Unsettling Racism in the Church – The Work of Austin Channing and Drew Hart

Unsettling Racism in the Church: Austin Channing and Drew HartLast week, at the Festival of Faith and Writing in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I had the opportunity to hear Austin Channing and Drew Hart had finished laying out some truth, I was tearing up and tingling with the energy of honest accountability.

Channing said:

I try to be authentic. I am giving voice my experience of the world.

Hart said:

My goal is to unsettle people. My goal is to change people.

When an audience member asked them to explain why they used the phrase “white supremacy” instead of white hegemony or other less, what he called, “antagonist” terms, Hart broke down the history of white supremacy and laid out the realities of our society.  Channing said, “I’m not trying to antagonize. I’m telling you about my experience of a world that antagonizes me.”

I’m weary of the blue-eyed, yellow-haired Jesus. I’m weary of segregated Sunday mornings. I’m weary of the church acting as if racism is not our problem, so I am eager to learn from Channing and Hart so that I can work to dismantle the racism that is part of my faith tradition and my society more generally.  Because, after all, as a white woman, it is MY JOB to break that down.  It’s my responsibility to unsettle people, to be about the work of unsettling racism.

I highly recommend you follow both of these folks, on social media and through their blogs (linked above.) Also, be sure to check out Hart’s new book, Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism.  I can’t wait to read it.

  • I felt SO UNSETTLED after reading Drew’s book. He lived up to his promise. Unless we all start feeling the itchiness of the gap between our view of Jesus and the reality of our society, we’ll keep antagonizing and injuring those who are already oppressed.

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      I’ve just started it myself, Heather, and I’m eager to keep reading.

  • I am reading Drew’s book right now and it’s so good … Agreed!

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      I’m eager to move into it further. I have a feeling I’ll be shifted a great deal by the reading.

  • This was one of my favorite sessions, and I picked up his book right afterward 🙂

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      Let’s compare notes when we both finish, Miah?

  • I was in this session too Andi and can echo so much of what you said. I hope to start reading his book soon!

    • Andi Cumbo-Floyd

      Spent some time with his pages this morning and find myself convicted about how I need to do much more listening. Powerful stuff.