We no longer have time for this, we never really did.
Forward by Jonathan Faulkner
You can read my piece from earlier today here:
I want to take a moment and thank my dear brother Charles for his response below. I also want to remind the reader that what we are discussing today, on this site, is not a liberal or conservative issue, it is a Gospel issues, there is no other way to frame it. Either we see the humanity of the men and women of Color on our campus, we care for their needs and honor them we treat them as we want to be treated, or we continue to sin against them. That begins with not referring to “them” as “them” but as human beings, made in the image of the God who need the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. To continue to deny that, to continue to treat them with contempt, as has been part of our seminaries history, is to violate the Gospel and to ignore the testimony of Scripture that declares all humanity is made in the image of GOD. The time for excuses are over, the time for listening and reconciliation is now. Thank you Charles for your boldness and continued work at Gordon-Conwell.
Charles is correct, we often lack the cultural toolkit to comment on these things at all. It is up to us to work to establish one and work together to find healing and reconciliation. The hurting of one another has to stop, it just has to, especially in the Church, and if it does not, if we do not keep violating one another and hurting one another in ways we should never have developed in the first place, King Jesus will not be someone we want to stand before one day. It is not enough to “do better next tie” we need to do better now.
I saw the picture of one of my heroes flash on my screen. The president of my Seminary just posted something about Frederick Douglass! I was excited. But this excitement soon turned to disappointment and dread. As I started to read what he’d written, I started to sigh. Then as I thought about how public this was, I sighed more deeply. He’s done it again. He’s hurt all my brothers and sisters of color, because he just does not understand how his words sound. He tries so hard. But alas. He does not have the tools to do this well.
Ironically, the reconciliation class here at the seminary is where I was reminded of this difficult truth: white people do not often possess the cultural toolkit to be able to understand racial inequalities, white supremacy, white privilege, tokenism, paternalism…. They just do not have the capacity to understand that systemic injustice and oppression are real or how they function in our society. Individualism blinds them. I’ve seen this pattern repeated over and over in interactions, especially between older white faculty and younger students of color. The generational and ethnic gaps are wide and difficult to traverse. This is exacerbated by trying to communicate about these complexities with cold, hard, soundless words on a page. How do you understand the nuance and the tone? This was supposed to be encouraging!?!?
Then the Facebook posts start responding to the blog. Yup, many of my Black friends are hurt. He has hurt them again. He started by hurting the only Black professor we had on this campus and then denying any wrongdoing. He tried to dialog with the leaders and the students. He tried. Sometimes trying feels like it should count for something. But in the messy, long, difficult work of reconciliation, trying doesn’t count for much. We need to really repent. We need to change. We need to stop hurting people who are already hurting from so much racial trauma in our country. President Sunquist, please stop hurting my friends.
Charles Fick is in his last year of a Master of Divinity degree at Graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Education & Development with concentrations in Inequality and Education from Cornell University. He lives with his wife and two sons in South Hamilton, MA. His reconciliation journey began in 2001 as a missionary in the Summerhill neighborhood of Atlanta, GA and continues to this day. He enjoys biblical theology, NY Giants football, Cornell Hockey, coffee, politics, history, legos and curling.