S5 E4 | What’s So Controversial About Critical Race Theory? with David Bailey

gradient blue graphic with the text Love Is Stronger Than Fear Podcast with Amy Julia Becker and cutout pictures of David Bailey and Amy Julia

We’ve heard the rhetoric that demonizes Critical Race Theory. But should citizens of the Kingdom of God have a different response? David Bailey, executive director of Arrabon, talks with Amy Julia Becker about Critical Race Theory and peacemaking, the removal of Confederate monuments, and the use of history as a means to heal.

David Bailey is the executive director of Arrabon, which exists to “equip Christian leaders and their communities for the work of reconciliation. Our digital study series, worship resources, and Transformational Journey training modules are designed to help you build a reconciling community that brings healing and wholeness to our broken and divided world.”

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Interview Quotes

“I think what’s even more important than what CRT is is our understanding of: What does it mean to be a citizen of the Kingdom of God?”

“What is Critical Race Theory? How would people who engage in that discipline define it? What are some of the image-bearing gifts…And what are the ways that it falls short?…It is our assignment to be peacemakers. It’s our assignment to be people engaging in a ministry of reconciliation.”

“We can use history to hurt. We can use history to hide. We can use history as a means to heal.”

“You see the good, bad, and the ugly of humanity [in the Bible], but when we talk about American history, it’s almost considered you’re being un-American to say anything negative about our history.”

“We can give empathy to folks whether we agree with people or not. I think this is a very important practice to do, particularly as a person who follows Jesus.”

“…the right and honorable thing to do [is] to speak the truth in love, to actually engage in the truth…to look at complex, sinful human beings and how we’ve engaged with one another and to actually be agents of peacemaking and reconciliation, not just only for today but for our children and the next generation.”

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*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.

Season 5 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my newest book, To Be Made Well, releasing Spring 2022…you can pre-order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.

Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.

David (4s):
We can use history to hurt. We can use history to pat. We can use district as in the main deal.

Amy Julia (13s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. In this season, we are talking about all things, healing, personal healing, spiritual healing, social healing, and more. And I’m really glad today to reintroduce you to my friend, David Bailey. If you’ve been a regular listener of this podcast, you’ll recognize his name. And today I brought David on here so that we can talk about critical race theory and churches and schools and the purpose of history, all in relation to what it means to be peacemakers who are seeking to live in love. We talk about the Confederate monuments coming down in Richmond, Virginia, where David lives.

Amy Julia (57s):
And we talk about being citizens of the kingdom of God and what it might look like, how that might look different, to be people who are pursuing God’s priorities in this world. It’s a gift to share these thoughts with you today, and to invite you to be a part of this conversation. Thank you for being here. So I’m here today with my friend, David Bailey. He is the founder, right? And director of Arrabon a nonprofit ministry, which helps communities and institutions become places of reconciliation. So David welcome for the third time to the love is stronger than fear podcast

David (1m 36s):
I would do. It is always great to be with the I’m so glad to be able to be here.

Amy Julia (1m 41s):
So you are our only third time repeat guests. So I hope you feel honored, but also I hope it’s no, but truly it is my honor, because I just really appreciate your perspective. And I know our listeners do too, because whenever we record a podcast together, people listen to it and they share it. And they’re really grateful for what you have to say, because I think you have an very insightful way of talking about our current cultural moment and how we can participate in both recognizing the harm that has been done in our history and in our current moment, but also the ways we can be a part of healing that harm. So there’s a hopefulness, but also a real honesty to what you are able to see and articulate and share.

Amy Julia (2m 27s):
And I’m really grateful for that. And I want to bring that hopefulness and that honesty to conversation today on a few, you know, light topics like critical race theory in churches, in schools, the role of history in all of those things. And I also want to talk about your new small group curriculum. That’s coming out this week, the week that we’re releasing this podcast. So we also can cover anything else that’s on your mind, but that’s, what’s on my mind and why I wanted to pick your brain today. I heard you give a presentation that was so helpful to me, and it was about the ideas around how Christians could and should engage critical race theory, because there’s been a lot of controversy.

Amy Julia (3m 13s):
This is true, both in schools and in the church, it’s true for Christians. And it’s true for people who are not Christians also, but there’s been a lot of controversy around this idea of critical race theory. And so I wanted to start there just in terms of like, what is critical race theory and why has it become so controversial?

David (3m 31s):
So I think this again, thanks for having me. And I think that that kind of, there’s kind of two questions. What is critical race theory and why is a controversial, there was actually like two really separate questions. And so I wanna kind of start off just within this conversation. That one is, it’s really important to define terms. And to also when you define those terms to, to really do really good research, that makes sure that you’re not interpreting what somebody says about what somebody says about what somebody says, but to ask original source to really try to understand what something is.

