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Race, White Privilege, and the Gospel
Pre-Presbytery Workshop Presbytery of Chicago October 12, 2010
David Esterline, McCormick Theological Seminary Jennifer Ikoma-Motzko, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship


Why work against racism?
Theological foundations
God created all people good. To deny some people (because of skin color or language) the privileges other have, is to deny God’s good creation. To allow this system—in which some receive advantages simply because of skin color—to go unchecked is to deny that God made all people in God’s own good image.

Race is a social and political reality, not a biological or genetic reality.
There is widespread agreement among scholars that race, as understood in the United States, is a social construct – rather than an objective, scientifically or biologically consistent characteristic of a person or group of persons.

How is it that there is such certainty about a concept that is so poorly defined? There is no agreement among scholars about a biological or physiological definition that can be sustained.


“Present-day inequalities between so-called ‘racial’ groups are not consequences of their biological inheritance but products of historical and contemporary social, economic, educational, and political circumstances.”
American Anthropological Association 2006


Rewards—indicators of well-being—in the U.S. are based on racial group more than on any other characteristic or association. The National Urban League’s annual “Equality Index” compares the conditions of black and white Americans in 5 areas (health, wealth, education, social justice, civic engagement), using whites as the standard at 1.0 For 2010, the index for black Americans = .718

Because the term “race” is so difficult, many people use other terms – such as ethnicity, culture,...

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