Recently, Darrell and Virgil, on their podcast Just Thinking Me, part of the B.A.R Podcast Network, responded to Carolyn Helsel ‘s article, published on Religion News Service. The recently posted article titled, 9 Ways to be a Better White Person, immediately caused a hailstorm of negative opinions from Christian’s of color due to it’s insulting and demeaning approach to dealing with issues of “race.”
Helsel is a professor at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and holds the title of reverend/minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is a more liberal denomination of Presbyterianism.
She has a Ph.D., an MDiv and a ThM degree and according to her website, she is most interested in white racial identity development and narrative as a way of helping whites come to understand our continuing participation in the historic legacy of slavery and racism in the United States.
She is a native Texan and is currently studying the experience of Texan identity and how that relates to race.
Helsel’s latest book, Anxious to Talk About It: Helping White Christians Talk Faithfully About Racism was recently published through Chalice Press and serves as a sounding board for her article along with her misguided approach to understanding “race” issues.
Darryl and Virgil respond to Helsel’s article in a light-hearted manner, yet at the same time, they do so in a thought-provoking way that is Scripturally faithful. They help listeners think deeply about why these articles are unhelpful, which do nothing more than perpetuate un-Biblical presuppositions about skin color, power, and most of all, emotional stability.
There are many non-white individuals, even those who bear the name “Christian,” who love to keep white brothers and sisters on a treadmill of guilt and remorse. They chain them to a never-ending posture of repentance and perpetual groveling at the feet of non-whites for assumed ancestral sins or systemic injustices, erroneously supposing that every single white person in this country were slave owners or have purposely set out to keep all minorities in “inferior” places within our society.
Unknowingly, Helsel, along with others who think like her, who are both white and nonwhite, are actually perpetuating a real evolutionary racist concept. By negating or stripping away any personal or individual responsibility within minority populations, then claiming to own up to problems or demanding whites own up to problems that are not theirs to fix, they are actually declaring that white people have the power and responsibility to “fix racism.” Assuming that awareness, empathy and running on a treadmill of guilt-ridden emotions will give them the ability to rid the world of racism is demeaningly condescending!
Helsel, through her written work and advocacy, is groveling for fear of being irrelevant and seems to want to take sole credit for why minorities are not more “advanced” than those that share her hue of skin color. She might as well break out Carl Linnaeus’s skull measuring stick. If that ain’t real racism, then I don’t know what is.
What Darrell and Virgil do, through their rebuttal, is clearly show that just because someone holds a Ph.D. in any discipline, it does not necessarily translate to Biblical wisdom. In her article, Helsel exhibits the perfect example of what it looks like for white brothers and sisters to drink the social justice advocate kool-aid, (aka – “social justice professional”). One can’t help but to laugh at such ridiculousness, mourn over such arrogance, and be offended, all at the same time.
Someone needs to remind Helsel of Romans 8:1 “there is therefore now, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.”
She may have been absent that day in her attainment of higher theological education so we might extend to her a bit of grace and mercy. In the meantime, Darrell and Virgil can help us put this article, and others like it, into a Scriptural framework, while also applying real good ol’ fashioned Biblical wisdom.
Enjoy! (click on the picture below to listen to the podcast)
Disclaimer: Note the word “race” is in parenthesis throughout most of this review. Darrell and I share the same sentiment concerning this word, and for the sake of dialogue, I typically will use it in conversation, written or verbal, for continuity sake. However, in this podcast, he succinctly explains the disdain we both share for its usage.
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