David (4m 15s):
And so, you know, again, I’m not a critical race theory expert by any means, but I am one that, that engaged with the content before 2020, you know? And, and so, you know, one of the things that’s really important as we even approach this conversation, it’s it makes me think about this kind of a philosophical question. Say, for example, I ask the question to named Julia. Like if we, if we count a tail as a leg, how many legs does a dog have

Amy Julia (4m 54s):
1 0 1 or maybe only one?

David (4m 57s):
No, that’s just for, because it’s like, just because you call, just because you can call a, a tailor leg doesn’t mean a tele.

Amy Julia (5m 7s):
So I got it wrong, both with both of my answers. I just would like to point that out for anyone listening

David (5m 15s):
That puts you on the spot. Like, but here’s the thing, like I think a lot of like what folks ask, what does critical race theory, there are definitions that folks have made up about what critical race theory is. And then they’re arguing against that definition that they made up, right? Where you literally can go and like look up by the people who’ve made the source, like the Derek Bell’s or the Kimberly Crenshaw to actually understand what is critical race theory. Now here’s another thing when you go to look that up, it’s academic academia. And so like, you know, I read kind of broadly, I can read economics, I read philosophy, I read theology, I read sociology, I read anthropology.

David (5m 58s):
And you know, I, I love art. Well, you know, I got a friend who’s a doctor and a good part of my career was as a musician. So in my sphere of my work as a musician, the word MD means music director, everybody else around the road, there were MD means medical doctor. Yeah. You know, I got, I got another friend, that’s an I T person. And so when you know, I talk about a keyboard when I was a musician, I’m thinking about a musical instrument, he’s taken about like actual keyboard on a computer. So it was really important to understand, even when you cross disciplines in different genres, that words, don’t the same thing.

David (6m 43s):
Even across genres, even if patients about basic things like the initial MD or the word keyboard, you know, to let alone, when you get into academic things, it’s really important that even comprehend many things, not by the way somebody says that’s outside, how they define it, but how do people define it within fits within the particular discipline? So, you know, you know, so I say all that to say is that the name of our webinar was critical race theory and how to respond to this as a citizen of the team of that. And I think that’s something that’s really, really important.

David (7m 24s):
The first half is like, I think what’s even more important than what’s CFC. Is it soundstage? And what does it mean to be a citizen of the kingdom of God? And, and there’s a couple of things it’s real important to understand that we are all made the image of God. So there’s a way of making sense of the world. We’re making something of the world. That’s a reflection of the image of guy. The co-creation, that’s something that everybody does, no matter how sinful a person is, you know, how, you know, when they are in a cognitive continuum, they, there’s some way that we really need to honor the image of God in every person that we engage with. And then there’s another thing that we do is that we also know as Christians is that the world is sinful and that it’s just that people are outside of simple, but we’re all tainted by sin.

David (8m 12s):
So we all going to fall short of the glory of God or some type of way. And so it’s just important that we don’t demonize like other worldviews or if we just kind of write something off as pure evil, that it really like, we needed to do some self examination before we put those things in that kind of category. You know? And so, you know, those with that, that, you know, try to understand what, what is critical race theory. That’s a question of, Hey, how would people that engage in that discipline? How would they define it? What’s the, the kind of, some of the images bearing gifts that anybody is engaged in with particularly critically steer and then where the waste is going to fall short. I think those are questions that the way that we should engage. And then the other question is ultimately to ask assistance, to keep them look at our assignment, to be peacemakers, it’s our recycling to be people engaging in the ministry of reconciliation.

David (9m 2s):
And so when people fall short of the glory of God, particularly when they don’t claim to be folks that are necessarily followers through Jesus, it’s like, why would we spend time beating them up on things? That’s like, that’s not their primary assignment of job to do. It’s like our primary side of job and to do so, why would I be upset with how, you know, somebody else is doing a job that I need to be helping to lead the way in? So, so, so, you know, I, that’s a lot of like kind of prelude to, to kind of get to the thing that, you know, what critical race theory. I mean, it’s simply a way of looking at illegal studies to understand the impact of laws in society as it relates to race.

David (9m 47s):
And it’s it borrows different disciplines, but then it also has been used in other disciplines. And it’s a tool, you know, a lot of folks are making a claim that as a worldview, you know, but this, this is a tool in a worldview is it’s a tool. And it’s also a tool that like, if you don’t want to use that tool, that’s fine. You know, with, what’s not far this to not be a peacemaker, but you don’t, but you don’t have to use that tool if you don’t want to use it to,

Amy Julia (10m 18s):
Do you think so, I’m curious whether you think there are people who have, maybe we should define worldview, but like who have a worldview that is like critical race theory is my worldview because I, well, one of the things you said, what that I felt was really helpful was exactly that in this webinar, that like, there’s a difference between using this as a worldview and using it as a tool, as well as making that distinction of like, everything is everyone who has been made in the image of God is producing things as a part of that image bearing that is both flawed and can be useful and good and beautiful. And let’s certainly ask the question about critical race theory.

