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If you use social media–or any media really–it’s impossible to escape the reactions to the recent Zimmerman acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin. Understandably there are a lot of questions and a lot of emotions prompted by a “not guilty” verdict in an undisputed shooting of an unarmed youth.

One observer tweeted a link to a column called “How to Talk to Young Black Boys about Trayvon Martin,” authored by journalist Toure nearly a year ago. I missed this piece when first published. The person leaving the tweet thought the piece prescient and pertinent in light of the verdict. I found it deeply problematic. I find it so troubling that I’d like to post the opening lines of the eight talking points Toure proposed (for the full text follow the link above), interact with them, and then suggest an alternative message.

Toure’s Talking Points for Young Black Boys

1. It’s unlikely but possible that you could get killed today. Or any day. I’m sorry, but that’s the truth. Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition. …

2. If you encounter such a situation, you need to play it cool. Keep your wits about you. Don’t worry about winning the situation. Your mission is to survive.

3. There is nothing wrong with you. You’re amazing. I love you. When I look at you, I see a complex human being with awesome potential, but some others will look at you and see a thug — even if their only evidence is your skin. Their racism relates to larger anxieties and problems in America that you didn’t create. When someone is racist toward you — either because they’ve profiled you or spit some slur or whatever — they are saying they have a problem. They are not speaking about you. They’re speaking about themselves and their deficiencies.

4. You will have to make allowances for other people’s racism. That’s part of the burden of being black. We can be defiant and dead or smart and alive. … The best way to counter them involves not your fists but your mind. … The best revenge is surviving and living well.

5. Be aware of your surroundings. Especially when it’s dark. Or bright. Some people are on the lookout for muggers or rapists. You need to be on the lookout for profilers who are judging you. Don’t give them an opportunity to make a mistake.

6. If you feel you are being profiled and followed or, worse, chased by someone with a vigilante streak — if you are hunted in the way it seems Trayvon was, by someone bigger than you who may be armed and hopped up on stereotypes about you — then you need to act. By calling the police. That is the exact time to snitch. I know there are times the cops will be your enemies, but sometimes calling 911 and letting the threatening person know that you’re doing so could save your life.

7. What if it’s the cops who are making you feel threatened? Well, then you need to retreat. I don’t mean run away. I mean don’t resist. Now is not the time to fight the power. Make sure they can see your hands, follow all instructions, don’t say anything, keep your cool. Your goal is to defuse things, no matter how insulted you are. We’ll get revenge later. In the moment, play possum. Say sir. They may be behaving unjustly, but their lives aren’t in danger. Yours is. If you survive, you will be able to tell your lawyer what happened. If you don’t….

8. Never forget: As far as we can tell, Trayvon did nothing wrong and still lost his life. You could be a Trayvon. Any of us could.

Some Reactions to Toure’s Counsel and Point-of-View

At places, Toure’s counsel is spot on. We must teach our boys–all boys–to play it cool and keep their head (#2). We must teach African-American boys and all little boys that “there’s nothing wrong with you” (#3). As my mama would say, “God didn’t make no junk.” And we must teach our boys the ability to be calculating, to observe the odds and to respond appropriately, to use their minds to the full  (#4-7). In one sense, all Toure advocates here is wisdom, the kind of savvy with people and in situations that could de-escalate very volatile circumstances. We want our boys to be peace-loving and to survive to fight on their own terms. I commend all of this.

But at other places Toure reveals a view of life that simply cannot and should not be tolerated, much less taught to our children as though it’s a norm they should accept.

First, it is most likely that our children will not be killed today. That’s a fact. Praise God! Even in some of the most crime- and violence-ridden neighborhoods, today, most children will walk into the front door of their homes and live. Eeking by in morbid fear is neither living or surviving. It’s simply another kind of death, self-imposed, darkened by the dousing of hope. Toure offers children nihilism and despair. He says “it’s unlikely but possible,” but that’s putting a smiley face on a death threat. He may have felt such hopelessness or anguish in the immediate aftermath of Martin’s death. But the first rule of responsible adulthood must be to pass on life to our children, not death and nihilism. We pass on life and the hope of the “good life,” and we encourage our boys to use each day to both enjoy life and better it. If, then, their lives should be tragically cut short they would have been caught in the process of enjoying it. If an officer appears at my door bearing the news that my son has been killed, I do pray he can also say, “It seems he was doing and enjoying the very best things possible at the moment.”

