Is Colorblind Theology Blind?

When we look at people, should we see color? One white pastor has called for a colorblind approach while promoting a video from a white nationalist website. Understandably, his advocacy for colorblind theology has been questioned.
Philadelphia pastor Eric Mason recently issued this call on Twitter:

From here, it gets really complicated.

His call was a reply to a conversation between the national co-director of Cru Inner City John Sather and James White, a pastor and prominent Christian apologist in the reformed tradition. Given the sprawling nature of Twitter conversations, I will not try to provide a blow by blow account, but what I can gather is that White and several who disagree with him have been sparring for several weeks over racial reconciliation in the church.
White defends what has been labeled “colorblind theology.” I can’t tell (and he hasn’t answered my efforts to contact him) if he coined the term or if one of his opponents did. By that, I think he means that we are all members of the human race. There is no need for whites to reconcile with African-Americans or any minority because Christ accomplished reconciliation on the cross. Any offense of my white ancestors against the ancestors of my black brothers and sisters are covered by the cross so there is nothing for me to do about it in the present. In response to various tweets and podcasts on this topic, pastor Mika Edmonson offered a rebuttal on Twitter which eventually led to Mason’s call for a council. Here is one of Edmonson’s tweets:

The Colorblind Plot Darkens

Like many Twitter controversies, some of the conflict is due to the compressed nature of the messages. Communicating in snippets with meandering threads makes it difficult to follow a line of thought from beginning to end. Nuance is possible but more difficult than a panel discussion or a series of articles.
However, what makes me question Mr. White’s sincerity is his promotion of a white nationalist YouTube account: EuropeanUnity565. It doesn’t take much digging to learn that this channel is a repository for white pride and neo-nazi music and protest videos. Here is a tweet where White takes YouTube to task for limiting a EiropeanUnity565 video on “cultural Marxism.”


He uses two tweets (here’s the other one) to criticize YouTube for declaring this content offensive. Should these tweets tell me a lot about Mr. White?
I asked White if he knew what EuropeanUnity565 stood for (no answer). Others did the same thing with no response. For instance:


Given his attention to Twitter, it is hard to imagine that he didn’t see these messages.
Colorblindness is one thing, but being blind to white nationalism is another. Could this be a signal that colorblind theology just makes you blind?

Civil Rights and White Privilege

In any case, colorblind theology, if I understand it correctly, may be problematic even if there are no deeper, darker attitudes.


I don’t know all of the practical implications of colorblind theology. Because he seems to minimize social categories of race, I asked White if he favored the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (no answer). I welcome any adherent of colorblind theology to engage me on this point. I wonder if those who consider racial categories to be psychological rather than theologically essential believe American law should allow discrimination.
In one of the podcasts I listened to, White referred to white privilege in a sarcastic manner. I don’t know for sure what he thinks about it, but I am sure it is a fact. My minority brothers and sisters have suffered in ways I will never experience in this country. If being colorblind leads to a denial of reality, then count me out. Indeed, any theology that leads one to be blind to white nationalism is one that is blind to more than color.

I Have a Dream Speech – Martin Luther King, Jr.

In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. today, I link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech delivered August 28, 1963 in Washington, D.C. during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
Be inspired.

For a transcript of the speech, you can consult the National Archives at this link.  It is fascinating to examine the draft of the speech. In particular, the phrase “I have a dream today” isn’t in the draft. He improvised the phrase.  He had used it before but it wasn’t in the prepared remarks. In the moment, inspiration came to him and he took the speech to another level. See this interview with Clarence Jones for more on that story.

