7 Thoughts in the Wake of #GeorgeFloyd

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Truth divides between true and false, right and wrong. And politics do intersect, at certain points, with ethics.

As I Was Saying is a forum for a variety of perspectives to foster faith-related conversations among our readers with the goal of mutual learning, even in disagreement. Apart from articles written by editorial staff, these perspectives do not necessarily reflect the views of The Banner.

1. It Is Personal

I am angry, stressed, and tired. Although I managed to write about speaking out against racism, I have been getting stuck trying to write this article in the wake of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and the global Black Lives Matter protests. Canada also has its own police issues, anti-black racism and anti-Indigenous racism. I am getting stuck because I am angry, stressed, and tired.

My blood pressure rises every time I attempt to write this article. So forgive me if my “tone” in this article is not up to my typical standards. But writing angry is the only way I can finish this piece at this point.

As a Chinese Christian, I am angry at the detractions by fellow Christians that act as excuses to not stand in solidarity with the cries for racial justice. Cumulatively, whether intentional or not, these accusations serve to either distract or dismiss the call for racial justice in favor of the status quo.

I am stressed because I know it will cost me. I will probably get angry emails and comments from readers. I got them when I wrote my editorial about white privilege years ago. I will likely be accused of being divisive or political. As much as I try to be fair and irenic, there are times when the truth is divisive. Truth divides between true and false, right and wrong. And politics do intersect, at certain points, with ethics. As a pastor, I do have expertise and a responsibility to speak on ethical issues from a biblical Christian perspective. I can’t help it if those ethical issues overlap with politics.

I am stressed and angry because it is personal. As a person of color who has experienced racism, I do not have the privilege of treating this as a detached, intellectual observer. It is almost always personal for people of color. But this is often taken by detractors as a sign of our “lack of objectivity” and as a weakness. However, let me turn that around by quoting Eric Nykamp’s post on the CRCNA Network: “People of color have a Ph.D. in American Racism earned by being born and surviving in America, while for us white folks, this was at best an elective class.” And yet, so many detractors have the arrogance to think they know better.

Thank God for faith, hope, and God’s love, and the love of family and friends giving emotional reprieve and joy. Otherwise I might be in constant rage. But what I, as a Chinese immigrant, am feeling is probably only a small portion of what black and Indigenous people feel from all the detractions and resistance.

2. Racial Trauma

According to Sheila Wise Rowe, racial trauma is “the physical and psychological symptoms that people of color often experience after a stressful racist incident. These personal or vicarious incidents happen repeatedly, causing our racial trauma to accumulate, which contributes to a more insidious, chronic stress. … Our traumatic stress triggers a physical and emotional response that then feeds our traumatic stress” (Healing Racial Trauma, p. 10).

This trauma manifests itself in various ways, such as anxiety, depression, fear, anger, and aggression. Many people of color carry open wounds with us. Denials and detractions of our experiences of racism only add to the trauma, often re-traumatizing us. This is why, often, in debates about racism, the person of color gets emotional, angry, and frustrated when our viewpoints and experiences are not fully heard or welcomed. To me, it feels like an emotional erosion, a constant stream of grief, anger, and anxiety that slowly wears down my resilience and strength.

I am sure that detractors can find a minority of people of color who would align with their arguments. Some people of color have internalized racism as a subconscious coping mechanism. They engage in “defensive othering” where by “demonstrating that they share the same attitudes and disdain toward co-ethnics who fit with the stereotypes, they attempt to join the dominant group.” (Healing Racial Trauma, p. 9)

Soong-Chan Rah wrote of how some people of color strive for “honorary white people” status (The Next Evangelicalism, p. 139). I know that is true because I was one of them. Subconsciously, I sought to become an “honorary white Christian,” to be recognized, accepted and affirmed by white Christians. In the process, I neglected (maybe even despised) my God-given Asian heritage, ignoring its cultural gifts, even as I embraced the gifts from Western culture.

Such people of color are complicit in systemic racism. The model minority myth is actually enabling the systemic anti-black racism. We Asian Christians have to change and speak up more. Like the Asian police officer who stood by and did nothing to stop the white officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, we have to reckon with our too-often failure to support blacks and Indigenous folks against racism.