Second, Black maleness is a beautiful condition. Toure writes, “Black maleness is a potentially fatal condition.” But there’s nothing about being “Black” (leaving aside any definition of the notion for a moment) or “maleness” that is “potentially fatal.” People don’t die from melanin count or Y-chromosomes. Toure goes on to explain: “There are people who will look at you and see a villain or a criminal or something fearsome. It’s possible they may act on their prejudice and insecurity.” He’s right about that. People will sometimes look at Black boys this way and “they are speaking about themselves and their deficiencies.” But the fatal condition is not “black maleness” but their prejudice and insecurity. The fatal flaw that ruins the American mind is not “Blackness” but “race” and “racism.” That reflexive color-coded living, multiplying attributes and stereotypes at the speed of sight–that, is the fatal flaw. And it kills America, not just Black youngsters. It kills the soul, not just the body. The toll is much higher and the disease more widespread than the number of actual killings or beatings. To be “Black” (again, leaving aside definitions for a moment) is to be beautiful. It is to be as God designed us. It is to possess a certain nobility forged by God’s hands and polished by suffering and struggle. Historically our suffering has lead to our glory. We ought not diminish or change that for one moment–much less when we’re teaching our boys how to navigate the world. “Black” is still beautiful. That must be passed on and re-articulated in light of God’s sovereign design and Jesus’ trans-ethnic reign.

3. Racism must not be allowed. Ever. “The Black man’s burden” must be redefined not as “allowing other people’s racism” but as ending both racism and “race” in pursuit of a world where culture, clan and character matter. We’re not stuck with “race.” Just as it was invented it can also be deconstructed. The “burden” then becomes choosing something else at the potential cost of both the familiar and the opportunism of the racially-invested. The “burden,” should we choose to accept it, is to now reject the category of “race” altogether–even when racists lurk and look to hurt. We’ve stared down racism for centuries. And by God’s grace we’ve won. It’s time now to stare down the very root of “racism,” the idea of “race.” We’re sending our boys out into the world to do more than merely survive. We’re sending them out to forge a future, a new reality, a world of both possibilities and achievements. We’re sending our boys out to defy the sociological standards that divide and oppress. We’re sending our boys out to fight against the world’s pathology in order to fight for the world’s sanity. In that fight there can be no easy cease-fire with racism or racists. We seek to capture the very ideological and sociological ground such men and women stand on–the ground of “race” and associated “superiority.” I’m praying for an army of such Black men and women, boys and girls. I’m praying for an army of such people from every ethnicity.

4. The “beloved community” is still our goal. Toure’s goals amount to little more than survival, lawsuits, and “revenge” by “living well.” But especially as Jesus followers, we live for something more. We live for redemption. We live for reconciliation. We live for forgiveness. We live for justice–yes–but the kind of justice that takes account of the cross of Calvary. Toure’s proposal leaves our boys all the more disenfranchised, endangered and homeless. Where will they find peace or love in such a world? Who will create it for them and call them to it if not us? We need to take the risk of faith that fights for both the civil justice that courts can grant but also the reconciliation that only Jesus can provide. Toure’s teaching strikes me as utterly antithetical to the long Black Christian tradition that has “brought us this far by faith.” And it is only that tradition–speaking the language of the gospel and dressed in the work clothes of social action–that has delivered us. Our Great Lord calls us to the creation of something more than mob justice and balkanized communities teetering on the brink of racial explosion and violence. We’re not admirably stewarding our spiritual and social legacy if we can imagine with this hard-earned freedom little more than a vigilante society. Our children deserve more from us.

The world view that seeps through Toure’s writing provides no hope or redemption or empowerment for our children and communities. It’s not a vision of the future worth our life’s energies. We need another way.

