Dr. Efrem Smith and Grant Skeldon joined Albert Tate in what was a fast-paced and powerful conversation surrounding race and the church in the United States. Albert Tate is the pastor at Fellowship Church in Monrovia, CA. He is a leading voice on issues of race and the church, but also speaks frequently as part of the Exponential family. Albert is easily one of my favorite speakers. His passion and energy are second to none. And when it comes to the topic of race and the church, having a candid conversation with Albert is time incredibly well spent.
Here are some of my takeaways from this “Candid Conversation.”
Defining Prejudice And Bias
Prejudice and bias live and breathe among us. They are similar in nature, but they poison everyone and everything around them. They are inextricably linked with the tension and dynamic we see in our world right now.
Prejudice is simply ‘prejudging’ someone. You see they have tattoos, a certain skin color, come from a certain neighborhood or have a kind of haircut. All of these characteristics are things we use to make prejudgments about a person. Dr. Smith said…
I deem you to be a certain way and I don’t know anything about you. -Dr. Efrem Smith
Bias is prejudice plus favoritism. We are seeing this play out on the streets of our cities. Why is the unarmed African American shot in the back while the white guy with a gun is given Burger King on his way to booking? We prejudge someone and then bias kicks in when we treat them a certain way based on that prejudice.
It is bias and prejudice that speaks to people that the black suspect is more dangerous than the white suspect and must be treated differently. It’s a poison eating away at the very systems and structures of our society. And this is part of what makes prejudice and bias so dangerous. The two are intertwined, connected at the hip. You won’t find one without the other nearby. They are so intertwined that Albert Tate describes it this way…
Racism, prejudice and bias have been discipled into us. Don’t assume that our kids having proximity with people of color will equal empathy. Satan is too destructive. Sin won’t allow that. Racism has been discipled in and it must be discipled out. -Albert Tate
In order to start dismantling our prejudices and bias, we must get toward the solution.
Call Out Racism, Prejudice And Bias Biblically
The church must take a stand on this topic. We must call out racism, prejudice and bias for what they are; sin. We must preach against them the way we would preach against porn use, adultery, addiction or idolatry. But as Albert Tate points out, we don’t preach against it because we often don’t see it.
If we never see racism as prejudice and bias, it’s hard to preach against it. If we are convinced it isn’t real, the Holy Spirit has little room to convict us otherwise. -Albert Tate
Churches/Pastors – we must call it out and help others see it. We must stop reacting to CNN headlines and address this topic for what it is in our world; sin! And the reality is that we should be having this conversation, not as a response to the culture, but out of our response to who Christ is and what He has done for us.
I’ll know we are making progress when the NBA isn’t leading better than the church. -Albert Tate
Systems Are Affected By Prejudice And Bias
One of the things preventing forward movement in conversations surrounding racism is simply the fact that many pastors and church leaders simply can’t, or won’t, admit that racism affects systems. They affect our human systems and also our political systems.
Prejudice affects the system of me as a human being. My heart, soul and mind are affected by my prejudices, what I see and then how I think about another person.
Bias is how those prejudices start to play out systemically in a society and culture. And this isn’t unique to us, we see these evil structures through out Scripture and history; Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Rome, Nazi Germany. Is it really that hard to fathom that maybe American systems are also infected with this poison?
These thoughts began in the minds and lives of individuals which over time became the bias and standard of entire societies and civilizations. If the church is going to lead out in healing and restoration on issues of race, we must admit that these are systemic issues, both in us individually and as a nation.
Acknowledge Prejudice And Bias Are Real
When my father passed away, he was 41 years old. I was 18 at the time and I lived in a season of denial. This was all a bad dream. I was going to wake up the next day, pick up the phone and call him like any other day. Living in denial for months prevented me from healing from his passing.
There is no difference when it comes to the topic of prejudice and bias. If I continue to live in denial that prejudice and bias are real, then I simply prevent healing among different ethnicities from happening in my lifetime. Living in denial of the truth doesn’t make the truth less true, it just means I’m not living consistently with reality. While it might be easy to think everyone gets to just have this discussion any time they want, the reality is that only works one way.
One privilege white people have is they get to opt in or out of the race conversation. You can join the conversation at your leisure, comfort level or when you’re ready. People of color don’t have the option to opt in or out. -Albert Tate
In order to begin healing and find restoration in our churches and country, we must admit that these issues are real and stop living in denial.
Humility Is An Absolute Essential
As with my thoughts on Dr. John Perkins, it seems humility is an absolute essential in this conversation. I will be transparent enough here to say that I have not always approached this conversation with humility. I tend to approach like many men, with a well thought out defense ready to go. I’m not here to really hear you or your perspective, but I am here to drop my truth.
This is an egregious error on my part and on the parts of many in our country. We are so quick to bring out white perspective to a conversation surrounding the perils of being a person of color, that it has quite frankly become nauseating. We must be humble and listen. When we listen we also discover that our perspective isn’t the only one.
We must be more open to listen and learn. Listen. Learn. Listen. Learn. Listen. Learn.
No one asks for sex trafficking stats when it comes to supporting the effort to end sex trafficking. But I have to show stats and proof for what people of color go through. -Albert Tate
We must be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry [James 1:19]. We must hear the plight of our brothers and sisters of color. The Holy Spirit conjures up empathy in us so that we may hear and carry the burden of our brothers and sisters. The Holy Spirit doesn’t conjure up defensiveness. Be humble when you come to the conversation surrounding prejudice and bias. The only path forward to healing is having the humility of Jesus Christ and allowing Him to transform us as we engage the battle with our brothers and sisters of color.
Father, give me eyes to see and ears to hear. Give me a heart of humility. May this be a time in history when white and black, brothers and sisters, come together to boldly proclaim and display Your manifold wisdom. May You be praised and receive glory because we are fearless in engaging this conversation.
Watch the replay here of Albert Tate discussing prejudice and bias with Dr. Efrem Smith and Grant Skeldon.