Robin D’Angelo: White Fragility and Voddie Baucham Faultlines

I have now read several books and multiple articles on Critical Race Theory.  I want to review the contribution for Robin ‘D’Angelo and then reference Voddie Baucham, an African American scholar who now serves as a missionary in East Africa.  This will be in two parts.

Robin D’Angelo was mentored by Critical Race Theory scholars (now designated for the rest of this chapter as CRT).  She is a trainer in diversity, plurality, and sensitivity.  Her book, White Fragility, is now one of the most popular and important books fostering CRT.  The title refers to the anger and negative responses of white people who are called to a discussion of systemic racism and the structures and institutions that perpetuate racial disparities in success in the Black American demographic in the United States.  I am not writing in any way to condemn Robin D’Angelo.  People are in different places and maybe on a road toward Yeshua without knowing it.  Her heart for raising the Black community is commendable, but she may have veered off philosophically and in the best way to do this. 

Readers should review my book review on Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Anti-Racist.  D’Angelo is a fan of his. She is white and committed to fighting race disparities.  As CRT writers, they both advocate for a changed definition of racism.   The old definition was that a race (or different ethnic groups) was inferior by genetics and therefore deserving of a lesser position in society. The new CRT definition is that racism is the systems and institutions created by whites to oppress Blacks and other minorities. Thus one may be a white with benevolent feelings for blacks and strongly believe that they are created in the image of God and deserving of equal respect.  Yet you are guilty, and all whites are guilty because they inherited the systems that oppress and continue to participate in those systems.  Just what those systems are today is generally vague in CRT.  Whites are guilty of racism in a more indirect way.  All whites participate in white privilege due to this history and must face their participation in oppression.  This radical redefinition of racism is crucial and a source also for much confusion in the larger public. Though Asians and Hispanics are referenced, and the latter was also seen as oppressed, the focus of D’Angelo is overwhelmingly Blacks.  Some Hispanics are actually quite white (Argentinians, Chileans, etc. and some from Brazil and other countries.  It is never clear if whites really set systems where only whites dominate, how Asians, especially Indians, and then Nigerian Black immigrants prosper so greatly. 

First of all, I identity with the pain and utter frustration of the leaders from Black American backgrounds that almost 60 years after the great civil rights legislation of the 1960s, there is still such enormous disparity.  That Yeshua followers should search out why and seek solutions through prayer, biblical applications, and social science research is very important. 

D’Angelo deeply identifies with this problem.  However, she as her hero Kendi use neo- Marxist language where human existence is understood as the battle between oppressors and the oppressed.  The oppressed are to be liberated and equity sought.  Equity is not equality-justice as understood either in the Bible or in the American Constitutional order.  Equality in America was defined as equality before the law in the courts, equal liberty to pursue religious, economic, and other goals.  Equity is about parity in outcomes; in the number of billionaires, corporate leaders, percentages in professions, and income parity to whites more for those who are not socialists or communists. Those who define equity as equalizing income move toward socialism or communism (Patrice Cullors, founder of  Black Lives Matter).  D’Angelo never fosters communism as the answer, at least in this book.  She also does not teach that whites are inherently evil due to genetics as some do.  This latter view is the source of the uproar by parents in schools teaching a children’s version of CRT to their children 

