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Christian rapper Lecrae is currently in the midst of a deep reckoning.

On June 14 Lecrae sat down with evangelical leader Pastor Louie Giglio and Dan Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A to attempt a conversation about the race and the church.

However, things got murky when Giglio, who heads Passion City Church in Atlanta, Georgia attempted to rebrand the phrase “white privilege” in an attempt to make white people more comfortable in accepting its existence. Which in itself is a harmful deflection to appease white privilege.

Even though his megachurch is located in a prominent city which has served as an economic and cultural haven for Black people in the city, Giglio made his case, directed mostly at Lecrae, the only Black man on the panel. Here lies another problem that Black people are made to feel that they are the sole resource for white people who have finally decided to educate themselves about racism.

“I feel like on the inside of the church we’re fighting this historical context you talk about,” he began. “In other words, we love the blessing of the cross but we don’t love to sit in it and realize this is what gods asking me to do, to die to myself, and live for him, whatever context that’s going to look like for me.

“But I want to flip that upside down because I think the other side of it is true with our nation’s history. We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do, and we say ‘that was bad,’ but we miss the blessing of slavery that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in.”
And to be quite honest, the insertion of the word “blessing” is where Giglo lost me. Words mean things and assigning positivity or abundance in any way to an institution which created 400 years of systemic oppression specifically catered to Black people is an abomination.
“And so a lot of people call this ‘white privilege’ and when you say those two words it’s like a fuse goes off for a lot of white people because they don’t want somebody telling them to check their privilege,” he continued.

I know that you and I both have struggled in these days with ‘hey if the phrase is the trip up, let’s get over the phrase and let’s get down to the heart, let’s get down to what then do you want to call it,’ and I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing’. That I’m living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta.”

Now, I do understand the concept of not interrupting someone when they are in the middle of expounding upon a point, but Lecrae’s lack of response was unsettling.

Some did try to argue that he did make an effort, but the effort didn’t go far enough.

Giglo has since apologized for his word choice, but Lecrae is having a harder time with taking accountability for his silence.

 

One of the most prominent voices urging progression in the Black church, writer Candice Benbow, engaged in a back and forth with the rapper over why his silence morphed into acceptance, and urged Lecrae to reconsider the harmful effects of positioning himself alongside messages that prop up patriarchy and white supremacy.

Benbow explained that she entered the conversation after she saw Lecrae’s response to a Black women who called him out over his compliance.

Lecrae apologized for the exchange on social media, in now deleted tweets, but Benbow’s argument leans heavily into the ways in which Black people are expected to accept mistreatment, disenfranchisement and death in the name of “forgiveness” and “acceptance.” She also touches on the ways in which cisgendered, heterosexual Black men often lean into patriarchy because of their proximity to gender, which affords them privilege not rendered to Black women and Black trans women.

Lecrae said that he was actually uncomfortable during the event and didn’t know how to directly respond in the moment. He said he reached out to Giglio after the taping to inform him of his shortcoming.

“I just want to thank y’all especially my Black sisters who have been on the front lines,” he said in his message.

Black people, especially those who call themselves followers of Christ, do harm when they urge us to accept benevolent racism with a coke and a smile. Racism is neither smooth nor soft. Its harsh layers cut at every turn, and cut more viciously when the edge of the knife is presented as blunt, without sharp turns.

It is the same vileness of watching Black people hug their loved ones murderers, or speak highly of systems which contributed to their oppression.

I agree with Benbow’s argument that work has to be done to topple down hugging and loving those who hold mindsets deeply harbored in white supremacy.

Hopefully Lecrae also comes to this revelation. We shouldn’t have to wait until we reach heaven to receive the bounty of love and acceptance.

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