3. Unhearing and Unwelcoming

Whenever egregious acts of injustice occur, people will cry out for justice. But often those cries are not fully heard. Various acts of unhearing often occur from the dominant group. I have already mentioned one—find the few persons of color that agree with you, and you can dismiss the majority crying for justice. Other acts of unhearing includes nit-picking minor faults and/or inaccuracies so you can ignore the forest for the trees. Or minimizing the severity of the situation—it is only a few bad apples, there are no systemic issues. Or going on the counter-attack with what about-ism—what about “black on black” crime?

The cumulative effect of these acts of unhearing is to fail to take seriously the oppressed group’s pain, experience, and viewpoints. For people of color crying for justice, these acts of unhearing send the message, intentional or not, that “you are not welcomed.” When our ideas and experiences are consistently denied, challenged, or dismissed, we get the message that we are not welcome, no matter the lip service paid.

I am not denying that, thankfully, some positive changes do result from the cries, as enough people, or the right people, do hear them and act. However, history shows that the changes were not always implemented justly, nor were nearly enough changes made.

Black people have generations, centuries, of crying out for justice behind them, and they are constantly resisted every step of the way, even now. Can you imagine the pent-up collective frustrations, pain, and anger?

I do want to move away from this anger, stress, and exhaustion. But detractors do not make it easy. The constant unhearing contributes to unhealing.

One common act of unhearing among Christians right now is to take issue with the Black Lives Matter organization’s agenda or extremes. But let’s not throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater, shall we? Yes, BLM has problems. But so does every movement in history, including Christianity. Besides, not every BLM activist agrees with each other. For instance, they don’t even fully agree on solutions to police violence.

If we want to cancel supporting the good of any movement because of its flaws, everyone should abandon the Christian church by now! How many crimes and sins has the church committed, in the name of Christ, over the centuries? How many Christian leaders have spoken and done stupid or even harmful things? #ChurchToo and #MeToo, anyone? Has the church actively supported slavery in the past as part of a “biblical agenda”? Racial apartheid in South Africa? We can go on and on.

Can we not, likewise, stand in solidarity with our black brothers and sisters in support of anti-racism, despite our acknowledged disagreements with other aspects of BLM? If we can distance ourselves from the worst excesses of Christianity, we can, and should, distance ourselves from BLM’s excesses.

By the way, if we want to criticize something, make sure we are being intellectually just. So many Christians, for example, are creating “straw man” arguments about critical race theory to dismiss it and demonize it. Like any human theory, critical race theory has its strengths and weaknesses. I encourage you to read Nathan Luis Cartagena’s explanation of critical race theory online. I believe critical race theory can provide some useful tools to supplement, not replace, our Christian anti-racism work.

4. Jesus Rioted Too

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once described a riot as “the language of the unheard” (quoted in Healing Racial Trauma, p. 3). I am not condoning violence of any kind. It is lamentable, though understandable, that people whose traumatic frustrations and anger at being consistently unheard might boil over into rage and riots. Supporting the protests for racial justice does not mean we are lending support for rioting and looting. But we should not lump the vast majority of peaceful protestors with the small minority of rioters who may or may not even be associated with the protest.

However, focusing on the rioting and destruction of property has become another act of unhearing. Do we really want to emphasize the destruction of property over the killing and oppression of black lives? Rather, as someone who is pro-life “from the womb to the tomb,” I will emphasize people’s lives over property.

Even Jesus staged a one-man riot (Mark 11:15-19). A riot is defined as a violent disturbance of the peace. Jesus overturned the tables belonging to money changers and merchants in the Jerusalem temple, driving people out who were buying and selling. This was not a minor inconvenience. The money changers were necessary as people were forced to exchange Roman currency for the special temple currency. Without the money changers, people cannot buy or sell animals in the temple. Without animals, there can be no animal sacrifices. Without sacrifices, the temple’s reason for being was disrupted. A lot of people’s income, besides the money changers, were affected. It likely halted the entire temple activities for, at least, most of the day.

Race, or ethnicity, was part of Jesus’ protest riot, too. The merchants and money changers were in the Court of the Gentiles, the only place in the Herodian temple where non-Jews were allowed to enter. Gentiles could not go any further beyond this court, in danger of capital punishment. It is, therefore, no accident that Jesus quoted from Isaiah 56:7 in his teaching: “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” All the nations, of course, refer to the Gentiles, the non-Jews. The context of Isaiah 56 showed God promising to bring the “foreigners who join themselves to the LORD” into his holy mountain, accepting their sacrifices and worship. God, “who gathers the outcasts of Israel,” promised: “I will gather others to them besides those already gathered” (Isa. 56:6-8 NRSV).

