‘After Whiteness: An Education in Belonging’ by Willie James Jennings Book Review


“The crowd is itself a destination and not a means to an end. The goal of cultivating those who can gather people centers theological education in its erotic power….Erotic power is, as Rita Nakashima Brock states, ‘the power of our primal interrelatedness’….Erotic power has been drawn in our time into the trajectories of colonial control rooted in whiteness and made malignant through racial segregation that has shaped and continuous to shape so many individuals and communities. Desire rooted in control is disordered desire that inevitably forms social prisons that drain life” (Willie James Jennings 149).

“The distorted erotic power that fuels that works must be freed from its captivity to whiteness and turned back toward its source in divine desire. We can start again. That ‘again’ being a gift from the God who raised Jesus from the dead. Theological education exists in the ‘again.’ This is education that has as its fundamental resource erotic power, and that power finds its home in the divine ecstasy in which God relentlessly gives Godself to us, joyfully opening the divine life as our habitation” (Willie James Jennings 151).

“To be invoked in theological education is to long for eternity and the end of death. It is to seek the blessed state where our words start to do new works by first joining the chorus of the words of those who live forever in the Lord and who sound the healing and redeeming voice of the living God. Then our words will heal. Then our words will build up. Then our words will help form life together. Then our words will give witness to a destiny only visible through love. Talking together then is a practice aimed at eternity, and it matters more than we often realize for bringing our hope into focus. This finally is the goal of this book and the task I want to leave you with — to bring hope into focus” (Willie James Jennings 157).

Richard Rothstein’s ‘The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America’


“If government had declined to build racially separate public housing in cities where segregation hadn’t previously taken root, and instead had scattered integrated developments throughout the community, those cities might have developed in a less racially toxic fashion, with fewer desperate ghettos and more diverse suburbs. If the federal government had not urged suburbs to adopt exclusionary zoning laws, white flight would have been minimized because there would have been fewer racially exclusive suburbs to which frightened homeowners could flee. If the government had told developers that they could have FHA guarantees only if the homes they built were open to all, integrated working-class suburbs would likely have matured with both African Americans and whites sharing the benefits. If state courts had not blessed private discrimination by ordering the eviction of African American homeowners in neighborhoods where association rules and restrictive covenants barred their residence, middle-class African Americans would have been able gradually to integrate previously white communities as they developed the financial means to do so. If churches, universities, and hospitals had faced loss of tax-exempt status for their promotion of restrictive covenants, they most likely would have refrained from such activity. If police had arrested, rather than encouraged, leaders of mob violence when African Americans moved into previously white neighborhoods, racial transitions would have been smoother. If state real estate commissions had denied licenses to brokers who claimed an “ethical” obligation to impose segregation, those brokers might have guided the evolution of interracial neighborhoods. If school boards had not placed schools and drawn attendance boundaries to ensure the separation of black and white pupils, families might not have had to relocate to have access to education for their children. If federal and state highway planners had not used urban interstates to demolish African American neighborhoods and force their residents deeper into urban ghettos, black impoverishment would have lessened, and some displaced families might have accumulated the resources to improve their housing and its location. If government had given African Americans the same labor-market rights that other citizens enjoyed, African American working-class families would not have been trapped in lower-income minority communities, from lack of funds to live elsewhere. If the federal government had not exploited the racial boundaries it had created in metropolitan areas, by spending billions on tax breaks for single-family suburban homeowners, while failing to spend adequate funds on transportation networks that could bring African Americans to job opportunities, the inequality on which segregation feeds would have diminished. If federal programs were not, even to this day, reinforcing racial isolation by disproportionately directing low-income African Americans who receive housing assistance into the segregated neighborhoods that government had previously established, we might see many more inclusive communities. Undoing the effects of de jure segregation will be incomparably difficult. To make a start, we will first have to contemplate what we have collectively done and, on behalf of our government, accept responsibility” (Richard Rothstein, ‘The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America’).

An Elegy for Dismantling White Supremacy

We must dismantle white supremacy

root out corruption in theology –

Christian nationalism heresy –

that creates oppressive hegemony.

Ending white supremacy’s tyranny

would mean co-creating God’s peaceable

Kin-dom in the now, and eternity,

Earth begets Heaven interminable.

Jesus Christ modeled how to resist

oppressive legalese of the elite

through love that is political and persists

until all people can flourish replete.

This is the Spirit-driven task to which

we are called and led as Christ followers –

to tend to the poor and not to the rich –

salvation: the welfare of all others.

Celebrate Juneteenth by ACTING toward Equity and Justice for Black and Brown Communities

Tomorrow we commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth becoming a Federally recognized holiday AND the black activists who made it happen.

But we also must ACT toward a more equitable future for the flourishing of ALL people, especially black and brown people.

Here are some ways you can commemorate and celebrate Juneteenth by ACTING:

1. Support Black Owned Businesses and Organizations in your area:

2. Call your Senators and Local Officials and demand that they support the passage of HR1: For the People Act AND HR4: Voting Rights Advancement Act. These Bills will ensure equal and fair access to our most fundamental constitutional right: VOTING!

3. Educate yourself. If you don’t know the full history behind Juneteenth, spend some time researching.

4. Attend Juneteenth events in your area.

5. Celebrate Black Joy and Excellence!