This past week, the nation watched as a group of protesters, some of which are self-avowed white nationalists, lay siege to the US Capitol Building carrying with them Confederate flags, Trump Flags and Christian flags and crosses. It is not a stretch to say that most Americans never thought they would see a day when something like this happened, and that symbols of racism and Christianity would be so much a part of it. Because of these events, the Antioch Podcast is releasing this episode ahead of schedule, in place of the episode we would normally release each Thursday.
Our multiethnic team took time to reflect together, and share some of our thoughts here.
This is the fourth episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics.” In this part of her article she describes and counters an argument she has heard from people who disparage Critical Race Theory. She describes this argument as “The Black Lives Matter movement is Marxist and supportive of the LGBTQ community’s attempts to criminalize traditional, biblical views of sexuality.”
Let’s go now and listen to this conversation.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics
Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America.
Today’s podcast is an intermission between the episodes of our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT. Don’t worry, we will be back with the remaining episodes very soon. We wanted as many of our contributors as possible to be present as we tackled the remaining two episodes in our CRT series.
So, while some of our team couldn’t make it to record this week, those of us who were around took some time to gather around the mics to have not one … but TWO conversations about Biblical Antiracism!
In the first conversation, Pastor Reggie, Libby and I gathered to check in with one another about this tenuous space we find ourselves in – a place caught between an outgoing presidential administration, and the unanswered questions about a new one administration coming in. Pastor Reggie had put some of his thoughts down in an article he titled, “Searching for Hope”, which appeared in the blog Do Justice. We talked about this blog post together.
In the second-half of this episode, I sat down with Libby to talk about the seemingly paradoxical place of being a white person involved in antiracism education. She talks about some of the places she finds herself as a white antiracism educator who knows she is believed by other white people, and yet wants these same people to listen to and believe the many people of color who have been talking about these same things – seemingly forever – and yet have not garnered the audiences white people seem able to do when talking about the same issues.
This is the second episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics” discussing the first argument she posits which reads as follows: Quote: “Argument #2: Like all sin, racism originates in the human heart. Therefore, the solution to racism is for people’s hears to change. ‘Systemic Racism.’ on the other hand, is a Marxist idea.” End quote. In typical Antioch Podcast fashion, we had a lot to say about this, and some of it may come as a surprise, or … perhaps not. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics
Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America.
(12) In the episode, the Antioch team puts forth the idea that parts of Marxism are antithetical to the Gospel and other parts are useful. Rather than categorizing ideas as either “completely good” or “completely bad”, this kind of discernment uses the strategy of thinking of ideas as “more useful” or “less useful.” What might be gained from using this kind of discernment strategy? What may be difficult about using this more nuanced strategy?
(13) What does the term “common grace” mean? How could you imagine this theological idea informing the process of discernment?
(14) Kelly Harmon says about Marxism “As a Christian scholar, I will not agree with all of its tenets… [but] Marx was not wrong about absolutely everything. Very few thinkers are…”. What two ideas does she agree with Marx on?
(18) Reforming sinful systems can be rewarding and difficult. Share a story from your life of a time you tried to correct or improve upon a routine way of doing something. What was challenging for you? What helped you move forward? If it ended badly, what might you do to improve your attempt at reform next time?
(20) Eric remarked that the church re-invents itself every 500 years. Have you heard this idea before? What three major events in church history occurred at 500-year intervals since the birth of the church (If you don’t know, look them up!)? How does the notion of being in a period of theological reform affect you emotionally? Explain your emotional response, if possible.
(21) Have you ever observed times when power was used to oppress others unjustly? Describe these times. When has the church used its power to oppress others unjustly in church history? Have you ever observed the church using its power to oppress others in your lifetime? For example, what groups of people may be treated without dignity or respect (by churches in the USA? How might the church use its power to oppress people, beyond the use of “strong language”?
(23) God cares about Justice. Jesus cared about injustice. What injustices does God care about that fall outside of your political bias or the political bias of your church? This can be hard to think about or talk about if partisan political affiliation is a strong part of your identity. For example, in your opinion, what injustices might Republican Christians overlook that Democratic Christians get right? In other instances, what injustices may Democratic Christians ignore that Republican Christians see more clearly? Lastly, what injustices (there are many) do you imagine that Christians of both political parties fail to address, or remain complicit in? Reflect on these questions for a few minutes privately before answering, since as American Christians we tend not to take time to consider another person or party’s point of view.
