Some months after Ferguson (which is about 10 miles away from my house, as the crow flies), I wrote my pastor to carp about about how Christian pastors of hipster churches are not willing to be clear-eyed about the issues plaguing our black friends and neighbors. He invited me to be part of a roundtable discussion about race. We were evenly balanced racially and the discussion that made it to YouTube was thoughtful and productive in that the two views — white and black — were represented in a manner consistent with our faith. But neither side seemed to budge.
My resolution was that white racism, however it might exist, is nowhere near the most-pressing issue facing the black community. The week we taped the video, there had been a murder in Kansas City where drive-by shooters murdered a little girl who was playing in a home that had been riddled with bullets. I asserted that I cannot be non-racist enough to prevent people I have never met from shooting-up a home and killing a child. My black friends were simply having none of it. I sensed that they were affronted by my pointing-out black criminality, and rejecting racism as a meaningful cause.
Two major things have bubbled-up since then. First, statistics demonstrate that every aspect of the dominant narrative post-Ferguson — right down to the driving while black narrative — has been a lie. The second has been the utter failure to crack that narrative with facts, especially with my hipster Christian friends.
I intuit that, out of concern for being seen a exclusionary or judgemental, hipster Christians are blind to how the pathologies we see, both in in our lives and those of our neighbors, are so often the result of poor choices; of sin, to be blunt.
It is an enormous disservice to tell a man who is in the grip of self-destruction that he should focus on outside forces. It’s like telling a guy who has a nasty infection that he really needs to back off the carbs. Maybe it’s good advice in the long run, but the problem is that he’ll not live to see the long run.