Old Paths for Our Feet

Toure does see something clearly, though. He sees that all of our angst and grief and protests and fears come down to one seemingly mundane but extraordinary privilege. Parenting. The rubber meets the road at our dinner tables, in our living rooms, on the drive to school and work, and during our bedtime routines. What will we tell our children? Here’s my take.

1. You are made in God’s image. That can be difficult to explain and understand. But you need to try to grasp this fact. Nothing else in all of creation bears the stamp of God but you and all other human beings. You are no mistake–nothing about you. You’re unique. Your dignity comes from your likeness to God. You’re not God. You’re not even close to being God. But you’re unique among His creation and He loves you.

2. Part of how God made you is “Black.” People try to define that in all kinds of ways. But it can’t be easily defined. To be “Black” is to be a lot of things all at once. But “Black” or African American is simply another way of saying “made in God’s image.” God determined where you should live and when. He tells us that in Acts 17:26. He determined that mommy and I would have the parents we have. He determined that out of the sea-graves of the Atlantic and the cotton fields of the South and the tough cities of the North a brand new people would come into existence. We’re part African, descended from that great continent. And we’re part American, sons of this soil. Both heritages are ours and yet we’re something more than just the adding of the two. And here’s what you need to know: You get to define what it means to be African American or Black. You get to give it dignity and purpose, beauty and joy. You get to interpret its sorrows and failings. It’s yours. Don’t let anyone rob you of it. God means for you to wear it and enjoy it.

3. Now, everybody doesn’t like Black people. Shoot… there are even Black people who don’t like Black people! Once it seemed like no one liked Black people. But now those folks are the minority. You know, there’s a much smaller minority in the world than African Americans. Oh, yes. The real minority are those people so blinded with sin that all they can think of is how much they want to be better than everybody else and how much they want to hurt people that don’t look like them. These people are blind. They’re small-minded. They worship idols–they worship themselves and their skin color and their culture. If they die in their sins God will judge them something fierce. They’re so blind they can’t see the blessing that people unlike them can be to them. They can’t even see that we’re all part of one human family descended from the same parents–Adam and Eve. That’s in Acts 17:26 again. Don’t be like them. Don’t let them hurt you. “A man can’t ride your back unless you’re bent over.” Their not liking you cannot limit you unless you let. Don’t let it. Be who God has called you to be. Do what God has called you to do. God himself will see you through even their idolatry and hatred. Don’t return hate for hate; it will kill you. Return love for their hate and two things will happen–you’ll heap hot coals on their heads and you’ll change this world we live in. Love cannot be crushed. It keeps rising like the sun. Everybody doesn’t like Black people. But you love everybody with the love God gives through His Son.

4. Realize that this life includes suffering, but this isn’t the only life there is. You know, you may lose some battles with the world. There are strong enemies out there and sometimes you’ll find yourself in difficult situations. If you have to suffer in this life, be sure you suffer for doing what is right and not what is wrong. Be sure to suffer like a Christian. Christians suffer like Jesus. Jesus was mocked and ridiculed, spat upon and beaten. They nailed him to a cross and danced over his grave. He was sinless but he suffered. In this sinful world we’re bound to suffer. Don’t be surprised by it. Don’t let it knock you off your game. Remember: Those who hope in Jesus have another life that does not end and where suffering can’t reach. Live this life in anticipation of that life. Lay hold to Jesus by faith. Follow Him. Trust Him. Give yourself to Him. Hope in Him never disappoints. Even if some fool takes your life in this world, you’ll go immediately to that world Jesus prepared for us. If you suffer in this world for doing Jesus’ will, you’ll earn a reward in the next world for that same suffering. Your suffering is your slave. It works for you a great reward with Jesus. Don’t be thrown off by suffering. This life will never be perfect. But the next one will. Hope in Jesus.

5. Son, be smart. Be wise. Choose your friends carefully. Think. Especially think before you act in scary situations. Don’t just react. Obey the authorities so long as they don’t try to force you to disobey Jesus. Respect everyone, son, and you’ll find most people respecting you back. A good name is to be desired above wealth.

