A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar

Reparations, Hot Dogs, and Owning Our History: An Interview with Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson

August 25, 2021 Randy Knie, Kyle Whitaker Season 2 Episode 3
A Pastor and a Philosopher Walk into a Bar
Reparations, Hot Dogs, and Owning Our History: An Interview with Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson
Show Notes Transcript

Randy and Kyle talk with Duke Kwon and Gregory Thompson about their recent book Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair, in which they grapple with the church's responsibility to repair the great damage done to African Americans by the history--and ongoing reality--of racism in the United States. Duke and Greg are forceful and eloquent and refreshingly hopeful. It's an important conversation that will hopefully spawn many others.

The letter discussed at the beginning of the episode can be found here: https://www.facinghistory.org/reconstruction-era/letter-jourdon-anderson-freedman-writes-former-master.

The whiskey featured in this episode is Traverse City Straight Bourbon.

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/apastorandaphilosopher)

NOTE: This transcript is for the unedited video version of this conversation, so what you see here will not match the audio-only podcast version exactly. For the video version, see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9844ZpJTzWs

[Music]

00:04

well Duke Kwon and Greg Thompson thank you

00:07

so much for joining us this evening

00:09

thanks for having us it's great to be

00:11

here

00:12

super fun i'm excited to talk about your

00:13

book reparations could you guys tell us

00:16

about yourselves before we get into this

00:19

pretty major work that you put together

00:20

called reparations who are you Duke Kwon

00:23

and Greg Thompson?

