Saturday, December 17, 2016

Jesus Loves Racist, Too (Part 6)

How Predominantly White Churches Can Move from Teaching Racism to Teaching about It
            If you have made it this far, congratulations! Thank you for bearing with me! If you have not read the previous five posts in this series, please do so before continuing to this last one.  In this final post, I would like to introduce the concept of critical public pedagogy.  Critical public pedagogy is focused on resisting “the dominant political, economic, and or/social structure” (p. 298), and this resistance can be conscious or unconscious (Sandlin, 2010).  In the last post, I argued that the unconscious manner in which racism is addressed in PWCs is an indirect way of teaching racism.  This is an example of the opposite of critical public pedagogy- rather than resisting the dominant social structure, it is being reproduced.  The way in which I argued that such reproduction occurred is through the hidden curriculum of implicit messages arising from structure.  That hidden curriculum led to the teaching of racism.  My theory then, for transforming PWCs into a site of critical public pedagogy is to intentionally confront the topic of race. One possible way to do this is for PWCs to address the topics of race and racism directly.  This could take the form of pastors (and other church leaders) addressing issues of racism (such as those that happen regularly in the news) to their congregations.  This could take the form of being brought up in sermons, presented as topics for prayer, or incorporating issues of race as a part of Bible study groups. 
Another step that should be taken is to address issues of implicit bias.  The most useful way for a PWC to do this would be to strive to become multiracial, if it is located in a geographically diverse area.  Even if the area is not super racially diverse, this is still a goal for which churches should strive because multiracial congregations are usually more racially diverse than their neighborhoods (Emerson, 2006).  I suggest multiracial congregations as a partial solution because one way in which implicit bias can be reduced is through interactions with other races (Soderberg & Sherman, 2013).  In working to become more ethnically diverse, a church’s leadership will need to address their own implicit biases as well as encouraging their parishioners to do likewise.  They will also need to cast a vision for their church members as to why this is important.  Not only should they discuss the importance of combatting racism, but they also should help their congregants to understand the Biblical imperative they have to do so.  Taking these steps will help to disrupt colorblind racism that is present within our society.
Lastly, as PWCs work to diversify, they should look for ways to incorporate other cultures.  This could be through the incorporation of music and foods from other cultures, as well as having people pray for the needs of different cultural groups along with prayer for people from those groups to be incorporated into the congregation.  Inviting guest speakers from other cultures, hiring people for the church staff from different cultural backgrounds, and/or creating a diverse church leadership team can all be ways to counter White normativity. 
None of what I outlined above can be done overnight, and none of it will be easy.  It will take time and dedication.  What I outlined above will take commitment and hard work.  Everything that I described is in the theoretical stage, but I plan to do research to contribute to and create a more substantial body of research on how churches can act as sites of critical public pedagogy.
Thank you for reading this series. I hope you found it to be a worthwhile read.  Feel free to post any 

questions as comments, or things you feel I missed, and I’ll try to post on this blog more frequently 

in the future.

Emerson, M.O. (2006) People of the dream. Multiracial congregations in the United States. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Sandlin, J.A. (2010). Learning to survive the ‘Shopocalypse’: Reverend Billy’s anti-consumption ‘pedagogy of the unknown’. Critical Studies in Education, 51(3), 295-311.
Soderberg, C. K., & Sherman, J. W. (2013). No face is an island: How implicit bias operates in social scenes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology49(2), 307–313. doi:10.1016/j.jesp.2012.11.001

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

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