Isaiah 56’s message of inclusion is clear; God, through faith, will draw in previously excluded groups—Gentiles and eunuchs. Jesus’ protest of the temple, then, condemns not only fusing religion with unjust economic practices but also fusing religion with ethnic exclusion/segregation, a precursor of our modern racism. Given this biblical context, do you think Jesus would more likely support the protests for racial justice or complain about the destruction of property?

5. Systemic Racism

I will be writing a follow-up article on systemic racism. But for now, I will say this:

For most people of color, systemic racism, or sometimes called institutional or structural racism, is an undeniable reality. Pew Research’s 2019 survey shows that black and white Americans have very different views about racism. For example, 84% of black Americans say the legacy of slavery affects the position of black people in America today, but only 58% of white Americans concur. Again, 84% of black Americans believe that racial discrimination is a major obstacle for black people getting ahead in life, while only 54% of white people think so.

Sadly, among practicing Christians, the disparity is worse. In a 2019 Barna survey, twice as many black practicing Christians (78%) said they believe the U.S. has a race problem compared to only 38% of white practicing Christians. And 66% of black practicing Christians said they believe racism is historically built into society and institutions. In contrast, 61% of white practicing Christians said they think racism is only an individual matter. White and black Christians are not even close to being on the same page here.

To deny systemic racism is a denial of the reality of people of color, not just of an intellectual theory. To believe systemic racism does not mean we deny individual accountability and responsibility. But denying this basic truth of systemic racism is yet another form of unhearing and unwelcoming.

6. Caution

As angry as I am at Christian detractors, I must caution myself and all of us. We cannot demonize each other. Already I have seen a meme suggesting that the political left is following the whispers of the devil. I have also read a blog that mimics The Screwtape Letters, mocking the Christian right as falling prey to demonic schemes. These are dangerous acts. These are demonizing acts.

How much of all these are due to the political tribalism in the U.S.? Anti-racism should be a non-partisan ethical movement, and yet, like almost everything currently, it has been shamelessly politicized and polarized. Why is this? As a non-partisan Canadian Christian, I am very frustrated with what is going on in the U.S. I shake my head at the ideological tribalism that has taken over Christians’ abilities to intellectually dialogue and find common ground. We seem more concerned with winning arguments, scoring verbal punches, and attacking the other tribe than seeking truth, understanding, and wisdom. In such a climate, democracy will be in danger of crumbling.

The apostle Paul warned us that “our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12 NRSV). White people are not evil. Black people are not evil. The line between good and evil cuts through each and every one of us.

Even as we seek to pursue justice, we cannot forget that we are also called to love mercy and to walk humbly with God while doing both (Micah 6:8). I find grace and humility sorely lacking these days in the pursuits of justice and truth by both sides of the ideological divide.

Having said all that, we cannot ignore the prophet Amos and his warning from God:

I can’t stand your religious meetings. I’m fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals.
I’m sick of your fundraising schemes, your public relations and image making.
I’ve had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to
me?
Do you know what I want? 
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it. That’s what I want. That’s
all I want. —Amos 5:21-24, The Message

7. Hope

What do I hope to accomplish from writing this? I hope for some understanding, for some genuine empathy, grace, and humility from Christian detractors. Is that hoping for too much? Is it too much to hope that Christian detractors will humbly and seriously learn from Christian black voices like Austin Channing Brown, Jemar Tisby, and Willie James Jennings, to name a few?

I do have to remind myself of the signs of hope. I see a global anti-racism movement that is overwhelmingly peaceful. I see some police officers joining in the protests. I see a growing Asian Christian movement to stand in solidarity with black and Indigenous people’s fight for racial justice. I see overall majorities of support across racial lines in the U.S. for the Black Lives Matter movement. There are signs of positive change.

Ultimately, my hope rests not in these human signs but in Christ my Lord. His resurrection power and life assures me that God will right all wrongs in due time. The God who heard the cries of oppressed Israel and delivered them from Egypt also will do the same for those who cry out to him today. As the lyrics of the hymn, “My Soul Cries Out (Canticle of the Turning)” said:

Though the nations rage from age to age, we remember who holds us fast:
God's mercy must deliver us from the conqueror's crushing grasp.
This saving word that our forbears heard is the promise that holds us bound,
'Til the spear and rod be crushed by God, who is turning the world around.