Trump Religious Advisor Robert Jeffress: Nothing Racist About Restricting Immigration by Race

Trying to defend President Donald Trump’s comments preferring immigrants from Norway over Haiti, El Salvador and Africa, First Baptist Church of Dallas pastor Robert Jeffress told the Washington Post that race is an acceptable reason for the government to discriminate in immigration.
According to reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey, Jeffress told her that the U.S. has the right “to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes, including race or other qualifications.” He claimed that there isn’t anything racist about such restrictions.* I would like to hear an explanation for that. What else besides racial prejudice would lead the U.S. to prefer whites over non-whites? I would like to hear Rev. Jeffress’ answer to that question.
Jeffress’ blatant defense of racial discrimination is reminiscent of opposition by other Southern white men to the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act. INA struck down immigration quotas and increased immigration from Africa, Latin America and Asia. INA was opposed by those who wanted to maintain discrimination in immigration policy. Essentially, the policy prior to 1965 favored European immigration with limits on people coming in from elsewhere in the world. Now in 2018, Trump’s preference for white Norwegians over dark skinned Africans and Jeffress’ defense of his position sound like the same rhetoric used by opponents of the INA in 1965.
One of the most vocal opponents of INA was Senator Sam Ervin (D-NC). During Senate hearings on the bill, Ervin expressed that race and country of origin should be used in immigration discrimination. Ervin said:

The people of Ethiopia have the same right to come to the United States under this bill as the people from England, the people of France, the people of Germany, the people of Holland. With all due respect to Ethiopia, I don’t know of any contributions that Ethiopia has made to the making of America.

He wasn’t alone in his views.
As Tom Gjelten documents in his book A Nation of Nations, Spessard Hollard (D-FL) asked during debate on the bill:

Why, for the first time, are the emerging nations of Africa, to be placed on the same basis as are our mother countries – Britain, Germany, Scandinavian nations, France, and the other nations from which most Americans have come?

Without the profanity, Ervin and Spessard raised the same questions in 1965 as Trump and Jeffress are raising now. Why do we want these people from Africa? We should have more people from Europe.

Blinded by the White

A sign of white privilege is the distortion of reality it promotes. Ervin and Spessard seemed oblivious to the fact that citizens in their states had African heritage. As Gjelten points out in his book, “In the 1960 census, Americans of African descent out-numbered Scandinavian Americans by a margin of two and a half to one, and there were more African-Americans in the United States than there were Americans whose origins lay in Italy, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, and Switzerland combined.”
Apparently, as Gjelten notes, Ervin and Spessard didn’t consider African nations as “mother countries.” Of course, that is absurd. One would have to look at U.S. history through the lens of white privilege to think people with African heritage have made no contributions to American life and culture.
Some of Trump’s defenders have said Trump just said what some people are thinking when he expressed his preference for Norwegians over people

Robert Jeffress - from Twitter page
Robert Jeffress – from Twitter page

from “shithole” countries. Perhaps some white people are thinking those things, but a look at the history of the Civil Rights struggle shows that some people always have. In the 1960s, those views were shown the door legislatively. Now they are front and center in the White House, with evangelical religious leaders to defend them.
As a religious advisor to the president, Jeffress claims that the United States has the right to engage in racial discrimination in immigration policy. His evangelical peers should not let that stand without condemnation. Racial discrimination was evil in 1965 and it is evil now, wherever it occurs. There is no national interest in that kind of evil.
Tomorrow we remember Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy. King, Jr. lamented the silence of the white church during the fight for civil rights. The church should not be silent now.
 
*I confirmed this conversation with Washington Post reporter Sarah Pulliam Bailey. Jeffress told Bailey that the United States has the right to restrict immigration according to whatever criteria it establishes. She then asked him, “Would you include race?” He said, “Whatever criteria we deem necessary.” She asked him a direct question about race which he agreed to.