Amy Julia (11m 1s):
In what way is this helpful to the work of peacemaking in the world, to the work of B being a citizen of the kingdom of God. But I also wonder whether there are ways in which it can be used in, in like a totalizing way that is part of the controversy or whether the controversy for Christians especially is really just a matter of feeling threatened by a tool that we haven’t really been thinking about within the church for very long.

David (11m 33s):
Yeah. So, I mean, I think there’s kind of two things, right? Like why is it controversial? I mean, you, you gotta ask yourself the question, you have to ask the question, why, what about it? What, why w why would I be upset with critical race theory? And some of the things I’ve seen as I’ve seen that people talked about it, they’re making claims about critical race theory, that if that claim is true about critical race theory, then you should be scared of that. But, but I don’t know if that claim is necessarily true and the reason why they’re there, this is the thing that’s really tough about the internet right now is that people believe was true.

David (12m 20s):
Not based on necessarily the criteria of what the facts themselves, but really the source in which you got those facts from. Right? And so it’s like if my friend Amy, Julia told me that fill in the blank is this, I trust my friend, Amy and Julia and Amy Julia. And therefore it must be true because C wouldn’t lie to me. Right. But Amy, Julia May or may not know about filling the blank, you know, or she might be really great at this, but not great at that. And so this is, this is some of the things that are happening and you kind of, you know, what’s happened in the last particularly 18 months while the middle of a pandemic is that, like folks said, Hey, this is the thing that we should be scared of.

David (13m 8s):
And so, so, so this is when you’re kind of dealing with when we hit those fear buttons, particularly for your buttons around your children. And like, I see if I post saying like, Hey, they’re doctrinally, not children with this critical race theory, marches fill in the blank. Like, and, and, and this is like the, you know, this has caused behind the riots and all these types of things. You know, these are a lot of strong claims that if they’re true. Yeah. I would be scared of it too. Like, I don’t even have children, but I go find the children, the child to go save where they described this. But think about this, think about this. Like, all right. So, you know, 2019, and then I also put like the 16, 19 project again, the quick.

David (13m 55s):
Yeah. Yeah. And again, I’m not an app, it’s one thing to make it clear. I’m not an advocate for, or against critical race theory. When I, when I’m trying to advocate is like just people being discerning. I’m trying to be advocate of people being rooted in the scriptures and to like at least judge things based off the truth of the matter versus off of like, what’s also of this person, this person, this person told me versus like go to the original source, make sure that you understand the way they would perceive it. And then see, how does that line up with the scriptures? And I call it as peacemakers as, as citizens of the kingdom of God. I mean, that’s, that’s where I’m coming from.

David (14m 35s):
So it’s really important for people not to, not to assume that I’m saying that I’m for, or against critical race theory, but let’s just go through the timeline of what’s happened in the last two years. So 16, 19 project was, came out as a 400 year commemoration of the first slave Africans in 2019. This was a near times deal. Now at 2020, the first quarter of 2020, we did this thing called coal came, and it was a pandemic where we shut down and then both parents had to become homeschooled.

David (15m 18s):
The parents, all of a sudden, and teachers had to begin to teach online and everybody, the world flipped. Then there began to be some racial laws, riots in response to Georgia Floyd around may, June, July things kind of went crazy. So in school and academic times, they’re actually like kind of finishing up school around may and June. And then it takes a little bit, it takes some time to actually put curriculums into curriculum review. Right. And so, like, it wasn’t even like happening in a semester. Like if I write an academic book today and I wanted that curriculum to go into the school, it’s not going to show up next semester.

David (16m 5s):
Right. So September com, we’re trying to figure out, can we get kids to school safely and decide if we’re going to like do mass mandates or not. And then, you know, this past year, all of a sudden the most important thing that’s going on is this the doctrine nation of critical race theory, all our schools. And I’m like, at what point did the teachers have common thesis, right.

Amy Julia (16m 35s):
How did this all of a sudden insert itself? Yeah,

David (16m 38s):
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, like I’m looking at a timeline, the actual facts of the timeline doesn’t make sense for it to be something that’s like permeated all throughout school. I mean, just the timeline itself. But then if you know anything about cognitive development, I read something that came through my email that said that critical race theory is going all the way from postgraduate school all the way down to kindergarten right now. I mean, again, I’m sure we live in America. You can always find a proof case for something, right. But like, when you’re talking about graduate study legal things, kindergartens don’t have the kind of capability, but that type of abstract concepts, I mean, elementary school, doesn’t middle school.

