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By Tim Hunt

Re-thinking my view on white privilege and structural racism

Uploaded: Jul 2, 2020

I have a confession. Over the past few weeks, I have come to realize just how big my blindspot was when it comes to the lives of Black people, particularly Black men.

I have listened to several long discussions of race and race relations -- all put together by faith-based organizations that I have connections to.

It was striking to hear Dallas megachurch Pastor T.D. Jakes tell Pastor Ray Johnston that he had influence when he was in the pulpit, but was just another Black man when he was driving in a car.

I read a lengthy interview in the Wall Street Journal with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott who is Black. He described the Washington Capitol police stopping him four times as he tried to enter the Senate even though he was wearing his official lapel pin. He's been stopped while driving at night several times.

Other Black pastors described having the "talk" with their sons about what to do if they are stopped by a police officer. Jakes described an incident where his adult son called him late at night to say he'd been in a car accident. Another driver had T-boned him and they were waiting for the ambulance and police to show up. Jakes said he reminded his son exactly what to do when the officer approached him and then stayed on the line until he heard a polite interaction.

This is a world that I do not live in. With one exception, every time I have been stopped for a traffic violation I earned the stop. Nothing bogus. Clearly, that's not true for Black men as I have come to learn.

It was also striking to hear a Nigerian-born British pastor talk about his heritage and compare it to African Americans. His parents moved him from Nigeria when he was 2 so he grew up British. He has a family name and a family history. Compare that to American slaves who arrived in chains and were given the last name of the family that owned them. The family history goes only as far as the first slave.

I also heard a pastor lay out a convincing case for how the country was built by whites and for whites. Whether it was Jim Crow in the South, redlining for lending in Black neighborhoods, or zoning designed to keep Blacks out of the explosion in private Christian schools once public schools were integrated in the South. I recently read an article that demonstrated that homes in Black neighborhoods were assessed at significantly lower values than other neighborhoods in the same city.

I heard another pastor argue that reparations are a Biblical principle. That was a word that I typically dismissed out-of-hand or get irritated. I have a new understanding.

What I heard over and over and over again was how frustrated and tired these Black leaders are because they've been battling these issues for years and ears (mine included) were closed. Jakes, who has a national presence and is a guest on talk shows frequently, summed it up when he said, for the first time, he can be completely honest in a conversation with fellow pastors.

My eyes and ears started to open when Transforming the Bay with Christ put together a forum with Effrem Smith and three other Black pastors from the Bay Area. Smith planted a multi-racial church in Minneapolis before moving to the Bay Area to head a mission organization. I got to know him through the Barnabas Group of the San Francisco Bay Area before he moved to Sacramento to co-pastor the midtown congregation of Granite Bay.

I also plugged into the Q Conference when it did a special program on race relations as well as Granite Bay's Thrive Conference that went virtual this year (seen in 98 countries) and featured a half-day program on race. That's where I saw Jakes and Pastor Miles McPherson from San Diego interviewed as well as Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State and national security advisor, who is back at Stanford and will move into leadership at the Hoover Institution later this summer. She grew up in the Jim Crow South in Birmingham, Ala. I've heard her speak a few times and she emphasizes that there's been significant progress, but there's still much work to do.

I also joined an international call put together by Global Celebration, the Christian group that we went to Israel with in 2018.

My takeaways: I have much to learn and will listen. McPherson asked a particularly pointed question: How often do you hang out with a person who doesn't look like you, doesn't vote like you, doesn't watch the same media as you or has different political views than you do? Ouch.

This is a very complicated issue and is one that will require a multi-faceted approach to move forward.

The Thrive Conference is available online free at { videos" />. Jakes, McPherson, Rice, Smith and other Black leaders are interviewed.