Welcome to the Crawl

Before you start, make sure someone gives The Schpeel to your group. 

Also, remember these conversation tips: 1) Be polite, and don’t take offense, 2) Say something if you don’t understand, 3) Ask “why” and speak up if you disagree (It’s not rude, its just a good conversation). Now, order a drink and start unpacking the deep mysteries of the universe!

The Big QUestion: Is there a “Christian” way to think about race?

THE Main Questions

  • Look below at the various definitions of “race.” What do you think “race” means?
  • Is race real? If no, what is it? If yes, how is it real?
  • Is it possible to avoid using race as a cognitive category?
  • Why might the concept of multiple human races be helpful in our current context?
  • How has the concept of multiple human races harmed our current context?
  • Look below at the discussion of the Greek word ethne in the Bible. How does the word relate to the modern concept of race?
  • Does the Bible offer a clear picture of human race relations?  If yes, what is it saying? If no, why not?
  • What is lost if we try to avoid thinking about race when we discuss theology and Christian ethics? Can something be gained by avoiding the concept?
  • Look at the definition of “implicit bias” below. What do you think of this concept? What challenges does it present our way of thinking and acting? Is there a “Christian” way to address it?
  • Look at the definition of “institutionalized racism” below.  What do you think of this concept? What challenges does it present to our way of thinking and acting? Is there a “Christian” way to address it?
  • Thinking about the overall discussion, do you think that race is an important concept that we need to keep in mind as we do theology? If yes, what role does it play? If no, how can Christians then speak towards racial issues?

KEY DEFINITIONS

  • Race // 2a a family, tribe, people, or nation belonging to the same stock, b a class or kind of people unified by shared interests, habits, or characteristics; 3a an actually or potentially interbreeding group within a species; also a taxonomic category (such as a subspecies) representing such a group b breed, c a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits // Merriam-Webster
  • Ethnicity // an affiliation to a large group of people that are classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, linguistic, or cultural origin or background // Merriam-Webster
  • ethne // (Greek) (1) A People Group (Social): a large group of people based on cultural, physical, or geographic toes; (2) Gentile: every ethnicities group or nation not allied with and trusting the God of Israel; (3) The People of Israel: the people group (normally) geographically situated in Palestine of those descended from Abraham who claimed alliance and trust in the God of Israel. // Logos Bible Software
  • Implicit Bias // refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner.  These biases, which encompass both favorable and unfavorable assessments, are activated involuntarily and without an individual’s awareness or intentional control. // Ohio State University
  • Institutionalized Racism // the systematic distribution of resources, power and opportunity in our society to the benefit of people who are white and the exclusion of people of color // Solid Ground

KEY FACTS 

  • Wrongful Convictions // Black people are 12 times more likely to be wrongly convicted of drug-related crimes than white people. // CNN
  • Incarceration // 58 percent of prisoners are black or Hispanic, despite making up one quarter of the U.S. population. // NAACP
  • Voting Rights // 3 percent of all black men are denied the right to vote. // Race Forward
  • Segregation // 74 percent of black students and 80 percent of Latino students attend schools that are more than half-minority populations. // The Atlantic
  • Unemployment // In 2013, the unemployment rate for black college grads was almost twice as high as the rate for grads overall. // USED
  • Homebuying // Asian American homebuyers are shown 20 percent fewer homes than white homebuyers. // USHUD
  • Wealth Inequality // White families hold 90 percent of the national wealth. Black and Latino families combined hold less than five percent. // Demos

Important Scripture

  • And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted period // Acts 17:26
  • After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, // Revelation 7:9
  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him // Genesis 1:27
  • Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. // Colossians 3:11

THOUGHTS FROM OTHERS

  • Racism springs from the lie that certain human beings are less than fully human. It’s a self-centered falsehood that corrupts our minds into believing we are right to treat others as we would not want to be treated // Alveda King
  • Incidents of racial bias and implicit bias happen to African-Americans of every social class daily in America. White people seldom notice or dwell on these as they encounter the quotidian events of their day. // Anthea Butler
  • Christians of different races should, in an ideal sense, live in harmony with one another. They should do so while retaining their separateness and distinctness, like the cells of a body, ultimately like the Godhead himself. // 
  • The saddest part of the human race is we’re obsessed with this idea of ‘us and them,’ which is really a no-win situation, whether it’s racial, cultural, religious or political. // Dave Matthews
  • The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black. // James Baldwin
  • Any theology that is indifferent to the theme of liberation is not Christian theology. // James H. Cone
  • Black Theology centers around the belief that the black community is where God is at work. // James H. Cone

Resources

  • Article // Race and Ethnicity in the Bible: Misreading Scripture Through Western Eyes // Urbana
  • Article // White Jesus // HuffPost
  • Book // The History of White People // Nell Irvin Painter
  • Book // America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America // Jim Wallis
  • Book // The Myth of Equality: Uncovering the Roots of Injustice and Privilege // Ken Wytsma
  • Resources // Theological Works by Black Theologians, Pastors, and Scholars // The Witness
  • Educate // The Race and Christian Community Initiative // Emmanuel Gospel Center