David (17m 25s):
Doesn’t, I mean, I’ve taught in the middle school. I know, you know, you just try to get them to like sit down to, to, to read and to do math, you know, and then you go into high school. Maybe there might be some high school kids that maybe could deal with this kind of level of abstract concepts, but they would need to understand law. Then he understands sociology. They would understand these different things. And so, you know, you gotta ask the question, is this true? Does the time make sense? I’m sure if we could find a proof case or, you know, my so-and-so, this trust is storage, this trusted source that this is what happened. This is terrible. And we, we, we have, we, we can’t, we have to stop the certain things that would

Amy Julia (18m 10s):
Well, and it seems to me that I could be wrong about this. I’m similar to you in the sense that I’m not an expert in critical race theory, but I’ve read a lot about it as well as, you know, books that are be considered texts associated with it. And, you know, I like reading nerdy things and thinking about them, but I’m not an expert. What my sense is that the parents are, you know, reacting to has as much to do with a, an impression whether it’s correct or not, that schools are quote unquote rewriting history. And I think what, from my perspective, what that means, and some of the pushback on the 1619 project is complicating history that instead of saying, there’s a simple version of American goodness and dominance in the world that was in some cases, even let’s put this layer of God on that, that was God given.

Amy Julia (19m 10s):
Instead of that saying, Hey, remember that we also were enslaving people. And that was written into, when I say we, the nation that was written into the constitution of this nation from the beginning. And so of course it affected our entire history and that’s not a history that we’ve told or written or reckoned with. And it seems to me that, Hey, it’s really important to write and reckon with that history, but B that, that feels that that is often what people are talking about when they use the shorthand of critical race theory or 16, 19 project. Is this fear of like rewriting history.

Amy Julia (19m 50s):
Does that make sense?

David (19m 52s):
Totally. Yeah. Yeah. I think so. And I think, and I think the question of it is that like, is that, is that critical? Is that critical race theory, right? Is that not, is it rewrite history or is it like telling some different aspects of history? I think there’s just a lot of things that we have to really slow down to really deal with the details. And that’s the thing that we really try to do. I mean, I really, really, really try to like, make sure that we’re listening and paying attention and representing things the way that somebody else would represent, like they label represents goals. And then like, we still could be wrong. I’m like, that’s fine. Like, I could be wrong. You could be wrong. We all could be wrong. That’s fine. But let, let’s be accurate for the things that we were talking about.

David (20m 34s):
Yeah. So let’s, let’s talk about a little bit about the re writing a history. Yeah. I just want to talk about how we can engage in history. And I shared about this at the end of the webinar, we can use history to hurt. We can use history to had, we can use history as a means to heal. And so here’s a way that folks use history to hurt say, Amy, Julia, you know, you’re, you’re, you’re not gonna be any worse than you like your past. What you’ve done in the past. It defines who you are, which is going to be for the future. You can’t change your own redeemable. That’s one way of dealing with history in a way that’s very hurtful. Or you can say like, Abdullah, you hurt me. I could never forgive you.

David (21m 15s):
You know, like I can’t trust you. I’m just done with you. That’s a way of kind of engaging history in a way that hurts. When we think about racial lasts history, that is a way that some people, because of their pain, because of experiences, they engage history in that way. And I actually think there’s a, a legitimate human response to kind of react to history in that way. I, I don’t, I think some people that are responding to that and that reacted in that kind of way, or find a way they’re like applying that gauge the call. That’s what critical race theory is, you know, and that’s, you know, and it’s like, I think there’s a conflation going on there, but what I want to do is I want to like name that with people, engage in history in a way that is, is hurtful.

David (21m 59s):
That’s like saying that your past is a total definition and the rest of your reality. Yeah. Then that’s not, that’s not a helpful way of using that. And, or just kind of like sometimes even saying like, Hey, this acknowledges me and I’m having a hard time trusting you because of this, this history. Like, I think we gotta be empathetic on both sides of that conversation. Right. You know? And so I think that’s one way that history could be through her history, Oscar, we used to hide, you know, like we can choose to read certain facts of history and then others that we like if then stuff that we don’t like. And so in many ways, like I talk about it, particularly as a, as a theologian, a lot of stories that we tell them America, we, we present a history of America.

David (22m 50s):
That’s better than the, the history that the Bible teaches of Israel and Israel, but you’re never want to read ancient Israel, be like, yeah, they were pretty, you know, pretty decent folks to have a little bit messed up, but overall they were great. You know, they were exceptional. Like that’s not the way the Bible even reads itself. Like where even in the history of like the, the heroes of faith, you know, you look at all focuses, we’ll see it as a faith. They have very flawed people. I mean, some were rapists murderers, you know, you know, I mean, and some people have also said they were the father of the faith, but they were considered like a man after God’s own heart. I mean, these are all types of things that you see the good, bad and ugly of humanity.

David (23m 31s):
But when we talk about American history, it’s almost kind of considered like, you’d be an America American to say anything negative about our history.

Amy Julia (23m 40s):
Yeah. I just read an article or maybe it was a podcast the other day, it was about James Madison and how he was a founding father who had these ideals that were, you know, our society has been based upon, and this is a guy who’s a very well-known writer and thinker writes for the Atlantic, et cetera, et cetera. And there just was no acknowledgement of James Madison as a man who enslaved people. And it just seemed like a, to your point, like this is hiding our history. I do not want to write James Madison out of the history books at all. I’m sure he had important ideas that are still playing out today. And it’s really good to know about those.