Refrain:
My heart shall sing of the day you bring.
Let the fires of your justice burn.
Wipe away all tears,
For the dawn draws near,
And the world is about to turn.

Amen, let it be so.

 

About the Author

Shiao Chong is editor-in-chief of The Banner. He attends Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Toronto, Ont.

Shiao Chong es el redactor jefe de The Banner. El asiste a Iglesia Comunidad Cristiana Reformada en Toronto, Ont. 

시아오 총은 더 배너 (The Banner)의 편집장이다. 온타리오 주 토론토의 펠로우쉽 CRC에 출석한다.

See comments (21)

Comments

Thank you for this very personal article. Your perspective as a Chinese Canadian Christian is very helpful to the discussion.  You lead us well in recognizing our own sinful actions and attitudes.

As a Canadian, events of recent weeks have forced me take off my rose colored glasses.  I like to believe that "things are better here" but racism is very evident. Just this week, a racist rant at a Chinese grocery store near my home went viral, a public example of daily abuses that others endure, which I do not.  At the same time, we can no longer deny the systemic injustices that exist here for people of color, which we had long denied.

As a predominently white church, we have much listening, learning, speaking and action ahead of us.  Please keep the conversation going, Shiao Chong.

      Thanks, Shiao, for your very extended article, sharing your thoughts on racism today. I dare say this is probably the longest article that I have read in the Banner. I guess you are exercising your editorial privilege in doing this, but I have a feeling you are reaching beyond your official responsibility with this article. Should I write such a lengthy article, it would be quickly dismissed as going beyond the guidelines set by the Banner. I do admit, I didn’t bother to count the number of words. You would have done well to narrow your focus, instead of sending out such a broad shotgun blast trying to capture all offenders of racism, as you see it. I am under the impression that the Banner is not a theological or political journal. I hope we don’t see articles popping up on the errors of “capitalism” as a primary contributor to racism, with socialism, or a welfare state, as the political cure.

      All that being said, much of what you did say was valid, and some may not have been. Certainly, I hope the Banner maintains the variety of articles as it has in the past and doesn’t begin to ride hobby horses. Thanks, Shiao, for sharing your burden.

Shiao, please know that what you have written here is not merely 'your burden' or anything close to a 'hobby horse, as Roger implies. We bear this burden with you. This article speaks to the core of our faith, both lamenting the atrocities that we have committed (and still commit) through our idolatrous racism, and calling us to true justice. 

As a young CRC pastor set to be ordained in the fall, know that articles like this are what keep me (and so many of my peers) trusting that the CRC is faithfully seeking Christ. And, quite honestly, they keep me committed to this church. Thank you for writing this, and please, please know that--though some are not there yet--we bear this burden together. 

Thank you!!! For this beautifully written article with words that need to be said, and heard.

I don't often comment on Banner articles.  The Banner kept me hopeful as I negotiated Church and the CRC church as a new Christian.  

I have known Chong since meeting with him in a student group in York University as he led conversations about faith, life and leadership.  Though I was volunteering as an adult I learned so much from those conversations!   I was always impressed not only by his breadth of knowledge but his ability to encourage all voices to be heard.    His theological knowledge also allowed Christians of different backgrounds to gain insight into each other's views and yet keep the group open and engaged with people without a Christian background.  I was thrilled when he became editor of the The Banner because of his strong skills and passion for advocating for a place to share different ideas.

A lot of thought and prayer went into the choice to write this as Chong rarely speaks from his own experience but instead promotes others to speak.  The article is well thought out, provides many resources for futher learning, is passionate and concise given the size of the topic and the amount of ink spilled in recent weeks by many people.  Chong has offered us his experience to bring us an opportunity to ask direct questions about racism even as he has written about how these experiences wound.

Thank-you Chong for always giving me room to speak my truth and for having the courage to share your own experience.  There are not many places for this type of open dialogue.

