In More Than Equals, Spencer Perkins observes that "Blacks have not been able to distinguish between white Christians and white non-Christians when it comes to racial issues." Our poor track record is further delineated in Emerson & Smith's Divided By Faith. Like secular white Americans, most white Christians "see no systematic discrimination against blacks; indeed, they deny the existence of any ongoing racial problem in the United States."
This is a matter so grave it should shake us to the core of our souls and jolt us into action. And yet, white Christians stand by as black and brown youth are killed in the streets by state-sanctioned aggression. We send thousands of black men to prison every year. We allow a judicial system that is three times more likely to execute a black prisoner than a white one. We selectively revoke voting rights, and pollute neighborhoods. We kick children of color out of schools and into jail. We allow racial disparity across housing, healthcare, education, and employment, resulting in immensely disproportionate rates of hypertension, anxiety, and heart disease. And we hardly blink an eye. This is very much the fruit of Holiday's song. It is no exaggeration to suggest that the terror and urgency she conveyed in her song are every bit as salient now.
The Church's broken history with race needs to be acknowledged before we can move forward. Our legacy of privilege and injustice has very real consequence for the Kingdom. It is time to prune the branches of our own indifference, so we can bear good fruit for Christ in our witness to the world.
This is the good fruit that we can bear.