00:25

I am a pastor in washington d.c. um a

00:30

part of a church that started up about

00:32

10 years ago

00:34

part of a network of congregations here

00:37

in the district of columbia that started

00:38

up

00:39

um about 18

00:41

years ago

00:42

and so this is home a wife and three

00:44

kids three young kids that are also here

00:46

all born

00:47

here in dc so this is definitely home um

00:50

planting long-term roots plan to be here

00:52

grew up in california for most of my

00:54

life a lot of my family still out there

00:57

but came over to the east coast uh for

00:59

college and never went back which is not

01:02

common for californians uh but that's

01:05

that's the case for me so here i am

01:07

which also makes me a lakers fan so you

01:10

can love me or hate me for that but

01:11

that's what it is man left the coast but

01:13

not the team affiliation i respect it

01:16

uh that's right that was Duke by the way

01:18

Duke Kwon

01:19

What kind of church do you pastor

01:21

what's the denomination network

01:22

affiliation whatever yeah the church is

01:24

called grace meridian hill the network

01:26

is called uh grace d.c uh network three

01:30

congregations and we're a part of the

01:32

presbyterian church in america so pca

01:35

got it thank you

01:36

yeah

01:38

so

01:39

um i'm gregory thompson and i am a

01:41

former pastor and um i'm a scholar

01:46

of civil rights movement and

01:49

really and kind of functioning as an

01:51

artist of kind of diverse creative

01:52

background right now i'm

01:55

leading a project to build a national

01:56

memorial the underground railroad uh

01:59

outside of philadelphia i'm the creative

02:01

director of a new

02:02

cocktail bar that's an homage to african

02:04

american cultural history called star

02:06

and lantern um and uh and that's in the

02:10

that's opening

02:12

next month um in the philadelphia area

02:15

and so

02:16

um i i'm based in charlottesville

02:18

virginia

02:20

but i i kind of live at this interesting

02:22

intersection of

02:24

theology and or spirituality um politics

02:27

around around race and racial justice

02:30

and and essentially the hospitality

02:31

world the food world and those are the

02:34

that's the space where

02:35

i'm spending most of my time like i was

02:37

just over at the restaurant before i

02:38

came over here and and so trying to pull

02:41

all those circles together in some

02:42

coherent sub-coherent fashion

02:46

uh i'm you got me greg i mean

02:49

i love food i love

02:51

civil rights i love the church i mean

02:54

geez and yeah whatever i'll just stop

02:56

gushing a little bit

02:58

i'd love to talk to you about star

02:59

lantern if you want it's gonna be an

03:00

awesome thing yeah let's let's try to

03:02

get that in before we're done um

03:04

how do you guys know each other how'd

03:05

you write up wind up writing a book

03:07

together

03:09

well we've been in the same we've been

03:11

in kind of uh same broad network i was

03:14

also in the presbyterian church and

03:17

um we

03:18

had known each other for a number of

03:20

years but i don't think really have been

03:21

together more than once over the past 15

03:23

years

03:24

then we ended up in um in a meeting in

03:27

dc the month after the charleston

03:29

shootings in in

03:30

2015 uh and the two of us were there

03:32

together

03:34

and kind of discussing what had happened

03:36

and what uh what a

03:38

credible and meaningful response to it

03:40

would be

03:41

um and then we just have sort of stayed

03:44

and stayed in touch you know over the

03:45

years and

03:47

that's kind of how i think our

03:48

relationship developed we have not it

03:50

should be said

03:51

i don't think we've been together but

03:53

one time since we signed the contract to

03:55

write this book um because of because of

03:57

code so

03:59

duke and i only exist in each other's

04:00

screen

04:01

we're not we're not real

04:04

so was it was the book one of your ideas

04:06

or was it the publisher's idea that came

04:09

to both of you how did that work

04:10

well i think it it

04:12

it was our idea not not the publishers

04:14

but i think really it just bubbled up

04:17

um

04:19

when we found in each other uh sort of a

04:22

rare

04:23

uh shared interest

04:26

in this topic um obviously it's not one

04:29

uh that many people in our sort of

04:31

ministry and church spaces

04:33

have necessarily tackled or embraced um

04:37

i i had the privilege of sharing a talk

04:40

at a cue ideas conference um a couple of

04:44

years ago

04:45

um

04:46

and that may have been the first time

04:47

that greg heard me uh speak on this

04:49

publicly

04:50

and that sort of you know triggered

04:52

conversations about hey you know you

04:54

find two unicorns in our denomination

04:56

that actually want to tackle reparations

04:58

started thinking about what we could do

04:59

together on on the subject so yeah the

05:02

rest is history

05:03

yeah i texted i was actually sitting in

05:05

the audience when he gave the talk and i

05:07

had

05:08

a prior commitment to work to meet with

05:10

a publisher the following morning to

05:12

talk about a contract on a book on mlk

05:16

um and i texted duke during his talk and

05:19

said

05:21

i think we need to write a book on

05:22

reparations together and i'm meeting

05:24

with a publisher in the morning

05:27

and are you cool with me pitching the

05:29

idea

05:30

it was pretty much

05:32

pretty much that's how we

05:33

we

05:34

i think that's really how it happened he

05:36

was doing really good constructive work

05:38

and and i had been thinking about these

05:40

issues and thought

05:41

i see you know we both saw an

05:43

opportunity that we thought to serve in

05:45

that way

05:46

yeah

05:47

well it's a it's a great book i just

05:49

finished it a couple of days ago thank

05:51

you

05:52

thank you

05:53

but it's an important read i'm going to

05:55

ask you the obvious question that i know

05:56

you get at every interview about this

05:58

just to start us off and i know you have

06:00

a prepared answer because it's in the

06:01

book

06:02

why

06:03

are a white guy an asian guy writing a

06:05

book about african american reparations

06:09

well you know as we say in the book uh

06:13

we don't know who else should be writing

06:15

it at one level i mean the reparations

06:17

conversation is by nature a two-party

06:19

conversation

06:20

those to

06:22

those who owe reparations and those to

06:23

whom reparations are owed and so we're

06:26

writing

06:27

as people who are in a predominantly

06:30

but not exclusively but predominantly

06:31

white

06:32

denomination um and uh and we wanted to

06:36

speak into that audience

06:38

uh as people who in some ways represent

06:40

that community it's complicated for both

06:42

of us obviously it's more complicated

06:44

for duke because he has a he has an

06:45

entirely different sort of

06:48

uh story in this um

06:50

but that

06:51

so in one sense we're taking it from the

06:53

perspective of what we say is the

06:55

penitent um and we're also doing it as

06:58

folks who believe in the church and

07:00

believe the church should take

07:01

responsibility for it

07:04

yeah we it it does stand out to some

07:06

folks as being

07:08

odd or at least not what they might

07:10

expect in terms of authorship on a topic

07:13

like this

07:14

but that's been a joy i i think it's

07:16

important that even though we are who we

07:18

are we did labor as best as we could

07:22

not only to write and think but even in

07:24

our sort of our own development over the

07:26

years to really um sort of sit at the

07:29

feet of african-american thinkers

07:31

pastors ministry leaders and all the

07:33

rest

07:34

we try to reflect that in the book that

07:35

even though we're writing as non-black

07:37

people responding in this two-part

07:39

conversation

07:40

that we also did want to do our best to

07:42

represent not just our own thoughts uh

07:45

but the thoughts of christian leaders

07:46

both past and present from the

07:47

african-american tradition yeah and he

07:50

sure did that i mean

07:51

that was very very clear and that's

07:53

really a lot of the gut-wrenching stuff

07:55

for me as we read that i mean you start

07:57

out the book the introduction got me i

08:00

mean completely 100

08:02

hooked just reading that letter from

08:04

this former slave name jordan anderson

08:07

uh

08:08

i wanted to read this out loud over the

08:10

you know for our listeners the whole

08:12

letter but it's just too long it's bad

08:14

listening we'd waste our time with you

08:15

guys but could you let our listeners who

08:17

haven't

08:18

read this book and i think this is going

08:19

to make them want to buy the book

08:22

tell them about this letter how you

08:23

found it how you became aware of it the

08:26

