Race, The Gospel, Raising Black {+ White} Kids & The Imago Dei

Remember on Tuesday when I promised a grace-filled, gospel centered take on race and raising kids of all colors from my church-planting pastor friend TC? Well here it is! I’m so excited to be sharing his insight with all of you, I can hardly decide which quotes to share on social media! <nerd alert>

 

Before you start scrolling, I suggest you head back to read Let’s Talk About Race, and my little disclaimer about knowing nothing about it, AND especially read yesterday’s post, What White Women Raising Black Girls Should Know.

I’m not going to share anything as good as TC is so here you go! (Ugh, sorry for the weird formatting. WordPress is smarter than I am.)

How do you as a black man handle white privilege or the idea that it doesn’t exit?
People with privilege don’t necessarily understand others don’t have the same privilege. Some people are just blind to reality and this becomes their way of getting out of talking about it.

 

There is real racism. If you’re a white American you could live your whole life without meaningfully engaging African American culture. It’s not the same on the other side. African Americans can’t get good jobs, go to school, etc. without meaningfully engaging white culture. If African Americans want to live any kind of prosperous life we have to engage white culture and understand something about the way white culture works. There’s no way as an African American you can live your whole life without understanding white culture, if you want to thrive. White people can choose to sidestep African American culture their entire lives without having to engage it in the same way we must engage white culture.

 

How do we white parents need to be aware of how other people view our black boys?
African American boys are viewed as not being smart and they will have to strive to be the best to prove that they are intelligent. If you’re going to make it as an African American man, you have to strive to be the best if you’re going to make it on a large scale. And if something comes up stolen, you will get blamed more often.

 

 

When it comes to raising kids from other races, as adoptive parents we are taught some “best practices” – engage same ethnicity mentors for our kids, ensure they have diverse friends, churches, neighborhoods, etc. What advice do you have for families who do not live in a diverse area and, because of job or other reasons, can’t move into a diverse area?
If you adopt a child you need to make sacrifices to get into diverse environments. It’s healthy for your biological kids as well, they need to understand and respect other cultures.

 

How do we do this in a way that is not offensive?
Pray for a genuine heart. Don’t have a messiah complex. As Christians, we need to be praying about the race issues of our hearts. Because of the fall, because of our sin, we all have a tendency to elevate our race above another race. We have to submit all of that to the Gospel.

 

We all come to the cross equally. Ask yourself, “Is my race more important to me than my new race in Christ?” Dig into the heart issues. If you don’t agree it’s important for your kids to be around others who look like them, then ask yourself, “Why isn’t it important for all my kids to be around black people?”

 

It’s a gospel issue. If you feel called to adopt from another race, it’s important not to give them a homogenous culture. Every race is under the new race in Christ but that doesn’t mean we don’t value race, as long as we put the Gospel first.

 

Adopted kids who are black need to know there are black doctors or they will get their perception of their race from the media – where the balance is unfair, where being black is bad and everybody white is good. If they see that on the media and their neighborhood is white, they won’t see positive black role models. You need to engage in communities where minority role models is a reality.

 

There is a place where you start thinking, “I’m black and everybody I see who is of importance is white and everybody I see in trouble is black.” and you start to devalue your own race thinking, “I’m not as good.” but the balance is we’re all in need of Jesus. We’re all equal. All made in the image of God. Because of the sinfullness of man we’re all wicked but we can make much of Jesus instead of ourselves.

TCquote

What is African American culture and how do we create an appreciation for it within our kids?
Jay-Z is not African American culture. African American culture is multi-faceted. We have to be very careful with that. We lump everybody into one category and it’s not that easy. Kids need to know their ethnicity is not inferior or superior to another.

 

These best practices seem to not even begin to scratch the surface of preparing our Black boys for the real world. What would you add?
It has to be a love of your heart. A predominantly white church could hire a black pastor because your neighborhood has changed, but it has to be the heart of the whole congregation. You have to actually care and desire to understand black culture, black hair, and your kids need to see you valuing their heritage. If that black mentor is a token, that’s a problem; it has to effect your heart. 

