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Whiteness and "Power Over"

My faith was born in the Black church, but growing up I also was constantly surrounded by white Evangelicalism. I’ve been around whiteness a long time, and in all kinds of different denominations. I’ve seen them all.

I learned the hard way that there is a deep difference between the Jesus that Black folks worship and the Jesus that white Christians worship.

The Jesus that Black folks worship doesn’t ask questions like, “But does the Gospel really have anything to do with race and justice?”

Black Jesus doesn’t hesitate to say, “Black Lives Matter.”

Black Jesus stands for the oppressed; cares about those who are most marginalized—and not just cares: sits with; lives with; fights for; is angered by the mistreatment; protests with.

White Jesus is primarily interested in self, in money, in capitalism; in self. “How much can I get? How much power can I hoard?” It’s all about self, and it’s all about the preservation of self, of ego… mostly power: a deep desire to wield power over others. Power-over is white Jesus. Power over is a Christianity that would say, “Slavery is the way God intended things to be.”

My experience as a Black woman who has grown up in the era post-the Civil Rights movement and post-perceived Integration; my experience is that white folks want just a pinch of Blackness—just a splash, a smattering, a little toss of confetti of Blackness—in order to affirm itself; in order to affirm its own goodness; in order to affirm its rightness; in order to get rid of any feelings of guilt; in order to keep itself comfortable so that it can continue to practice power-over.

This quote is abridged from Austin Channing Brown's conversation with Brené Brown on “Unlocking Us” (June 10, 2020), 15:21 to 19:45.

 

In a church pew, a Black woman leans forward with her hands clasped in prayer.