history of it and then just tell them

08:27

about the contents of this letter

08:29

because it is incredible

08:32

duke why don't you go for it yeah i mean

08:33

i found it online um just one day in

08:37

different

08:38

browsing through different sources and

08:40

um

08:42

and especially at a time when i was

08:43

interested in getting down to original

08:45

source material

08:47

and just a fascinating

08:49

story of a former slave

08:52

who once lived

08:54

on a

08:55

property in tennessee

08:57

eventually um

09:00

ran away and made a new living in ohio

09:04

and so the whole sort of

09:06

context of this letter that we have uh

09:09

that was um

09:11

uh

09:12

written by jordan anderson this former

09:14

slave to his former master

09:17

uh just this amazing response to a

09:20

request a plea for him to

09:23

return uh back to the home the former

09:26

master apparently his property had

09:28

fallen on hard times and he needed some

09:30

extra help and wanted

09:31

uh his um his his uh former slave to

09:35

come back and and um get things back in

09:38

order

09:39

um and so yeah just uh it that letter

09:42

actually

09:43

sort of not went viral but it just

09:46

got some press time

09:48

some years ago maybe 10 years ago or so

09:51

um so it got circulated a little bit and

09:54

uh people were chatting about it but uh

09:56

i think a lot of people have forgotten

09:57

about it so it was fun for us just to

09:59

put it back in print and and make sure

10:01

people got their eyes on it because it

10:02

really is powerful and greg maybe you

10:03

can just summarize what what the

10:05

contents of the letter was yeah well the

10:07

the the essence is you know um i mean

10:10

it's a mess it's a total masterpiece

10:12

letter uh but the essence of it is um i

10:15

appreciate you

10:16

uh you know asking me to come back um i

10:21

missed the old home place um even though

10:23

you shot at me on occasion

10:25

and um

10:27

i

10:28

am interested in talking to you about

10:29

coming back but the precondition of that

10:32

is for you to show me your good faith

10:35

uh that you really do want to to work

10:38

together on this and treat me well by

10:40

paying me what you owe me and then

10:41

jordan anderson calculates

10:44

what he owes what he is owed over for

10:47

all the years of service um

10:49

minus like a tooth extraction and a

10:51

couple other things and says

10:53

so that'll be 11 000

10:55

and please send the money to a certain

10:58

place and if and if you don't then

11:01

there's

11:02

there's no way i can trust you to treat

11:04

me well when i come back and and i don't

11:06

really need you

11:07

um

11:08

and so

11:09

it it was

11:10

just uh

11:12

it was just incredible yeah yeah i mean

11:15

that's worth the book right there read

11:17

that letter and it will hook you for the

11:19

rest of the book and i mean the the

11:21

power of the book one of the powerful

11:23

things about the book to me was um the

11:25

stories that you tell i mean you're just

11:28

helping us see the history of our nation

11:31

helping us see the history of slavery of

11:34

jim crow of you know the 60s and 70s the

11:37

whole dang history of our nation and in

11:39

the first chapter i mean it i was

11:42

depressed

11:43

by how history repeats itself you you

11:45

tell the story of the sanitation workers

11:48

protest in memphis in 1968 and after

11:52

two sanitation workers who were black

11:53

are killed on the line in the line of

11:56

work and

11:57

the response to that protest that you

12:00

that you detail in your first chapter

12:03

ranks so familiar to me right where you

12:05

say the response some claimed that dr

12:07

king was stirring up trouble to grab

12:09

attention others claimed that it was a

12:11

movement of violence that was launched

12:13

by black nationalists others said it was

12:15

a strategy formed by northern union

12:17

leaders trying to exploit local problems

12:19

on and on

12:20

that sounded so familiar to me from the

12:23

summer of 2020 and even until till now

12:25

when we talk about the black lives

12:26

matter protests and you have you had

12:28

this like two week window of a lot of

12:31

unity you know like people get kneeling

12:32

for nine in the suburbs and the rural

12:34

areas and all this beautiful stuff and

12:36

then all of a sudden it was like you've

12:37

had your time now

12:38

but it continued it turned just angry

12:41

and

12:42

bitter and you heard all these ideas and

12:44

these reasons for why this is happening

12:46

it's antifa or it's they're they're

12:49

they're violent even though we know 93

12:51

percent of the black lives matter

12:52

protests were violent

12:54

were peaceful it reminded me so much of

12:57

and depressed me and how our nation's

12:59

history repeats itself all the way up to

13:01

the present moment can you just

13:03

you guys are scholars it's you guys have

13:05

researched this bring us into that world

13:08

of history repeating itself and why you

13:11

might be a little bit hopeful even

13:13

well i think one of the things that we

13:15

have to keep in mind is that

13:17

of all the qualities evil has creativity

13:20

is not one of them

13:21

and it continually

13:23

uh you know plays the same songs and i i

13:26

think

13:27

that um these things do repeat

13:29

themselves just because they're

13:32

they're unaddressed it's like

13:34

a wound will continue to scab um and and

13:38

so i think part of part of what we were

13:40

trying to help people see

13:41

is that these

13:43

these essentially tropes of deflection

13:46

that are used by people who want to deny

13:48

the reality of white supremacy or

13:50

frankly displace

13:52

responsibility for our social

13:55

turmoil onto

13:57

african americans

13:58

and away from white folks

14:00

they really only have so many ways they

14:02

can do that and they just do it over and

14:04

over and over again you know and some of

14:06

the people that are talking today i was

14:07

joking with duke today i was like

14:09

some of the stuff that's being said

14:10

today it could have been said by george

14:12

wallace you know or could be said by

14:14

john c calhoun um and you know these

14:18

it's hot it's profoundly unoriginal um

14:20

and the way it thrives is by obscuring

14:22

itself you know um and so

14:24

i think i think we're seeing that and

14:26

i'm i'm personally hopeful i'd be

14:27

interested to see what duke says be

14:29

precisely for that reason um

14:32

what we're facing is not new and it's

14:34

just compounded evidence and this does

14:37

this moment like many other moments that

14:39

we chose not to embrace this moment does

14:42

present us with an opportunity to

14:43

finally

14:44

address these things which seems so

14:46

transparent to us um in need of address

14:50

just to comment on that last part of the

14:52

question one reason why i'm hopeful and

14:54

there are a number of reasons

14:56

including things as foundational as the

14:58

power of the resurrection

15:00

um believing in

15:02

um

15:03

the

15:04

the power of christ in the life of the

15:07

church truly

15:09

uh real things can happen um in and

15:12

through the church so believing in

15:13

things like that but what stands out to

15:15

me i think in this generation if i could

15:18

almost talk like an old dude or

15:19

something

15:21

i feel like there's there's more

15:22

attentiveness to

15:24

history um i think then

15:28

i've seen in in

15:30

generations past as if i've lived in any

15:32

other except my own right but i just

15:34

mean

15:35

there people um you know one of the

15:37

things that has have obscured these

15:39

things over the years is

15:41

when americans and especially american

15:43

christians have opted to live

15:46

under these dense mythologies

15:49

um and then sort of inheriting them

15:52

as they're passed down from

15:54

um home to home in church to church but

15:57

without actually reckoning with history

15:59

on its own terms

16:00

i feel like people are actually

16:02

going back to the sources and reading

16:04

for themselves

16:06

and more accessible histories are being

16:08

written as well

16:10

and so it's it's a fascinating thing i

16:12

think to see christians that are wanting

16:15

to know truer stories uh more than i've

16:18

ever seen and i think that's actually

16:20

igniting

16:21

both a deeper kind of honesty and a

16:24

penitence

16:25

as well as uh

16:27

in eagerness to rewrite the story or to

16:30

overwrite it or to just write new

16:32

chapters of it

16:33

going forward

16:35

there's a different relationship to

16:36

history than we've had before

16:38

and if i could add to that i i want to

16:40

just underscore um

16:42

this book was not written as an

16:43

indictment of the church

16:45

um

16:46

there are indicting parts of it for all

16:49

of us

16:50

