Hello Mr. Cleaver,
Thank you for taking our questions, especially about this topic of race relations, tensions, and reconciliation.
What advice do you have for those of color who are heartbroken, discouraged, and disillusioned by the responses received from the church, regarding the recent protests, and out cry about racism? Many responses have either downplayed it, been critical, or just plain silent. For many of color in the church, this has been very overwhelming, and some have walked away from dealing with the church overall on this topic due to the strong hurtful responses, gaslighting and stonewalling. It’s also painful when received from other minority Christians, too. What would you say, to them?
What do you say to those who say that being a Christian means removing your racial culture out of the picture? Or, that talking about these problems would lead to preaching a social gospel, and that the church can’t, and shouldn’t address social issues because it “takes away” from the gospel. I don’t agree with this assertion however, I’d like to know your thoughts on this, please.
Third, I am the only Black person at my job, and the only Christian. It has been extremely difficult for me to know how to handle myself as a Christian,
and also as a black person who is in pain about the recent racial injustices that has been brought to public light, and the off base, and/or tone-deaf, response to it; especially the response from my job, which was along the lines of performance activism, and overall out-of-touch unawareness/ignorance. (those at my job consider themselves to be progressive and thus, qualified to speak regarding racial injustice.) The atmosphere at my job is generally racially insensitive, and there is a blatant lack of value placed on the black experience, and input, regarding what we do, due to the lack of representation on the staff. What words of advice do you have on how to deal and work with my office, while reckoning with the pain that I often feel inside at the blatant racial injustice at work? It has become increasingly more difficult to pretend that I’m not hurt, especially when they held a diversity meeting with a consultant,
that should have lasted about two hours, but was crammed into one hour. No one really had time to speak during the meeting, and I didn’t feel like anyone wanted to speak about their real feelings also, because I was present in the meeting. As a Christian however, am I supposed to put on a happy and strong face, despite my embarrassment and pain? Should I be the “Christian pillow” that absorbs it all, smiles and turns my work without any care? How should one approach this as a professional, Christian of color? P.S. they aren’t fond of Christians too, so, this further complicates my position.
And last, do you have any resources to refer me to to learn more about the Arab slave trade? I remember listening to an RZIM Q&A, and this topic was brought up, however the book that was mentioned is no longer being offered for sale.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Cleaver.