6. Avoid trouble when you can. Sometimes it comes looking for you. When it does, play the man. You stand your ground–not angrily or out of control, but bravely, confident in the presence and power of God  who will never leave you nor forsake you. Care as much or more about the welfare of others as you do yourself. Look out for the weak and vulnerable. When you serve them you actually serve Jesus. He will receive you with joy when you do. This is our Father’s world, and He is making something beautiful of our lives. He began a good work in you and sometimes trouble is the way He inches it on toward completion.

7. Finally, know that I am here for you and will walk with you as long as I have life. You’re my son and I love you. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you–especially when you’re pursuing righteousness or facing enemies. Every day I want you to know that you are not alone. God promised He would not forsake me. Now, with His help, I’m promising that I won’t forsake you. Come hell or high water I’m going to be right there for you. So you do your best and never settle. Momma and I will catch you if you slip and we’ll cheer you as you strive.

Have I ever told you my favorite poem? It’s called Mother To Son.

Conclusion

Of course, none of our parenting conversations can be scripted. And rarely do we have the perfect answer to our kids’ questions. Perhaps the most debilitating feeling as a parent comes from the look on our children’s faces when we can’t find a satisfactory answer for the toughest problems. Even so, we can give hope and we can be there. Besides pointing our children to Jesus, giving hope and being there lie at the heart of parenting. I pray the Lord gives us better wisdom each day as we parent for His glory.


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Comments:


18 thoughts on “Some Different Advice to Those Raising African-American Boys in the Wake of the Martin Shooting and Zimmerman Trial”

  1. Tim D. says:

    How does the sovereignty of god flavor this discussion? It seems the gospel is only a minor passing consideration in your post. God made us the way we are. Nothing is outside the control of god – see Job. He orchestrates all for his glory as that is the highest ideal. God was in control – indeed was the prime mover and motivator – in the greatest injustice our universe has ever known (for it pleased god to crush Christ). Yet so much of this post focuses on genuine fatalism. It’s origins are in the disappointment/frustration over a well reasoned jury verdict in a case where both a near adult black man and a half Hispanic man didn’t walk away. This happens many times every day around the world with no fanfare because often the races are the same. Yet this post continues to perpetuate the racial differences by making this truly tragic story into something it isn’t – a racially motivated/charged killing.

    As a parent to two bkack kids and two white kids i want them to understand this: they are to find their end in Christ. Not in their race. Not in their heritage – African for two of them. Not in their things. Not in their accomplishments. And not in their abilities. Christ and his family. Because everything in this world and its sytems are fallen their hope and end can only be in Christ. In my life as parent to these kids I have seen disgusting, blatant racism. Indeed, I have had stomach turning conversations with “educated” persons questioning why I would want to adopt black kids. It exists and is disgusting, however, not every bad thing that happens to folks of color is racially charged.

    Finally, please be honest about where blame may also lie. While this will be unpopular with many who may follow you, your platform should compel you to such intellectual honesty. True, there are evil people out there. True, people don’t like other people. True, people are racist and prejudiced (on both sides of the aisle – e.g., crazy a$@ cracker). But where does the black thug life desire and emanation borne out by stars, musicians, and worldly heros bear its own responsibility for the creation of the stereotypes that you (apparently) and others contend led to Zimmerman shooting trayvon? Often stereotypes, though unfair, have their basis in some truth. Lets accept responsibility for where those lie and not merely pander after the fact in order to create racially diciding issues where such issues need exist.

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for joining the conversation and for sharing not only your thoughts but a bit about your life as well. That’s tough to do in an internet age that features a lot of careless comments and reckless judgments. So, I really appreciate your openness and candor.

      First, I’m glad you teach your children to, as you put it, “find their end in Christ.” What a great heritage to give them, and a difficult heritage to pass on when the world values most everything but that. I pray the Lord gives you strength, wisdom, grace and skill as you parent for His glory. I’m grateful for your courage and compassion as a parent.