it was essentially written and addressed

16:52

the church because we have hope in the

16:54

church because we believe

16:56

that if the people of god actually saw

16:59

what was happening in this world

17:02

um and and actually committed themselves

17:04

to the work of reparations

17:06

that it would be possible

17:09

to make profoundly constructive action

17:12

um and you know real real strides on

17:14

this so i believe in the spirit and i

17:17

believe in the creative possibility of

17:19

christian folk um and so i think that's

17:23

that's one of the reasons we were so

17:25

deliberate about addressing it to

17:27

to the church precisely because this is

17:30

this is a work of hope and we think that

17:32

if the church owned this and said yes

17:36

we're gonna we're gonna figure out

17:38

what this means and how to respond i

17:41

think we would actually start to see

17:42

movement in this culture wow we uh we

17:44

found two guys who have hope in the

17:46

church let's

17:47

let's drink them

17:50

that's right that's right and more

17:53

towards despair on this podcast so

17:56

well

17:58

it's a hope in the presence of christ

18:01

right i'm there with him

18:03

so one i'm glad that you mentioned the

18:05

historical stuff because the great

18:06

strength of the book i thought was in

18:08

the early chapters where i mean you

18:10

could you could assign some of this as

18:13

like a pretty decent introductory

18:15

history to white supremacy

18:17

in the united states and like an

18:18

undergraduate class like i was talking

18:20

to my students about it actually because

18:22

we just have our unit on race this week

18:24

and so

18:25

it was fresh in my mind i mean there's

18:26

some really useful stuff in there you

18:28

guys have a

18:29

a quite useful i think synthesis of a

18:31

lot of historical scholarship on the

18:34

concepts of racism and white supremacy

18:36

so could you

18:38

briefly for our listeners before we get

18:40

to the reparations part specifically

18:42

tell us what you think racism is and

18:45

specifically if you could describe for

18:46

us your idea of cultural racism because

18:48

i think it ties together a bunch of

18:50

different scholarly strands in a really

18:51

nice way so if you could explain what

18:53

cultural racism and white supremacy are

18:56

and then we can talk about the

18:58

reparatives

18:59

great i'll try to do it succinctly um

19:02

racism as we define it has three aspects

19:05

to it the first is the

19:07

identification of people according to

19:09

putatively uh static or unchanging

19:12

physical characteristics

19:13

to

19:15

imputing certain moral and intellectual

19:16

capacities and correlating them to those

19:20

those physical characteristics and three

19:22

assigning a correlative social value or

19:26

devalued

19:27

position based on those characteristics

19:29

racism is is all of those things um as

19:33

as we talk about it

19:34

and when we talk about racism as a

19:36

culture what we're simply saying is that

19:40

we have inherited a culture and american

19:42

culture has certainly been a culture

19:44

that did that

19:45

that uh especially to african americans

19:48

and not exclusively to african americans

19:49

but in a distinctive way um to african

19:52

americans

19:53

um and though you know we see this we

19:56

see this happening all over the place

19:58

now um

19:59

but so it's it's not just what's

20:02

happening in my heart racism is not just

20:05

a

20:06

broken relationship with somebody of a

20:07

different quote race

20:10

it's not even just a

20:12

sort of discreet institutional injustice

20:15

it's actually an entire cultural system

20:18

where

20:19

that that traffics in and and

20:21

perpetuates

20:23

um those three features that we continue

20:26

to talk about people in these racialized

20:27

categories which are a modern invention

20:30

that we continue to assign various

20:32

capacities to them and we continually uh

20:35

reward or

20:36

or harm people according to those

20:38

signifiers and that has embedded itself

20:42

in every institution and not just in the

20:44

institutions but in the interaction

20:46

between those institutions into a

20:48

mutually reinforcing system

20:50

that system

20:51

we refer to as white supremacy for a

20:54

very simple reason

20:55

it is beyond controversy historically

20:58

that the united states of america

21:00

privileges those that it designates to

21:03

be white our entire catalog of blood

21:05

laws from the 19th century is nothing

21:08

but and the correlative privileges that

21:10

were associated with how how much white

21:12

or african-american blood you had in you

21:15

is is an irrefutable incontrovertible

21:17

demonstration that that this was a this

21:20

was a basic anthropological logic of

21:22

this country um and that it continues

21:25

and so it it what it does is it takes

21:29

people that it designates to be white

21:30

and it elevates them makes them supreme

21:34

uh across all of these across all of

21:36

these different institutional

21:38

manifestations and so white supremacy as

21:41

we describe it is not you know as we say

21:44

uh hooded dudes in the woods or torch

21:46

bearers marching through charlottesville

21:47

my home's my town um

21:49

it is an actual system

21:52

that advantages those that it deems to

21:54

be

21:55

white and disadvantages uh those deems

21:57

to be not white that's just i won't say

21:59

one more thing this is not to say that

22:01

all those advantages are

22:03

equal

22:04

it is not to say that the presence of of

22:07

advantage means that those that deems to

22:09

be white have an easy life that doesn't

22:11

mean that some just have what the boys

22:13

call the psychological wage

22:15

of knowing that at least they're not

22:17

black um and coming from you know

22:20

relatively poor

22:21

southern roots myself

22:24

i i can testify to that that is that is

22:27

true um and so that's that's what we

22:30

mean

22:31

i could just add you know that this idea

22:34

that we try to introduce early on racism

22:37

as a culture

22:39

would describe it kind of um

22:41

as being an ecosystem right so even in

22:44

the way that that word is used to

22:46

describe the natural world what is that

22:48

it's it's sort of this web network and

22:51

web

22:52

of

22:53

of not only organisms but their

22:56

relationships with each other their

22:58

environment right so this includes

23:01

people individual people and

23:03

institutions and their ideas and what's

23:06

in the water and what's in the air all

23:08

of those things

23:10

uh together which are the source and

23:12

some of all these other aspects and

23:14

dimensions of racism whether if it's

23:16

broken relationships or evil ideas or um

23:20

corrupted institutions

23:22

the reason why we felt it was important

23:25

to describe

23:26

racism as such

23:28

as far as the logic of our argument is

23:31

concerned

23:32

is basically to just show how bad and

23:35

intractable the problem is

23:37

that of course if it's just if racism is

23:39

just about broken relationships then

23:41

let's just hang out more or you know or

23:44

if it's just about bad ideas then let's

23:46

just read more books if it's just about

23:48

broken institutions well let's just fix

23:51

these organizations we're saying it's

23:53

all that and more

23:55

it goes deeper wider it's been longer

23:58

it's been harder and therefore and this

24:01

is the simple conclusion out of that

24:02

that sort of emerges out of that

24:04

definition therefore we need something

24:07

that goes as comprehensive and deep and

24:09

wide as white supremacy itself has

24:12

infected our nation and that is why we

24:15

need something like reparations and so

24:18

it's it's an argument and a definition

24:20

that tries to set the stage for the need

24:23

for something like reparations

24:26

so i mean in your first couple of

24:28

chapters you do a really good job guys

24:30

of taking us into the darkness and the

24:32

depth in the

24:34

the disgusting nature of white supremacy

24:37

in the history of of the united states

24:39

of america i mean um and you talk about

24:42

the color line in the call to see white

24:44

supremacy that is ingrained in our

24:46

culture

24:47

when we don't really see it so can you

24:48

take our listeners into that world the

24:50

color line that functions to keep

24:52

african americans and white americans

24:53

from seeing one another and that is a

24:55

line that runs you say deep through the

24:57

structure of our daily lives going all

24:59

the way back to hidden and separated

25:00

lives on the plantation to our world

25:03

today take us into that world that color

25:06

line it was easy to see then and it

25:08

should be easy to see now but can you

25:10

just take us into that reality a little

25:11

bit

25:13