(25) Biblical justice. What are your favorite passages in scripture that address this major Biblical Theme? Eric did not know many of these passages, and needed to re-read scripture to notice how plentiful these passages were in scripture. Why do you think he needed to re-read scripture to see this? Do you know many passages that talk about this? Does your faith tradition talk about these passages? What do you think the reasons are for the way your faith tradition handles this Biblical theme in the way that it does? (NOTE: This may make for some interesting reading to find out why your church does or does not have a strong tradition of seeking Biblical justice. Most church traditions have strong historical reasons why they do or do not talk about this theme much.)
(27) What social programs are you aware of in the book of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, as well as the book of Acts that are mentioned in this episode? Are you aware of others? What might these regulatory measures have taught the people about the values and personhood of God? (NOTE: If you are unfamiliar with these parts of the Bible, do some reading to better educate yourself. Consider using the book Acts: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible) 2017https://www.amazon.com/Acts-Theological-Commentary-Bible-Belief/dp/0664234003 to get started.)
(33) Pastor Reggie said, “The rest of the world reads scripture together.” Consider the area of “personal devotions.” How might we be formed by scripture differently if we had our daily devotions in community? Consider how experiencing scripture like a support group could be different from other ways we read scripture when we are alone – as if scripture was somewhat like a novel, an instruction manual or a book of inspirational quotes.
(34) What are the overall demographic characteristics of those at the center of power at your church? Often the center of power in a church are the pastors, elders and deacons, church staff and the wealthiest people who give large sums of money to the church. How would your church respond if someone prominently voiced a Biblical critique of the ethics of one or more of those people at the church’s center of power? Have you ever seen this happen? If so, describe what that was like. Have you ever seen this happen in another church?
(40) What things may Christians say to explain why they don’t do more to help the poor? If we are honest with ourselves, why is it often difficult for each of us as Americans to follow Jesus’ commands on giving to the poor? What might happen if we as Christians believed that all money is God’s money?
(44) What are ways that “fairness” is different from Biblical justice? Describe an example that shows these differences. What examples do the podcast team mention in this episode?
(46) Is grace fair? How might our ethics change if we understood God’s grace more? If we better understood how to be “like Christ” in our desires and our actions, how might an outside observer notice a difference in how we each individually embodied God’s grace compared to the world around us? How might the same outside observer notice how our church advocated for grace-filled public policies? Give an example of what you imagine a grace-filled policy or change in the law could look like.
(50) If we understood grace deeply, how would we care for the poor differently as a society than we do now? How might Christians care for the poor differently than we do now? Compare this to the parable of the workers in the field (Matthew 20:1-16). Reflect on where we see ourselves in the story.
(54) How does the Antioch Podcast’s practice of “reading together” differ from an individualistic practice of reading in private? What do you notice are distinctive characteristics of their conversations? What do you think they may do to foster these kinds of vulnerable cross-racial conversations?
This is the second episode in our five-part miniseries on Christianity and Critical Race Theory or CRT for short. If you missed our opening episode, go back to episode 115 to begin the series before returning to this one.
In today’s episode, our team gathered around the mics to talk about Dr. Kelly Harmen’s article she wrote for Christianity Today in July of 2020 entitled “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics” discussing the first argument she posits which reads as follows: Quote: “Argument #1: Like all sin, racism originates in the human heart. Therefore, the solution to racism is for people’s hears to change. ‘Systemic Racism.’ on the other hand, is a Marxist idea.” End quote. In typical Antioch Podcast fashion, we had a lot to say about this, and some of it may come as a surprise, or … perhaps not. I’ll let you decide for yourself.
Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and Biblical Ethics Looking at Marxism and Critical Race Theory in light of the problem of racism in America. KELLY HAMREN
SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS from Episode 116 (Approximate minute markers noted in parenthesis)
(8) How would you answer a person who asked, “Why do you keep talking about race? Isn’t talking about it just creating more division in the world when we need to be looking at our unity in Christ instead?”
(12) Why does the podcast team believe that asking the question “Who is missing” is important? How do we each center ourselves when reading scripture? What might we miss by centering ourselves in scripture? How might identifying with difficult characters in the Bible shape our own character? As the podcast goes on, notice the examples of how imagining oneself as a character in a Bible story happen in this podcast.