Amy Julia (24m 20s):
And even to honor those ideas, if they are worth celebrating. But if we don’t wrestle with the fact that he also was a person who owned other people, then it doesn’t distort the history because it’s not telling the truth about it. And the same is true within the church. I remember when I first learned that Jonathan Edwards had also been someone who owned slaves and feeling like, okay, how do I theologically like grapple with that? And to your point, like Abraham was no person of like impeccable moral character or in nor was David. Right. You know, but, and so it’s not to say, I should just write off these men or women, but at the same time, I want to knowing the complexity of their humanity seems really important in terms of understanding where there is healing to do personally.

Amy Julia (25m 10s):
And as a society

David (25m 12s):
I take, this is where Kristen row view is very helpful. You know, there’s just this like a term that the Protestant reformer Martin Luther came to call St. Joseph pack a tour where you said, we’re both centers of St at the same time. Like we, you know, and this is the people who follow Jesus, you know, let alone folks who, who, who, who don’t follow Jesus. Right? And so I think this is like, we all have the ability to be both saints, inability to be set centers all at the same time. And so this is something that we really need to, I think this is something that, particularly as Christians, this is a gift to us that we can actually bring to the conversation because you have people who, who don’t have a true Christian worldview that both on the, like, you know, we have Christians, we have people who are, we have people who don’t follow Jesus that don’t have a Christian worldview that are trying to refer with themes.

David (26m 14s):
These are like very heavy topics of fallen people and fall on people who have created a fallen system. And they’re trying to figure out a way of redemption. And, and I think as Christians, we can say like, Hey, you know, like we’re both saying to senators, like, you know, and that’s, that’s a part of our complexity of humanity and we can, we, we need to kind of tell these stories. And so we can, we need to at least tell the story of America in a way that America, at least as sinful, as ancient Israel, you know, that’s like, you know, and the need of redemption is like, as, as ancient Israel, right? And so this goes to like transitions to how history can be used to heal.

David (26m 59s):
If you were going to you go to the doctor for the first time they asked you what, what’s your medical history, right. If you say, Hey, you know, I’m going to kind of work with a exercise person to kind of get some exercise goal. They to say, what’s your exercises three. When you go to a therapist, they ask like, Hey, what is your history? Like, history is a way to be able to understand the, to heal. And if you kind of hide something, then you know that you don’t give them the tools to be able to kinda to move forward to heal. And I think that’s the thing that’s really important. And again, I think some of this like narrative change that’s happening is that, like we say, particularly when you live in, I live in Richmond, so we got the whole monuments.

David (27m 41s):
Yeah. They’re like being moved down. It’s really interesting. It’s really interesting. Do you have people to say, Hey, we don’t want to erase history, right. Well, this is, I mean, this is

Amy Julia (27m 54s):
Just pause for a minute for people who, as you know, I lived in Richmond on monument avenue. So I know exactly what you’re talking about, but will you pause and just describe monument avenue for a minute in terms of just what it is or was and what has happened there, and then I’d love for you to keep going in terms of how this can be yeah. Relevant to this conversation.

David (28m 16s):
So my admin avenue is the only street in the us registry of historic places and it’s, it was five or originally it was five monuments of Confederate generals that was put up in the Robert E. Lee statue that just came down, who was the general other Confederate was put up 131 years ago.

Amy Julia (28m 44s):
And just to be real clear, these are at least the Robert E. Lee statue was, I dunno, 40 feet high.

David (28m 52s):
It, these are huge. I mean,

Amy Julia (28m 53s):
They’re just like the word monument is accurate for these statues that are not life-size. They are towering huge.

David (29m 3s):
Yeah. And in a neighborhood I live in, so that’s like my main avenue. And then the neighborhood I live in, I live in a neighborhood called church hill. And there is, there was a statue of kind of representing all of the Confederate army and Navy soldiers. And it was put there to be the highest place in our city, you know, a hundred plus years ago. So then no matter where you were in a city, that you could see this, this statue of fallen Confederate soldiers. And so, so this is like a really important thing to kind of understand and the concept and select, like, let’s talk about history, most of the place to heal a place to like, to make sure that we’re not hiding and also to do this in a way that doesn’t hurt.

David (29m 55s):
So I want to first start off by saying everything that’s a political issue for when people group is the past orchestra for another people group. And so I always want to approach these things. We’ll say, Hey, what’s the pastoral concern that’s going on here? Well, whenever somebody experienced as a loss and dealing with grief, they have to wrestle with meaning, what does it mean? And so when you have people who lost their father, then they lost their brother and uncle and their sons to war. It really needs to be worthwhile. And so, so you find folks that have to come up with a reason of like, why was this war fought?