W.H. Chief of Staff John Kelly Can't Get the Confederacy Right

no Confederate flagAs has been widely reported, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly last night on the Laura Ingraham Show said Robert E. Lee was an honorable man and the Civil War was fought because the North and South couldn’t compromise. Kelly was brought into the White House to keep Trump from stepping on verbal landmines. However, he has stepped on a few of his own in recent days.
The unforced historical error comes amid two indictments and the revelation yesterday of an even more damning guilty plea from a former Trump campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos relating to the Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Some historical matters arouse little passion, some are critical to get right. Anything involving slavery and the Confederacy and understandably critical to get right. And it isn’t difficult. Lee fought for the South in the Civil War which was fought to keep African slavery as a moral good. All the compromising took place before the war and was evil. See, not hard.
A good social media place to look at for a response to Kelly is Ta-Nehesi Coates thread on Lee and the Civil War.
For more from past posts, see below:
Robert E. Lee on slavery – This post contains a letter from Lee to his wife.
The Vice-President of the Confederacy Alexander Stephens on slavery as the reason for the Confederacy – This post contains the words of a speech by Stephens declaring slavery as integral to the new Confederacy.
Unfortunately, it appears that Kelly may have read too much history from David Barton. Barton believes Lee was a good guy and isn’t in favor of removing the Confederate statues. Even though Barton correctly attributes the cause of the Civil War to slavery, he falters on many other alt-right talking points.
UPDATE:
And of course, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, W.H. Spokesperson came out and defended Kelly’s comments.


The heads of thousands of sane historians explode.
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Question for Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration: What Does Indigenous Mean?

President Trump’s immigration policies have split the evangelical world. Many called on Trump to save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program while others applauded the president for rescinding it.  Now that the matter is in the hands of Congress, lobbying for both sides is fierce. Some evangelical groups have promised an intense lobbying campaign to pass legislation favorable to illegal immigrants while others, such as Evangelicals for Biblical Immigration, promote a more exclusionary approach.
The EBI group recently wrote a letter to President Trump, Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urging them to put Americans first. The view of the world espoused by EBI sounds similar to positions espoused by segregationists during the era leading up to the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964. Historian Paul Matzko illustrated this connection by citing a 1960 sermon by segregationist Rev. Bob Jones. Jones said, “[The Apostle] Paul said that God ‘. . . hath made of one blood all nations of men . . . .’ But He also fixed the bounds of their habitation. When nations break out of their boundaries and begin to do things contrary to the purpose of God and the directive will of God, they have trouble.”
To further illustrate, let’s compare the EBI letter to Caroline County Circuit Judge Leon Bazile’s 1959 rationale for Virginia’s law against biracial marriage in a case which involved Richard and Mildred Loving. That situation ultimately led to the Supreme Court’s 1967 landmark decision in Loving v. Virginia which struck down those prohibitions. First, the EBI letter’s statements about people and nations:

While some faith groups use selective Bible words for open borders and amnesty, we consider the whole counsel of Scripture. We find that the Bible does not teach open borders, but wise welcome. We are to welcome the lawful foreigner, who, like a convert, comes as a blessing (eg.s Ruth and Rahab). We also find Nehemiah building walls to protect citizens from harm. In Isaiah 1, we see God condemning the destruction of borders and indigenous culture.
All lives matter. The lives of North, Central and South Americans matter. The lives of Africans, Asians, Europeans and people from the Middle East matter. In Scripture, we learn that God placed us each in a family, a land, an epic story of creation, the fall and redemption. The Bible envisions a world of beautiful and unique nations, not a stateless ‘open society’ run by global oligarchs. Each of us is called to be a blessing where God has placed us in the world. (emphasis in the original)

Now read Judge Bazile’s rationale for keeping the races separate.

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The EBI letter is not as nakedly segregationist as Bazile’s claim but contains similar reasoning. According to the Judge and the EBI letter writers, God made the borders and put the people in them. Our job is to smile, stay put, and deal with it.

What Does Indigenous Mean?

Without apparent awareness of our own history, the EBI writers say God condemns “the destruction of borders and indigenous culture.” If that is always true, then God must condemn America. The Europeans who came here obviously didn’t stay where God placed them.  Instead they came to this land and destroyed the indigenous culture. Not only did the white European take this land from the native people, the “settlers” forced the native people to leave their lands time and time again, most notably between 1830 and 1840 in what became known as the Trail of Tears. Not only were borders destroyed, but thousands of native men, women, and children died during the march from the Southeast to Oklahoma.