D’Angelo presents two answers to the problem of oppression and white supremacy or privilege.  One is sensitivity training in fostering black/white relationships.  She speaks about how blacks respond to whites in ways whites do not understand. I have traveled to Asia, including Japan, Korea, China, Singapore.  I have traveled to Africa, Europe, Russia, and South America. It is good to seek a basic understanding of the cultures and the cues so we act in the best way in developing relationships.  Some of this would be helpful in developing black/white relationships.  How blacks see behaviors from whites and visa versa (She does not do the visa versa. Trust building is on the shoulders of the whites).  However, the microaggressions (many unintended) and the catalog of wrong white behavior are almost Talmudic.  Very few will be able to accomplish the behavior advised.  Walking in love and intentions of love are not sufficient.  One must master the list of rules.  The Biblical adage that love covers a multitude of sins is quite different than this list.  Those who buy into D’Angelo will commit themselves to walk on eggs.  However, one rule, to listen and try to understand the black perspective is important.  However, unlike the relativist idea of “my truth,” the black perspective is not always to be accepted as true.  He or she due to their history may see what is not really there.  D’Angelo is a relativist in the matter of truth.  Understanding is always a two-way street.  One analogy is very helpful.  Some years ago, Jews in California were polled and asked if a Jew could be elected to high office in California.  The majority said no, yet the two U. S. Senators in California were Jews.  We Jews see anti-Semitism where it is not there.  Blacks have experienced prejudice but are also now being propagandized to believe in white racism as a general characteristic.  Will such training really solve the problem of disparate achievement and prosperity for blacks?  It is doubtful.  Indeed will this predispose blacks to see racism where it is not?  Yet the perspective of the black is to be uncritically received. 

The second solution is programs and policies that will lead to parity.  The answer strangely is not in requiring excellence in education since much education is said to be based on white standards and not objective.  For some CRT theorists, objective standards are a matter of white supremacy.  Generally, affirmative action, hiring quotas, and reform of institutions so that blacks will attain is the solution.  Quotas for blacks are very problematic.  Programs for the poor not based on race would rightly disproportionately be given to blacks, and that is well and good.  But how will we do quotas?  Will it include those who are half white and black or one quarter, or with colorism, does one need to fulfill a criterion of darkness?  The solutions tend to be big government ones.  However, it can be argued that in some ways the big government solutions made things worse, and more will make things worse again. The government will promise what it cannot offer leading to more frustration. 

Some claims of institutional racism remain vague with little proof of just how this happens.  The system is racist but there is little substance presented.  It must be racist due to the disparities.  But this is circular reasoning and circular reasoning is ubiquitous with CRT people.  One answer is to change the standards for English and Math so outcomes will be the same for different races.  That will equalize outcomes but will also produce weakness in the pool of professionals needed. 

We could study claims that white teachers favor white students.  With the National Educational Association now embracing and pushing CRT in schools, it is hard to credit.  However, the claim is still made that white students are favored and treated differently.  This would not be due to the institution of public education but the prejudice of teachers.  Is that really happening so much today?  There is anecdotal evidence, but I have not seen the study to prove this when it is not based on outcomes. 

Another example is that blacks are disfavored in hiring.  I agree that overqualified people should not be favored.  However, when both a white and a black are fully sufficiently qualified, then I would think choosing the black is justified.  However, it is hard to pin down since employers pick people who they intuitively feel comfortable with.  That might favor whites.  Or it might not.   Massive studies on corporations and other businesses keeping records of black, white, and other applicants and the percent of choice when all look sufficiently qualified would be good, but how bad a problem is unclear. This does not affect Asians, Nigerians, and others. 

Then there is the issue of housing. Subsidizing ownership for the working poor is one solution, but giving mortgages to people who cannot pay them is a disaster.  Remember the mortgage meltdown in 2007.  Again, we do not know that red-lining (seeing that blacks do not purchase homes in white areas) a major problem today.  The cost of housing is a real issue.  Even now powerful firms are buying up houses to rent them and make purchases more and more out of reach. (See Blackrock on this issue) This does affect blacks.  But is this white supremacy or simple greed that is hurting most Americans of modest means who can not buy a house. 

Another is in police treatment of blacks and whites and the penalties for blacks and whites for equal crimes.  Is there disparate sentencing?  It seems that there is.  Strangely it was Donald Trump who gave orders to mitigate this problem. 