(16) What is the difference between the sin of individual racism and the sin of systemic racism? Why might it be important to make this distinction?
(20) What might you say to someone who alleges that the sin of systemic racism is actually a Marxist idea? According to the article and the podcast team, what does Marxism ask questions about? What does “conversations about systemic racism” (which is another way of talking about Critical Race Theory) ask questions about?
(22) How does history affect our hearts? How does history affect injustice? What scriptural example is used in the podcast to make this point?
(26) What example is given of how individual racism may come to affect a system or institution? How may boardrooms of people – who have a shared negative impression or prejudice – create policies that enforce their prejudicial beliefs? Can you think of examples in history or the church when a group made decisions that affected another group negatively for a lengthy period of time? Describe these examples with the group. (If you can’t think of any, why might an institution keep these kind of stories a secret?)
(26) Did you know about the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiments (your answer may have a strong correlation with your race)? What are the reasons you do or do not know much (or anything) about this incident? If you don’t know anything, do a quick search on the internet to find out more before answering this question.
(28) Why do you imagine that white people often struggle with talking about privilege? What mistakes may someone make if they don’t know how to recognize or talk about their privilege? What problems might groups of people who are unable to recognize or talk about their privilege create?
(31) What are some of the costs of being a Person of Color (POC) in a predominantly-white environment? Did this information surprise you? What other kinds of negative effects may come from being marginalized in a school, workplace or church environment?
(34) What is the “scary question” people in power are afraid to ask, according to Pastor Reggie?
(35) What is different between CRT and Marxism, especially for Christians?
(36) How is the book of Acts an example of how a new system tries to address sin problems?
(40) Pastor Reggie said, “If me becomes more important that we, we aren’t talking about Christianity.” What makes this truth difficult to accept? How might we be convicted to act differently the more deeply we believe this truth? Discuss how you personally might live differently as you allow this scriptural idea to affect you more deeply.
Photos of Favorite Childhood Toys
Michelle: 1966 Mattel Yackers Skumk Pull String Toy
In today’s episode, we are going to talk about some of the academic ideas related to Biblical Antiracism. Critical Race Theory – or CRT – may be something you have heard discussed in recent years in Christian circles. Marxism and Socialism have been terms repeatedly used and weaponized in political discourse in the United States. Some people link Critical Race Theory and Marxism together, but go one step further, insinuating that these ideas are both Un-American and Un-Christian. In many ways, there exists a sense in some Christian circles that Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Socialism are implicitly evil, and that Christians must resist them at all costs. But is this actually true?
Most of us are not experts in Marxism or Socialism. Most of us take the word of people whom we believe know more than we do on these issues, and adopt their positions as our own.
One of our listeners recently wrote to us, asking us to talk about the topic of Critical Race Theory, and we agreed. This would be good to talk about … and while we all were familiar with Critical Race Theory and had explored these ideas at some depth, none of us could claim to be academic experts on this topic. So… we looked to find someone who was.
There are many resources out there about Critical Race Theory written by people who identify as Christians as well as those who do not. So if you are wondering about this topic, we would encourage you to feed your intellectual curiosity by reading more about Critical Race Theory yourself. We have provided a short reading list in the links on this episode page.
Among the many thoughtful books and articles on Critical Race Theory was a piece written by Kelly Hamren PhD, a Christian professor at the Evangelical institution Liberty Univeristy – who writes and teaches on Russian literature, Marxism and Critical Race Theory. Her article, “Social Justice, Critical Race Theory, Marxism and Biblical Ethics” came out in June of 2020 in Christianity Today, and will serve as the basis of this miniseries we are doing here on the Antioch Podcast we are calling “Christianity and Critical Race Theory” where we will talk about each of the four arguments she puts forth in her article. This is the first episode, covering the introduction to the article, in this series.
(14) What do members of the podcast sayin response to Michelle’s question, “What is Critical Race Theory (CRT)?” Did anything they said surprise you?
(16) Pastor Reggie asks, “What does it mean to have identity?” How would you describe your identity based on our demographic labels like the members of the podcast team do at the start of every episode? How do you feel about the idea that American history could be told from the vantage point of many different demographic groups? Notice these feelings, writing them down.