Indian school, Carlisle PA. Public domain
Indian school, Carlisle PA. Public domain

They were punished for using their native language, wearing native dress and for any positive reference to their indigenous culture. If the EBI signers really believe that God condemns such destruction, then they should fall to their knees in repentance and fear.
The EBI letter is a confusing hodgepodge of nativist talking points baptized with references to the Bible used out of their historical context. It is understandable that the Breitbart alt-right crowd likes it.
There are practical reasons for limiting the number of people coming to the country, but I can see no reason, biblical or otherwise, to limit people by race, religion, or national origin. God as a prop for political xenophobia does not reflect his whole counsel, but rather reflects the worldly counsel of the writers.

James Robison: Are We Going to Rip Amazing Grace from Hymnal Because John Newton Was a Slave Trader?

Gateway Church apostolic elder and member of Donald Trump’s evangelical advisory board, James Robison, today asked God if Amazing Grace should be removed from the hymnbook because John Newton was a slave trader. Although he doesn’t mention Confederate statues, in a video titled, What Must We Do When All Hell Breaks Loose, Robison appears to signal his views on removing symbols of the past. Watch:

He first asks God to release healing and asks for peace, joy, and wisdom. He quickly goes to preaching and seems to debate God over Confederate symbols. At 3:38, Robison says:

We’ve made many mistakes; we have failed throughout history, but Father to go back and root up and tear down every memory, even of those who failed but perhaps were moved to positive change. Are we going to rip Amazing Grace out of every hymnbook because John Newton was a slave trader? Are we gonna go back and attack Wilberforce because he was a member of a parliament in Great Britain that once encouraged and supported slavery? Are we gonna refuse to recognize what you did in spite of our wrong when your grace moved us to respond to your wisdom and apply it? As it has happened in our country, help us to move away from the horrors of the past and the wickedness of things that were in place far too long. And thank you for the corrections that have come and stand against all hatred, all racial tension and division. Even the sectarian, and political and partisan divide. God would you move us together to be a family.

He then prays for Christians to unite and not use the Bible as a “club.” Finally, he asks his audience to trust God for a miracle.

What Does His Prayer Have to Do with Charlottesville?

While Robison didn’t mention the Charlottesville protests, his words certainly point to that context. His prayer is unusual in that he seems to make a case to God that there is a problem with rooting up symbols from the past. The symbol at issue in Charlottesville was the statue of Robert E. Lee. Although Robison didn’t defend the Lee statue directly, it seems reasonable to think he was referring to efforts to remove the statue.
The problem is that none of what Robison prayed relates directly to the Lee statue in Charlottesville. John Newton was a slave trader but did change his mind late in life and supported Wilberforce’s effort to end the slave trade. Wilberforce and the British parliament is an even further stretch for a comparable situation. Wilberforce helped bring the slave trade to an end in Britain. Despite the Lost Cause myths surrounding Lee, he wasn’t a figure who should be honored with a tribute. In any case, Lee wasn’t a hero and didn’t end up on the right side. Perhaps, Robison has been a victim of bad history.
According to Robert Morris, the pastor at Gateway, Robison has Donald Trump’s personal cell phone number and takes his calls “two or three times per week.” Perhaps Trump’s stance on this issue has been informed by Robison and those who think like him. If so, I hope someone close to Robison can educate him about Lee and the pain those Confederate symbols cause to many African-Americans.
As for me, I continue to believe Christians should get behind the movement to remove Confederate statues and tributes from the public square and place them in museums or other locations where the evils of slavery and racism are described.

