamb. This is my prayer!

    Before I close, one last thing I would like to offer. I think that meekness is a key to finding the balance between forgiveness and speaking out against injustice. Psalm 37 is a great passage and many believe Jesus was alluding to this in the Beatitudes in Matthew 5.

    Wilelmus a Brakel, in his sermon “The Passive Grace of Meekness” says the following:

    “Meekness is the believer’s even-tempered disposition of the heart which issues forth from union with God in Christ, consisting in self-denial and love for his neighbor. This results in having fellowship with his neighbor in an agreeable, congenial, and loving manner; in relinquishing his rights; in enduring the violation of his rights without becoming angry, being forgiving, and in rewarding it with good.”

    He offers this on the forgiving of injustice: “Forgiveness does not merely consist in refraining from taking vengeance, meanwhile harboring animosity and hatred in the heart. Instead, in consists in not holding the offender accountable and in loving him no less than before. It means that the offender must be treated as if he had not committed the deed.”

    I know that there are consequences to sin and that God has appointed government to issue justice, but the sad reality is that living in a broken, fallen world with broken and fallen people, even our own governments will miss the mark at times. I think as believers we need wrestle with finding the balance between true forgiveness and speaking out against injustice. I pray that as we examine our hearts we will all look to the Cross where the greatest injustice took place and yet Christ forgave us and has given us His righteousness.

    I pray the Church can stand united as me all move forward during this difficult time of old and new wounds that need the healing power of the Gospel and long for return of Christ! Love you brother and I will continue to pray alongside you.

    A link to the sermon above:

    1. Michael Norman says:

      *united as one race–meaning in Scripture there are two races; redeemed and unredeemed

  52. F15Cricket says:

    Pastor Anyabwile,
    I think you missed an opportunity to make a couple of points that would have added greatly to this discussion.

    In your first point, I would add that I will use this as an opportunity to talk to my sons about how NOT to handle confrontation (i.e., by going offensive and attacking the person questioning why you are there; instead, calmly state why you are in the neighborhood). I would also use this as an opportunity to explain to my sons about how to confront someone who seems out of place (i.e., ask someone politely who the person is, and what their business in the neighborhood is instead of cornering them into a physical confrontation).

    Secondly, it seems to me that your second point undermines your third point. Instead, wouldn’t your third point be bolstered by remembering how far we’ve come as a country since 1950? Yes, there will always be further work to be done, but stating in 1950, Martin’s family could not have sought justice is misleading. This case wasn’t Martin v. Zimmerman, was it? The media and those holding to racism make it out that way, but it was supposedly the State of Florida v. Zimmerman, and the state did not prove its case to the jury. Making it about personal justice instead of the law (justice is blind) adds fuel to the race debate rather than disarming it.

    In Christ,

  53. Sir and Brother,
    As a preface to my comments, please receive my thanks for your thoughtful preaching and writing that have blessed me in many ways.
    I appreciate your prefatory comment on suspicion. Surely the depravity of my own heart commends a constant suspicion on my part, a constant willingness to critique my thinking in the light of God’s truth. Even my best motives are impure, my clearest reasoning is yet clouded by inconsistency. Thanks for this reminder.
    I am also grateful for your four responses, the heart of your posting, and for their positive tone. Your positive plans are encouraging at a time when most of what I read or see in the media has been discouraging.
    As a father of four sons, father-in-law to three fine women, and grandfather to seven, I cannot affirm strongly enough your impulse to spend time with your son. Outside of our calling to be husbands to our wives in a manner that reflects Christ’ love for his Church, is there any more joyful and important calling than to be a father and grandfather? Surely it will be the case that when we stand before God, we will find that these roles in our families were our highest calling. I pray that you discover more and more happiness in your pouring of yourself into your son’s life!
    Thanks, too, for the reminder that cultures are not static, and we have been blessed with progress in some areas, though, of course, we have seen regression in others. In addition to my own family, I know numerous interracial families, and that in itself is heartening.
    I was particularly pleased to read your third point, as I have hoped to hear of such resolve since hearing you mention in passing on a podcast that you were thinking of wrestling with this issue. In God’s providence, may it be that this is the time for biblically saturated thinking that will yield a paradigm stronger than the superficial racially based constructs that have hampered the Church for so long.
    I’m glad you added the fourth point for selfish reasons, since I happen to pray and preach, too, albeit in a much smaller setting than yours. May the Lord continue to make fruitful your ministry as he has in the past!
    William Broughton

  54. J P says:

    First off (if anybody actually reads down this far), thank you Thabiti for writing this article. Do not be discouraged by those who have misunderstood you or read their own fears into your article. Keep serving as God has directed you and follow him.