(17) How might telling the American story in terms of “both the good and the bad” be different than how you learned history as a child? NOTE: There may be noteworthy generational differences here, so if you are in a small group, leave time for different members to share their recollections of how they were taught history as children, and whose viewpoints curated the facts that were included in the historical curriculum and which facts were excluded.
(21) How would you describe social justice? How does the podcast team describe social justice? What ideas stood out to you?
(25) How might seeing where the word “you” is meant to be understood as a plural (collective) pronoun help you read the Bible more accurately? What Bible verses does asking this question make you curious about?” Use the link to the Calvin Seminary Scripture Study App to learn more.
(28) What is the difference between “intent” and “impact”? How might thinking about these ideas affect your understanding of social justice?
(31) What examples do you hear the podcast team identify as examples of how overtly racist policies from the past still affect people today? How often do you think about these things? What may be possible reasons for why you think of them as often as you do? How often might you think of them if you were a person of another race?
(37) “Personal Responsibility”. Have you ever heard someone use this phrase to imply that an individual is somewhat or entirely responsible for their unfortunate life circumstances? How might understanding systemic sin give us an outlook on these differences that are characterized by the Fruit of the Spirit?
(39) Pastor Reggie talks about how Black Christianity as the Black church speaks to Black Christians. How does he describe this? How might these ideas be communicated to the congregation? (Be specific if you can.)
(40) “…we seem to divorce our history from our ethics.” Give examples from the history of the White church where this kind of complicity with the sin of racism happened. (Be as specific as you can.). What might a reckoning with this history be like in the White church?
(40) Why do you imagine the phrase “White privilege” makes many white people uncomfortable? If you are a White person, talk about your own emotional reaction to this phrase over time. How did you first respond when you heard or read the phrase “White privilege”? How do you respond to it today? How do you think God responds to it? Libby describes White privilege as “White people getting something that is a human right that other people aren’t given.” How does this idea strike you?
(44) Michelle says, “If you are a person of color (POC) you are not assumed to be middle-class or upper-class especially if you are dressed casually or athletically.” Reflect on this statement and the story of the jogger that follows. Notice your thoughts and emotions, writing them down. How might you personally (whatever racial group you identify with) pray about these reactions, asking God to heal what may be in your heart? NOTE: this story was first told in Episode 71 if you want to listen to it.
(47) Eric says, “People who are experts in racism are the people who experience it often … listen and believe that they are telling the truth.” Why might it be difficult to believe someone who has different experiences that we never have had? Why do you think we come to believe some people’s stories that are different from our own, but challenge or reject other stories? What are the consequences for POC when they are repeatedly disbelieved by individuals and systemically disbelieved or ignored by institutions?
(50) How does Pastor Reggie characterize the book of Exodus? He goes on to say, “you cannot disconnect justice from ethics.” How has your church responded to the Black Lives Matter movement? How have you responded? What factors influence the way you and your church responded? What holds you back from doing more?
(52) Libby talks about the introductory chapters written by theologians who are women or persons of color. How would you describe the biases you have, considering how your identity has shaped your experiences and therefore how you read scripture and view the world? For fun, write out how you would explain the biases and viewpoints your experiences have given you and how they impact the way you read and think about the Bible. Read these descriptions aloud in a small group as a way to get to know one another.
(57) What might you have to unlearn to read the Bible more accurately? When might we improperly silence ourselves because we fear that we may be biased? When do we each need to be quiet to listen to the viewpoints of people who are not like us? Whose voices have we each personally never considered listening to as it relates to how they view scripture or other matters?
(*) Going deeper: Notice that on the Antioch Podcast, white and male viewpoints are represented, but not dominant. How might this impact the kinds of conversations they have?
(1:02) John Calvin, James Cone, and Katie Cannon. What do you know about these three theologians, if anything? Why do you think this is? If you know one or two of them, but not the other(s), use the links in the show notes to further educate yourself.
Social scientists tell us that multiracial churches are growing in number from 6% in 1998 to 16% in 2019. These same social scientists are telling us that these same churches may not be promoting the flourishing of Black people and other people of color.