Some of the main thrusts of CRT are really theological.  All whites bear white guilt.  How do you corporately repent for being white since white is not really a corporate category for any type of biblical repentance? Is the Jew who escaped the Holocaust and is white equally guilty?  Are the Hungarians, Finns, Norwegians, Czechs, Poles, etc. equally guilty?   The descendant of slaveholders and the recent immigrant share guilt. Yes, it is said because when they come to the United States their color gives them privilege.  Is it all in skin color or is it in qualifications for the needed position at least in part?  All must repent for this sin of participating in a system that favors whites.  This is a secular version of repentance, but it goes on forever, and there is no forgiveness or release from sin. The only answer is to be forever repenting and committed to working against white privilege.  The danger of this could be in fostering greater division and backlash.  It is difficult enough for Yeshua/disciples to accept legitimate shame but for non-disciples to walk in continual humility and repentance toward the black races seems very unlikely.  Yes, under the pressure of schools and corporations and now even the military people will play the game but will not really mean it in heart.  Could all this be counter-productive?  D’Angelo is requiring a heart change in people without the Gospel.  Can this work?  I think not. Changing hearts is paramount. 

I would like to see CRT people be more clear on the ultimate vision.  How utopian are they?  CRT people are not all the same. Some are communists. Some are not.  Some just want levels of parity that no multi-ethnic society has ever attained.  Some CRT people emphasize intersectionality with the LGBTQ oppressed, women, and even the Palestinians!   Sometimes I would like each one to define justice, their ultimate vision for man, and the basis of the epistemology. (Theory of how we gain true knowledge)  Most are relativists which means they are just asserting their value preferences and narratives.  There is no real truth to any of it since there is no truth with a capital T  Most do see life through the lens of oppressor and oppressed with very strong Marxist class struggle terms that now are applied more to race than workers!

Part II

The issue of World Views: D’Angelo and Kendi 

My biggest concern is that some Christians and Messianic Jews are embracing CRT.  I believe that this is syncretism and that two incompatible world views are being mixed.  One world view comes from Atheists.  When I first read into CRT I noted this worldview disparity on the nature of sin, redemption, justice, and the hope of a glorious age to come, and more. This is really a secular cultic offshoot from Christianity.  As atheist historian Tom Holland says, the quest for equality based on the equal worth of human beings only is pursued in nations influenced by Christianity. This then is a heresy from Christianity.  Study world history.  Each tribe often favors its own and seeks to dominate and even eliminate others.  Study China, India, and Japan, and even Africa!  Yes, this is a universal problem.  Then there are the reasons they gave as to why such evil is justified. Only the United States declared due to its biblical roots that “All men were created equal.”

Some are using and fostering inter-racial hatred as part of the goal to see communism established.  This was part of the vision of Herbert Marcuse, that the elite educators would partner with the marginalized to pull off the communist revolution. 

However, we now, even more, must point out the worldview disparity.  I found Voddie Baucham’s book, Faultlines, confirming and enormously helpful on this.  I strongly recommend that all Yeshua followers who are concerned about these issues read his book. 

First is the definition of justice. In the Bible, it is the pursuit of an order of righteousness.  It is an order where every person can fulfill their God intended good destiny according to the gifts and callings they have received from God.  Adequate provision is part of this and God’s ideal will for all.  However, differences in wealth, responsibility, and vocations are assumed as part of the variety in a good society.   Due to the worth of human beings, the issue of evil people oppressing the poor, the widow, the orphan, etc. is a central theme and is ubiquitous in the Bible.  God will judge the oppressors and deliver the poor.   The focus on the poor and oppressed was to be the central thrust of the offer of the Gospel, “Good news to the poor, “ Luke 4.  The Bible also calls out those with power and money who do not use it for the good of the marginalized.  I cannot emphasize how central this theme is in the Bible, but alas not in the mainstream of the Evangelical churches.  There are many notable exceptions. 