    Second, I would like to clear up a mistake that many people are making that I have read in the comments. Many people have said that Zimmerman is not white, but hispanic. “Hispanic” or “Latino” is not actually a race category, it is a cultural heritage that includes many people from different races. There are latinos with fair skin and European features, tan/brown skin and indigenous features, dark skin and African features. There are even hispanics and latinos of Asian descent. There are white, black, asian, and indigenous Hispanics/Latinos.

    But don’t get distracted, the root of this issue is ultimately not race or any of the ideas we have about race. It is about a fallen world, where people get hurt and are still hurting… on both sides of the verdict. Many people are angry and afraid. This should clue us in that we need to share the Gospel and allow God to work in us to help us lay down our sin and anger.

  55. Dennis Hulick says:


    How would you have wanted this to play out? After the shooting and Martin’s death, what should have happened?

  56. David says:

    And on the jury saying race played no role: “They’re white”- that was said by Rachel Jeantel, and that is real racism. Grow up race batters.

  57. JoseRoberto says:

    OK guys, one more thought for you – a history quiz.

    Q: Who said :”…Negroes are 10 percent of the population of St. Louis and are responsible for 58% of its crimes? We’ve got to face that. And we’ve got to do something about our moral standards”.

    A: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1961, and he also said “We know that there are many things wrong in the white world, but there are many things wrong in the black world, too. We can’t keep on blaming the white man. There are things we must do for ourselves.”

    Have a nice day.

    1. Joe Clemmer says:

      This was a case on self defense. Whoever makes this about race has completely missed it. Those who make it about race know that they can not stand on evidence or the law of America. I am not angry at anyone or upset I love having conversations with one another! RIGHT ON JOSE ROBERTO.

  58. David says:


  59. Tucker Else says:

    Whether you agree with Pastor Thabiti or not, it is a well-written, thoughtful piece. But here’s the funny thing: as much as I would like to share this piece with others, I don’t think I can do so, as they will undoubtedly go to the comments section and see how Christians get awfully passionate about their opinion and demeaning others’ opinions. The sarcasm, vitriol, and anger is thick. None of which is a fruit of the Spirit. It is moments like these when I begin to worry whether the Church really is the conduit of healing. We don’t bring the salve of the Gospel, oftentimes, but the clash of the pen (or violent click of the key).
    Brother Thabiti, I gladly submit to your teaching on this. You have a perspective here that I simply don’t, so I will submit. And that, brothers, I have found, is one of the hardest things we can do.
    Grace and Peace, TDE

  60. John says:

    American’s have such imaginary problems… Unbelievable

  61. Joe Clemmer says:

    What about Zimmerman he was someones son too. If my son needs to defend himself from eminent threat of death I hope has everything necessary. I believe self defense is a God given right and Biblical principal. This article is soft and in my opinion seeks to satisfy both sides and not offend anyone. You can say things like everyone has an opinion on this and thats true. There is truth and there is law (remember law is God ordained) according to the law and evidence presented he had right to defend himself. Im not going to deal with race because there is only one race the human race. Why are Christians afraid to stand behind the law and come down and truth and law not opinion. This article has some good points and we should all do what you suggested. This to me seems as though you are saying truth on this issue cant be found because there are to many opinions. That is Relativism. I am not claiming to know everything or even most things about this trial all I am claiming is what the evidence showed and what the law said. Thank you for you time to think critically and to encourage us to do some great things in response!

  62. ForeBarca says:

    A court of law deemed that, based on the facts, Zimmerman was not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, brother ANYABWILE, you have joined the war mongers by inventing suppositions. Why, as a Christian, have you engaged the world in such a highly, emotional, irrational piece? Even Ta-Nieshi Coates in The Atlantic, and Will Saletan on concluded that we would never know the cause behind Martin’s death-bless his soul. However, this piece’s overture starts off by imputing guilt on Zimmerman, and then engages in God talk. I respect you as a brother in the Lord, and as a wise man. However, my exalted view of you has dimmed. I believe you owe our White brothers an apology for writing this preamble.