Jemar Tisby, president of the Witness: a Black Christian collective, podcaster, author of the Color of Compromise and his forthcoming book How to Fight Racism, wrote a piece on his blog entitled, Why Multiracial Churches Fail, discussing these two factors. We would encourage you to read his piece yourself, which is linked to the show notes for this episode on our webpage www.antiochpodcast.com . Our team gathered around the mics to talk about this, as all of us attend multiracial churches, to share our experiences, observations and thoughts about this phenomenon.
O Come All Ye Faithful
Angels We Have Heard on High
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Sweet Little Jesus Boy
Come Thou Long Expected Jesus
Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Jesus the Light of the World
Go Tell It On the Mountain
Joy to the World
Jesus, Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child
Notes from Eric:
This has been a year of loss and longing. Many of us have been unable to worship face-to-face for months, have not been able to embrace people we love, and have needed to stay physically apart from the people we care about the most. Our nation too has been torn apart by fearmongering and racism, and many of us feel separate in spirit from people we used to count as friends. Some of us have been celebrating holidays in solitude, and are looking at marking Christmas alone as well. Some of us are isolated to keep from getting COVID, while others of us presently have COVID, and are quarantined from the public in our homes, rehab centers, and hospital units.
Jesus came into a world very similar to ours. The powerful government of Rome used their military to police the people’s they ruled over, often using terror to instill a sense of fear into those subjugated people. Leprosy and other incurable diseases of the time separated people from one another, making some call out “unclean” so that people would know to keep their distance. We remember Christmas as a time when Jesus came to rescue us from these manifestations of a broken world, among the many other fingerprints sin has left on our world.
Since the beginning of the quarantine period, I have learned how to make the musical backgrounds and interludes for the Antioch Podcast. I’ve enjoyed learning how to make music that is not designed to be the focus of attention, but is created to be in the background to enhance the mood of a conversation. This music is designed in the same spirit of the podcast, to be music for the background of your conversations with God whether it is on a walk or a drive, or with others in your kitchen or perhaps during a meal. I put together this selection of Christmas songs for those marking this holiday time in solitude. In particular, I was thinking of the people I know who are isolated on COVID units in hospitals, rehab centers, or are recuperating sequestered to their homes. But wherever you are, I hope these notes and sounds give you a sense of the presence of God in your life during this season. I hope you have enjoyed it.
All musical arrangements and improvisations by Eric Nykamp
Michelle Loyd-Paige is the most senior contributor to the Antioch Podcast in our group. She is a woman with a lot of life experience and a LOT of titles she has racked up: preacher, professor, doctor, and most recently Executive Associate to the President for Diversity & Inclusion at Calvin University. She also is a wife, mother, grandmother and on this podcast a friend and cohost. In this episode, Michelle shares the story of how she came to be on her antiracism journey, when it started, challenges she has faced, and ultimately where it has brought her today.
This was a conversation that many of us on the podcast have been eagerly awaiting to hear, and we hope YOU, the listener, find her story as moving and inspiring as we did.
Where we are recording in Michigan, the leaves have now blown off the trees, there is no sunlight by the time we eat dinner, winds are picking up and the temperature is dropping. We are in a time of transition. Winter is coming. The election is behind us (mostly) and we await a new administration. COVID numbers continue to rise nationally. Many of us on our team have had loved ones fall sick and some have died this season. All of these things are true, God has not left us, and we have moments when we also need to pause and feel the weightiness of these moments because we are human beings with hearts full of emotion. It is the way God has made us.
Against this backdrop, our team thought it may be good to take a mental break from all the heaviness, even for a moment, in the spirit of the Thanksgiving season. Gratitude, it turns out, is one of the practices that social scientists have shown to diminish anxiety and help people shift into hope-filled mindsets. So today we are going to spend some time remembering those people who are our antiracism inspirations, people from history as well as people we’ve known personally whose lives give us encouragement when it may seem difficult to keep going.
Some of our team were away leading an antiracism workshop, while the rest of us gathered virtually around the microphones to visit and share stories together.
No credits this episode, but it was still good, eh?
