White spaces

Three books I am choosing to walk through my next phase of learning. It is February and “Black History Month,” so I use it as a launching point for what I want in my life moving into the rest of the year.

I am currently reading The Underground Railroad and just starting into Shoutin’ in the Fire: An American Epistle.

Colson Whitehead’s book has hit me more profoundly than a lot of fiction. I’m not a fiction reader, but I wanted to read his work and it has not disappointed. In the first 30 pages I felt the pain and exhaustion of slavery on a whole new level. It is a deeply moving work.

I have followed Dante Stewart for some time on social media and know a bit of his testimony. His is the all too familiar story (now) of young Black men who were absorbed into white spaces because of their hunger for God and their communication skills. Once they spoke up on racial issues that affected them, they were quickly jettisoned.

Stewart describes his college years and invitation into white evangelical spaces:

I became exceptional at making white people comfortable, and, ignorant, I never really called into question why I in my exception was the only Blackness they encountered. I believed that the name on the back of my jersey, as clear as the numbers on the front, meant I was better and that distance from Blackness was like scoring touchdowns or getting interceptions: Each brought your name closer to the mouths of white people and further away from the lives of your people. It was a powerful appeal. (p. 20)

He began to find he was “running from home.” White spaces were making him make choices about Blackness.

I have come to understand that what we too easily equate as “Christian” is far more “white” than Christian. We have to allow spaces for everyone and not just force our comfort as white evangelicals onto everyone who wants to “enter in.”

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