Turning the Tables on Race: Disrupting Systems of Exclusion, Marginalization and Privilege aims to give the reader the upper hand in conversations about race.
The newest resource from The Raceless Gospel Initiative at Good Faith Media, after reading it, you’ll likely want to rearrange a few things.
It will not support a neat and tidy theology. It will not go well with the system that you already have in place. Instead, Turning the Tables on Race is sure to make a mess of your traditional beliefs about our shared humanity and the color-coded way that American society identifies us.
The problems started by the social theory of race are not wrapped up neatly or presented with a bow just in time for Christmas. The work is intentional and personal, communal and relational.
No seven- or 12-step promises, this resource is but a compass as we continue on the narrow path as followers of the Way. One foot in front of the other, the raceless gospel calls into question the hierarchical ways that we relate to each other. How can two people walk together unless they are on equal footing?
We do not divest ourselves of race, its progeny and privileges without the ongoing practice of self-mortification and a thorough cleaning of segregated houses of faith. Dismantling the 400-year-old caste system will involve painful admissions and require firm convictions about who we are as Christians, namely a body of believers.
We cannot simply add more chairs to the table. We should also table any conversations about forgiveness and reconciliation until we have made restitution and done the work of reparations. It is best that we do things in order and not blame-shift if cross-cultural relationships stall. The onus is not on the victim but the perpetrator.
Turning the Tables on Race offers questions for discussion and reflection as well as original artwork for the reader to engage. The hope is that this resource will give us all eyes to see the discrepancies between our segregated practice of faith and our interconnected life as members of Christ’s body.
Like Jesus’ sweaty performance in the temple after witnessing a robbery, double dealing involving God’s people, Turning the Tables on Race questions the “double-consciousness” that is required of American Christians. Claiming both a racialized identity given by American society and a baptismal identity given as a member of Christ’s body, readers are presented with a choice.
The story appears in all four Gospels, which makes it unavoidable. Readers see another side of Jesus. It’s his good side for those who are being oppressed. For them, they see that Jesus doesn’t like injustice.
Turning the Tables on Race addresses the North American church’s ongoing relationship with the sociopolitical construct and questions why the church hasn’t ended it. A byproduct of Europe’s so-called “Age of Enlightenment,” race has been disproven scientifically.
The American Anthropological Association issued a statement discounting it, writing that “‘race’ was a mode of classification linked specifically to peoples in the colonial situation. It subsumed a growing ideology of inequality devised to rationalize European attitudes and treatment of the conquered and enslaved peoples.”
Still, American churches continue to offer race theological support. But Turning the Tables on Race hopes to remove these pillars of faith.
Like The Words We Must Say: A New Tongue for a New Day, which offers seven meditations to transform how we talk about race, this resource will change how we look at race and disrupt the social agreement we have made to exclude and marginalize many for the sake of a privileged few.
It’s not an easy conversation but it should not be avoided.