Vic

Dear Chong,

Thank you for your courage in sharing your heart as the church continues to grapple with how to move forward toward racial justice after the death of George Floyd and other black lives in recent months. I'm grateful for your wisdom, your candor, and the truth you have spoken that we all need to wrestle with, particularly white followers of Jesus like me. May the Lord bless you as you continue to speak grace and truth to our denomination.

Grace and Peace,

Mark

In writing this down and sharing with us, you have given us a true gift. It's a window into an experience I haven't had, and important perspective shaped from that experience. This gift comes at a cost to you, and a benefit to any of us who take the time to receive it and reflect upon it. So...thank you.

bless your heart Chong... keep speaking! it's not divisive or political, it's prophetic... it's pretty much a given that there is almost always resistance to a prophetic voice... therefore generally not an easy road... the scriptures say something about a prophet has no honor amongst their own... if Jesus didn't get accepted by His own people, then should we expect any different today? speaking prophetically has a point and a purpose, but it also usually comes at a cost (ie since you are not blindly, passively, unquestioningly loyal to the "powers that be" and the status quo, there can be repercussions including your ministry/work is quietly sabotaged b/c of "blowing the whistle" and not supporting the "party" line with your loyalty)... one can insert any vulnerable, marginalized group into this article and similar patterns applies to all - other minorities, women, the abused... voices that get minimized and dismissed over and over in so many ways - this is where the discerning of spirits is a helpful gift of the Spirit...

Chong, you call it being "unheard"... I call it resistance (it's been heard and it's not liked so there is pushback to discredit, minimize, dismiss, deflect, distract, etc)... this resistance is often protecting the status quo, protecting those in power at the expense of others... these are abuses of power/privilege that give permission to others to silence the voices of those outside the power and privilege of the "inner ring" (CS Lewis: https://www.lewissociety.org/innerring/ )...

to whom much is given, much is expected! May we use our influence to empower and encourage one another - every tribe, nation, people and tongue!

FYI: here is an insightful article on the difference between faithfulness and loyalty... my take is that loyalty is a cult like following instead of a Christ like following...   https://www.heresthejoy.com/2020/06/loyalty-is-not-a-christian-virtue/

Let's put a face to the label "detractors." I am one of  the detractors you talk about. I embrace Scripture, and therefore cannot embrace many of the fundamental teachings of the Black Lives Matter (TM) organization, critical race theory, the theory of white privilege, etc.

You have expressed a very low view of us detractors. What would you like to do to us? Convincing us of the error of our ways would be one solution, right? And if you can't convince us to embrace Black Lives Matter and critical race theory, what then? Will you seek to silence us? Get us fired? Make sure our viewpoint is never heard? Conduct public shaming campaigns against us?

You wrote: "When our ideas and experiences are consistently denied, challenged, or dismissed, we get the message that we are not welcome, no matter the lip service paid." I am not denying, challending, or dismissing anyone's ideas. Are you?

I propose an idea. As one of the detractors you are frustrated with, I would be happy to participate in a discussion with you, shared here on The Banner's website. What better way to change the minds of the detractors than to talk to one of them!

Thank you, Shiao, for your prophetic voice amongst us. 

I was deeply disappointed that our Council of Delegates couldn't unanimously agree to approve a statement re: racism recently.

Thankfully the CRC now has someone in the upper echelons of our church who has the intestinal fortitude to address this issue.

May God strengthen, sustain, and bless you in your role as pastor/editor.

Henry Kooy, London, ON 

I feel your pain, brother, as well as that of other visible minorities.  The fight for racial equality has many points in common with women's fight for equality as well.  A pastor of the church I attend told me in the 1980s that if he was a woman he would be so angry he wouldn't be fit for man or beast.  

Being Canadian myself I feel mystified by the partisanship in the USA that won't even allow white Christians to acknowledge that African Americans might be right about what they experience.  After all, when you're not on the receiving end of something, who are you to deny that it's real to others?  Could there be implicatory denial underlying this issue in that some white people deny that something is a problem because if they acknowledged it they would have to change their behaviour?

Shiao, you have an interesting way of shutting down any other point of view. If I disagree with Black Lives Matter (which I do most profoundly) I"m denying your essential personhood. If I challenge your take on "tribalism" or race theory I'm charged with denying your experience. If anyone denies "systemic" or "institutional" racism, which Dr. Thomas Sowell does and has for decades, that's all the evidence needed to dismiss them. They're obviously misguided and therefore remain part of the problem.