Are Rachel Dolezal and Caitlyn Jenner Alike? Conflict over Ethnic Identity and Gender Identity Examined (VIDEO UPDATES)

UPDATED: Dolezal as a white woman sued Howard University for racial discrimination. See video on that point at the end of this post. Video of her interview with Matt Lauer is also at the end of the post.
Rachel Dolezal has become an object of media and public attention because she has identified as a black woman for years even though both of her biological parents are white. She recently was outed by her parents but told Matt Lauer on the Today Show today: “I identify as black.”
In May 2008, I asked Ken Zucker, a psychologist best known for his work in gender dysphoria, for permission to reprint a post from the SEXNET listserv, an internet group of people who research and write about sexuality research. The post addressed the question: are ethnic identity conflict and gender identity conflict similar in any meaningful ways? Although Zucker’s illustrations primarily examine the case of darker skinned people wanting to pass as white, his post addresses some of the current issues raised by Rachel Dolezal’s public statements about her ethnic identity.
Dr. Zucker:

In the interview I had with the NPR journalist, Alix Spiegel, I posed the question: How would a clinician respond to a young child (in this instance a Black youngster) who presented with the wish to be White? I had already sent Ms. Spiegel an essay that I published in 2006 in which I had presented this analogy and she told me that she was intrigued by the argument.
In this post, I list some references that I have accumulated over the years that discusses issues of ethnic identity conflict in children and adults. In the 2006 paper, I was particularly influenced, rightly or wrongly, by an essay Brody (1963) wrote many years ago. I think it is worth reading. Thus, I did not invent the analogy out of thin air. I had been influenced by three things: first, I was aware of this literature on ethnic identity conflict and I thought it had some lessons in it; second, I had observed, over the years, that some kids that I have seen in my clinic who had a biracial ethnic background also sometimes struggled with that (e.g., wanting to be White, like their mother, and not wanting to be Black or non-white Hispanic, like their father) or wanting to be an American (and not a Canadian) or wanting to be a dog (and not a human). I have thought about these desires as, perhaps, an indication of a more general identity confusion. Third, I was influenced by a remark Richard Pleak made in a 1999 essay, in which he wrote that the notion that “attempting to change children’s gender identity for [the purpose of reducing social ostracism] seems as ethically repellant as bleaching black children’s skin in order to improve their social life among white children” (p. 14). I thought about his argument and decided that it could be flipped. Thus, in the 2006 essay, I wrote:
This is an interesting argument, but I believe that there are a number of problems with the analysis. I am not aware of any contemporary clinician who would advocate “bleaching” for a Black child (or adult) who requests it. Indeed, there is a clinical and sociological literature that considers the cultural context of the “bleaching syndrome” vis-a-vis racism and prejudice (see, e.g., Hall, 1992, 1995). Interestingly, there is an older clinical literature on young Black children who want to be White (Brody, 1963)–what might be termed “ethnic identity disorder” and there are, in my view, clear parallels to GID. Brody’s analysis led him to conclude that the proximal etiology was in the mother’s “deliberate but unwitting indoctrination” of racial identity conflict in her son because of her own negative experiences as a Black person. Presumably, the treatment goal would not be to endorse the Black child’s wish to be White, but rather to treat the underlying factors that have led the child to believe that his life would be better as a White person. As an aside, there is also a clinical literature on the relation between distorted ethnic identity (e.g., a Black person’s claim that he was actually born White, but then transformed) and psychosis (see Bhugra, 2001; Levy, Jones, & Olin, 1992). Of course, in this situation, the treatment is aimed at targeting the underlying psychosis and not the symptom.
The ethnic identity literature leads to a fundamental question about the psychosocial causes of GID, which Langer and Martin do not really address. In fact, they appear to endorse implicitly what I would characterize as “liberal essentialism,” i.e., that children with GID are “born that way” and should simply be left alone. Just like Brody was interested in understanding the psychological, social, and cultural factors that led his Black child patients to desire to be White, one can, along the same lines, seek to understand the psychological, social, and cultural factors that lead boys to want to be girls and girls to want to be boys. Many contemporary clinicians have argued that GID in children is the result, at least in part, of psychodynamic and psychosocial mechanisms, which lead to an analogous fantasy solution: that becoming a member of the other sex would somehow resolve internalized distress (e.g., Coates, Friedman, & Wolfe, 1991; Coates & Person, 1985; Coates & Wolfe, 1995). Of course, Langer and Martin may disagree with these formulations, but they should address them, critique them, and explain why they think they are incorrect. I would argue that it is as legitimate to want to make youngsters comfortable with their gender identity (to make it correspond to the physical reality of their biological sex) as it is to make youngsters comfortable with their ethnic identity (to make it correspond to the physical reality of the color of their skin).