    1. Joe Clemmer says:


  63. ForeBarca says:

    Brother ANYABWILE,

    My exalted estimation of your world view has dimmed, but my love for you remains.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Dear ForeBarca,

      Welcome to the conversation, friend. So that I might understand you b better before responding, let me ask a couple of clarifying questions.

      1. Can you quote or point to any specific comment in the post that “invents suppositions”? What are you referring to here?

      2. Would you point out what exactly you found to be “highly emotional” and “irrational”?

      3. And where exactly to I impute guilt to Zimmerman?

      Finally, I have to confess, honestly, that I’m glad that any “exalted view” of either me or my worldview has been diminished. I put my pants on one leg at a time like everyone else. I see through a glass darkly and I’m eagerly awaiting deliverance from this body of death. I’m human. I’m glad to be seen as such.

      And I welcome your exchange, especially any clarifications you can give to the questions above.

      May God bless you,

      1. Joe Clemmer says:

        Aside from the comments and even your article, I really appreciate your humility, and the fearlessness to wade into such a deep pool! My simple stance on race is there is one Race the human race. Thank you for all you have done and God Bless Thabiti!

  64. Joe Clemmer says:

    We know the reason behind his death it was a gunshot wound. Second From eye witness’s and from what the jurors have said they have said that Trayvon was on top (according to God’s we are to believe two or more witness’s ie. the commandment to not be a false witness) Trayvon was on top and beating Zimmerman’s head into the concrete we have photos of a gashed head and bleeding nose. In America when you have eminent threat of losing your life you have the right to defend yourself. Also Zimmerman was not a racist he allowed black children to stay in his home, and he helped tutor them and reach out to that community=not racially motivated.

  65. Moises Pacheco says:

    I enjoyed (for lack of a better word) reading this post. The only thing I feel the need to point out is that, in 1950, this country was too great for Hispanics either.

  66. Eric says:

    Lovers of Christ, I think we’re in trouble. We have a problem when so many brothers/sisters are confused as to why so many blacks were partial to Trayvon Martin… and a black brother in Christ tries to explain it… but then all these logical counter-arguments emerge as if to say, “there’s no good reason” why blacks would react that way.

    I didn’t read this article to mean that blacks SHOULD or even have a right to feel the way they do about this case and cases like it. I read a man trying to explain where the fear comes from and how difficult it is to shake. But rather than expressing any honest empathy or show of support or desire to understand, all these reasons are offered for why it shouldn’t be this way.

    Why is that?

    Here’s something to seriously consider: do your feelings ALWAYS necessarily follow logic and facts? Or are there systemic, sinful, and scary realities that contribute to your emotional fear? Or are you such a spiritual giant that merely meditating on the fact that “God did not give us a spirit of fear” means that you’ve conquered fear forever and never have to deal with it again?

    Or consider this: when a loved one dies and you hear a gospel-centered, Christ-exalting sermon at the funeral, and read solid scriptural books on the resurrection, does that mean you don’t deal with grief and loss ever again? I’m sure that many of you would recognize such an approach as cold and unfair to the bereaved. But somehow, so many can’t see the same principle applying here.

    Why is that?

    One last thing to think about: we all learned about civil rights and slavery in books. But to my brothers and sisters that happen to be White, I am asking you to think about what it means for Christians who are black to have grandparents who remember Jim Crow… not from books, but in real life. The generational problems don’t go away with new legislation, internet, or even black presidents. Whether it should be like that or not is immaterial, it’s a reality.

    If you don’t get anything else from what I’m saying, try to get this: the shadows cast by racism are very long and darken many places that it shouldn’t. Some things take time and when there are responses that seem to diminish, trivialize, or otherwise dismiss the real feelings and honest perceptions of blacks WHO ARE NOT ARGUING FACTS BUT EXPRESSING THEMSELVES… the 3-4 line answers only alienate them all the more. And believe it or not, that alienates you.

    1. Daniel McFarland says:

      Wow, Eric. Amen and amen.

    2. christopher brown says:

      @Eric Amen.

  67. Rudy Thomas says:

    In response to the photoshop image, I for one would not bat an eye if the roles had been reversed. If Trayvon had been a responsible, law abiding, neighborhood watchman sick of the burglaries in his neighborhood, took the initiative to start a neighborhood watch, and had a deadly confrontation with a young, white, aspiring criminal teenager who matched the description of 99% of all the burglary suspects, I would not care. Profiling happens because of real events. All of the burglary suspects were young black males. If Trayvon had been a young black female, there would have been no suspicion or profiling. If purple dinosaurs had committed all the burglaries and break ins in Zimmerman’s development, Barney would have been profiled and followed as well.