I think the most troubling feature of your article is all the hyphenated catagories of Christians. In the bible there was no such thing as a "Roman-Christian" or a "Cretan-Christian" or anything of the sort. In fact the apostle Paul specifically ruled out such catagorizations. There are Christians, period. Color of skin, ethinicity, tribal identities etc. are secondary. It doesn't mean they're not important. It means our primary identity is in Christ. Black Lives Matter is an organization that is communist in its philosophical construct of the way the world works or ought to work. That makes it fundamentally anti-Christian.  That is no small thing. It sounds like you're view is that I'm ipso-facto the problem. How does this help us move toward reconciliation as persons transformed by the Holy Spirit? 

In my opinion, this editorial is one of the weakest pieces I have ever seen published in the Banner.  Poorly thought out, poorly written, and deeply divisive.  Regardless of where one comes down on BLM or the current racial climate in Canada/US, one can be forgiven for looking on with alarm at the low quality of work that is shown in Mr. Chong’s 3,000 word editorial offering.  Aside from being poorly written, the tone of the piece does potential harm to the cause that Mr. Chong  obviously cares so deeply about.   In my opinion, and regardless of what one thinks about the race in the US/Canada,  Mr. Chong’s offering does not succeed because it erects two-dimensional straw-men as foils to Mr. Chong’s indignation and personal grievances.  Because he chose to do that, what he writes here is easily dismissed.   And that’s a shame because the issues that he raises are issues that, I think, are important and worth grappling with in a way that will impact the heart which, in my view, is the only way we can find our way out of this mess.    I find this article disheartening.  It’s really too bad that it was published.

Thank you much, Chong, for this and last week's editorial. Your passion, patience and boldness in writing what you knew would engender not merely detractions, but, in fact, cavils and outright denial of your points sadly does not surprise me. I applaud your forthrightness, your clarity in expressing not merely your personal experiences of having been a victim of racism and thoughts about how your own attempts at assimilation acceptance amount to a significant denial of your heritage and a diminishment of other persons of different colours and backgrounds. Do please continue to affirm and assert your heritage without apology—as I take for granted a part of my privilege, but am learning to tone down and criticize. 

I am saddened, yes, angered by colleagues and fellow CRC members' almost immediate responses of argument and defensiveness to your words and person. You have always welcomed responses and have not responded in kind (at least in print), always modelling wise, patient leadership, even (I admit) in instances and with issues with which I have not agreed. You have kept The Banner pages open to genuine queries of issues and published articles I would not have, had I been in your vulnerable and public positon; you are the wiser and the CRC is the better for it.

I say this all from my own background of growing up in a kind, gentle and deeply racist community in Roseland, Chicago. Our churches hosted missionaries to Africa, Japan, Latin America, but we were lily white. We would go to black neighbourhoods north of 95th Street only at Christmas, because those families decorated their homes lavishly, unlike us, where a Christmas tree was extravagant. Meanwhile, black people would hardly dare venture into our community to shop. When black people began moving into Roseland in the late 1960s, it took two years for all four CRCs and two of the three RCAs to head south and west to the suburbs. Those are just two examples of systemic racism, which cuts through not only all human hearts, but Christian communities as well. 

Now when all such things are dismissed as snapshots and not deep patterns to minimize or deny white supremacy's evil against other races and to continue defensiveness and deafness, I have only this to ask of fellow whites who embrace those acts and attitudes: Please, simply be quiet in our safe, isolated, insulated, wealthy communities. Listen, try to meet people of other races who are NOT safe and wealthy. Learn from and about other cultures and races by inviting refugees into your homes and churches.

And repent. I have to do that every day, because I grew knowing and using regularly at least two dozen wicked words for black people and those of other races. I pray for forgiveness daily, not because I don't believe God forgives that sin of attitude that still is my default position, but rather because I always consciously have to suppress those wicked words and thoughts whenever I see another person who does not look something like me. 

Thank you again. I promise prayers for strength, for continuing courage and candour and for reflective silence from reader, or if not silence, then more room for you and fellow members of our community who are persons of colour to be free and respected.

