Academic journal article Theological Studies

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation

Article excerpt

Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation. By Jennifer Harvey. Prophetic Christianity. Grand Rapids, Ml: Eerdmans, 2014. Pp. viii + 262. $25.

Cyprian Davis and Bryan Massingale, among others, have detailed the US Roman Catholic Church's mediocre record in dealing with racial injustice and the lack of willingness to take more extensive and effective action. Harvey is a Protestant writing for and about her fellow Protestants, but she has much to teach Catholics.

In part I, H. draws on her antiracist work and scholarship to craft a devastating critique of reconciliation as the goal of the churches' efforts. Reconciliation ignores the actual history and devastating costs of white supremacy, still evident today in the appalling inequalities between blacks and whites. So reconciliation alone does not address the basic cause of racial alienation, massive and systemic racial exploitation. Alienation is the symptom, not the problem. Consequently, reparation must replace reconciliation as the churches' focus.

Yet, as H. recalls in part II, Christian churches recoiled from the demand for reparations when it was presented in the Black Manifesto at Riverside Church in 1968. A few lone white voices recognized its justice, but the churches' leadership decisively rejected the Manifesto without asking whether its charges were true and whether, therefore, reparations were in fact necessary. …

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