“Whites are confused by the outcry of blacks from all over the country when a black boy is killed.  This is because whites do not value their white collective in the same way that blacks value their black collective.  The black culture values the black community. They value the black collective.  It was through community that the blacks prevailed through the Civil Rights Era.  In fact, it is through community that African Americans survive still.  They feel much more dependent on community than we whites do.

“Whites, on the other hand, simply do not see themselves as a collective.  We are the proverbial fish in the water that sincerely asks, ‘What is water?’  We see ourselves as Missourians, Bears fans, cowboys, motorcyclists, Democrats, evangelicals, and countless other possibilities, but we do not feel ourselves to be part of a white collective.  Thus, when our black friends feel the impact of Ferguson even though they are three states away we scratch our heads and wonder how in the world this whole affair became a white/black thing when it just happened to be a white office that killed a black youth while in the line of duty.  How, we wonder, can this be so visceral to them?  As one black pastor friend said, he was vicariously traumatized.  Honestly, I was not similarly traumatized.  I went to bed that night without the feeling that one of us had killed one of them because as a white I don’t even get the feeling of a white us.  In the same week a white teenage girl was shot and killed by the police three blocks away from my home. Naturally there were questions about the police procedures and an investigation is taking place, but no white person felt like one of us had been eliminated by a large impersonal other.  It wasn’t until I consciously chose to respect the understanding and interpretation of black Christians that I sorrowfully recognized my slowness to sympathize with them.”

(Bob Bixby, “The Gospel in Black and White: A Missiological Perspective on Ferguson,” Aug. 21, 2014)


Bob Bixby on Two Cultures in Tension over Ferguson


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