We caught Professor Kristin Kobes Du Mez at her home on a Friday afternoon after a week of teaching American History at Calvin University. It also happened to be the week of the 2020 election, and at the time we recorded, no presidential winner had been formally declared. Her past month had been a blur of interviews. Her book, Jesus and John Wayne, a history of white evangelicalism, has put her in the spotlight as white evangelicals have been one the most reliable voting constituencies for Donald Trump. This fact puzzles many outside of evangelicalism, who seek her out for comment, since many outside this tradition widely see Donald Trump as someone whose language and behavior are antithetical to the morality of scripture. Yet Du Mez describes in her thoroughly-researched book how notions of militancy and masculinity have been strong themes through generations of white evangelical communities until this present day. The militant, masculine approach of Donald Trump seems to explain why he, more than any other presidential candidate in recent history, has garnered the support and admiration of white evangelicals. Her cultural history of this segment of white Christianity was why were so honored to have her join us to talk about her book.
On October 28th 2020, USA Today ran an article stating that 70% of U.S. adults say that the presidential election is a significant source of stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s Stress in America Survey. This is up dramatically compared to stress rates during the 2016 election which clocked in at 52%. In an election whose outcome affects many of the issues Christians concerned about Biblical Antiracism care about, the past four years have been trying ones, and many people are feeling the stress even more intensely in these weeks leading up to the election.
Our team gathered around the microphones to talk about our experiences, reflect on the importance of resilience, and ended with a discussion of things we each are practicing to stay grounded during these trying days of waiting for the election to be over.
This is a special episode of the Antioch Podcast where we stepping away from our regular conversational format to hear from two of our regular team members. Up first, we will hear a chapel presentation given by Dr. Michelle Loyd Paige for Calvin Univerity’s Unlearn week. Unlearn is a yearlong program that kicks off with a week of special presentations on diversity and inclusion at Calvin University. Some of you will remember that a couple episodes back, we released an episode of the podcast that the entire Antioch team did for Unlearn week. Unlearn is a yearlong program that kicks off with a week of special presentations on diversity and inclusion at Calvin University. This talk, based on the book of Jerimiah, captures the sense of longing many people are feeling at this time when were are preparing for a national election in an era of racial unrest and the resurgence of COVID-19 across the United States.
The episode will conclude with a reflection on Psalm 37, a psalm about waiting during unsettled times. This felt appropriate as many of us are anxiously awaiting the outcome of a presidential election which has been rife with language and policy proposals of concern to people committed to Biblical Antiracism.
In antiracism conversations, there sometimes is a tendency for these conversations to focus primarily on the differences between black and white people. There are a lot of reasons for this, but often this black-white binary overlooks those representing “middle voices” in antiracism conversations. While the popular term “People of Color” lumps all non-white people into a single category, the term “middle voices” is starting to emerge in antiracism circles as a way to signify that not all experiences of people of color are the same. For those not familiar with the term, “middle voices,” the term is meant to represent those people groups who are neither black nor white, including (but not limited to) indigenous peoples, Latino communities, Asian ethnic groups, people whose ancestry hails from the Middle East, as well as people who identify as multi-racial or are cross-racial adoptees. This term, “middle voices”, is not meant to suggest that the enormous variety of experiences people who are not black or white have with American racism is uniform in any way. Rather, it leaves the door open for people to tell their own story of how their American racialization experiences are as varied as the places their ancestors called home, and each person’s unique upbringing and physical appearance.
So with this background context, we bring you Josh Holwerda’s story. Josh joined the Antioch Podcast team a number of months ago. He is often the quiet member of the team, the guy who at the beginning of each episode often identifies as a “cross-racially adopted dashing Bengali man.” Josh’s story is a deep and complex one and continuously evolving. We don’t need to tell you about him as he is more than capable of this, so we thought that we would take this moment for him to tell all of you a little more about his story in his own words.
We are in the final days before a deeply divisive election. Tempers are high, and it seems as though every few days something alarming makes the news. The day before we recorded this episode, an armed militia was arrested in our city and across our state for plotting to kidnap our governor, take her to an undisclosed location in Wisconsin to put her on trial, and destroy bridges in the process to delay law enforcement who might have tried to stop them. It is a tense time in Michigan, and in our deeply purple community in Grand Rapids, relationships are strained in families, friendships and churches. I don’t think we are alone here. The country is deeply divided, and Chrisitans too are divided. 81% of Evangelical Christians voted for Donald Trump in 2015, and current polling suggests this trend will continue in this election. Many white Christians still to this day do not recognize Donald Trump’s incendiary rhetoric about non-white people groups to be racist. And, since Donald Trump took office, white Christians are now less likely than they were a year before to want to do anyting about racism, according to a recent study by the Barna Institute. This is deeply troubling.