    Blacks are aiming their rage at the wrong white people. They should be angry at the results of 50 years of being treated like children by liberal socialist white people who hate Christianity. As per Thomas Sowell, the rate of black poverty shrank every year in the 30 years leading up to the Great Society programs. The welfare state and the rewarding of bad behavior is going to get all races in this nation eventually. The black community was the first to descend into chaos because it was the most economically disadvantaged and therefore more susceptible to abortion, welfare, and fathers abandoning their children and letting the government foot the bill. This same downward spiral is beginning to manifest itself in the white community now. We are seeing the maturation of the first large generation of fatherless welfare children in my town now and we are seeing a huge rise in crime and drug use. I live in a very rural town with a black population of 0. I am not saying that racism doesn’t exist. I am simply saying that the problems in the black community are not black specific problems. The black community simply was more vulnerable to these problems. They are going to get us all eventually. The problem goes back to the breakup of the family and the decline of Christianity. The sooner both races realize that they have far more in common with a fellow Christian of the other race than with pagans of their own race, the better for all of us.

  68. Icemanl says:

    As a millennial who grew up in the 90s and 2000s, I am tired of these sorts of articles Thabiti. I didn’t know what racism was until I was told (in public school) that I was a racist. Upon inquiry, it turns out that all white people are genetically born as racists. It sure does make it hard to let racism fade away in this country when all of ‘us’ white people are born with ‘white privilege’. I guess I can’t help being a racist, if I am to believe what all of academia and the democrat party tell me. Seems like a hard foundation from which to build equality and unity. That concept seems as morally guilty as the whites in the 1800s who argued that blacks were less evolved humans.

    I learned at a very young age that the worst thing I could be accused of was being a racist. It would be better to cripple another white man than to shout a racist slur. As Ben Carson says well, political correctness just shuts people up. I remember in grade school thinking twice commenting on or criticizing a black person publicly. I remember watching black kids around me get away with worse behavior and excel at faster paces than their own academic achievements merited. I always heard blacks say they wanted equal treatment, and yet many (certainly not all) just meant they wanted a leg up over whites for some supposed slights they received in the past. Trouble is, the slights they would mention didn’t happen to them, but rather their grandparents. Equally, those who slighted them were not I or my generation but my grandparents. I remember reading the news and seeing that beating a black man to death was a hate crime that carried a far more serious charge than beating a white man to death. I asked why this was so, since beating a human to death seems equally wrong. The response I was given numerous times was that it must be this way to undo the sins of whites in the past. I ask you this now, when is it enough? What is the criterion for all of this nonsense before whites have paid for their past sins? I would be perfectly content to treat all races equally, but it seems the black people I talk to are the ones unwilling to agree to this social pact. They defend hate crime laws, affirmative action, and all flavors of racial discrimination in the legal system.

    If black people (I don’t say African-American because I don’t want to offend half the continent of Africa who isn’t black) truly wanted to repair race relations, they would insist that the concept of a civil rights case would be obliterated. Thabiti, I deeply wish someone in your position would step forward and say, “White people don’t actually hate you. You’ve been lied to by the democrats. They don’t actually want to keep you down, and even if some do, don’t worry about it, some of us want to keep them down. The world is full of hate and blacks don’t own the market on human hatred towards one another. If you are mistreated by a white person, don’t assume it is racism. Just look at the way the whites mistreat each other. They clearly have enough hate to dispense on any people group, and so do we.” Stop stirring up emotions through your anecdotal sob stories. My dad got bullied by black kids on the bus growing up every day. We all have stories. We’ll never move past anything until we can actually just drop it.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Hi friend,

      Welcome to the conversation.

      A few quick replies:

      1. I don’t recognize in your comment anything I said in the post. So, I’m not sure why you left the comment here or what you’re responding to.

      2. I’m sorry for the hurts you’ve obviously suffered. “Race” is irrational and all our efforts to live by it will, like all sin, be irrational.

      3. Nowhere in the post do I allege racism or even mention “race”–except when I commit myself to opposing the category! If you’re looking for an argument about “race” and racism, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong post. In all of this, I’m the one guy who has not jumped chest deep into the old racial scripts. Seems to me that honor belongs to some of the comments left here, including your own.

