On Sunday, Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia live-streamed a conversation about race and racism featuring Pastor Louie Giglio, Christian rapper Lecrae, and (hey, why not?) Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy.
Things took an odd turn, though, when Giglio suggested that white people like himself consider replacing the phrase “white privilege” — which rubs some people the wrong way — with “white blessing”… an idea that sounded even worse when it meant referencing the “blessing of slavery.”
… I want to flip that upside down because I think the other side… is true with our nation’s history…
We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do, and we say, “That was bad.” But we miss the blessing of slavery, that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in.
And so a lot of people call this “white privilege.” And when you say those two words, it just is like a fuse goes off for a lot of white people, because they don’t want somebody telling them to check their privilege.
And so I know that you and I both have struggled in these days with, “Hey, if the phrase is the trip-up, let’s get over the phrase and let’s get down to the heart. Let’s get down to what, then, do you want to call it?”
And I think, maybe, a great thing for me is to call it “white blessing,” that I’m living in the blessing of the curse…
The best-case scenario here is that a well-meaning Giglio thought he could reach more white people by using a phrase that doesn’t evoke a negative response to remind them that they continue to benefit from slavery even if they personally had nothing to do with it.
The more realistic scenario — and the one people are definitely pointing out online — is that Giglio is talking about a silver lining to slavery.
(What’s next? Bragging about the “blessings” of the Holocaust?)
If anything, Giglio’s attempt to whitewash the reality of systemic racism is a perfect example of “white privilege.” He’s so entrenched in it that he couldn’t step outside his limited perspective to understand just how insane his comment might sound to people of color (one of whom was sitting right next to him).
You know why the concept of “white privilege” makes some white people uncomfortable? Because they should be uncomfortable. There’s no way to soften it without denying America’s oppressive history. To tell white people they’ve been blessed by America’s history of racism, even as a way to get them to realize others have not been, isn’t an educational tool. It’s a way to soften reality.
Giglio should know better. Even Jesus called out evil things as evil, despite making certain members of His audience uncomfortable and even angry. To call something evil by a lighter, less offensive name is not What Jesus Would Do.
Giglio has a large platform. It ought to be his job to tell people the truth, not what they want to hear. If another pastor did that with the Gospel, he would surely have a problem with it. So why is he walking on eggshells when it comes to race?
Even Pastor Rob Lee, a descendent of Confederate commander Robert E. Lee who has been very vocal about why monuments to the Confederacy ought to come down, denounced the statement:
The notion that enslavement is a blessing is nothing short of white supremacy. It also happens to be bullshit.
— Rev. Rob Lee (@roblee4) June 16, 2020
Incidentally, Giglio has apologized for the word choice on Twitter, saying it “wasn’t great.” Talk about an understatement.