David (30m 41s):
Yeah. And then particularly when you lost the war, then you really have to bring up meaning. And so after Tom passed on, they kind of came up with this meaning call the lost cause. And this is like all written, documented things. And it became like this kind of story, but that happened in the Confederate and Southern context of make meaning of, of loss. That’s a very human thing. And I say this like as a Christian, like trying to practice being a Christian as a black man to really be on the other side of that empathetic side of things. Like my mom is not an alcoholic, but if she was an alcoholic, I can call her an alcoholic, but you can’t call her an alcoholic. Cause he’s my mom, you know?

David (31m 22s):
And so, so, so I think that, like, I think within that spirit, I think that there are southerners white southerners that are really trying to bring meaning of the ancestors. And I think there’s a legitimate human experience in that. And, you know,

Amy Julia (31m 38s):
Well, and that goes back a little bit to just the conversation about the image of God and not demonizing people, because that’s part of this polarization is this sense that we you’re either a Saint or a sinner you’re either a demon or an angel as opposed to no. Like there actually were people who have were real loss and needed to make meaning. And it doesn’t mean they should have done it in this way. And it doesn’t mean we should keep these statues up, but at the same time to try to recognize the humanity in that is a part of actually recognizing all of our humanity.

David (32m 14s):
Yes, totally. And I think we should do that again. We, we can often times give empathy to folks whether we agree with people or not, you know, and I think this is, I think this is very important practice to do that, particularly as a person that follows Jesus. So I’ll just say like, Hey, I, I understand and get that. So then we gotta ask ourselves in society, like who lost the super bowl in 1992?

Amy Julia (32m 42s):
I can’t answer that.

David (32m 44s):
I don’t answer that question rarely. Now anybody knows, I don’t know who lost the Superbowl last year, you know? And so, and guess what, they don’t have statue in that city of the person that lost the super bowl. Right. And so why would you put a monument up of people who lost the war, but you have to ask the question, like, what is the story? What is the narrative behind that? And, and, and what kind of history like, like is that it could that even be a rewriting of history itself? Like what kind of story is being said in that way, but then why aren’t we advocating to pull it up?

David (33m 31s):
Statues of generals who fought and, and the revolutionary war against England, the English like folks, right. Like,

Amy Julia (33m 43s):
Yeah.

David (33m 44s):
Right.

Amy Julia (33m 46s):
Well, and the time I think the time in which they were erected on the one hand, yes, there had been these many generations and maybe there was a sense of, okay, we’re finally trying to make meaning, but a less generous interpretation would be in the early 19 hundreds. Oh, sense of white people in the south needing to assert dominance and power and saying, these are some historically significant figures that literally are going to memorialize who is in charge here, even if they did lose the war.

David (34m 24s):
Exactly. And I’m gonna let you know, as a black man growing up in Richmond, I got that message loud and clear. That was one of the first, that was one of the first messages that you got. And it was never confusing to folks in the black community, what those messages were about. Like, you know, like that’s, you know, that’s really, really clear, you know, and you put your, your, your generals up, you put the soldiers at the top and it’s like, what kind of history are we trying to tell? What kind of message are we trying to communicate? And nobody around the world puts up soldiers. I miss the soldiers and generals that lost, lost the war.

David (35m 6s):
Right? These aren’t about losing a war. It’s about winning a narrative. Right. And this is, this is what is really, really important for us to understand. And so if we want to use history as a tool to heal, we got to understand what that narrative is about. And it’s, it’s, it’s, I mean, if you want to stay with the narrative about, it’s like read the succession documents of, of South Carolina, Virginia, like all of folks, I mean, just go and read the hits. Yeah.

Amy Julia (35m 42s):
Clear. This is about, we want to keep our economic interest in enslaving people.

David (35m 48s):
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s part of our story and our history, you know, and it, and like, and so if like, yeah, let’s, let’s not rewrite history, let’s tell history accurately. And, and the question of it is, is like, you know, should these, should this narrative be prominent in our city? Right. Or can we actually create new monuments, new, cultural artifacts? That can be a vision of what we want to see for the next 130 years. Yeah. And so this was a talk that I gave a TEDx talk in Richmond in 2015, you know, talking about building a legacy.

David (36m 28s):
I didn’t think those to ever come down. I think it’s a modern day miracle. I really do. I mean like the fact that they came down without any blood said that like literally the, the law back in a hundred and thirty, one, thirty two years ago, they actually put the law down that you had to have the state governor, the city mayor, and the city council had to be in agreement to actually take down the robbery at least statute, because like, that was such a, an important figure that they put the law in there.

David (37m 8s):
Right. And so then you have like a governor who got really embarrassed around some racial stuff, but he was politically motivated to do that. You got a 40 year old black mayor, and then you have a black city council. And so the fact that they could, the fact that they can go through and put that law in place to take it down, I think it was a modern miracle. And the, and the only was, this is also kind of cool. The only statute that’s up now is a statue of authoress, you know, an African-American athlete that has the books over his tennis racket, looking at young people, tried to cast a vision for the future. And then you have on Arthur Ashe, like my even avenues is perpendicular to off the ranch Boulevard.

