What is Whiteness? A Provisional Articulation

Council on the WayBy Jim Perkinson

Note: this is a long working definition of Whiteness. Dr. Perkinson laid this down for a committee reflecting in the wake of The Council on the Way (right), an October 2019 gathering of white men envisioning and embodying a redemptive white male theology. The conversation over two days in Washington D.C. was conceived and coached by Ruby Sales, theologian and veteran of the Black Freedom Struggle.

What is whiteness? I would understand the paler shades of skin color that are typically referenced, when the term “whiteness” is used, as a kind of shorthand for a whole social system of infrastructure and expectation, as well as conscious/unconscious identification. It is a system that is rooted in European Christian colonialism taking land on this continent by force (either violent conquest or coercive legal imposition) from indigenous peoples and making much of that land yield “resources” by means of enslaved African peoples (as well as other coerced peoples of color, and to some degree even coerced lower and working class European heritage peoples). Continue reading

We Still Have a Race to Run

RubyFrom the front porch of Mother Ruby Sales. This is the sequel to yesterday’s clarion call to young people. This was originally posted to social media on February 2, 2020.

As remnants and elders we still
have a race to run and a role to play.
Heed the call.

Earlier this week I wrote a post to my younger friends reminding them of their responsibility as new generations of leaders. I reminded them that it is now up to them to use the fluency of their bodies and minds to push us beyond where previous generations took us. Now they are the ones under the light of historical scrutiny. I hope that they realize that the glare can both blind and clarify at the same time. Continue reading

The Ball is in Your Court

RubyA two-part post from the front porch of Mother Ruby Sales. This is part I, originally posted to social media on January 31, 2020.

My young friends you have often stated that my generation should pass the baton of leadership. Well the ball is in your court as the Republicans take this nation down further into an abyss that chokes democracy to death.

I am listening to the roll call in the Senate, and it is clear that Republicans believe that Trump is above the law & they think that they are above your rebuke. Continue reading

Pull Out The Root

RubyFrom the front porch of Ruby Sales.

A movement for racial justice does not require White people to save Black and Brown people(s). Rather a movement for racial justice requires White Americans to save them selves from the strangulation of the spiritual malformation and social perversity of a culture of Whiteness. This means that they must begin the work in their communities to pull out the root that gets to the source of the plague. History shows that Black people can handle our business. It is time for White people to handle their business without trying to manage and supervise our business. If White people carry out this mission, we will have a radical new birth as a nation.

Where Does It Hurt?

Council on the WayBy Nathan Holst, a sermon 

O Spirit guide us now, O Spirit guide us now, O Spirit guide us now, in your way, guide us; Spirit guide all of us today as we listen for where you are moving. Amen.

That song by Sara Thomsen is one I used quite a bit at a gathering in Washington DC just last month where 20 white Christian men came together with Ruby Sales, a Black civil rights and freedom movement leader, to talk about a theology of redemption for white men in this time. My friend and colleague, Tommy Airey, invited me to come and be a part of the group that he and Ruby Sales had put together, and partly because Mother Ruby is one of my heroes and because I was drawn to the work, I said yes. When I shared about it with Pastor Kathy, she asked me to preach and share about my experience, so that’s what I intend to do this morning. And as I share, I want to put up a picture of Mother Ruby to honor her and bring her into this space because she was our spiritual guide in this work. Continue reading

A Paragraph at Our Own Celebration

RubyMore spiritual fuel from the front porch of freedom fighter Ruby Sales.

Do not confuse moral decadence with liberation. It is a trap door to nothingness and spiritual death. Freedom gives us the territory to live a life of meaning where we move from being footnotes at another person’s party to becoming a paragraph at our own celebration.

I Speak from the Deep Throated Voice of a Survivor

RubyBiography as Theology from the Front Porch of Mother Ruby Sales (posted to Facebook August 28, 2019).

My story which is both a Black story and an American one. It is a story shaped by more than fifty years of watching and wading in the ebb and flow of White supremacy in America. It is the story of both a survivor and freedom fighter who has experienced the best and worst of America.

Our story

“They are bringing drugs and sending their criminals.”

“Go back to where you come from.”

“Go back to your crime ridden neighborhoods.” Continue reading