 

What don’t we know as white parents?
You have to recognize society does not look at minorities the same. Statistics show that. Ferguson shows that. There are conversations African American parents have to have with their children that whites don’t have to have – how to interact with police – to expect the police to think you are aggressive, to only respond with “Yes sir, no sir.”

 

When your sons start dating, as parents there are some very hard conversations you’re going to have to have with your son. You don’t want to raise kids who are skeptical of white people. There are white and black people with issues. An advantage you have is you are white, so they already see you as not being suspicious of them.

 

Statistics show blacks are pulled over 31% more than whites so we need to talk about this. They’re going to be seen as doing something wrong so you have to prepare them for how to handle that. They will have to live as though they’re not going to be given the benefit of the doubt. ‘Cause there’s a good chance they won’t. You’ll have to help your sons guard against bitterness and be careful not to present ultimates. ALL white families are not bad – there are good people and bad people of every race.

 

What should we be teaching ALL of our kids about Ferguson?
Teach the Gospel and they will learn there’s a fallenness to our world. God created the world to be a certain way but it’s not the way it was created to be. We have a responsibility as Christians to be changers and influencers. Racial tension exists because the world is fallen. Because we live in a fallen world there’s racism, racial profiling, abuse of power, and hatred of races that are not our own. The Gospel speaks to that because it teaches the imago dei and the depravity of man.

 

When you look at your race as inferior to somebody else’s you lose the imago dei. If you look at your race as superior, then you lose the fallenness of all people. If you fully understand fallenness, you recognize we’re all sinners in need of grace.

 

If the gospel has affected our hearts it should allow us to weep with those who weep, mourn with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. It should allow us to do that with other races. We should at least be willing to do that when someone’s child is killed.

 

African Americans need to see more of our white evangelical brothers and sisters standing against these issues. Weep with somebody. Feel what they feel. Practice Romans 12:9-21.

 

How old should our kids be when we begin these conversations?
Every parent needs to gauge their heart. Ask yourself, “Am I really concerned about my child or do I not want to believe racism is real or not that important?” Your kids are already dealing with race – they know what color they are. Explain, in an age appropriate way, that sin has affected our world and caused us to have hate towards one another and that includes people who have different ethnicities. It’s a sin just as disobeying your parents is a sin.

 

Any final thoughts?
We can’t paint any group of people with a broad brush. All people are in danger of being ethnocentric. Both racism and ethnocentricity get us away from the gospel. We’re all both made in the image of God and depraved.
TC
TC was born and raised in Terre Haute, IN. Growing up TC was raised Jewish, by his
Jewish mother. He attended the synagogue until around age 12. Occasionally, he would attend a baptist church with his grandmother on his father’s side. The Lord saved TC at the age of 22.TC attended St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church and served as an pastoral assistant there for four years, after he answered his call to the ministry in 2005. Pastor Terry M. Clark was his pastor and mentor there.TC attended and graduated from Indiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology. There at ISU he met and married his college sweetheart Christel, who graduated from there with a bachelor’s in Social Studies Education.In 2009, TC and Christel relocated to Louisville, KY for him to pursue theological studies at Southern Seminary. While in Louisville, the Lord gave TC a vision and desire to plant a church in the city’s west-end, and a heart to reach the urban/inner-city context with the Gospel.TC completed an urban church planting internship with the Rebuild Network in partnership with NAMB, that is based out of Atlanta, under the leadership of Dhati Lewis.
From 2011- 2013, he attended Antioch Church and was coached in church planting by lead pastor, Todd Robertson.In 2013, Antioch sent TC to plant New Breed Church in Louisville’s west-end. New Breed Church officially launched January 19, 2014. TC is currently serving there as lead pastor.TC and Christel just added a new addition to their family, Trinity Camille – born this past September!
You can follow TC on Twitter and learn more about New Breed Church here.
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2 Comments

  1. Lauren Casper November 20, 2014

    wow. So much here to chew on. Thank you so much TC!!

    Reply
  2. jentompkins November 21, 2014

    This was an excellent interview. I so appreciate the compassion and honesty! Thank you so much.

    Reply

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