      4. On that note, I find your comments full of sweeping generalizations, of the type you’ve suffered and rightly decry. If we’re going to make progress it seems to me that all the hurts have to be forgiven and all the generalizations have to stop.

      5. I’m not sure what position you think I’m in, or what you think I should do with it beyond what I have. I’d be willing to hear your thoughts. But simply “taking a side” in the current racial categorizations and ideologies isn’t an option for me. If you have a proposal on breaking the log jam that makes biblical sense, I’m all ears.

      I suppose we will all have paid enough and struggled against this sin when we have “resisted unto the point of shedding our blood” (Heb. 12:4). Only then will we begin to resemble the Savior who shed His blood for our sins–yours and mind–racist and non-racist sin. Praise God it is nailed to the cross! Let’s walk now as if we ‘bear it no more’!

      The Lord bless you and keep you!

  69. Anne Ross says:

    You’ve helped me so much over the years in understanding African American culture as well as how to engage Muslims. I listened to your TGC sermon on race a few years ago and was very intrigued. In one of your points above you say “I’m going to finally commit myself to a Quixotic quest to rid the world of “race” as a category of human identity.” Could you point us to some books, authors, speakers, resources related to this. I would love to read more and understand where you are coming from here.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Hi Anne,

      Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I pray the Lord makes His face to shine upon you and give you peace.

      I’ve been thinking of putting together a bibliography for some time, but haven’t gotten around to it. In the meantime, you might check out a few of the titles I’ve listed at the bottom of this post: If nothing there interests you and you have more specific interests, drop me a note and I’ll try to be more helpful.

      The Lord bless you and keep you,

  70. Yankeerev says:


    I always appreciate your insight on ministry and, in particular, the complex issues surrounding race in America. Having read your post which I thought was extremely helpful I am struck with an image from one of your sermons:

    That not only are people playing in the Pro-Bowl with helmets from their own team, but they are extremely concerned about the bumper stickers on those helmets rather than the fact that they are playing in the Pro-Bowl.

    I hear in your post and in your responses a desire to help God’s children look at life through the lens of Kingdom Citizenship first, which is, for so many of us a very difficult struggle.

    It is, however, the necessary first step to unraveling this extremely difficult issue within the body of Christ.

    Keep it up!

  71. Daryl Little says:


    Me again, recognizing that this is a long and (for the internet) old post…

    I flipped through my interaction with you and then read Esther’s interaction.

    Here’s what I think you’re missing.

    We have a case of homicide here. Neither guy was white and according even to the jury race was not a consideration (although Obama and the liberal press have tried their level best to make it so, but that’s another conversation).

    As a white guy I see a black pastor taking a case that we have no reason to suspect had anything to do with race, and using it to write extensively about race and what it means.

    To my eyes, the very nature of the article and the case you spring-boarded from, says that you see race as the issue.
    No trying to read your heart, just explaining what it all looks like to a non-American white onlooker.

    That’s why clarity is probably more important in an article like this is so much more important than normal, and why the slightest mis-step will (and clearly has) created such a “what?” reaction.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Daryl,

      Thanks for your note. It’s never too old/late to be sharpened, friend. So thanks for diving back in. I’ll try a response and then leave you the last word should you want it.

      Maybe the best explanation for why we’re missing each other lies in two things:

      1. I’m not trying to make anything about “race,” but you (and other sincere folks) continue to think that I am.

      2. While I wouldn’t want to argue that the Martin/Zimmerman sage is “about race” in any narrow sense (I don’t know what Zimmerman’s motivations were and I’m hesitant to they were/were not racially motivated–I don’t know the man or his thoughts), in the broader sense this incident fits a long well-established racial narrative. I think we miss each other because you’re focused on the narrow confines of this case and, where I would be inclined to see a racial narrative, I would read the big picture/historical story.

      The most succinct way to put this would be to refer to an interview with Russell Moore about this difference: I don’t Russ could be accused of being a Black pastor seeing “racism” everywhere or injecting “race” where it’s not there. Yet, I think he explains quite well why you and I (and a lot of other people) keep “missing” each other.

      You have the last word, friend. Grace and peace to you,

  72. Daryl Little says:

    No need for a last word. I’m just trying to understand this whole thing and your responses help.