Into this context Calvin University invited the Antioch Podcast to participate in their yearly Unlearn 365 program which aims to educate both the college and the community about matters pertaining to diversity, inclusion and antiracism. We commonly receive feedback from our listeners telling us that they wish that they too could have conversations like we have on the Antioch podcast with their friends… but in this tense political climate, they don’t know how. So, because of this, we decided to talk about this very thing in an episode we recorded live before a virtual audience in a conversation we called “Antiracism and Friendship in the Age of Donald Trump.”
In this series, we have been looking at things that white people and people of color can do to “fix” racism, so to speak. In this last episode of the “I Can Fix It” series, we will address the last suggestion for white people, a suggestion called “take action.” By this point in the journey, author Damali Ayo is assuming that white people ready to “take action” have developed lifestyle practices of admitting they have a race and therefore are knowledgeable and comfortable talking about their whiteness. These white people know how to listen to people of color, and make it a practice to continue listening at all times. These white people have taken the initiative to do their own self-education, and have broadened their experiences to have routine meaningful connections with people of color throughout their week. These are white people, who now are ready, to “take action” and do something to fight racism.
Our multiethnic team was all present to talk about this topic as we gathered around the microphones to make this final recording of the “I Can Fix It” series.
Some weeks are harder than others to do antiracism work, and this was one of those weeks. To give you a sense of the setting, we recorded this conversation just days after the verdict on the shooting of Breonna Taylor. Breonna grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where several of us are from, so her death carries with it a local connection, though none of us know Breonna or members of her family directly.
It was good to be in the presence of friends, to share our hearts and process together. We talked about the struggles we are having in this moment, and in the end, shared a little with each other about what is giving us hope in this time of racial tension and great uncertainty.
What you will hear is our unfiltered conversation about Biblical Antiracism, among the members of our multiracial team who was able to gather around the microphones. Listeners should note that there is a passing reference to the fact that we just finished the “I Can Fix It” series. Due to the fact that the nation is grieving the fact that no police offices were charged with shooting Breonna while she slept in the bed of her own home, we decided to release this episode early. The final episode of the “I Can Fix It” series will be released next week, following this episode.
In this series, we have been looking at a document called “I CAN FIX IT”, compiled by artist and author Damali Ayo of things that white people and people of color can do to “fix” racism, so to speak. This week, we pick up the balance of last week’s conversation where we began discussing how people of color need to “Take Care” in order to “fix” racism. So… if you haven’t heard episode 102, hit pause, cue up that episode, and listen to the first part of our conversation. We are diving right back in where we left off, as Michelle brings us back to the conversation where members of our team talked about what resonated with them about the suggestions in Damali’s piece.
In this series, we have been looking at things that white people and people of color can do to “fix” racism, so to speak. This week, we return to Damali Ayo’s piece “I Can Fix It” to explore the last suggestion for people of color, a suggestion Damali calls “Take Care.” Racism, and combatting it, can take a toll. Perhaps not surprisingly, our multiracial team had a lot to say, so we kept the microphones on for a couple of hours as we talked about how we “take care” in this season of increased racial tension in America. We will share our entire conversation with you over this episode, as well as next week’s episode.
This week we return to our “I Can Fix It” series, a series that looks at concrete things that white people and people of color can do to “fix” racism so to speak. We pick up where we left off in Episode 99, on step 4 of the 5 steps white people can do to become better at understanding racism, and I want to put these steps into an antiracism context a moment, so you can step back and see the larger picture here.
Biblical Antiracism involves three distinct but inter-related aspects: Acquiring Knowledge, Unlearning Internalized Racism, and Changing Oppressive Systems. The tools to accomplish these three aims are Education (learning history of racial oppression and knowing the areas where racial disparities and oppression remain), Conversation (about Internalized Racism), and Advocacy (to address systems that perpetuate racial disparities). Steps 1-3 have more or less been dealing with the first aspect of Biblical Antiracism, which is acquiring knowledge through education and listening to people of color. Today’s discussion of Step 4 (Broaden Your Experience) examines how to begin equitable relationships with people of color, some of which may eventually evolve into mutually-enjoyable friendships. Step 5, which we will be getting to in a couple episodes, will then explore how a white person could begin to engage in advocating for systemic changes that hopefully promote racial equity.
