When I sobbed through the chorus to Dara Maclean's, "Blameless" after seeing Terrence Crutcher murdered in Tulsa I just couldn't stop crying. I wept because here were white Christians singing an amazing song that I just feel on the outside of. And after reading Franklin Graham's latest message telling me to "listen up! Do what the police say," among other ignorant nonsense, I literally had to go and lay down. His post made the words to this song and many "white contemporary christian songs" feel out of reach for the black boy inside of me that once again would be seen as a threat to be put down, not a son to be picked up. More accurately, the chorus would be:
You call them holy.
They've been forgiven
You call them righteous
they are Yours.
You call them worthy
They are Your children
You call them chosen
Them being white people. White people are blameless, holy, forgiven, righteous, and belonging to God. White people are spotless, worthy, chosen and children of God - not we whose skin is kissed by the sun, whose eyes are almond shaped or would dare call ourselves native or indigenous.
I associate being theologically accurate with white people. I associate being well thought out with being white. I associate being trustworthy and good with being white. Everything sound about Christianity that is produced by non-white people must be verified by white people. Spirituals with four lines said over and over must not be as holy as hymns with four stanzas. Being at church four hours is inefficient, a good sermon has three points, and the only worship that gets introduced as "new", "different" and "something we are trying" is not in English or "Black" - and usually done just once or during "our" month. There is an innate inferiority that me and other non-white people were fed and internalized and it robs us of joy, peace and love. It is not the Gospel of Christ but a western counterfeit gospel with a sign that says "whites only". We take the back seat or get off the bus altogether because the gospel of america is a theological Jim Crow and the Cross is changed from a lynching tree for a Palestinian Jew to a lunch counter in 1950's Greensboro. THIS is no good news at all to African Americans. The promise of white evangelicalism is crushed by the real lives of people of color.
American = Christian = White are disturbingly synonymous terms. So, it brought disappointment to my heart when I looked at a selfie of Paul Ryan's interns this summer and it was overwhelmingly white. And to think that many people imagine a kingdom of God where we gather around our leader and the picture is still void of people of color is acutely painful. It brings me to my knees, brings tears to my eyes and I am paralyzed. For many white american Christians, what is most familiar to me in prayer and worship isn't just unfamiliar to them, it's unbiblical. It's so different that it can't be Christian. Literally, my brothers and sisters are being murdered by police who "fear" for their lives and my "christian brothers and sisters" are too busy defending themselves to make space for me and my pain in their picture of heaven. Lord have mercy.
Now what saved me from my despair is verse 2. It continues,
"I will boldly come
running straight to the one
singing over me your songs of salvation
No one can take this from me
I am a child that you named free.
Nothing will separate us I'm held by you.
Now, this is some Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Good News of the coming of the Kingdom of God!
In the faces of fearful deputies intimidated because I wear a Kaepernick Jersey and say Black Lives Matter, I am a child that God named Free.
In the faces of uncomfortable worshipers I can raise my hands and shout aloud because no one can take away the joy that My Father has given me. And I need not be ashamed.
No matter how strong the prison industrial complex or how heavy the burden of dangerousness the history and media places on my back - nothing will separate me from my Father in Heaven because I am covered by the blood of Christ Jesus.
It doesn't matter how segregated our worship here may be on Sunday mornings, the kingdom God has enough room in the program for our praise and the aisles are big enough for us all to run and dance.
Franklin Graham may not see me, but my Father in Heaven surely does and the day will come when every tribe and every tongue and every nation will praise and worship Him in the Heavenly places; and you better believe that confessing that you are a white american evangelical is NOT the price of admission to the Kingdom.