    Thanks for your time,


  73. Daryl Little says:

    Hey, me again. Maybe I will take the last word… :)

    I just watched the video on Denny Burke’s blog. Very helpful.

    I see his/your point, about how we look at an incident like this very differently.

    The thing we need to do then, (as you’ve probably been saying and I’ve probably been missing) is say what we must say, don’t pretend to see what the other guy is seeing, but acknowledge that there is this macro/micro thing going on.

    And for me, to recognize that simply I don’t get the American black/white thing and try harder to understand. (I really am trying…)

    I recall attending a school near Rochester NY and one Sunday morning seeing a black man driving a tractor out of a field. My first thought was “I wonder who he’s working for?”
    Many would consider that a racist thought, but it wasn’t. Where I live, in rural Southern Ontario, Canada, there are next to no black people. In my high school I recall one, maybe two black kids my whole time there.
    But what I did grow up with are the Jamaicans who come north every year to work at a few local vegetable farms. So, when I saw a black man on a tractor at home, I knew he worked at one of 2 or 3 farms in the area. Hence my thoughts in Rochester.

    For what it’s worth, my next thought that Sunday was “You bonehead, this isn’t Southern Ontario, he probably owns the farm!”

    So I suppose what I’m thinking is that when a guy like me (as you’ve been trying to tell me) talks about the Trayvon Martin case, I need to say “Specific stuff, blah blah,legal case, blah blah, what happened that night etc etc.” and then something like “But I understand that violence against a black man, deserved or otherwise, must surely evoke some kind of a reaction among those who have experienced, or know someone who has experienced, violence or mistreatment within a racially motivated setting. Their gut reaction is at least as understandable as my initial reaction to seeing a black man on a tractor in New York state.”

    A likewise for those who are on the “other side” of this divide. They need to somehow understand that I don’t have the back-story they do, so for me not to initially address their concerns about profiling and racism isn’t a racist thing, it’s just about me interpreting the case based on my experience in life.

    We both need to say “They responded differently than I did, but given the history of both our lives, why wouldn’t they?”

    As I say, I’m slow, but I’m trying to get this. And, as I think you would acknowledge, the liberal media immediately tries to play this as a racist attack and runs as hard as they can in that direction, it does become difficult to not push back, too hard maybe, in the other direction.

    What I think really makes this whole thing even more difficult, is the past few decades of things like “white guilt”, the idea of reparations and a pretty hard push in those kinds of directions by the media and others. All of these things conspire to try and make people feel guilty for not seeing the racial element on the face of situations like this case, which brings with it an even stronger push-back against those who do. That push-back, I think, shows up quite of tend as an angry response from whites, who want to say “Just because I don’t have your sensitivities doesn’t mean I’m a racist…you racist!!”
    And then off we go on that merry-go-round again.

    I’m getting it…gradually.

    Again, thanks for your time and patience.


    1. I want to point out an interesting phenomenon here about the language of racism. You’re pointing out that some of the examples you’re talking about fit the pattern of “not racism but instead X”. It’s worth being aware that there are different conceptions of what constitutes racism. On the paradigm of most white people, what you’re saying makes perfect sense. To a lot of black people and a lot of academics who work on race issues (regardless of their race), what you’re saying is making a big mistake. To them, you’re assuming that racism is some very narrow category, and there are lots of other things that might be racially problematic but are not racism. What they would say is that those other racially problematic things are indeed racism. They might call it institutional racism, structural racism, implicit or unconscious racism, residual racism, or some such thing.

      For the record, I’m with you (and, as it happens, most white people are, but I think fewer non-white people are and almost no race scholars, although I know I’m not the only one with this view). I have conscious, thought-out reasons for not calling these admittedly problematic things racism. I think the term should be reserved for the more direct, conscious kinds of discrimination, hatred, or contempt that we classically have called racism. I think it shows the moral seriousness of such things, in contrast with the morally-problematic but not as serious nature of the other things. I do think it’s true that these less-serious things are problems, and we should fight them. Those who want to call them racist do so in order to point out the racially-problematic nature of those things. I think we should insist on doing so (and, in my experience, many white people, and even many black conservatives, are too hesitant to do so). But we should also distinguish it from racism proper, either by not calling it racism or by insisting on only doing so with a qualifying term (such as “institutional” or “structural” or “unconscious” or whatever) to make it clear that we can see the real distinction between that and outright racism of the more usual sort that most white people assume you mean when making a charge of racism. Otherwise, it will just offend people by causing misunderstanding, when they think they’re being accused of things that they know are not true (when they’re not really being accused of them to begin with).