David (37m 53s):
And we’re right down the street is Hindi. Wiley’s first sculpture of wars. And Roman was a war of African-American man on horse kind of like rabid, at least attitude. But just like looking like, trying to say, Hey, let’s, let’s have a different, a different look and it is not one of, of war, but one of imagination. And that’s pretty, I really hope that as a city, that actually think that we actually create a new vision of monument avenue for what we, what we would love to see. Yeah.

Amy Julia (38m 29s):
It’s so powerful. I’m curious for you, like on the, I know you just said modern day miracle, and actually I will point out that you were quoted in the New York times talking about the Robert E. Lee statue coming down and called it a miracle. And they attributed that to you. But I’m curious for you growing up, essentially in the shadows of these monuments, like what was the experience of having this statue come down that was never going to come down? Like that was just kind of a fact of life in Richmond and now it’s changed.

David (39m 3s):
And I think, I mean, this is part of, you know, I think Richmond is kind of the first culturally south part of the city. I mean, I’m sorry of our country. It’s like a big, like Richmond kind of becomes culturally, but, and the further you go deeper south, I mean, you see that, I mean, there’s been a socialization to just let people in black people know where their place are. I mean, that’s just so much a social order and you see it the further, deeper south that you go. You know, I remember doing a tour of the south and engagement with the focus on the region. My wife grew up in North Carolina.

David (39m 44s):
I grew up in Richmond and we were like, man, I’m really glad that we didn’t even grow up deep south because there was so many things psychologically that you just like, we, we didn’t feel that pressure to feel like we get out of like, operate around the permission to white people, you know? And, and so much of, and I’m not just talking about like men, even though we grew up in the eighties. I mean, we’re talking about parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, you know, that have been taught. Like, I mean, it’s just with the socialization. So monument avenue really communicated the message to me that my main avenue really isn’t for me right now.

David (40m 30s):
I remember the there’s a African-American doctor that does dental and facial surgery. And I remember I went into his office for the first time and, and I was like, wow, I was impressed to see a black man that had a dental office. My main avenue was like, yeah, I didn’t know this was possible. Like, I don’t remember seeing that. And then I remember, I, I mean, I probably wasn’t an adult. I mean, I mean, really within the last four to five years before I went to somebody’s house, somebody man avenue, like just even being invited to somebody’s house, somebody in evidence.

David (41m 12s):
Right. And so, and this was somebody that actually from, from Connecticut that on the house and I was like the fourth house or something like that. And, and they had just had to have one of my main avenue. I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s so fascinating that the narrative, I didn’t know that that was a narrative, but I just kinda just knew. And I didn’t necessarily feel like it was a thing that would hold me back per se, but it was something that I just like, Hey, I’m just going to find another place. But now I feel like with the monuments being down, that narrative pushed out, you know?

Amy Julia (41m 51s):
Yeah. I I’m struck as you’re talking, I saw just a little Instagram meme or something today about the difference between being convicted and being condemned so that like when the holy spirit convicts us of something, versus when Satan condemns us for something or the world condemns us for something that it can almost feel the same. And I think, I wonder sometimes when, especially for people who are white and who are wrestling with a history of racism, whether that line between conviction and condemnation is part of what we’re talking about. And the little Instagram thing that I saw, this was rich.

Amy Julia (42m 31s):
<inaudible>, who’s a pastor who I really appreciate. And he said, you know, conviction is going to lead you to love others. Condemnation is going to lead you to hate yourself or hate other people. And that’s one way to know, like, it might kind of feel the same, like, ah, I’m having to recognize that I’ve done something wrong or I’ve participated in something wrong or whatever. But if that recognition is calling you towards love, and I’m just thinking about you in terms of like calling you towards peacemaking, calling you towards creativity, calling you towards writing a true new story, all of those things like that still might hurt, right? Like, but not in the deep wounding, actually hurting in the deep healing sense that sometimes we have to open up a wound in order for it to heal.

Amy Julia (43m 18s):
And so I just think about the statue coming down. And I remember even reading about it being like literally cut apart, you know, and there is a picture of like destruction needing to happen there that I’m sure could have felt to some people like condemnation. And yet what if it actually is conviction, right? Like conviction that this is going to allow us to love better and to be peacemakers in a city.

David (43m 44s):
That’s wonderful. I really appreciate that. I love, which is just, I’ll have a lot of his thoughts and I think that’s a really good framing. And here’s the thing that I think we tend to feel kind of ill-equipped as Americans. And then also Americans tend to have a little bit more like enough wealth to be comfortable enough connections to be comfortable like relational connections and or enough education to be comfortable is that we just aren’t used to dealing with like bad things. I mean, even we deal with something like, like, like we don’t do funerals anymore. We do a celebration of life.