On this point, however, I take a decidedly developmental perspective. If the primary goal of treatment is to alleviate the suffering of the individual, there are now a variety of data sets that suggest that persistent gender dysphoria, at least when it continues into adolescence, is unlikely to be alleviated in the majority of cases by psychological means, and thus is likely best treated by hormonal and physical contra-sex interventions, particularly after a period of living in the cross-gender role indicates that this will result in the best adaptation for the adolescent male or female (e.g., Cohen-Kettenis & van Goozen, 1997; Smith, van Goozen, & Cohen-Kettenis, 2001; Zucker, 2006). In childhood, however, the evidence suggests that there is a much greater plasticity in outcome (see Zucker, 2005a). As a result, many clinicians, and I am one of them, take the position that a trial of psychological treatment, including individual therapy and parent counseling, is warranted (for a review of various intervention approaches, see Zucker, 2001). To return briefly to the ethnic identity disorder comparison, I would speculate that one might find similar results, i.e., that it would be relatively easier to resolve ethnic identity dissatisfaction in children than it would be in adolescents (or adults). Although I am not aware of any available data to test this conjecture, I think of Michael Jackson’s progressively “white” appearance as an example of the narrowing of plasticity in adulthood.
Two caveats: first, the literature on psychosis and ethnic identity conflict that is cited in no way was meant to imply that transgendered people are psychotic; the comparison is to a very small number of people who have “delusions” of gender change in which the primary diagnosis is Schizophrenia. This was first noted in the DSM-III and remains in the DSM-IV text description; second, I can criticize my own argument along these lines: “Well, this may all be true, but surely there is no evidence for a biological factor that would cause a Black person to want to be White, but maybe there is a biological factor or set of biological factors that either predispose or cause a person with the phenotype of one sex to feel like they are of the other sex (gender).” And to that I would say fair enough.
Bhugra, D. (2001). Ideas of distorted ethnic identity in 43 cases of psychosis. International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 47, 1-7.
Brody, E. B. (1963). Color and identity conflict in young boys: Observations of Negro mothers and sons in urban Baltimore. Psychiatry, 26, 188-201.
Brunsma, D. L., & Rockquemore, K. A. (2001). The new color complex: Appearances and biracial identity. Identity: An International Journal of Theory and Research, 1, 225-246.
Fuller, T. (2006, May 14). A vision of pale beauty carries risks for Asia’s women. New York Times.
Goodman, M. E. (1952). Race awareness in young children. Cambridge: Addison-Wesley.
Hall, R. (1992). Bias among African-Americans regarding skin color: Implications for social work practice. Research on Social Work Practice, 2, 479-486.
Hall, R. (1995). The bleaching syndrome: African Americans’ response to cultural domination vis-B-vis skin color. Journal of Black Studies, 26, 172-184.
Lauerma, H. (1996). Distortion of racial identity in schizophrenia. Nordic Journal of Psychiatry, 50, 71-72.
Levy, A. S., Jones, R. M., & Olin, C. H. (1992). Distortion of racial identity and psychosis [Letter]. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 845.
Mann, M. A. (2006). The formation and development of individual and ethnic identity: Insights from psychiatry and psychoanalytic theory. American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 66, 211-224.
Russell, K., Wilson, M., & Hall, R. (1992). The color complex: The politics of skin color among African Americans. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Sanders Thompson, V. L. (2001). The complexity of African American racial identification. Journal of Black Studies, 32, 155-165.
Schneck, J. M. (1977). Trichotillomania and racial identity [Letter to the Editor]. Diseases of the Nervous System, 38, 219.
Stephan, C. W., & Stephan, W. G. (2000). The measurement of racial and ethnic identity. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 24, 541-552.
Tate, C., & Audette, D. (2001). Theory and research on ‘race’ as a natural kind variable in psychology. Theory & Psychology, 11, 495-520.
Ken Zucker