well you know it's interesting it it

25:14

both is and is not easy to see um

25:17

because

25:18

uh

25:21

well i'll talk about that in a second to

25:22

talk about the color line you know

25:24

that's obviously the boys phrase

25:26

um

25:27

and he was talking about an entire

25:29

social separation that that existed that

25:32

was being challenged that had in fact

25:33

been challenged through

25:35

um emancipation and through

25:37

reconstruction

25:38

um

25:39

and was never fully resolved in fact

25:41

that line was reestablished in jim crow

25:44

as he laments in in some of his poetry

25:46

and

25:47

um

25:48

the the basic idea idea is that what we

25:50

were just talking about a minute ago

25:52

that this this separation of essential

25:56

selves according to

25:58

racial categories and then

26:00

giving people completely different

26:02

social experiences based on that and

26:04

those two things don't interact except

26:06

as those who are in empower need those

26:09

who are are not in power

26:12

um and that line is very firmly

26:14

policed um you know it was obviously

26:17

policed in in the plantations it was

26:19

police

26:21

uh in segregation it was policed by this

26:23

hyper hysteria about black white sexual

26:26

relationships that were prominent from

26:28

the 1880s really through the civil

26:30

rights movement um and so

26:32

i think it's it's a structure that that

26:35

expresses itself everywhere in their

26:36

educational systems you know our laws

26:39

etc etc um and so there's one system

26:41

which is really easy to see i mean all

26:43

you have to do is drive through town and

26:45

you can drive through various towns you

26:46

can see it look at

26:48

educational systems look at who's

26:50

getting free lunch and who's not at

26:51

school like all these things you can see

26:53

it but on the other hand it's it it's

26:56

not easy to see

26:57

because by nature it was designed to

26:59

conceal

27:00

and that's why we refer to like you know

27:02

the hidden staircases in monticello and

27:04

places like that because

27:08

white america not only needs

27:10

to be in power

27:12

and to subjugate these other folks

27:14

historically it needs to believe that

27:16

it's not doing it while it's doing it

27:20

and and that that means that that that

27:22

that it's fundamentally pathological uh

27:25

in nature and that's a part of the thing

27:27

and that's part of what we're seeing

27:28

right you know right now in our in our

27:30

own country is this

27:31

this this is a this is a system that is

27:34

predicating on pretend predicated on

27:36

pretending that it is something other

27:37

than it is

27:39

um and and that and that is really

27:41

important that is why people can say

27:44

you know we always treated our slaves

27:46

real good

27:47

that is why people can say you know

27:49

black people loved it down in the south

27:51

with like a straight face that's why

27:53

certain people who may or may not have

27:55

been in the white house over the past

27:56

four years can say i'm not a racist

27:59

um when everything

28:01

everything that you see taking shape is

28:03

a reinforcement of a racial order

28:05

because it is predicated upon

28:07

self-deceit

28:09

wow

28:12

duke anything to add to that

28:14

yeah no it i mean

28:17

just to say that that line runs not only

28:19

right through american society generally

28:22

broadly um but also through the church

28:24

and it's just as invisible in the life

28:26

of the church as well

28:28

and in fact um church people are

28:30

sometimes the most blind

28:32

to those realities most hidden from it

28:34

and most self-deceived as far as

28:37

wanting to believe the best of

28:39

themselves and of the church's history

28:43

um and therefore

28:45

don't know how to reckon with it or heal

28:47

those divides and that separation and

28:49

that blindness because they don't even

28:51

believe or want to believe that it could

28:53

be there i mean you kind of answered

28:55

duke but i want to just go dig beneath

28:57

the surface a little bit there why do

28:59

you think

29:00

the church maybe is the most blind you

29:03

just said something similar to that why

29:05

why is that as a pastor

29:09

well i think part of it is we um

29:15

just as much as anyone else cling

29:19

to sort of um

29:22

the social order and i mean that both

29:24

ecclesially as well as uh more broadly

29:26

in american society we we don't want

29:29

disruptions we we like things to be tidy

29:32

and

29:33

not unsettled and and to to actually see

29:36

things as they truly are is

29:38

deeply distressing and unsettling

29:41

and so i think we choose not to really

29:43

deal

29:44

with things

29:46

i think part of it is

29:48

our spirituality

29:50

in the american church

29:53

uh is impaired in a lot of ways that

29:57

it

29:58

gives us this real deep almost

30:00

embarrassing inability

30:02

to confront reality

30:04

to tell the truth about ourselves we're

30:06

pretty good at telling the truth about

30:07

others failures the world

30:10

uh but not our own

30:12

um we it what i mean is we

30:16

really truly do not believe

30:18

in the life-giving power of repentance

30:21

um we don't believe

30:23

in

30:24

the the grace of confession

30:27

uh we believe these are damaging things

30:29

uh rather than things that

30:32

truly do liberate and restore humanity

30:36

and

30:37

the true nature of the church reveal the

30:39

true nature of the church when we tell

30:41

the truth so uh so i think we just would

30:44

rather live

30:46

under lies deceptions

30:49

because we're afraid and because we're

30:50

afraid of what we might lose

30:52

um yeah it it it really is tragic

30:54

because christians should be

30:56

the most courageous to enter into into

30:58

those honest places the most vulnerable

31:01

uh the most risk-taking and i don't mean

31:03

just by going into dangerous countries

31:05

to bring the gospel to bear around the

31:06

world i mean dangerous as in like

31:08

telling the truth

31:10

um and bearing that kind of risk even

31:12

institutional financial

31:15

risk but unfortunately the church tends

31:18

to be the most cowardly um at least has

31:21

been over these centuries and i think

31:23

just you know just to add to that it's

31:24

important to remember that american

31:26

christianity broadly conceived

31:28

especially we're talking about largely

31:29

white protestant

31:30

christianity has always been um

31:34

a de facto statist institution

31:37

meaning it is it is it has always been

31:40

um

31:41

one part christian

31:43

gospel

31:44

and one part nationalist mythology and

31:47

inside in fact has seen itself as the

31:50

baptizer and the legitimate moral

31:53

steward

31:54

of this order and so

31:57

the church has put itself in this

31:58

situation where if it names reality as

32:02

it is

32:03

it has to it has to thereby um

32:06

contribute to its own undoing and so i

32:08

think part of our work right now

32:11

duke's in my work right now but um is to

32:14

name this because a lot of this isn't

32:16

really about

32:17

the history the history's the history is

32:20

readily accessible

32:21

people people who want to know this they

32:23

can see it it's not like we had to go

32:25

you know dig under some pyramid and find

32:27

some mystery record somewhere all this

32:29

is like broadly in the public record

32:32

what is happening in our view in the

32:33

church is the church is incapable of

32:35

seeing this because it is enslaved to

32:37

nationalist mythology and it is this

32:39

close at every moment to to uh becoming

32:43

a nationalist cult and i think we have

32:45

to understand that that and and

32:47

christians around the united states i

32:48

mean excuse me christians around the

32:49

world know this to be true of us okay

32:52

this is what this is what global

32:54

theology is

32:55

it's common it's commentaries on this

32:57

and so i think uh we we have got to

33:00

reckon with this um how deeply enslaved

33:03

we are to cultural mythologies um and

33:06

how much life and vitality and power

33:09

and sanctimony and self-respect we have

33:11

derived from believing ourselves to be

33:14

on the right side of history assuring

33:16

ourselves that we're on the right side

33:17

of history even as we

33:19

you know make our brothers and sisters

33:21

sit in the balcony

33:24

and i'm a former boxer and that we call

33:26

like a technical knockout like this

33:29

done you guys i mean that's

33:32

the encouraging thing from what you're

33:34

talking about greg is that it's this is

33:36

nothing new right this wave of

33:38

nationalism that we find it's kind of

33:40

like the wave of nature of racism that

33:42

has been exposed in the last five years

33:44

in our nation's history which is really

33:46

like it's always been there we've just

33:48

