In a time when even the mention of anti-racism or the dreaded term “Critical Race Theory” shuts down a conversation faster than you can say “woke,” this book is more crucial than ever.
I am an avid reader of books about anti-racism, but this one—by Chicago pastor Daniel Hill, who received his theological training at the same place I did, Moody Bible Institute, really intrigued me. How would Hill apply his rigorous Moody training to the dismantling of white supremacy?
One big way is that Scripture flows through this book like a river. Hill’s sturdy connections to Scripture buttress this work. For example, he reminds readers that Jesus has the supremacy: “So that in everything he may have the supremacy” (Col. 1:18). “That phrase in particular helps me to remember that race-related work is rooted in a deeply spiritual struggle,” Hill says.
Another hallmark is Hill’s humility. He does not pretend to know all the answers and is clear that he has gotten things seriously wrong in his ministry and life. For those who would immediately peg him as “woke,” they would do well to read chapter 1: “Stop Being Woke,” a humbling chapter for me to read!
Also humbling: Hill’s assertion that diversity in and of itself is a weak goal. The real goal, he says, should be the dismantling of white supremacy, “an ideology that created extremely powerful and durable structures that continued to systemically target those deemed as less than.”
We might think white supremacy refers to those who burn crosses and wear hoods in the night—conveniently letting us off the hook—but it is so much more widespread and insidious than that. And while we might not be “racist” the way we define it as an individual act of prejudice, we are definitely “racialized.” Because race was made up by people. “Unlike ethnicity, which is a reflection of God’s creation, the construct of race was created by human beings.”
One of the book’s most valuable features is a detailed outline of U.S. history and how white supremacy has been baked in from the beginning. In this stunning section, presidents and other political leaders from George Washington to Donald Trump (with an even mix of Republicans and Democrats) are quoted, revealing their beliefs that people of color are “idle and depraved,” “stamped,” “dangerous,” “inferior and stupid,” “barbaric,” and sexual predators. We get it. It’s awful. Yet it doesn’t mean America and its history is beyond redemption.
But where do we go from here? As important as it is to confront the past, the present and future are urgently asking us to act now. Beyond being aware of the hissing “white lies” of the enemy, lies we breathe in like low-grade carbon monoxide, we can repent daily of our own sins in this area. Instead of insisting we’ve done nothing wrong, and therefore have nothing to repent of, we can humble ourselves before the throne of grace and be renewed by the one whose mercies are new every morning. We can attack the false narratives of racial hierarchies in our own spheres, and always keep at the forefront of our minds that human value cannot be redefined by sinful human beings. God already defined that value through his creation and Jesus’ work on the cross. In the end, the most important thing to remember is God values each person the same and expects us to do likewise. “The narrative of imago dei (the image of God) is what leads us to a true and transforming experience of loving ourselves,” says Hill, “and loving our neighbor.” (Zondervan)