Zucker’s provocative post is timely now. Rachel Dolezal’s and Caitlyn Jenner’s stories have caused people to question and examine categories which seem to most people to be discreet categories. One is either a part of one group or another. However, gender is increasingly being questioned by scientists and activists alike. Race and ethnicity has been seen as more fluid but for different reasons than are posed by Dolezal. Can a person simply declare an ethnicity based on psychological affinity for that ethnicity? Is Zucker correct to wonder about an analogy between ethnic identity disorder and gender identity disorder?
Regarding Dolezal, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will the decreasing plasticity Zucker describes demonstrate itself here. She certainly has taken a very public step by declaring herself to be black. Social psychological research tells us that it may be harder for her to walk back from that now that she has made a public declaration. If she does revert to a “white identity” then I will be interested in the social and psychological factors which could bring that about.
ABC News has the story of Dolezal’s discrimination suit.

ABC US News | World News
Interview with Matt Lauer (embed not working, click here for video)

Tony Evans, White Privilege, and the Two World Policy

Tony Evans Interview
Screen capture from Dallas Theological Seminary interview

Tony Evans raised eyebrows several weeks ago when he said the African-American family was “a lot stronger” during slavery than now. He later issued a statement saying “slavery was “ungodly, unrighteous, and unbiblical.” However, he maintained that Black families today have “lost some of our unity” in contrast to Black unity during slavery.  While we disagree about the stronger slave family, I appreciated Evans’ efforts to address his earlier remarks.
Evans had other things to say in that Dallas Theological Seminary interview. Although I appreciated the fact that the conversation was happening at all, I have to take issue with something else that Evans taught in the interview. Talking about African-Americans adapting to “the White world,” Evans said:

It’s not an equitable adaption because it’s not the same situation. And so that’s just a reality. Now you can fight about it but that’s the way it is. And since that’s the way it is we need to learn spiritual truth that enables us to do that and not fight against that reality. That becomes a growth opportunity for both sides.

With this quote and in the rest of this segment, Evans provided a pretty good description of White privilege. Begin watching at 14:16 into the video:
[youtube]https://youtu.be/KyBrnK_c1O0?t=14m15s[/youtube]
Transcript (from Dallas Theological Seminary’s page):