Amy Julia (44m 25s):
We don’t even like, like feeling hot. Do you know what I mean? Like it’s like, I mean, it’s like discomfort is a problem that we don’t understand as opposed like real grief or real conviction, like really feeling like I know that I did something bad and I need to lament that and grieve that and make it right. I mean, yeah,

David (44m 47s):
A hundred percent. Like I made this a confession of my whole life. I mean, like I kind of have, because I traveled so much and I just didn’t have a rule of thumb that I’ve made my way to go to church. Like whenever I’m in town and it was over the summertime and I’m, I’m in town and you know, we’re, we’re starting to do, we do zoom one week outdoor servers and next week, and we’re dealing with that hot July, you know, Southern and Richmond humidity. And I’m like, man, can they just frame the service? Like I don’t really want to be on site.

David (45m 27s):
So I say that to say, is that, I mean, I’m not, I, I’m not different than anybody who’s listening. Like, I mean, like I have to lean into the discomfort because I have a lot of choices about whether I engage or not engage with stuff. And, and this is the case with my brother and sisters actually deals with race that like maybe some of the discomfort it’s not actually condemnation. And it could even be some people that could add some condemnation with it. I’m not saying that, that there are people that are trying to publicly shame and do all those types of things. And, and, and, you know, but that that’s, that’s, that’s, what’s happening in this conversation that you and I are having like this, this is really about like, what’s the Brian honorable thing to do to, to speak the truth in love, to actually engage in the truth, but to look at complex sinful human beings and how we’ve engaged with one another and to actually be agents of, of peacemaking and reconciliation, not just only for today, before the children, the next generation, you know, this is a conviction of the holy spirit.

David (46m 30s):
This is something that invitation that the Lord wants us to be a part of. And, and just because it’s uncomfortable, just because we might feel bad, we should ask him to be like, lean into that and say like, Hey, what’s the mission of the holy spirit? What’s the kind of nation of the evil one that, that brother rich just kind of articulated.

Amy Julia (46m 49s):
Yeah, absolutely. Well, David, we are coming to the end of our time. I could always talk to you for hours, but I do know that you have been working on a new resource for churches and small groups to begin digging into some of the things we’ve even been talking about here. So will you just tell us a little bit about that? I think this podcast is due to release right around the same time as that. So we’ll make sure to link in the show notes so people can access this resource, but will you just tell us a little bit about it?

David (47m 16s):
Yeah. I’m really glad to be able to do that. So, you know, two things, two resources that will be available. One is the actual webinar on critical. Yeah. The one that you referenced that will be up on the side also. And then we have a new resource called the people a place and adjust to society. It’s a 40 day Bible studies series, where you go through the whole Bible to understand God’s heart for people that reflect God’s image and likeness to be in a place where God’s rule and reign as an active justice sidewall, that God’s people are careful holistically. And so you go from Genesis, look at the rev suites in the old Testament, two weeks in the new Testament, reading the scripture, study the scriptures, and then you bring those five days a week that you’re spending studying the scriptures.

David (48m 4s):
You bring that to your small group and do some imagination of exercise and, and discussion to like, just spend time with the word of God and do three hours and be amongst the people who have got cool. And, and, and, and, and the reason why we created this is because most people are like so many Christians, too many grits. I’m not even gonna put a number on it, too many Christians up to being discipled this topic by their political discipleship, whatever the property is, whether they could serve it a liberal there, what they’re spending more time being discipled by politics, and they are being discipled by the level of diet. And so this is, this is the thing. They actually get time to work your way through the, all of the whole scripture to see God’s heart for people, places to dust society, and to engage in this really holistic, healthy way, and to do it in Catholics with community, both individually and a Catholic imagination.

David (49m 2s):
So I hope, I hope you all kind of like, get it downloaded, do it with small groups, deal with people in your community. And we see what the holy spirit does and your life and the way the boy might guide you.

Amy Julia (49m 14s):
Hmm. I love that. I am struck just the more and more I do study scripture and think about justice as a positive. Good, not as a punitive repair, but actually as a positive good that we get to be a part of how, how much of a, an invitation to healing it is to actually be people who care about justice. It, so thank you for helping us all walk a little bit more in that direction and thank you for your time here today.

David (49m 49s):
Thank you. Thank you so much.

Amy Julia (49m 54s):
Thanks so much for listening to love is stronger than fear. In the show notes, you can find out more about David’s work and especially about that new curriculum that Aerobahn just released. I know I’m going to be checking that out. And of course, I’m always grateful if you share this episode, subscribe to this podcast, give it a quick rating or review wherever you find your podcasts. It’s one of those things where actually doing that really quick work of saying, I like this with a rating or review tells the algorithms and all of these podcasts machines that they should share it with more people. So I would love for you to help me and get the word out. I also want to say thank you to Jake Hansen for editing the podcast and to Amber Barry, my social media coordinator, who does everything behind the scenes, in addition to Jake, of course, to make this possible.

Amy Julia (50m 44s):
And I’m always grateful to have you here. Thanks for being here. And as you go into your day to day, I hope you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that love is stronger than fear.

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Hi, I’m Amy Julia.

I write about faith, family, disability, and privilege.

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