Here’s my review of “America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America,” a new book by Jim Wallis: If you are a Christian, you should read this book.
Wallis, founder of Sojourners, a national faith-based organization that advocates for social justice, is a public theologian and the best-selling author of 12 books. He is white.
Rather than summarize his latest book, I am sharing some of my favorite passages. In Wallis’ own words:
- “Ironically and tragically, American diversity began with acts of violent racial oppression that I am calling ‘America’s original sin’—the theft of land from indigenous people who were either killed or removed and the enslavement of millions of Africans who became America’s greatest economic resource—in building a new nation.”
- “Much has changed but much still hasn’t…the reality that young black men and women are treated differently than are young white men and women by our law enforcement system is beyond dispute…. And that is the great moral and religious failure we must now address.”
- “We can no longer be afraid of the truth about race in this country—past, present and future—because our fears will keep us captive to all kinds of untruths.”
- “Repentance, clearly, is more than just saying you’re sorry, or even just feeling guilty…. In Scripture, repentance means literally to stop, make a radical turnaround, and take an entirely new path. It means a change of mind and heart and is demonstrated by nothing less than transformed behavior. Repentance means we now have to think, act, and live differently than we did before, when we were still under sin.”
- “Believing that black experience is different from white experience is the beginning of changing white attitudes and perspectives.”
- “If white children were treated in the ways that black children are, it would be not acceptable to white parents; so the mistreatment of black children must also become unacceptable to…white dads and moms.”
- “Do we believe what we say about the unity of ‘the body of Christ’ or not?”
- “If white Christians in America were ready to act more Christian than white when it comes to race, black parents would be less fearful for their children.”
- “Our racial diversity and social pluralism are a great strength and a gift for our future, because our primary identity is as the children of God—all of us are created in God’s image.”
- “Listen to the people the criminal justice system fails to serve and protect; try to see the world as they do. Loving our neighbors means identifying with their suffering, meeting them in it, and working together to change it. And, for those of us who are parents, loving our neighbors means loving other people’s kids as much as we love our own.”
- “We are not now, nor will we ever be, a ‘postracial’ society. We are instead a society on a journey toward embracing our ever-greater and richer diversity, which is the American story.”
Cory Goode is a member of the Greater Springfield Center for Diversity and Reconciliation.