White privilege, reconciliation and the gospel

This is a guest post by Chioma Chukwu-Smith, a friend who is passionate about issues of justice. She moved to St. Louis, MO from New York and is currently pursuing a career in law to address racial, economic, and social concerns.

Very well meaning white individuals have told me it must not be possible to be my friend unless you are black. I just laughed as I wrote that because the closest possible human relationship I could have is with a white man!  Chioma wedding

Reflecting on this comment, I want to highlight the story of Pamela Baum, a white mother and friend of many years:

Her and her family have lived in an inner city neighborhood for probably over a decade – I lived with them my first week in St. Louis. She and her hubby have white biological children and some black adopted ones. I ran into her on two different occasions after the Ferguson incident and picked her brain on why white people that are far removed from issues of racism react the way that they do, and she was insightful and encouraging.

Monday night, her white son Josh was held up at gunpoint and shot in the leg. He’s recovering at home and doctors are confident he’ll make a full recovery. What was Pam’s response? Not to get the heck out of that neighborhood, but it was this:

“Bad things happen. Period. That is why we are here. To break down the racial barriers, walk alongside of the broken and hopeless, the point them to Jesus who came to bind up the brokenhearted, set free the captives, and give hope and purpose.

We are here to reach those kids who are bent on destruction, to love them and preach the good news of the gospel. God did not spare his own son, but sent him into the mess to save us. If he was willing to die for me, I should be willing to risk it all for others. The gospel is worth it!”

THAT is the power of the gospel when it comes to racial reconciliation. That is a white woman that I sit at the feet of to listen and learn from because racial tension didn’t HAVE to be her problem as a white woman, but she chose to make it her problem because of Jesus. She’s an example of someone not in denial of her whiteness/white privilege, but a person using white privilege to bring wholeness in the city.

I thank God for the bringing Pam into my life as an example of a white woman leading the way in being Jesus’ hands and feet in the midst of racial tension in St. Louis!Chioma

You can reach Chioma on Twitter @Chiomesc


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Chris Hatch

Seeking to love God and neighbor