Dear Editor, I find your comments one-sided.  Anticipating detractors, you do not seem to try to understand any common ground with them.  When people of all races disagree with BLM, you must realize that they do so not because they are racist, but because a movement to reduce racism, must itself not be racist, and must not be hypocritical and deceitful about its objectives.  The history of christians persecuting other Christians does not destroy christianity, even though this persecution of christians by roman catholics and Lutherans and Reformeds was totally wrong.  But that is in the past.  We could have criticized that then, and we criticize BLM today, because it chose to highlight the death of a criminal who was intoxicated while driving, on at least five types of drugs, resisted arrest, and resisted detainment, while not be shot, not being beaten, not being tased, but was restrained.  At the same time BLM skips lightly over all the unfortunate innocent brown people who were killed because of the protests/riots, including an innocent retired black police chief and several young children, not to mention the hundreds of others shot in increased murders in the weeks following, as well as the looting, violence, destruction, and tearing down even of statues that pictured people who were abolitionists.  BLM has marxist roots, is hypocritical, racist, dangerous, and does not really care about the people it says it does.  For that reason, it should not be supported by Christians of any color, whether brown, tanned, yellow, pink, or whitish.  Instead, act like a Christian.  Love people of all types and races... there is really only one race, the human race.  Look at the statistics honestly, not just about people's opinions, but about their actions, about the real laws.  Racism is a type of bias, which all people will always have, but this bias or racism is illegal already.  So from now on, don't condone a solution that is worse than the problem.  Follow Christ, not popular opinion.  

As far as your example of Christ being violent.... he was a little, yes, in the temple with whip.  But he chased the animals out and overturned money tables.  He did not steal the money, nor did he whip the people, nor did he kill the animals.  And his point was to purify the temple, not destroy it.  Quite the opposite to BLM, which destroys, not purifies.  Which steals, not respecting ownership.  Which desecrates churches, and streets, and homes, and business, rather than helping the blacks who own them.  Which walks besides the murderers, thieves, looters and violence encouraged by BLM support of a career criminal who resisted arrest and was intoxicated while driving.   If BLM had protested the shooting of an innocent young brown child at the hands of a white or black politician or teacher or businessman, or drug dealer,  they would have been more credible.  As it is, they are merely defending lawlessness, not black lives.  

There are many credible brown people with a great deal of common sense, who should be listened to before BLM, who have credible solutions, not just aimless complaints.  People like Larry Elder, Morgan Freeman, Candace Owens, the Hodge Twins, Ben Carson, Denzel Washington, Thomas Sowell, Martin Luther King, and many others.  And the wise comments of non-brown people, lightly tanned, are also valuable, including Jordan Peterson, Dennis Prager, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro, etc., and many others.  At 13% of the usa population, the brown people are doing fairly well, considering the number of millionaires and billionaires, politicians, police chiefs, mayors, senators, and even a two term president.  They are also doing badly at the same time in some things, and BLM is not helping in that area;  in fact, BLM is making the bad even worse.  

Chong, I want to name your courage exhibited in this article - and celebrate it! I also deeply respect the fact that you're angry, stressed, and tired - because I am too! I am so very grateful for your willingness to enter this highly charged arena and speak about your experience on such sensitive topics. As always, I experience what you write as a breath of fresh air and as someone seeking to do faithful theological reflection *today* in the complex world we actually live in (and not 500 years ago). But I also want to say here that it deeply saddens and grieves me that so many of these comments here are examples of how we are still not ready (as individuals and maybe even as a community) to assume an open, listening posture when it comes to issues like this, coming from people like you and other people of colour in our church. All the negative and critical comments appear to me to come from white men - that is an interesting thing to observe about these racial dynamics even in our own online forum. There is a distinct ideological tone to the criticisms and I wonder if the authors are aware of their ideological orientation (the one flippant comment about whether we're going to end up critiquing capitalism was the best because it displays nothing less than our idolatrous belief that a man-made economic system is beyond critique - we are called to bring all things into submission to Christ: capitalism included). The destructive comments display a deep ignorance of the complex social issues (and their history) we're navigating today and instead seem much more interested in shutting you or your experience down rather than listen to what you have witnessed. I have watched too many CRC friends of colour get chewed up and spit out of our church. That seems the easier route than listening to hard messages about realities we'd prefer to ignore. So, instead of listening to hard messages from people who are different from us we cast doubt, we blame, we raise objections, we criticize, we find exceptions, we deflect, and we whine about your article being too long (give me a freaking break!). I would have wished that as a deeply respected leader in our community your words would have been met with a thoughtful pause so they could be heard. We need a fresh encounter with Jesus to cast out the mountains of fear that I see all around these issues. Maranatha!

