Black History Month

As Black History Month winds to a close, I thought I’d share my praxis for this year. I am, I’ll admit, cribbing from my church’s newsletter and blog a bit here.

It’s no secret that I am the white pastor of a white church in a pretty white town in a pretty white state (DeWitt, Clinton county, and Iowa are about 97%, 92%, and 86% white, respectively). It is easy for me to go through my day without ever entering a predominantly Black space or having a face-to-face conversation with a Black person. And what’s true in my daily life has also been true in my media consumption: a lot of the books I read, podcasts I listen to, people I follow on social media, and tv shows and movies I watch are predominantly white.

So, this year, I decided to do a little project for Black History Month. Instead of listening to more stories about, say, Henrietta Lacks, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King Jr., I decided to work on my media habits. I invested some time and energy in predominantly Black media. Admittedly, I was better at it at certain points in the month than I was at other points.

So, here’s where I ended up:

Twitter: I started following quite a few more Black people (or, at least, people who I know are Black). This includes @staceyabrams, @tressiemcphd, @JIJennings@ReignOfApril@BigGhostLtd@Nettaaaaaaaa@questlove@BlackGirlNerds@JamilahLemieux@Combat_Jack@brokeymcpoverty@bomani_jones@JamilSmith@eveewing@FeministaJones@ProfessorCrunk@Moore_Darnell@writer9706@RevDrBarber@JoyAnnReid@deray@wkamaubell@PureKwest@revdrseed@thephiwa@pastortraci@DaBuhuro1@om3, @CoryBooker, and @BarackObama. A few of those were already on my feed, but many were added this month. And that’s a little more than 14% of the people I follow.

Podcasts:I listen to a lot of podcasts, so I looked at what I was listening to. Again, there were already some Black people on the list, but not enough. So, here are the Black (or predominantly Black) podcasts that I’m listening to. I should point out that there are very few podcasts that I listen to every episode of, so it’s not like I’m listening to the whole back catalog. But I am listening to these and they’re in my feed for the future: RevealIn Black AmericaThe NodPod Save the People.

General News: I did not do great here. I added theGrio and The Root to my regular reading, but that’s about it.

Finally, there were a few articles and podcast episodes that I really appreciated:

So, overall, not great, but a vast improvement over the terribly homogenous media environment I was in before.

Right now, there is a movement in churches and nonprofits arguing that charity is toxic, that helping hurts, and that the entire nonprofit sector needs to be reformed to truly lift people out of poverty. These charity skeptics are telling Christians that traditional charity deepens dependency, fosters a sense of entitlement, and erodes the work ethic of people who receive it. Charity skepticism is increasingly popular; and it is almost certainly wrong.

Now available from Wipf and Stock’s Cascade Books imprint, Radical Charity: How Generosity Can Save the World (And the Church) weaves together research and scholarship on topics as diverse as biblical scholarship, Christian history, economics, and behavioral psychology to tell a different story. In this story, charity is the heart of Christianity and one of the most effective ways that we can help people who are living in poverty. Charity—giving to people experiencing poverty without any expectation of return or reformation—can save the world and help make God’s vision for the church a reality.

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