had someone who's been who's empowered

33:50

it and revealed it it's kind of an

33:52

apocalypse almost in the last five years

33:54

of saying it's an unveiling of what's

33:56

always been there the nationalism the

33:57

racism the

33:59

tribalism all of that

34:01

yeah

34:02

so let's talk specifically about

34:04

reparations then so i was in favor of

34:06

the idea before reading the book but i

34:08

was i would have been skeptical of the

34:10

idea that the church had much of a role

34:11

to play prior to reading

34:13

not because i don't think it's an

34:14

obligation a religious and moral

34:16

obligation but because i have no no real

34:18

hope that the church could be effective

34:20

it seems more likely to me that they

34:22

would get in the way and make things

34:23

worse so if you were to ask me whose job

34:25

is the reparations my answer would have

34:27

been the stereotypical one

34:29

the federal government but you make a

34:32

pretty strong case in the book i think

34:34

that the church has a significant role

34:36

to play in this so

34:37

first explain what reparations means for

34:40

our listeners who might not have

34:42

considered the concept and then explain

34:44

what role you think the church plays

34:48

you want to take the first half correct

34:49

sure um so

34:51

in order to understand reparations what

34:53

it means we understand

34:55

the white supremacy is not as just a

34:57

cultural order it's a cultural order

34:59

that that has certain consequences in

35:01

the world and those consequences are

35:03

primarily by us reducible to the concept

35:06

of theft

35:07

that is to say it has been as tan i see

35:09

codes calls it a kleptocracy and so

35:13

i think um

35:15

white supremacy as we say stole the

35:17

truth about human beings and also the

35:19

truth about history through these kind

35:22

of mythological self-deceits and

35:24

self-conceits that we were just talking

35:25

about uh it's still uh also power

35:29

um and

35:30

you know bodily power political and

35:32

institutional power and of course we're

35:33

seeing a re-establishment of that theft

35:35

of political power through voting

35:38

restrictions like it just took place in

35:39

florida today

35:41

um and it's a theft of wealth as well

35:43

both through extraction of of wealth

35:46

from black communities and the

35:47

obstruction of their attempts to get

35:48

wealth um and build wealth for

35:50

themselves so that's important

35:51

foundation because reparations is simply

35:54

it's essentially rolling the tape

35:56

backwards and thinking what does it mean

35:57

to restore what has been stolen and with

36:00

respect to areas of truth power and

36:01

wealth

36:04

as far as the church's world is

36:05

concerned

36:07

um

36:08

i mean our argument in the book is

36:11

a couple of things one just by the

36:13

nature of what the church is and who the

36:15

church is that we believe that there's a

36:17

there's an undeniable missional calling

36:21

uh to love neighbor and this uh stands

36:25

to

36:26

uh stands as sort of the identity of the

36:28

church whether or not the church

36:30

actually was involved

36:31

in white supremacist theft uh this is

36:34

what we do and who we are we go we love

36:36

we fix we we repair

36:38

uh we restore we heal

36:40

this is part of our essential calling um

36:43

but

36:44

more specifically we have this dual

36:46

identity is both friend and foe

36:49

of white supremacy throughout american

36:51

history and what i mean by that is that

36:53

we as a church collective

36:56

have been

36:58

essential participants in these thefts

37:01

as perpetrators

37:02

accomplices

37:04

and willful negligent

37:07

bystanders in the face of theft and so

37:10

we are therefore responsible corporately

37:14

to make restitution for these things to

37:16

give back what was

37:18

sinfully taken

37:21

but that's also not the whole story

37:23

either

37:24

uh

37:24

like we were saying earlier before just

37:26

because we're culpable if we didn't

37:28

actually believe in the possibility of

37:29

the church we also wouldn't be looking

37:31

at the church

37:32

um and and and to be frank you do see

37:35

this often out there people who want to

37:38

hold the christian church responsible

37:39

for things but don't actually believe

37:41

the church can do it it's like well you

37:42

can't have it both ways

37:44

either either we're responsible and

37:46

there is even if uh in a faint and

37:49

diminished way yet by the power of the

37:51

holy spirit sufficient power to make a

37:53

difference and to do the work

37:55

or there isn't um but either way uh for

37:59

us we believe that the church can

38:02

actually engage its mission we let me be

38:05

clear we believe that resistance against

38:08

white supremacy

38:10

in the church has always been a remnant

38:12

movement has never been popular never

38:14

probably will be

38:16

and yet in the past uh christians and uh

38:20

the faithful witness of the church has

38:21

been able to make a real difference in

38:23

healing these wounds

38:25

and making substantial changes across

38:27

american society and we believe that

38:28

that's still the case

38:29

even today

38:31

um if we will pay attention to the great

38:35

moral tradition that we have that tells

38:37

us

38:38

if you stole something you got to give

38:39

it back

38:40

and when you see a theft even if you

38:42

didn't cause it you need to be a part of

38:44

restoring it and healing it that's

38:46

zacchaeus that's the good samaritan

38:48

that's our bible that's our bible

38:51

and therefore we need to pay attention

38:53

and be faithful to that word good and i

38:55

want to say that our our affirmation of

38:57

the church

38:59

is not um

39:00

it's not a form of like theological

39:02

wistfulness

39:04

it's

39:05

i'm a civil rights scholar

39:07

it isn't it's inconceivable to think

39:09

about the black liberation movement in

39:11

the united states historically without

39:13

centering

39:14

the church it just doesn't it doesn't

39:16

work

39:17

um and so

39:19

again it's not just

39:20

it's not that we're we we believe in the

39:22

resurrection and therefore making

39:24

whistle deductions uh it is to say we

39:27

believe in the resurrection and look

39:30

uh the dead have been raised

39:32

and so we we want to call people to

39:35

participate in that again by reminding

39:37

people of the nobility of this history

39:39

even though it's it's it's a complicated

39:41

nobility as all forms of nobility are i

39:43

suppose

39:45

let me ask this simple question that

39:48

i've the most basic question and common

39:50

common uh

39:52

you know deterrent to

39:54

reparations that i've heard is i'm not a

39:56

slave owner i never owned slaves i'm not

39:58

i'm not even a racist person so why

40:00

should i be responsible for what you

40:02

know generations ago did and you know

40:05

all that business you you talk in the

40:06

book you say this line that says

40:08

um we must see ourselves not simply as

40:10

inheritors of history's nobility but

40:13

also as ones who are implicated in

40:14

history's nightmares implicated that's a

40:17

strong word can you just tease that out

40:19

just a little bit for our listeners who

40:21

might be having that offense of like why

40:23

should i be responsible for what

40:24

generations ago did

40:26

well this is essentially frederick

40:28

douglass's point that we and we talk

40:29

about this and

40:31

and um either chapter two or three i

40:33

came in which one in chapter two um

40:35

americans want to celebrate the 4th of

40:37

july

40:39

we want to stand at baseball games and

40:40

put our hands over our hearts and pledge

40:42

allegiance we want to get misty-eyed

40:44

when the f-16s cruise over the football

40:47

stadium when our grandsons are standing

40:49

there we want to be the inheritance we

40:52

do want to take responsibility and enjoy

40:54

the privileges of things that we

40:56

contributed literally zero to

40:58

okay we we know how to do that

41:01

what we don't want is to somehow imagine

41:03

that we are implicated in the dark sides

41:05

of that and that is a form of willful

41:07

moral deception

41:09

and so i i just it's just it just

41:11

transparently is and so um i mean i

41:14

didn't fight in the revolution

41:16

but i know how to make hot dogs on july

41:18

4th like

41:19

why why is that okay there there is you

41:22

have to understand that there is this is

41:24

the this is

41:25

an expression of moral sickness

41:28

and of ideological commitment

41:30

where we are willing to be so profoundly

41:33

morally inconsistent and to choose to do

41:36

something when we are the beneficiaries

41:38

of that thing

41:39

and to refuse to do this thing in fact

41:41

to call it morally problematic when it

41:43

requires something of us that's a sign

41:45

