As our nation prepared to bid farewell to its first African American president, a public debate had already begun about whether race relations in America had gotten better or worse during his tenure. Members of the Church and Christian scholarly community were largely silent during these public conversations. This was an important dialogue for the Church and Christian scholarly community to engage in because our faith in God and desire to live as God’s children are exemplified not only in what we say we believe, but in how we do or do not get along with people who are different from us.
Churches and Christian scholars may have been silent about this subject due to an unspoken understanding and acknowledgment of the normality of whiteness and its status as the standard for viewing all things in the United States. In the words of Jennifer Harvey, the normality of whiteness is “A mindset that assumes whiteness to be normative and superior.” This mindset is regularly found in theological schools, churches and ministries throughout our nation as evidenced by the de facto position white theological opinions are given over those of other people groups.
One goal of the book is to provide insight into the idea of the normality of whiteness and the part it plays in facilitating and maintaining tension between certain people groups within the Body of Christ, how this tension influences theological thinking and practice, and how systematic intentional conversations and ministry initiatives related to the subject can help to alleviate that tension in churches and local communities. Readers will also be provided with practical ways to incorporate the subject of racial reconciliation into the life of their particular ministry context, as well as learn how to anticipate and manage challenges that are inherent in discussing race in particular contexts.
Another goal of the book is to have an open discussion about these ideas by examining historic principles and practices that have been dominant within American Christianity, identifying alternative ways of viewing and interacting with people who are not a part of the dominant culture, and devising steps to help us not see those who are different from us as “other”, but as equally valuable members of the Kingdom of God.
Healing Racial Divides: Finding Strength in Our Diversity will be available January 2019 from Chalice Press. You can pre-order the book by following the link.