Race, Gospel and Justice, Half 4: Esau McCaulley on Protests and Unrest The Alternate
Ed: My family is from New York City. My grandfather was the first battalion chief for Lower Manhattan, and my uncle was a New York policeman. When the city scared off in these bad times, my parents moved us to a place called Levittown. It was in the 1970s and Levittown was struggling (as was our family).
I would later learn that black people were not allowed to live in Levittown, and then advised against it after it was legal. It was one of the city's founding realities. As a child, I would wonder why they were all Irish and Italians, but there were no African Americans.
The reason is that it was created structurally so they wouldn't live there. We learn these things and they undermine the narrative that we first understood.
They have helped us understand these different narratives to get a better perspective on life from an African American perspective. Now let's talk about a perspective on protests.
We agree: protests are good. There are no riots. Unpack that for us from your context.
Esau: There is a cycle of what happens. There is a racist incident. African Americans protest. Some of these protests by people inside and outside the community are becoming violent. People say, "Hey, look at this. Why don't Christians who speak out against racist injustice speak equally strongly about the unrest?"
There are a few things I want to say about this. First, there is no real question of where Christians are at rest. There is no kind of Evangelical uprising, no black uprising faction. At one level, therefore, there is no need to condemn unrest as a form of social protest, as this is clear to everyone.
The problem is that the very people who are angry with us because they are not strong enough against unrest are the same people who say that systemic racism is not a problem. This only shows the contradiction.
No question, we are all against unrest. There seems to be a question of whether Christians should speak out against systemic oppression or not.
There must be a public and solid statement that Jesus' followers are on the side of those who are treated unfairly.
The second thing I want to say is that if you want to talk to someone who is counterproductive, the first thing you need to do is actually show empathy. When you first come in and say, "Law and order, law and order, law and order," you don't understand the deep feeling of frustration.
An uprising is the manifestation of hopelessness.
The first thing I try, and you saw a lot of African American leaders doing it, is to say, "I see. You are frustrated. It seems that these videos never stop, and that's the way it is." for years. "Once you've found that you're interested, you can begin to push the rebellion down yourself.
You can't come to a community that you hate and then reprimand them for behaving in a way that you don't think is appropriate. You didn't care about them anyway.
The only people who have the social and moral standing to speak to a community of unrest are people who can at least begin to understand the cause of the unrest.
As a Christian, I believe that means and ends have to be one. You cannot have a good goal with improper means. If the purpose is justice, the means themselves must be just for the Christian. Christians who protest systemic oppression, at least those who are faithful to the Bible, say, "Ultimately, these riots are not a Christian tool they stand for, even if I understand some of the frustration that is going on." social change."
Ed: While protests would be a very historical Christian tool.
Esau: There is a protest. The civil rights movement that transformed the United States was led by Christians. With a cross-centered, non-violent protest. I am a heir to the non-violent resistance of Martin Luther King.
Here's the thing: when Martin Luther King Jr. was on the streets in Birmingham and Selma and protested non-violently in other locations, evangelicals condemned him as an agitator. It's a historical lie to say, "Well, if African-American Christians just protested non-violently, we would support them." The non-violent protests were condemned. In a letter from Birmingham prison, King replied to a letter from eight white clergymen, not all of them were evangelicals, they were all. White pastors said that although he was technically non-violent, King incited violence through his nonviolence.
It's not that people are happy with the right form of protest. The fact is that any public black advocacy for justice brings conviction. It feels like people are waiting for the uprising just to judge the underlying problem.
Tomorrow we will share the last post in this series.