I am both saddened and troubled that too many BLM supporters refuse to understand the difference between disagreeing with ideas (which is what we are doing when we disagree with Chong), and being dismissive of a person's ability to share ideas (which is what the pro-BLM folks are doing when they attack us personally and tell us to be quiet, or wrongly accuse us of attacking Chong...which we are not doing.)

Chong seems to be a great person. I have interacted with him via email on many occasions, and they have been very positive interactions. On many other topics, he has been spot on. But with this particular editorial, his ideas are just plain wrong. That is not an attack on him. It's simply an analysis of the ideas he is presenting.

To my brothers and sisters who support BLM, Critical Race Theory, the Theory of White Privilege, etc. I caution you to engage on the MERITS OF THE IDEAS, rather than accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being a racist, wealthy, blinded person of "privilege." You do great damage to your own cause and you reveal the weakness of your ideas when you try to rig the discussion in your favor (by saying ridiculous things such as "any white person who disagrees with me is a racist, and any brown person who disagrees with me is an Uncle Tom").

Thank you...thank you for confronting us with an undeniable reality, and for doing it through the eyes of your own soul! Some of us--I hope many--have been waiting for you, for this.  The CRC is accustomed, I'm afraid, to dealing with this kind of challenge like a creedal statement to be fine-tuned and re-hashed down to the detail of presentation.  You are confronting us with a history we are born to, a system we participate in, and a life we are called to.  Judy and I, in large part through life experiences we never really expected, haveraised our family to see justice at the heart of the gospel.  The fruit of gospel is shalom.  The road to shalom is marked by signposts of justice.  No justice...no peace.  One cannot do gospel, at least in the USA, without dealing with "America's original sin of racism," stamped into the way we live our lives together, the way we interpret our past and define our moral lives.  Whether you are part of the Indigenous occupants of the Americas or your ancestry traces to another part of the world, race is now melded into your narrative.  Thankfully, a raft of research and writing is available to us if we want to know.  The "history written by the winners" is being countered by second and third prophetic looks.

I have a modicum of experience in this arena within "church."  You have, I noticed, already heard from some of your detractors.  I'm guessing, by other means, you've heard from some of the "stakeholders"--team members, committee members, leaders (appointed officially or self-appointed), people like me who have a lifetime of service within church--and thoughts to go with it. Probably conveyed by other means, you will hear from the "investors"--the folks who not only donate to the work you do, but expect some return in the form of agenda-setting and direction approval.  It's a mixed bag, I think.  It is my sincere hope that you find among these all a new hope for a costly and edgy journey with the Christ.  (I confess it is my fear that this kind of support for prophetic ministry over preserving what we have may already have left the CRC.)  P.S. Someone amongst the comments intimated that next you'll be addressing the inequities of unregulated capitalism.  I suspect, my friend, you already knew that. The Americas we know were born in colonization, and that, with genocide and slavery, is rooted in that watershed choice Jesus once confronted us with: God or Mammon.  Thank you, again.

Dear Shiao,

Thank you so much for sharing from your heart and experience. Your free-flow approach is so appropriate for the times we are in. I feel your words are offered as pearls of wisdom, may we take care not to trample them.

The future of the church depends on our worship spaces becoming places where all cultures feel safe and free to express their unique voices and the ways that God has met them. My prayer is that we learn to hear one another without threat or fear, and that we can celebrate all expressions with joy, wonder and delight.

Thank you again.

Thank you, Chong, for your raw, confessional, prophetic voice here. We need these words. Thank you for your insight, and for using your words to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly. 

On first reading, this reflection added helpfu layers to my reflections on my own complicity in systemic racism and the impacts of that for others.  Checking back and reading the comments, I am deeply saddened by the nature of much of the discourse in this forum and what it says about the culture of the church of which I  am a member.  

Thank you for writing out of your experience, thoughtful analysis of this cultural moment, and insightful reflection on what Jesus calls us to be as agents of His mission to include the diverse gifts of all races and cultures as we move toward a renewed creation.  

Perhaps we need a learning symposium led by those who have been harmed by the systemic racism within our own practices, at which the rest of us really listen before we jump to defend the status quo. 

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