not of intelligence i'm not even of a

41:47

good argument but of a moral sickness

41:49

and so and and this is essentially what

41:51

frederick douglass was saying in his

41:53

in his speech on july 5th you know when

41:55

he was like america has been good to you

41:58

but it has not been good to us and you

42:00

were the beneficiaries i think we say it

42:02

in the book you know we have to see

42:03

ourselves

42:04

not only as uh

42:06

inheritance of a city on a hill but of

42:09

inhabitants of a city

42:11

that was built on the the bodies of

42:13

broken children and as beneficiaries of

42:15

that breaking and unless we can do that

42:18

then we are being uh

42:21

morally dishonest and also civically

42:23

incoherent

42:25

yeah tony hatsuko calls that a uh

42:28

fair weather patriotism

42:30

um right and uh

42:33

inconsistency that duplicity and

42:34

hypocrisy right um

42:37

you know he talks about the need not

42:40

just to celebrate one side of it but the

42:41

whole of it right the whole of our

42:43

inheritance

42:44

um the good the bad and the ugly which

42:46

again christians are not great at doing

42:48

we we are

42:49

happy to put out hagiographic

42:51

biographies and all our great wonderful

42:52

american heroes uh american christian

42:54

heroes um and when it comes to their

42:58

failings or their slaveholdership and

43:00

and all the rest we obfuscate and excuse

43:03

and rationalize um

43:06

uh their failings in that way i want to

43:08

point out too though that uh

43:10

why does it matter

43:12

for even the person that knows and maybe

43:14

they're accurate and knowing that no

43:16

their family did not own slaves maybe

43:18

they didn't weren't even here in this

43:20

nation at that time uh two two parts of

43:22

the argument that i think need to be

43:23

made clear

43:25

one is that we do have in our christian

43:29

understanding over the centuries of the

43:31

the sort of ways in which it's proper to

43:33

apply the ethics of restitution

43:36

uh that when those obligations are not

43:39

fulfilled by the original perpetrator

43:41

they do get passed on

43:43

to his or her descendants

43:45

um and so if the hot goods that were

43:47

stolen uh come into the possession of

43:50

someone that was not the original

43:51

criminal that took it in the first place

43:53

the original thief well it doesn't

43:54

matter it's not yours

43:56

and they were illegitimately and

43:58

sinfully taken they need to be

44:00

returned and so it's actually not a

44:02

coherent argument simply to say well it

44:04

wasn't me

44:05

uh you are rendered an accomplice by

44:08

being a beneficiary in that sense

44:10

whether or not your great great great

44:12

great and daddy owned slaves or not in a

44:14

sense we all are complicit because we

44:17

all do benefit from

44:19

uh the bounty of this nation that was

44:22

harvested and built on the backs of

44:24

slaves

44:25

and we need to reckon uh with that a lot

44:28

of the problems that we have are simply

44:30

just the radical individualism that

44:32

blinds

44:33

american christians

44:35

from really being able to see corporate

44:37

realities corporate dimensions

44:38

especially in scriptures like of all

44:40

people christians should be the first in

44:42

line to say we are a we

44:44

um and yet we find ourselves arguing all

44:47

these strange arguments about well no i

44:49

was not there and i did not do it

44:52

that we don't we're not supposed to talk

44:53

that way the bible doesn't teach us to

44:55

talk that way um we need to uh deal more

44:59

corporately with our corporate evils and

45:02

failures

45:03

one thing on that it all that question

45:05

also while it's an important question of

45:07

political economy i mean questions of

45:09

who owes and to whom and how much those

45:11

are those are like basic questions of

45:13

political economy that i think really

45:14

matter but for church folk

45:17

you got to remember um

45:19

we are a missionary people

45:21

and can you imagine going to the mission

45:24

field and we said this before going to

45:25

the mission field in rwanda in 1996 and

45:28

just being like

45:29

i didn't kill nobody in this genocide so

45:31

like

45:32

why do i have to do something about it

45:34

you know what you would do you would be

45:35

labeled as a terrible missionary and you

45:37

know why you would be because you are

45:39

and and so what's happening here is that

45:41

christian folk with a straight face

45:44

are saying that same thing and thereby

45:46

betraying their establishment identity

45:48

rather than their mission missionary

45:50

identity uh and i think i think it's

45:52

it's a really clear indication whenever

45:54

somebody says that

45:56

outside of the context of like a serious

45:58

conversation about political economy

46:00

that they have not yet grasped what it

46:02

means to be a neighbor to the hurting

46:05

and what that requires of us and it is

46:07

shot through its self-interest um and i

46:10

think betrays itself to be said

46:15

yeah you um

46:16

you say you quote somebody in the book

46:18

that i just want to answer because it

46:19

was really powerful to me so this is

46:20

chapter four a guy named james forman

46:23

who was a representative of the national

46:25

black economic development conference in

46:27

1969 and he goes into this church in new

46:29

york city make causes a disruption

46:32

during their service stands at the front

46:34

and reads out this statement

46:36

and when asked afterwards why did you

46:39

target the church another representative

46:41

of that group said

46:44

because the church is the only

46:45

institution claiming to be in the

46:47

business of salvation resurrection and

46:49

the giving and restoring of life

46:51

general motors has never made that kind

46:53

of claim

46:55

so right the thing you just said about

46:58

responsibilities of civic patriotism or

47:00

whatever

47:01

i didn't do that so i have no

47:02

responsibility to do anything about it

47:04

just has no place in the mouth of a

47:06

christian that's that's simply not in

47:08

the character of jesus at all yeah

47:10

that's correct

47:11

go ahead no man go ahead

47:14

i was just getting into this to the

47:15

extent that we

47:17

persist and that's that line of

47:19

reasoning we are condemned

47:22

yeah

47:23

yeah

47:24

no no no that's right that quote and and

47:26

it's one of my favorites um in that

47:28

section uh it it's

47:30

it's just so striking because it's a

47:32

simple call to integrity

47:34

to live up to our own

47:36

confessions creeds and claims my

47:39

goodness and it's embarrassing because

47:41

the whole world sees it right you know

47:43

uh

47:44

the the the the name of christ is

47:46

blasphemed among the gentiles because of

47:48

you

47:49

it's like if all we could do is just

47:51

live up to all that we teach and preach

47:54

to each other and unfortunately to the

47:56

world

47:57

uh

47:59

we would actually be on the hook to do

48:01

these things and more

48:04

we have an integrity problem yeah so let

48:06

me let me ask this

48:08

a reader looking for a practical plan of

48:10

reparations with like numbers and maths

48:12

and stuff is going to be disappointed by

48:15

the book you're not going to find that

48:16

but you give a good

48:18

reason as to why that's not in your book

48:21

can you explain why you didn't include

48:23

something like that

48:26

yeah so

48:27

i think um

48:29

part of what we wanted to understand is

48:31

that is that i wanted our readers to

48:33

understand is that

48:34

hey this is introduction

48:36

um

48:37

and so

48:39

that's important to say second

48:42

that we really think people need to sit

48:43

with this history and sit with this

48:45

theological tradition that is apparently

48:47

having so little effect on our moral

48:48

imaginations and so really to get into

48:51

that before rushing in and saying hey

48:53

i've started a fund you know um i mean

48:56

we're in favor of that and as the nasa

48:57

says really hilariously um

48:59

you know

49:00

reparations can't wait to wait for you

49:02

to finish with your book group you know

49:04

i i think she's right she's right about

49:05

that but the main thing is because um

49:08

and as we say in chapter seven

49:11

african-american communities

49:13

can lead the way can show us what needs

49:16

to be done and this isn't

49:18

it isn't it isn't morally appropriate

49:21

for

49:22

me to say

49:24

and here's what it should look like

49:26

the whole point is that we have to build

49:28

these collaborative communities

49:30

where we are going to figure out how to

49:32

do this together over time

49:34

um and so we wanted it at the in chapter

49:37

seven which is where we take up the kind

49:38

of call to reparations the call to

49:40

repair we wanted to center

49:41

african-american leaders and their

