Monthly Archives: October 2015

Equity

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

If you spend any time in the public education system you will hear the word “equity.“ According to the American Library Association,

equity recognizes that some are at a larger disadvantage than others and aims at compensating for these peoples misfortunes and disabilities in order to make sure that everyone is capable of attaining the same type of healthy lifestyle. Examples of this are: “When libraries offer literacy programs, when schools offer courses in English as a second language, and when foundations target scholarships to students from poor families, they operationalize a belief in equity of access as fairness and as justice.”[1]

EquityIt sounds good – even benign. But it is actually an accusation. The assumption is that the dominant culture of America does not make room for those of non-dominant cultures (where the definition of non-dominant culture is along primarily ethnic lines). Another buzz phrase in academia is “white privilege,” which is seen as the racial advantage that keeps non-whites in a perpetual state of disadvantage. Given the success of many non-whites in America, it is a cloud without rain. It drives a wedge between people who would otherwise be friends. It is an unfortunate pejorative that will only further divide those who could otherwise lock arms and work on our societal challenges together for the common good. The very notion of such thinking is racially divisive. We don’t seem to see that we are inextricably bound together.

In his post “Baltimore and Beyond: Cities that Wait for the Storm Cloud to Blow Over May Blow Up,” Dr. Paul Luis Metzger says…

“… how are churches led by white pastors in the suburbs and cities partnering with their minority counterparts to address not simply the symptoms of the problem but the structures that create the inequities?”

While I appreciate Dr. Metzger’s vision that a multiethnic America will address the issue of the city, I cannot agree that the problems are primarily structural.  The responsibility of the cities to address inequities is the same as that in the suburbs. It is interesting to me that the whites would be expected to fund solutions when whether or not they actually live in the community. Why is this equitable? The very suggestion of white privilege means that one demographic is not welcome at the table discussing solutions. The shame is that it has little to do with addressing the problems we collectively have as a society.

That this language has become acceptable in Christian circles is regrettable. Kingdom language is different. We are assumed to be a single race – the human race – who would collectively work on solutions based upon God’s Word. It has not been tried and found difficult, but simply untried.

The suburbs have challenges as well. My own suburb of Beaverton has been absorbing scores of refugees fleeing from world conflicts.  Often uneducated and illiterate, it stretches our foundations to be able to provide education, resources and opportunity. The churches are carrying a significant load in addressing this by welcoming the “stranger in the land (Lev 19:34).” We partner with other churches without regard for ethnicity… we are simply looking for Kingdom partners.

The language of equity, white privilege and other perjoratives will do nothing to address the issues we must face together. Only a Kingdom mindset can address the challenges of our society from a biblical perspective, wherever they exist, and such solutions operates best when they are locally led.

[1] Equality and Equity of Access: What’s the Difference?”. Ala.org. Retrieved November 19, 2014.

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