How does one show active and vocal support for the black community and recognition for the terrible injustice that has been happening while not communicating support for the violence and rioting that is currently taking place?
(Josh’s Answer) I think that is simple. You stand and listen to their experience, you stand stand with them, and you support them...when all the protests are over, when life goes “back to normal” you continue to speak out on injustice, you continue to educate your white friends about the systemic injustices that people of color have had to face. As far as the violence and rioting (which has mostly been done by whites, antifa etc…), you may not understand it and don’t have to agree with or justify it, but you need to see the pain, anger, and heartache and lament, mourn with those who mourn, weep with those who weep.
Dwayne, what advice would you give to Providence West Chester, leadership and congregation to bring diversity into our church?
I would say don’t force it. I think effective evangelism and discipleship training will result in people from all backgrounds joining the church. Our job isn’t to focus on the ethnicity of that person or try to change our service to artificially attract a certain demographic. This could be dangerous and take the focus off of what the church should be doing in the area of building, cultivating, and edifying it’s members. I would also encourage PCWC leadership to meet with minority pastors and seek to support them in their calling to their demographic. Doing joint services would also be a great way to engage the minority church community.
Also we want to affirm that the church is diverse already, not all white people are the same and think the same way. This is true for all people. Affirm the diversity that is already there. PCWC has a lot of young adults and young families, many churches are struggling to attract this demographic, lets praise God for this and recognize that within the framework of current church trends, this is a huge Holy Spirit win. Keep the momentum, rather than focussing on who you don’t have, work hard to keep this demographic growing.
Finally, it’s not always a deficiency of the church that causes a “lack of diversity”. It's ok for a hispanic or afro-american believer to feel more comfortable in a setting that reflects their cultural distinctions, it’s ok if they don’t want to be a part of our particular church. As long as souls are coming to Christ, we should be content.
How do we leverage our privilege as Josh suggested while maintaining the dignity of African Americans?
(Josh’s Answer) Amplify the voices of the unheard. Speak for those who can’t. Educate yourself on the issues of injustice, find voices, advocates, resources and use your platform and influence to make people aware of these realities. Support local minority businesses. Challenge racism in your context.
Dwayne - as a young teacher who works with students of all backgrounds, what would you say are some practical take aways I can include in how I run my classroom and love my students well?
You already know this, but treat them all the same. Some kids are coming from difficult backgrounds and sometimes our compassion may result in us accepting mediocrity from them. Minority and poor students do not have the resources as their middle class counterparts and we sometimes subconsciously relax our expectations of them. They need to know that their barriers can be overcome and a lot of that will have to do with them. We can’t allow them to use their challenges as an excuse. Many times their obstacles are an asset if navigated correctly. Empowerment is key.
For those students with privilege, emphasize the duty to serve others. Those who may have an easier path to success must internalize the idea of service, because they eventually will be the ones to help those who have a more difficult path.
Identify those who are struggling and if there isn’t strong family support, recommend to the administration organizations such as the West Side Community Center, The BACC, and The Point, that can come alongside and support the student. (I am always available to talk about this offline)
What is the line between a white person who is striving to bring racial reconciliation and a "white savior"?
(Josh’s Answer) It’s a matter of the heart. A “white savior” is all about self-serving. It’s not about Justice, It’s about an emotional experience that makes one feel better about themselves at the same time validating their white privilege. It goes back to what I said about Transaction vs. Authentic Relationships.
To Josh: how can I, as a white person, be an ally (who happens to be a believer) without seeming fake or inauthentic? (Josh’s Answer) First, educate yourself.
Learn and listen. Be an ally consistently, not just during tragedy and crisis. If you have the opportunity, build healthy, authentic relationships with people that are different than you. As a believer, the Word of God has spelled this out pretty well for us,
Matthew 22:37-39 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Philippians 2:2-5 “3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:”