LambsReign Reviews: Beyond Racial Division

True: Black Lives Matter ended up being a deceitful cheat, infinitely more interested in transsexualism (and a distinct lack of accountability) than the civil rights of Black Americans.

Unfortunately, the core problem remains.

So, let’s look at Beyond Racial Division: A Review Of George Yancey’s Hopeful Alternative To Colorblindness And Antiracism by John Reasnor.

One thing I found useful was a guide to the current lingo of “colorblindness” and “antiracism”.

Quote from the review:

—<Quote begins>—

Colorblindness is the idea that racial division can be solved simply by ignoring or denying any racial differences. This approach, as Yancey describes, can be helpful in some limited ways. For example, if an overt racist began to see all races as equal and stopped “seeing” color, that would effectively solve that particular example of racism. However, this view utterly fails to address structural problems and ignores the hurtful, structurally, and personally racist experiences of people of color. Colorblindness can only go so far, and while it may address some specific problems, it also creates new problems while ignoring others. 

This approach also tends to deny the reality of systemic or structural forms of racism. Instead, to the colorblind, racism is strictly a personal problem. 

In contrast to this view, Yancey does an excellent job in chapter three explaining various forms of institutional racial prejudice from both historical and contemporary examples. This is of particular importance because it’s become far too common to balk at the idea of systemic racism. Whether it’s conflating systemic racism with Critical Race Theory, erroneously labeling the idea as “Marxist,” or just as erroneously rejecting the idea that Scripture assigns morality to laws and institutions, systemic racism has needlessly become a controversial topic within evangelicalism. Yancey, clearly and patiently, shows how this idea is not only a reality but also how it shouldn’t even be a contentious issue. As he writes;

Colorblindness does not describe our social reality. People of color are not making up stories about their experiences of racism. There are real issues to which they are reacting. To tell them to ignore not only the lasting effects of historical racism but also the continuing impact of institutional discrimination and contemporary prejudice is not realistic.”

 It’s important to note that Yancey is not rejecting being actively opposed to racism. Rather, he specifically addresses a form of antiracism that has become common over the last several years. Antiracism, as Yancey notes, isn’t just being opposed to racism but typically also includes at least three core tenets that set it apart as a distinct ideology. 

First, antiracists believe that racism is pervasive within society. This idea is connected to the idea that racism can take on various forms, not just racial hatred.

Second, antiracists believe that there’s a strong moral obligation to take on the cause of antiracism. It’s far more than a moral opinion but a duty to intentionally focus on being opposed to racism. 

Third, antiracists believe in what Yancey calls “differential expectations for whites and nonwhites.” This idea stresses an adversarial and confrontational two-tier system that places accountability and responsibility solely or primarily onto whites. 

Yancey takes issue with the third point. However, most of his objections to this third point are utilitarian. Yancey wants to advance a method that works, and according to his research, methods that stress one side doing the work or one side bearing all the responsibility aren’t effective.

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True: that’s going to be a non-starter. Especially as the economy declines, the pie shrinks, and the percentage of the US White population falls.

Now, that isn’t going to matter too much so long as Black leadership shouts about Black issues, and then acts to promotes homosexuality (Obama) or transsexualism (BLM)… while doing exactly nothing about either the legal doctrines that privileges the police and shelters them from accountability, nor the policy decisions that sustains Nixon’s 60+ year drug war.

To the extent this is true, we can rest assured that Black American leadership is as gelded as Christian American leadership. A toy to be used, and then to be forgotten until the next election cycle.

However: when times get hard, people — Black and White — get tribal.

Worthless “puppet-leaders” will be driven out, and hardened tribesmen will rise to positions of authority.

For both Whites and Blacks.

Spoiler: Times will get hard, and a lot of people will be both fearful and quick to anger.

It would be good if Christian Americans — Black and White — would forget about national politics (which is just a great big failure) and stick with local issues and caring for their neighbour (where they could win, win consistently, and lay the groundwork for bigger victories a few decades down the road.)

Unfortunately, it is also possible that Christian Americans will chase after some strongman liar who will promise a return to some fantasy Golden Age.

That would be a massive mistake.

Back to the article:

—<Quote begins>—

Another element of this third antiracism point is a posture of humility for whites. Those who have not experienced a specific sort of injustice should have a humble attitude towards those who have. Personal experience does matter, but it’s also not the only factor that matters. This is why Yancey’s firm position in favor of cooperation is essential. 

Instead of colorblindness and antiracism, Yancy offers a new way he calls mutual accountability. He writes,

A mutual accountability model is about finding win-win solutions. Instead of focusing on getting everything we can get, we focus on what we need so we can work together instead of against each other. The difference between this model and a colorblindness or antiracism model is the focus on healthy interracial communications. In other models we are asked to accept preordained answers. A mutual accountability model assumes we cannot know the answers to our racialized problems until we have engaged in collaborative conversations with each other. When individuals are convinced they already have the right answers, they feel justified using legal, political, and cultural power to enforce those answers. Such expressions of power make racial alienation worse. But collaborative conversations emphasize moral suasion rather than power. The focus is on community building rather than winning the racial war.

Yancey encourages us, especially in the church, to diligently seek to understand one another. This could not be a more critical message. Although I do think we often have an unrealistic tendency to see today as worse than past times, I can’t help but feel that more voices than ever are seeking division, demonization, and hysteria as opposed to understanding, respect, and reconciliation. Famous pastors call ideas like systemic racism “cult-like” while some activists on “the other side” intentionally disparage or minimize white voices simply because they’re white. 

Listening and genuinely trying to understand each side won’t magically fix all the problems, but it’s a good start.

—<Quote ends>—

I will be highly impressed if we do not fall resist falling as quickly into the same tribal groups.

Very impressed.

The more we have a local, faces-and-names focus — that White family on this road, that Black family on that road — and shun a dehumanizing, nationalist, abstract/tribalist Us and Them ideology, the more likely we will be able to come to viable agreements and a stable, even just peace with our neighbours.

Equal justice, equal accountability, equal protection under the law, and a certain generosity for the weak from the powerful will go quite far in keeping specific towns and counties get by without too much damage and bad blood. This would be a victory worth fighting for.

—<Quote begins>—

Though some have criticized this book as overly hopeful, I appreciate the hopeful tone Yancey takes. I think it’s needed and healthy. I’m afraid a lack of hope regarding racial division does great harm and can sometimes add to division. If there’s no hope, after all, why even try? Why not further isolate into ethnic-centric tribalism? We must have hope, and a lack of hope informs how we respond to division. Though I’m sure this hopefulness can feel unwarranted or “wishful thinking,” we would do well to remember what we know will come. We don’t know how or when, but unity will come. Just as we share the Gospel without assurances that the nations will be discipled in our lifetime, we should likewise have a hopeful joy in striving for racial unity in Christ.

—<Quote ends>—

Racial unity in Christ would be a huge step forward, equivalent or bettering the Reformation itself in power and reach.

I don’t think the US will dissolve into ethno-states when the empire dies… but it might.

—<Quote begins>—

Yancey’s book, while sometimes seeming overly simplistic, is a needed reminder of the basics. Until we get these basics down and start practicing the elementary things, there’s not much hope of having hard conversations about more complex policies and solutions. But I do have hope. Yancey’s alternative should be the standard as we move forward with hope firmly planted in Christ. 

—<Quote ends>—

If you have hope for a multiracial America, you will be rooting for Yancey.

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