      My point here, though, is to point out how some will hear what you’re saying. You’re saying that it’s not racist but this other thing, and the other thing you point to is something they will count as a kind of racism and then use your comment to illustrate that you, along with most white people, are racially insensitive and unable to understand what life is like for non-white people. I suspect there is always some element of white people not understanding the experience of life as non-white, but this is more a verbal dispute over what counts as racism, and mostly it comes from how we’ve heard people use the term, which does differ in different linguistic communities. With a mostly non-white or a mostly academic race-scholar audience, I would emphasize that most white people do not understand the use of ‘racism’ that they freely engage in, and it causes offense and misunderstanding rather than progress and understanding, and I would caution against the kinds of use it often gets put to. With a largely white audience, I would want to encourage people to understand how some will hear the claim that something is not racist but something else. It will be seen as misunderstanding the nature of racism itself and the experiences of non-white people, and I hate to see that happen when a large part of the problem is that the word ‘racism’ is simply being used in different ways by both sides of the conversation. So that’s something to be aware of in these kinds of conversations.

      1. Daryl Little says:


        I hear what you’re saying, but I’ve never heard the experience I describe, or similar experiences described by other people, being called racist by either whites or blacks (or any other colour of person).

        Racism is, by definition, a negative thing.
        What I’ve described, with the farmer, is simply a misunderstanding which can equally be applied to any person, of any race, or any location, with zero negative connotations.
        What I’ve described is precisely the same kind of thing as asking a man from Sudbury Ontario, if he works in the nickel mines. Good chance he does, good chance he doesn’t, but he lives in a mining town so it’s a reasonable question.
        Or, if I see a man wearing a white short-sleeved shirt and a black tie. Where I live I would imagine that he works in a grocery store, but I’ve also lived in Alberta, where he’s likely a Mormon missionary.
        Is either assumption a negative thing or a problem? Not at all.

        If what I’ve described is viewed by someone as racism, what it illustrates to me is that I’m not the only one who needs to understand people a little better, but that those making the assumption need to cool it a little too.

        1. What I’m saying is that some people will take the assumption that a farm owner would be white, and thus a man riding on a tractor who is not white as an employee, to be a racist assumption, just as some might say it’s sexist to assume the doctor who is about to see you will be a man until a woman walks through the door. Most Americans hearing that being called racist would take it to be a linguistic mistake, but this is a very common usage of the term in non-white linguistic communities, and most academics working on race issues would think it’s a no-brainer that what you’re describing is a kind of racism. That you haven’t seen the word used that way is no surprise to me. Most white Americans wouldn’t have encountered it used that way either, and I don’t expect it would be different in Canada. But it’s extremely common in some of the circles I find myself in.

          As for something negative, I don’t see why it’s not negative to assume a black person riding a tractor couldn’t possibly be the owner. Doesn’t that attitude, even if it’s only instinctual and immediately correct, have negative consequences? It’s an instance of an implicit attitude, and implicit attitudes are often what creates problems across racial lines.

          For example, many see the Martin/Zimmerman encounter as an instance where that’s precisely what happened. I don’t think there’s any way to know for sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Martin’s instinctual response was to assume he was being profiled for doing nothing wrong, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimmerman’s thought that Martin was up to something was at least somewhat heightened because of his race (which doesn’t mean he was racist in the narrow sense, since it’s well established at this point that you can disagree with a stereotype but still display an unconscious bias because of it). It’s when you make split-second judgments that implicit biases come out.

          You’d never interact badly with this farmer because of your split-second judgment that you immediately thought better of, but in interactions between police and black youth who are not criminals but who are dressed a certain way, those instant judgments play a big role, and study after study shows that stereotypes even among anti-racist police can make a cell phone more likely to appear to be a gun. So there is a negative effect of such judgments.

          1. Daryl Little says:


            I would simply say that the difference between my example and the case in Florida is that one is a negative and one is not.

            And, racism being a negative, means that one of those instances is racist and the other is not.

            When you can call an assumption “racist” with a smile on your face and the belief that the assumption isn’t a bad thing, then I’ll buy your argument, but it sounds to me like you’re saying that any assumption that anyone makes is either racist, or sexist, or “age-ist” or white-shirt-ist or some other negative thing.

