Racialized Society

Here is a quote from the book Divided By Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith.

‘The racialized society is one in which intermarriage rates are low, residential separation and socioeconomic inequality are the norm, our definitions of personal identity and our choices of intimate associations reveal racial distinctiveness, and where “we are never unaware of the race of a person with whom we interact.”

In short, and this is its unchanging essence, a racialized society is a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships.

A racialized society can also be said to be “a society that allocates differential economic, political, social, and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines; lines that are socially constructed.”

They go on to show throughout the book, how white evangelicals and black evangelicals although they share a common faith are actually more racially divided in all those categories defined above than the rest of society.

Why is this so? Freestyle with me…

Published by Drew G. I. Hart, PhD

Drew G. I. Hart is a theology professor in the Biblical & Religious Studies department at Messiah College with ten years of pastoral experience. Hart majored in Biblical Studies at Messiah College as an undergraduate student, he attained his M.Div. with an urban concentration from Missio Seminary in Philadelphia, and he received his Ph.D. in theology and ethics from Lutheran Theological Seminary-Philadelphia. Drew was born and raised in Norristown, Pa and has lived extensively in Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA as well. Dr. Hart’s dissertation research explored how Christian discipleship, as framed by Black theologies and contemporary Anabaptist theologies, gesture the Church towards untangling the forces of white supremacy and the inertia of western Christendom which have plagued its witness in society for too long. As two traditions that emerged from the underside of violent and oppressive western Christian societies, he found Black theology and Anabaptism each repeatedly turning to the particularity of Jesus in the gospel narratives. From that arises an ethic of solidarity with the oppressed and pursuing liberation in Black theology and an ethic of radical peacemaking and ecclesial nonconformity in the Anabaptist tradition. Each challenge the violent and oppressive logics of mainstream western Christianity and salvage the call to follow the way of Christ. Together in dialogue they deepen our analysis of the churches failures and the need for Jesus-shaped repentance. His work beyond teaching and writing has included pastoring in Harrisburg and Philadelphia, working for an inner-city afterschool program for black and brown middle school boys, delivering lectures and leading anti-racism workshops, collaborating with local faith-based organizers and activists in his city, and doing a broad range of public theology. He is also a co-leader for a local Harrisburg faith-based relational network called FREE Together which has collaborated with POWER Interfaith, MILPA, the Shut Down Berks Detention Center movement, and a little with the Poor People’s Campaign. Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart, has received great reviews by Publisher’s Weekly and Englewood Review of Books. Endorsing this resource, Shane Claiborne said, “This book is a gift from the heart of one of the sharpest young theologians in the United States. Hold it carefully, and allow it to transform you--and our blood-stained streets.” As a text, Trouble I’ve Seen utilizes personal and everyday stories, Jesus-shaped theological ethics, and anti-racism frameworks to transform the church’s understanding and social witness. Trouble I’ve Seen focuses on white supremacy as an overarching framework for understanding racism, with careful attention to its systemic and socializing dimensions. However, unlike sociology textbooks on the subject Dr. Hart also considers the subversive vocation of Jesus and the nonviolent yet revolutionary implications his life ought to have for his followers today. His newest book project is entitled Who Will Be a Witness?: Igniting Activism for God’s Justice, Love, and Deliverance and will be published September 1, 2020. Who Will Be A Witness? invites the church to liberate its centuries long captivity to supremacist practices, and to expand its restricted political imagination in view of Jesus’ messianic reign. The book guides disciples of Jesus into joining God’s delivering presence through scriptural reasoning, historical reflection, practical theology for congregational life, social change theory, and the Christian call to love our neighbor. It is written for congregations, leaders, and students that understand that pursuing God’s justice goes way beyond waiting around for electoral seasons to come around. It is about the ongoing vocation of the Church right now, at the grassroots level, seeking after the wellbeing of their neighbors through faithful, strategic, and concrete action. Drew recently joined the Inverse Podcast team serving as a cohost along with Australian peace activist Jarrod Mckenna. Together they interview interesting people and explore how scripture can turn our ethical imagination and the violent and unjust systems of our world upside-down, which contrasts with interpreting the Bible as a tool for the status quo. Dr. Drew Hart was the recipient of bcmPEACE’s 2017 Peacemaker Award, a 2019 W.E.B. Dubois Award from a Disciples of Christ congregation, and in October 2019, Dr. Hart was chosen as Elizabethtown College’s 2019 Peace Fellow. Each award recognized him for his local and national justice work and public theology. You can find Drew Hart on Twitter and Facebook, or you can catch him as he travels and speaks regularly across the country to colleges, conferences, and churches. Drew and Renee, and their three boys (Micah, Dietrich, and Vincent) live in Harrisburg, PA and attend Harrisburg First Church of the Brethren.

