THE REPENTANCE PROJECT / AN AMERICAN LENT
Deconstructing the Social Political Construct of Race
WEEK III / DAY III
Wednesday, February 28, 2018
Scripture / Ephesians 2:14
For He himself is our peace who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility...
Our History and Its Legacy
Black — Adj. dirty, sinister, evil, wicked, indicative of condemnation, sad, gloomy, hostile, angry, discontent, depressed, sullen, and grim (Merriam-Webster & Oxford Online Dictionaries)
White — Adj. upright, fairness, unblemished, innocent, favorable, fortunate, purity (Merriam-Webster)
The dictionaries’ descriptions for White and Black served as building blocks in the “dividing wall of hostility” that continues to influence how we see, name and, consequently, treat one another.
Much of the church provided biblical justification for the institution of slavery and subsequent systems of discrimination (apartheid and Jim Crow) by referencing the curse of Noah’s son, Ham (Cushiness). In his 1898 Lectures on Calvinism, former Prime Minister of the Netherlands and theologian, Dr. Abraham Kuyper, inserted a spiritual block in the wall when he stated, “From the high-lands of Asia our human race came down in groups, and these in turn have been divided into races and nations; and in entire conformity to the prophetic blessing of Noah the children of Shem and of Japheth have been the sole bearers of the development of the race. No impulse for any higher life has ever gone forth from the third group [descendants of Ham].”
Historically, scientists and philosophers in universities inserted scientific blocks in the wall by asserting that Africans were less intelligent and therefore unequal with people of European descent.
Thomas Jefferson wrote this in his 1784 Notes On The State of Virginia, “I advance it, therefore, as a suspicion only, that the blacks….are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind…..This unfortunate difference of colour, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people.”
The institution of slavery in the Americas is unique in that it was based primarily on skin color; the one thing a person could not change.
Reflection and Response
One of my college teammates told me in a recent conversation, “I told my son he better be friends with those white boys on his team because he may be working for them one day.” At the crux of his imperative are ingested race-based assumptions about the superiority and inferiority of people groups.
The actual race of a person is not what creates the “dividing wall of hostility,” but rather THE WORTHINESS OR UNWORTHINESS ATTRIBUTED to a person’s race!
Jesus broke down the dividing wall of hostility not to make us “color-blind,” as some would assert, but “color-brave.” Check out this brief TED Talk by Melody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments, on what it takes to be “color-brave.”
Written by Demetrius Summerville