Dr. Evans: Well you do have to fight against it because you are – and a lot of times swimming upstream against background history, what your mother and daddy taught you, what your experiences have been, if you had negative experiences with a minority and you’re Anglo, that’s gonna color that. You know so and we also have to understand there’s a real reality here and that is African-Americans have to function in a White world. You know, your work is going to typically be in that world and you have to, you don’t have a choice. You have to do business in that world.
So but the Anglo world rarely has to function in an African-American context. It does it because it chooses to. African-Americans do it because you have to. And that dynamic colors a lot because Anglos are much less acquainted with my world. I’m much more acquainted with their world because I have to be. And therefore that colors the perspective and that colors who the power brokers are because you know, for my ministries to survive I have to be heavily dependent in our national ministry on stations that I don’t own and have limited influence in, and for people I need to engage them in a way that doesn’t so offend them that they’re not willing to support me even though I’m African-American because that is the world in which we live. So you always as an African-American dancing a little bit.
Dr. Bock: You’re negotiating with a majority culture.
Dr. Evans: You’re negotiating with a major – now for other African-Americans who are offended by that and some are offended by that and I get often called an Uncle Tom. Well you know the question is do I want to stay where you want me to be or do I want to stay where God has called me to be? And to do that you do have to negotiate without compromising truth or principle.
Dr. Bock: Yeah you know it’s interesting. Most or many Anglos I think who live in our culture don’t understand what it is to be in a minority culture. I will say there are pockets where this can happen. And that is if you – as my children did. My children went – we chose to put our children in public school. They were a minority at Hillcrest High School here in Dallas. I mean they were, there were like 170 languages, there was only a 12 percent, I think it was 12 percent Anglo population in the school.
Everyone else was either from Latin America or they were African-American or they were from another foreign country. It was a real mix. And my kids got the experience. I actually thought it was a terrific experience for them of what it was like to be in a minority, what it was like for everyone around you to be different. My equivalent of that experience was when we moved to Germany.
We moved to Germany I didn’t have the language, or at least not very well. I mean I could order food and do some, but didn’t really have the language. I would go to a PTA meeting where our kids were in schools in the German schools and be struggling to get the language. I knew what it was like to be Hispanic in an American PTA meeting and not really know English. You know I experienced what that’s like.
And there is a negotiating is also a word but there’s also a coping that you have to go through. There’s adjustments about here you have all these thoughts in your head and what you’re thinking but you’re not able to express it and connect with people in the midst of it, that kind of thing. And you realize you’re on a different page and you’re coming from a different place and all that goes into – there’s a frustration with not being able to really show who you are in the midst of some of this.
Dr. Evans: Absolutely. You have to adapt. People have to adapt all the time to different scenarios. The difference is that because African-Americans have to be in the White world and therefore have to adapt, and Whites don’t have to be in the Black world and therefore don’t have to adapt, the adaption is not equal.
Dr. Bock: That’s right.
Dr. Evans: It’s not an equitable adaption because it’s not the same situation. And so that’s just a reality. Now you can fight about it but that’s the way it is. And since that’s the way it is we need to learn spiritual truth that enables us to do that and not fight against that reality. That becomes a growth opportunity for both sides.

I agree with Evans that White privilege exists, but I disagree with him when he says we should “not fight against that reality.”
Evans knows that the adaptation of African-Americans to “the White world” is “not an equitable adaption.” However, he doesn’t seem to challenge it head on. He says that Blacks have to adapt to the White world, even saying African-Americans are always “dancing a little bit.”
When I first heard this, it bothered me. The more I thought about it, the more it seems to me that this way of thinking could too easily become an apologetic for White privilege. Although I agree that too often White privilege is real, it should not be. However, Evans appears to oppose fighting “the way it is.”

Now you can fight about it but that’s the way it is. And since that’s the way it is we need to learn spiritual truth that enables us to do that and not fight against that reality. That becomes a growth opportunity for both sides.

If I understand him correctly, I disagree. I don’t want to live in a White world. I live in God’s world where, according to my beliefs, privilege is not given because of the color of one’s skin. In contrast to Evans’ message, I believe we do need to fight against “that reality.” I can’t imagine any spiritual truth that should enable acceptance of White privilege. The growth opportunity is in confronting and opposing the harmful status quo.
Bruce Hornsby had it right in the song “The Way It Is

Some things will never change
That’s just the way it is
Ah but don’t you believe them

Remarkably, Evans suggests that his success as an African-American radio personality has come, in part, because he has not offended “White world” station owners.

…that colors who the power brokers are because you know, for my ministries to survive I have to be heavily dependent in our national ministry on stations that I don’t own and have limited influence in, and for people I need to engage them in a way that doesn’t so offend them that they’re not willing to support me even though I’m African-American because that is the world in which we live. So you always as an African-American dancing a little bit.

I want to know more about this. What has Evans had to dance about ? What has he had to do and say to avoid offending White station owners? We need to know more about this, not sweep it under the rug.
I understand that White privilege exists, but I don’t believe that White privilege is the way it ought to be. I call on Rev. Evans to reconsider and issue another statement, this time denouncing acquiescence to this two world policy.
[youtube]https://youtu.be/cOeKidp-iWo[/youtube]