One of the most powerful speeches I’ve heard about our nation’s current racial environment and tension is from a preacher named Tom Skinner. In speaking about this sermon, InterVarsity refers to Skinner’s call as “a radical, just Christianity that set(s) people free both spiritually and physically. He powerfully speak(s) into the climate of protest, activism…”
But it’s important to know that Tom Skinner is not speaking in 2020. This address was given 50 years ago at Urbana 1970. If you’ve read Ibram Kendi’s book, “How to Be an Antiracist,” you might recognize Tom Skinner’s name. Dr. Kendi writes about his parents being at Urbana 1970 and hearing this sermon on liberation theology.
Tom Skinner’s words offer a “prophetic clarity” unlike any I’ve heard. And yet, I’m troubled by the fact that in many ways, it doesn’t feel like much has changed. When the phrase “Black Lives Matter” still causes distress and hostility for so many white people, it seems clear that we are still living in denial about our country’s history and our current reality. And even more troubling to me is the white American church’s complicity in the horrors of slavery and the racial injustice following.
Take the time to listen to Skinner’s words. (Or read the transcript here.)
A disclaimer: This post is written through the lens of a white woman. And despite my critical language toward the church and the label of “Christian,” I find the radical teachings of Jesus to be compelling and worthy of following. With that said, I recognize that much of the important work in racial justice and reconciliation is accomplished by those outside of Christianity or faith generally and I happily join arms with anyone doing this work.