      If one day you find, however, that the claims and demands of a more racialized world intrudes, I pray you’ll also be sensitive to the differences that are in fact real. For instance, my African brethren in Christ tend to really clearly point out that they are not “Black” in the way we use the term in the U.S., meaning they are not “African Americans.” In their conversations with Westerners they tend to use their national origins (Nigerian, Kenyan, etc.) rather than more broadly African. And among themselves there is often a recognition of ethnic group (Xhosa, Zulu, Kikuyu, Kaamban) over nationality. In other words, identity is complex and you might find that your adopted children will want to enjoy that complexity for the ways it glorifies God. I pray you don’t, but you also might find that they’ll resent efforts to deny them that part of who they are or who they’ll want to be.

      Second, you may or may not be surprised to learn that I don’t think “the gospel” is the answer to every question, despite popular opinion. In particular, I don’t think some formulaic statement of the “the gospel” fixes all of life’s hurts. We need to learn to think more deeply about the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and it’s application. We shouldn’t think that “getting the gospel in” is a suitable substitute for such reflection. More here: http://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/thabitianyabwile/2012/08/24/im-tired-of-hearing-the-gospel-warning-mild-rant/.

      On another matter, you are, of course, correct. Not every bad thing that happens to people is a matter of “race.” But there are other true things that also need to be said, if for no other reason than to remind us that these situations aren’t always easy to figure out. For example, we should also say that there are lots of bad things that are racially motivated. We should say there are beautiful things that find their origin and stimulus in ethnic or cultural differences. We should say there are a lot of things that look like they are racially specific but actually are common to humanity. And we should say there are things that we just can’t figure out. Sometimes in recent discussions people have loudly proclaimed one of these truths as if it’s the entire truth. It’s not. And you know what they say: “A half truth masquerading as a whole truth is a complete untruth.”

      Now, surely, one part of the truth is that African American families face a tremendous set of challenges, from family structure, absentee fatherhood, immense distrust between genders, concentrated poverty in some places, nihilistic despair in some places, job spatial mismatch, significant unemployment, disproportionate crime rates in some places and disparate outcomes in criminal justice proceedings. Some of the challenges are personal, some cultural, some historical and some systemic. The whole truth is there are a lot of factors that contribute to what you think is “blame” to be assigned. Part of the whole truth is that the pathology of racism, the really very recent practice of Jim Crow oppression, and a lot of non-racial public policy (transportation, housing, etc.) are also to “blame” for the Black family’s challenges and failures. If we’re going to have an honest conversation, then we need to “blame” everything that needs to be blamed.

      But I’d rather not play the blame game. I’d also rather not play the stereotype game. After all, there are stereotypes to go around. If I accept your premise about the truthfulness of stereotypes, then it must be truth that conservative Whites and Republicans are all rich, stingy, mean, racists because we see how this or that person acts on television and we see the stats about wealth concentration in the country and the tendency toward policies that privilege the wealthy. But that’s not helpful, is it?

      I’d rather focus on constructive analysis and responses. What are we going to think and do that’s different from simply finding someone to blame and different from the stereotypes and judgments that put us in this mess? That’s the question for me.I don’t need to pander to anyone, and it’s difficult for me to see how anyone can legitimately suggest I’m creating racially divisive issues where they don’t exist.

      I welcome an ally for truth and the gospel. And I hope you will be one in your sphere of influence.

      For Jesus,
      T-

      1. Tim D. says:

        Thabiti,

        I appreciate your comments and advice for me to mull over and consider. I think your response helps me more to see your “heart” in the issue without my own subjective “reading in” of what you may be saying.

        Forgive me for my lack of clarity – I did not mean to suggest that you are “creating racially divisive issues.” I see the overt, radicalized, NAACP-fed frenzy surrounding the Zimmerman verdict to be creating and foolishly fueling those issues. Instead, I inartfully meant to raise the possibility that your article could be read to immunize many of the causes of racial divide that exist, and indeed have existed for decades, in this country without regard for some of the responsibilities that the black community may itself bear.

        Thank you for your kind response.

        Tim

  2. S Loke says:

    What encouraging words, thank you. I agree that we need to be careful about what we teach our children, about themselves and their place in the world. The words we choose matter a great deal. Especially when they are children of God.