So, as usual, our multiethnic team once again gathered around the microphones for our weekly conversation filled with laughter, storytelling and vulnerability as we talk about today’s topic.
The Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, Glory Edim (Author). NOMINATED FOR AN NAACP IMAGE AWARD • An inspiring collection of essays by black women writers, curated by the founder of the popular book club Well-Read Black Girl, on the importance of recognizing ourselves in literature.
This is episode 100 of the Antioch Podcast. This week we take a pause from our “I Can Fix It” series to reflect as a team (minus Josh, who was handing a last-minute emergency) on what makes our cross racial conversations about Biblical Antiracism possible. Many times after we stop recording, our team sticks around to talk about why our conversations feel energizing, refreshing, and therapeutic… and unfortunately – rare. What makes conversations about faith and race so difficult for so many of us? How come these talks about identity and experience rarely even happen between people of the same racialized groups if they happen at all? Why do these kinds of cross-racial conversations, so often filled with tension and defensiveness, not happen when our team turns on the microphones to record, and then sticks around for hours after to share laughs, prayer-requests, stories, or even more vulnerable questions we don’t yet know how to talk about on the podcast? When our team realized this was happening for us, it seemed like a beautiful mystery that we kept trying to understand a little better.
So this episode is another unscripted recording where we talk about what makes these rare and beautiful conversations about Biblical Antiracism possible. It isn’t the final conversation that we will have on this topic, but we wanted you, the listeners, to hear the kinds of talks we have most weeks after the mics are turned off.
This week the Antioch Podcast team returned to our discussion of artist and author damali ayo’s piece “I Can Fix It” – and ended up spending the hour talking about the ramifications of one sentence in the document, a sentence written to white people about something they can do to “fix” racism, which reads as follows:
White people – broaden your experience. Caution: please don’t do this until you’ve successfully completed steps 1-3.
Pause a moment and think about this. What could it mean to “successfully complete” steps in combatting racism? I’m recording this prologue to the episode the morning after our recording session, and I’ve been thinking about our conversation since we stopped recording yesterday, reflecting on what was said. This was one of the conversations on the Antioch Podcast I personally will need to return to once in a while, because what we ended up discussing was what individuals and institutions could look like if they had what we ended up terming a “racial conversion.”
What does it mean to have a conversion? Who in scripture had a conversion experience, particularly about inclusion, favoritism, or who belongs in the body of Christ?
For the sake of the listener, know that I have edited out some of the long pauses that happened during this recording as we waited with each other to think deeply about the idea of having “racial conversions.” As always, you are hearing our unscripted conversation, verbalizing our imperfect thoughts as we talk about this challenging topic.
This week the Antioch Podcast team returns to our discussion of artist and author damali ayo’s piece “I Can Fix It” – a distillation of the opinions of 2000 people she polled to get ideas about how to address individual acts of racism. This week, we talk about how people of color need to “build ties” as one way to “fix” racism. This “liberated space” episode is full of laughter and storytelling as we were in good spirits during this recording… and stay to the end when Pastor Reggie starts to PREACH!
This is the 5th episode in our series entitled “I Can Fix It” in which the Antioch Podcast team discusses the “Now Art” piece by artist and author damali ayo. Damali Ayo polled 2000 people for their ideas about how to fix racism, and curated their responses into her written piece “I Can Fix It.” We’ve been going back and forth between things that white people and people of color can do to combat racism, but this week – the suggestion is the SAME: Educate Yourself. Our team talks about the things they are doing to educate themselves, as well as why education is ongoing work for anyone serious about Biblical antiracism.
“I Can Fix It!” by damali ayo
Harvard Implicit Association Test
Hello! Welcome to the Antioch Podcast, conversations about Biblical Anti-Racism.
My name is Eric Nykamp
This week the Antioch Podcast team returns to our discussion of artist and author damali ayo’s piece “I Can Fix It” – a distillation of the opinions of 2000 people she polled to get ideas about how to address individual acts of racism. Damali lists 5 things white people can do, as well as 5 things people of color can do in “I Can Fix It, ” and our team is taking turns jumping between the two lists. This week, we discuss thing #2 People of Color can do to address individual acts of racism – speak out.