5 thoughts on “Racialized Society

  1. I like the Blog site-
    Re: racism-(pride in exclusivity is sin)is man’s search for distinction in his state of eternal extinction( pride in exclusivity= sin)
    racism is also idolatry the “idol of control”
    Racism is also a counterfeit”trinity”
    1-acttive racism
    2-institutional racism
    3-passive racism
    But!! thank God for Acts 17:26Acts 17:26
    And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,

    fg

  2. Peace Drew….great blog!

    The church, to my knowledge, is the most racially segregated social institution (probably only rivaled by street gangs). Now, I don’t think organizing and mobilizing around race is problematic in itself. Indeed, for Black people we need to create safe spaces not only because we were excluded from the dominant white mainstream population but often were visited with violence if we ever dared transgress those rigidly set boundaries. While these exclusion in its most ubiquitous form is no longer the order of the day, folks of color still experience tension and conflict in predominantly white spaces.

    To the extent that church and fellowship is guided by the experience and politics of the congregation, it makes sense to me that the church remains heavily segregated because we are still very much divided politically along racial lines. I would be remiss if I failed to acknowledge the rise of interracial churches whose main thrust is racial reconciliation. But it seems to me that until the racial hierarchy in the US becomes significantly dismantled, we will continue to see very racial segregated churches.

    I would also be interested in knowing any information or data on INTRAracial cleavages in the Black church–particularly along class lines.

    What do you think Drew?

  3. Yo I think you touched on some important points. I put more responsibility on the dominant culture as it relates to creating an atmosphere for reconciliation. As you said, as long as the inequalities continue to exist, there will be a legitimate reason for subcultures and groups to find shelter and safe spaces from sometimes hostile environments.

    However, more and more there are growing similarities politically among different races (black and white conservatives/black and white liberals, etc) but they are still unlikely to share a congregation together. As for the racial reconciliation piece, I actually was at one for about 3 to 4 years. They have strengths and weaknesses, but they are attempting to deal with the segregation and racism.

    There are definitely intraracial issues as well for the black church. I don’t have statistics. However, coming out of the assemblies (carribean brethren churches that church planted in the U.S.) I know first hand that their is a separation. I think many of the assemblies tend to be more middle class churches, and tend not to emphasize and talk about racism and injustice (unless critiquing inwardly at black folk). As they progress, the mood and tone is changing, but that is the traditional approach it seems for many of the churhes. Michael Eric Dyson, in general talks a lot about middle class and lower class strife, however I don’t think ive read anything specifically on the black church. I’m gonna check over my resources though. Good discussion fam!

  4. Why is this so?

    Hmmm, so many things comes to mind that I don’t know where to start.

    I know Christ didn’t design His bride to look like the typical segregated church in America.

    The American church let society help them to dictate who would sit next to them at church, at home, at the job, at the mall, on the stoop, on the playground, and on the court. We even let society help us choose the books we read, the TV we watch and the types of food we enjoy.

    American Christians have built a church around injustice and racism and used (or uses) scripture to justify it. For many societal, social, personal reasons, we tend to leave Christ love for all and His death on the cross in our personal times with God. We don’t bring what we learned during our times with God back into the church, or our personal lives, or society. We keep all that we learn about the love of Christ in the bookmark of our Bibles.

    The religious freedom of the dominant culture only helps the racially segregated church grow into what we see today.

    So can the American church break through the sins of our society? Just look to the cross! When the world thought Christ was defeated, He rose from the dead to save us! He defeated the oppressive empire and death!

    In Christ,

    tim

  5. I really like how you talked about the disconnect between peoples personal devotions and their public lives. I think that’s a dope connection that you pointed out. How else can we interact with such a loving God and not connect the dots of love even within the Family of God. I am a firm believer that looking to the cross has everyday practical life value, and will rearrange our thinking. If ya haven’t check out my Christ Victorious post, gets into some of that, of which you are talking about now. Peace.

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