            And that is simply not the case.

            Is it racist if I pick your 7’0 tall black friend to play on my basketball team, even though, if I knew the truth of his absolute inability to play he’d be picked dead last? No, because I’ve done a good thing with good intention. I’ve privileged him with a reasonable assumption.

            Same as picking me to play on your hockey team because I’m Canadian. You have no idea whether or not I can play, but, being American you’d probably make that assumption, and you wouldn’t be racist because of it.

            It seems to me that you’ve left yourself only one options. You need to stop saying that racism is always a bad thing.
            Of course you won’t do that (and neither would I), because it IS a bad thing.

            At some point intent has to play into this whole discussion.

            1. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that I thought it could be racist but not negative. First, I agreed with you that we shouldn’t use the word ‘racist’ for such cases. I’m not defending calling these things racist. I just wanted to help those like me who would find that strange to recognize that a lot of people don’t find it at all strange, and it’s good to be aware of that so we don’t poison our interactions with others on these issues because of a mere misunderstanding of how language is being used.

              Second, I want to insist that there is something negative even about these cases that I don’t want to call racist. For one thing, any assumption is negative, however fleeting it might be, when we unconsciously and unintentionally restrict unfairly what occupations, educational level, moral character, or abilities they might have purely because of our assumptions about their race.

              Also, I was trying to make the case that these fleeting judgments might not in our reflective moments lead to any immediate negative consequences that the person we’re interacting with (or even not interacting with, in your case) might notice, but they do have negative consequences as an entire class of cases. And one thing I didn’t mention is that these fleeting judgments do have an effect on body language, nonverbal communication, and so on, and it leads white people who are not racists to come across as racist to non-white people they interact with. There are lots of reasons to see fleeting, involuntary assumptions about people as negative. They’re just not as negative as the things I want to reserve for the term ‘racist’.

  74. Dora says:

    But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Hebrews 12:22-24, ESV)

    Just as I am, without one plea,
    But that Thy blood was shed for me,
    And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, and waiting not
    To rid my soul of one dark blot,
    To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, Thy love unknown
    Hath broken every barrier down;
    Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

    Just as I am, of that free love
    The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
    Here for a season, then above,
    O Lamb of God, I come, I come!

    (From the pen of one Charlotte Elliott, 1835)

  75. Dennis Hulick says:

    I thought this message appropriate to the discussion: Black,Brown, White.

  76. Stephanie says:

    Respectfully, if we keep using the same words and having the same discussions nothing will change. If we correctly define words and choose to use new words and remember the past but not live there, it is possible for the present to begin to heal the wounds of the past and change the future. We are still several generations too close to our most recent history where there are people living who remember and who have memories of relatives even further back. This is our moment in history and I will not condemn a young person who does not understand or an older person who is still struggling. People heal and change in different ways at different rates. It is our job if we learn a truth to speak it in love (not as a weapon)and to humbly walk with God. So, when I first responded to this blog, I was responding to the question Thabiti asked. What will I do? I will try to be a just and wise voter and citizen. I will try to be a careful neighborhood watch volunteer. I won’t comment on what I don’t understand. I won’t judge people’s hearts since only God knows the heart. I will do the hard work required to enable the Spirit to renew my mind and in my very small way try to live at peace with all people. The words we use are powerful and can change the culture. I lovingly offer these lyrics and pray for peace for all who have shared here. “When we’re little we depend upon others/ To teach us what they know/ And if some of them don’t know the truth/ Then that is what will grow/ When we’re little we’re asked to trust in all/ That we are being taught/ But we may live for a long, long time/ In the lies we are caught//(chorus) We’re all colored/ We’re all one race/ We decide if truth or lie/ Will live this time, this place/ One color/ One human race/ Each truth can set us free/ To live our lives in peace/ Now face to face// When we’re little we hear the shouted words/ Of anger and disgrace/ And no one is there to tell us why/ Some will turn their face/ When we’re little come sounds of whispering/ That they know who we are/ But deep inside we know it’s a lie/ Like this that travels far// (chorus)// How long, tell me how long/ Will we stop our mind and ear/ How long, tell me how long/ Will we live in lies and fear// One color/ One human race/ Each truth can set us free/ To live our lives in peace, in peace/ Now face to face/ This time, this place/ In truth and grace”.

    For more scientific information for the foundation of the statements in this song, you can go to Answers in Genesis.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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