49:43

voices and that was not um like a

49:46

summary it was a moral choice to say

49:49

we've laid out all this stuff

49:50

historically and theologically

49:52

now we're going to turn it to them and

49:54

they're going to show us the way we will

49:56

just listen to them um and and that i

49:59

think is is what we the kind of

50:01

spiritual discipline

50:03

of openness of renouncing control

50:06

uh and actually letting other people

50:08

lead us into the path of repentance i

50:11

think that that's a that's a moral

50:13

decision that that we have to make

50:15

together

50:16

yeah

50:17

just to add i i it is

50:19

absolutely possible and probable

50:22

to even with the best of intentions to

50:25

run out the door

50:27

and to attempt to enact reparations

50:33

and perpetuate and recapitulate

50:36

the very

50:38

white supremacist moral logic

50:40

that got us there in the first place

50:42

because of our paternalism

50:44

because of our refusal to let go of the

50:47

steering wheel

50:49

because of the insistence that we be the

50:52

authors of these programs and the

50:54

holders of the money

50:55

and the definers of the strategy and

50:58

and all the rest

51:00

uh there needs to be both a real work of

51:03

reparations and an inner transformation

51:06

within our communities which is why the

51:07

first part of that uh chapter in chapter

51:09

seven talks about becoming a people of

51:11

reparations uh the inner life that needs

51:14

to become more aligned with the outer

51:17

work

51:18

virtues of repair that need to take

51:21

place humility and repentance and

51:22

confession and relinquishing of control

51:24

um and a revaluation of money and and

51:27

all the rest um is just as important not

51:30

sequential you know nasa has that great

51:31

quote too where she's like well we can't

51:33

sit around and just wait um right uh but

51:35

these things happen in tandem together

51:37

so we grow and we go

51:39

um and it's back and forth in in the

51:41

door out the door um but uh

51:44

we we need to slow down a bit and we're

51:46

not willing to slow down and that's part

51:48

of the problem

51:49

yeah and in some ways the the chapter

51:50

seven is

51:52

it's just it just takes us back to

51:54

jordan anderson

51:56

uh we started with african-american

51:57

voice and said this is what it will take

52:00

and we ended with african-american

52:02

voices saying this is what we will take

52:04

and the book is called a christian call

52:07

and now the obvious thing that is left

52:09

for the christian church to decide is is

52:11

there going to be a christian response

52:14

the whole thing is predicated upon a

52:16

call to response and i think that that's

52:19

that's what we're waiting to see and

52:20

then it is in that response as we build

52:22

these relationships and as we listen to

52:24

these leaders and center their voices

52:26

that's where the healing will happen i

52:27

think

52:28

so i know you guys have

52:30

very little time left i want to ask two

52:32

questions two last questions be quick if

52:34

you can but this is super interesting

52:36

because just a couple of months ago the

52:38

city of evanston illinois became the

52:40

first u.s city to actually

52:43

give reparations financial reparations

52:45

to african americans living in

52:46

evansville illinois what are your

52:48

thoughts on i mean did you look into

52:50

that very much and what are your

52:51

thoughts on that i think i have a good

52:52

guess because of what you just said

52:54

about the white church just listening uh

52:56

to the african-american community but

52:58

what are your thoughts on what happened

52:59

in evanston

53:02

yeah i'm aware of it i i don't feel like

53:05

i know enough about it really to give uh

53:07

substantive commentary um on that but

53:10

from what i can see it it looks like

53:12

some good initial steps um in the right

53:14

direction

53:16

yeah and i would say um

53:18

i would say yeah

53:20

without talking about the particulars i

53:22

think it's exactly the kind of thing

53:24

that we want to see

53:25

community-based initiatives based on

53:28

local collaborations identifying the

53:30

problem and coming up with strategies

53:32

that that is what in our judgment the

53:34

model needs to be

53:36

you know virginia just signed a bill

53:37

yesterday um

53:39

granting reparations to the descendants

53:41

of the enslaved people that beat the

53:43

universe that built the university of

53:44

virginia so i think that these local

53:47

initiatives in my view really are

53:49

the the the kind of tip of the spear and

53:52

they're very important to cultivate even

53:53

as people are trying to like figure out

53:55

if they're going to work or not the

53:56

point is to try to experiment and do

53:58

that collaboratively and discern over

53:59

time

54:00

right through it through a process

54:02

community based process not just

54:05

running after answers

54:07

but through real work through truth and

54:09

reconciliation types of commissions

54:11

um and really grinding through the hard

54:14

stuff

54:15

that's really what we're hoping to see

54:17

yep so at the beginning of this

54:18

conversation we talked you talked a

54:20

little bit about hope and then we kind

54:22

of dragged through a lot of despair um

54:24

can you finish off last question remind

54:27

us again guys why do you have hope that

54:29

this can happen why do you have hope

54:30

that racism in america the

54:33

cancer that is racism in america can

54:35

actually be healed and overcome

54:40

you go first dude could you meet him go

54:42

for it man

54:44

well

54:47

we're having this conversation in the

54:49

christian season of easter

54:53

the fact of the matter is christ is

54:54

risen

54:57

from the dead

54:58

and

55:00

that act

55:03

that fact reverberates throughout all

55:06

time

55:07

and space

55:08

because of the triune will

55:12

not not

55:13

because we figure some stuff out and i

55:16

think at a very at a very fundamental

55:18

level

55:19

we believe that christ is with those who

55:22

have been

55:23

cast down and who's you know to quote

55:25

howard thurman whose backs are against

55:26

the wall we believe with julian of

55:29

norwich um you know with the john of the

55:31

cross with with saint francis uh with so

55:34

many others gustavo gutierrez and howard

55:36

thurman and martin king all these people

55:38

we believe with them that christ is with

55:41

those who have been cast down and that

55:43

he will vindicate them

55:45

uh and so that's one thing and we also

55:47

believe that there are many many amazing

55:51

women and men in the christian church

55:52

right now who actually want to see

55:54

healing happen but they have not been

55:57

equipped by the church to talk

55:58

meaningfully about reparations to the

56:00

contrary they've been they've heard

56:02

their leaders they were their thought

56:04

leaders like misname it and call it

56:06

dangerous and so i think that what we're

56:09

wanting to do is say to those people

56:11

this is christian this other stuff that

56:13

you're hearing is ideological okay and

56:16

if we would just take this up and do

56:18

this we could see something profound and

56:21

transformative happens um and remember

56:23

like

56:24

when you study the the the end of the

56:26

transatlantic slave trade and i'm not

56:27

gonna go all will before this one is

56:29

here but just keep in mind that like

56:30

we're talking about the gl the largest

56:32

the most powerful global market in the

56:34

world

56:35

okay

56:36

ends

56:38

yeah come on and so i i think that we

56:39

have to keep in mind both theologically

56:41

and historically

56:43

that this is what the church does it's

56:45

not the only thing we do

56:47

but it's what we can do and i believe

56:48

that we will

56:50

love it no that's that that's exactly

56:52

right and and literally it's what i

56:54

would say too as far as theologically

56:55

the hope of the resurrection the

56:57

identity of the church

56:58

truly as the temple of the holy spirit

57:00

we believe in the possibilities

57:02

uh that of what can come out of the

57:04

church

57:05

uh not not when it rises up but rather

57:08

when it kneels down

57:10

right not not when it feels at its

57:12

strongest but actually when it feels

57:14

most weak um which is what this

57:16

invitation is

57:17

um but then also to pay attention to

57:19

history and to say again like i said

57:21

before it's not at all uh that we uh

57:24

think that the church

57:26

has always gotten it right

57:28

but history tells us that it can do

57:30

sufficient work and

57:32

in Jesus' name we hope it will

57:34

Well Duke Kwon, Gregory Thompson, thank you

57:36

so much for this work thanks for joining

57:38

us

57:39

it's been a pleasure

57:40

absolutely

57:43

[Music]