    Some would certainly perceive my children as being disadvantaged, not by the color of their skin or where they were born, but because they have Asperger’s Syndrome (high functioning autism), Tourette’s Syndrome (muscle and vocal tics) and other learning challenges (ADHD, dyslexia). Life is not and will not always be easy for them yet they are learning compassion and empathy for others from the lessons their own challenges bring, and through their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    I teach my children that their challenges are not an excuse to sin, nor are they completely defined by their neurological differences. In the end, how can I view them as ‘disabled’ when they have such a love for the Lord and their salvation is assured? I think as Christian parents, whatever situation we are raising our children in, we need to raise them with the cross of Christ clearly in view. Then we can be full of hope for our children, and share that hope with them.

    Thank you again for your reflections. I hope you don’t mind but I am planning to ‘borrow’ from them in future conversations with my children. :-)

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Thank you so much for sharing this! I’m praising God for your love for your children, for their uniqueness in the image of God, and for their faith in our Lord! The Lord bless you and give you grace without measure as you continue to point them heavenward!

      In Jesus,
      T-

  3. Daryl Little says:

    Thabiti,

    Thanks for this. Brilliant. MY kids are as white as I am but, as you intended, this post is sound and wise advice for any parent and child.

    I wish that no kid needed to live the the historically-borne fear that so many black kids live with. I wish that no kid needed to live with the poverty-borne trouble that so many kids live with. I wish that no kid needed to live with the family-borne trouble that so many kids live with.
    And, to be honest, I wish that my kids didn’t need to live with whatever me-borne trouble they may live with.

    I have no idea whether or not any of that played into the death of Trayvon Martin, from either side. But I’m beginning (I’m slow) to understand how many on-lookers to the trial could believe that it did.

    You have a vision, Thabiti, that the church needs to grab hold of. It’s not a new vision, but it’s an important one. As far as I can tell, it’s the same vision Martin Luther King had, and, so far as relationships between people are concerned, it’s the same vision God has.

    Simply put, it’s love your neighbour as yourself. Even when (or especially when) your neighbour hates or distrusts you for reasons beyond your control.
    And, maybe more importantly, for all of our sons, even when your inexperience, hormones and natural 20-something-invincibility tells you to throw caution to the wind.

    Thabiti, I apologize if I came off as harsh or blind or unloving yesterday. And thank you for this post. It’s a blessing to me and, I hope, it will bless my kids through me.

    1. Thabiti says:

      You’re very gracious, friend. The Lord bless you and keep you.
      T-

  4. Tom says:

    Dr. Anyabwile, thank you for this. It’s helpful for me, as a white father of four, to think through as I interact with others in my community. But, can I be honest? I’m struggling with my perspective of the black community and of racial issues.

    Why?

    I grew up in a predominantly black community and attended public school where 2/3rds of the student body were black. I grew up listening to black students refer to each other as “my n…a” and to black males referring to their girlfriends as “my b..ch.” I grew up hearing hip hop music that glorified violence, drug, and thug culture, the exploitation and degradation of women, and the mistrust / hatred for authority. (Granted rebellion, drugs, sex, and rock and roll go together too, but in my context I didn’t hear much rock and roll.) I also grew up hearing how much white people still owe black people for past wrongs.

    So, this was my exposure to black culture. Admittedly, not everyone in my community was like this. But enough were that I wondered where black families like the Huxtables actually lived and thrived because I didn’t see many black families that were intact and flourishing.

    That being said, growing up in my context, I began to view the black Americans in my community as takers instead of contributors and as the source of many of their own problems. As more blacks moved into our community, more whites moved out. The crime rate increased. The businesses in the community closed. The community became a shell of what it once was. In the midst of this, the black community blamed the community’s problems on racism and white flight.

    So, how should I view the black community today, Dr. Anyabwile? All I know is what I experienced growing up. I was not the “privileged race” growing up in my community; in fact, I was looked down upon because I was the racial minority in my community and in my school. I was even told by some that I was getting treated how white people deserved to be treated.

    I don’t want a person’s race or ethnicity to determine how I view them today. But, my experiences as a white kid growing up in a black community and school system has made a lasting impression on me. What must I do now? I don’t want my past to inform my current views on the black community.

    1. Thabiti says:

      Hi Tom,

      First, it’s just “Thabiti” or “Pastor T” if you must use a title.

      Second, thank you for taking the risk to open your life and thoughts to a reading world. That’s not easy to do, and I appreciate your risking being vilified and judged. I hope such risks of faith actually help to heal and guide us all.

      A few quick thoughts/reactions:

      1. I’m sorry for the things you experienced as a White man/boy in a predominantly AA context. I know what it’s like, in the reverse. It should never happen to anyone. It’s never pleasant.

      2. Part of the way forward is recognizing that though you saw those things and had those experiences (you don’t need to deny them), that’s not the entire story. As you admit, “not everyone was like that.” But now you have to work through seeing what the many others were actually like. Who were they? What did they think? How did they live? What did they want? Are they the rule or the exception? How do you know? We all attribute things to other people. It’s part of life. What you want to develop are reasoned attributions for a community you currently view through one perspective, a lot of that painful.

      3. You want to deny your history the power to define your future. Actually, you’ll find that the best of AA history and culture embodies this lesson. It’s partly why I’m deeply concerned about the nihilism that exists increasingly in poor urban communities. That nihilism says your past and your current circumstances rule. That’s it. Game over. But AAs have long proven that despite desperate odds and great opposition the future can be different. That’s a lesson you might want to take from our history and culture. You don’t have to be enslaved to your past. Instead, confess the hurt (as you’ve begun to do here). Forgive those who have hurt you. In love, think the best about people. And help others. Turn your hurts into a positive motivation for progress–for you and for others.

      There’s such a tendency for everyone to coddle their offenses and lick their wounds. You can see it almost daily. Sometimes when we don’t see it, we’re simply suppressing it. But we can resolve hurts and reconcile after offense–even deeply painful offenses. We can be free. Jesus sets us free from our sin, from the sin of others against us, and from the loathing, hatred, prejudice, fear, and bad judgments we’re all vulnerable to.

      Grateful for your comments, friend. Blog posts and comments are a tough medium for communicating the kind of heart and vulnerability you’ve revealed here. I hope something here helps.

      The Lord bless you and keep you,
      T-

  5. Ronald Miller says:

    The end justifies the means. Sadly I was duped at first. This is not about race, it is socialist politics. It is socialist gospel and socialist justice. It’s Liberation Theology raising its ugly head, “No, No not God Bless America, God damn America!” It is Du Bois meeting Alinsky. While the church today may talk about “race” they refuse to talk about the politics behind this, perhaps afraid to lose tax exemption. It seems progressivism has killed our schools, government, and business and now has found poisoning our mega-churches similar to what happened in Nazi Germany. Bonhoeffer was a lone voice, there are no Bonheoffer’s today. Billie Holiday’s song “Strange Fruit” describes the racism that was prevalent, where people were killed because of the color of their skin. Martin was not killed because of the color of his skin. The people who need to be called out are the Jacksons the Sharptons Pflegers Obamas and Holders for trying to turn this into a racial issue. These Marxist don’t care about anything but power, they tell their people they are not equal and they will fight to get them equality. This is what Hitler, Lenin, Stalin Mao, Pott all did. Millions were murdered, doesn’t sound like equality to me. Striving for equality is like keeping up with the Jones’s somebody else will always have more than yourself, so one will never be satisfied. Jesus did not preach equality, like Universalist, liberation theology, social gospel and social justice “Christians” do. He taught taking form the one who had one and gave to the one who had many. He did teach us to be humble and think more of others than our selves. I don’t want preachers or the GC endorsing (R) politicians, most of them are progressive anyways. Jesus was not a race baiter, poverty pimp or just a “good man” he was and is and will always be the Son of God and a Just God. What Philip Johnson did with “Church of the Tares”: somebody needs to do for the false gospel – social justice. Whle racism does exist and the church needs to confront it, it needs to also confront those who use race as a means to justify their political end. Control over the masses, which is not liberty. Christ gives us Liberty through His death, not by politics or social justice.

  6. i’m loving this dialogue. thanks everyone involved

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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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