For CRT, the original fall was slavery in the colonies of white nations.  The way of redemption is a works righteousness of forever repenting, humbling, shaming, and good works to fight institutional racism.  There is no forgiveness, but there may be limited levels of reconciliation.  The CRT sessions of repentance are like the Kafka novel The Trial.  One is on trial for a sin that cannot be clearly presented. One is then found guilty.  Some CRT sessions (not D’Angelos in her book) seem like Communist reeducation. There is an emphasis on listening to the stories of the oppressed, but this limited love replaces the love of different ethnicities in Messiah where we come to a passionate love for one another, a union of heart. The New Testament by contrast counsels love which can be summarized as “passionate identification with the other that seeks their good guided by law.  Their good is their destiny fulfillment in God.  That destiny is always within the parameters of God’s Law.  To support anyone in their goals contrary to God’s law is not love in a biblical sense.  Then what is salvation?  The chosen are those who are woke and salvation is in being counted among the anti-racists which among whites is a state of always repenting, always humbling, always being the one blamed.  In the Bible, all have sinned and are lost. Only by repentance and transformation in Messiah can people come to true love for one another crossing racial and ethnic boundaries.  Blacks need such transformation as much as whites. The unity of Jew and Gentile is a case in point. This huge separation has been overcome for those in Messiah.  There is “neither Jew nor Greek, male or female, slave or free.” (Gal. 3:20).  We now have unity in the Messiah and are able to truly love one another and put one another first.  This love must precede the work of societal progress from Christian involvement.  The basis of progress is to create communities of love where ethnic divisions are overcome in Messiah.  Those communities model what is to then influence society. 

Then what is the ultimate goal?  For Yeshua/disciples it is the Age to Come, the Millennial Age, and or the New Heavens and New Earth. Because of this, though we work for a more just order in our nations, we know that the most important issue is being in Messiah and having everlasting life.  This is not an “opiate of the people” hope. Rather we are to rescue the perishing and disciple them in ways that will lead to their success in this life as defined by Scripture.  The greatest issue of being delivered is not a new white paternalism now bringing rescue to black by white shame and repentance, but the power of the Spirit in the black person by which he or she can do all things through Messiah and partnership with white, Hispanic, and Asian believers, etc.  In this, Christians who are embracing CRT are giving themselves to another Gospel and expecting the transformation of society outside of the power of Christ.  This false Gospel will not succeed.  CRT does provide some insight into the problems, sometimes, but not always, but does not provide the solution. 

When Christians and Messianic Jews give themselves over to CRT and work for it, they generally lose the power of the Spirit to really see people change and come to victory.  They put their hope in a false Gospel and lose hold of the head.   We all must ask the question of how much positive transformation is available outside of Christ.  Progress in the western world, where there has been progress, has been rooted in the Bible and influenced by the Bible. 

Then we must note the anti-Biblical thrust of repentance for being white.  Whiteness is not a category for individual or corporate repentance since whiteness does not represent a corporate group.  An individual can repent of their individual sins. People of an ethnic group can repent in intercession for their corporate family, tribe, or nation where they have sinned.  This becomes part of the bank of intercession toward their nation officially repenting.  We can see the example of Germany repenting to the Jewish people.  Then there was restitution to the Jewish people.  However, can whites make such restitution and even those of ethnic backgrounds with no history of racism?  The United States can corporately repent of its sins, especially to Native Americans, but in reparations should Hispanics pay for it (and their taxes will) or Asians or more recent black arrivals from Africa?  The problems and inconsistencies are great.  The Bible presents corporate as well as individual repentance, but being white is not an ethnic category that is subject to repentance. Repenting for being white and for being privileged in the United States is not biblical.  God as the Lord of history gives gifts and callings to believers and if one has advantages, he or she embraces them as undeserved gifts while giving their lives to serve the needy (a biblical mandate for all).  The Church and churches can repent for their lack of engagement in lifting the poor.  Indeed, human beings under sin take advantage of and use and abuse others.  As such, the churches have a prophetic responsibility to call this out.  The fact is that those who abuse power and dominate are doing so for finances not to maintain white structures to subjugate blacks.  It is, in my view, not a race thing but a money power thing irrespective of race.  CRT struggles to show how whites seek to maintain structures to oppress blacks.  Rather, if the immoral rich would gain more riches by hiring more blacks, and if there was more money in parity for blacks, they would be glad to have more blacks.  It is all about money and power, and I do not believe today that money and power consider race as a basic way to maintain money and power.  Rather the sin of the immoral rich is to abuse and use all for their gain, black, white, Asian, and Hispanic.  Note, I say immoral rich, for there are a number of moral rich people who invest their lives in lifting the needy.  The problem of CRT is shallow repentance that without the Gospel does not go to the root of sin and CRT can not root it out!

As Baucham notes, CRT is filled with incoherence, but then coherence, logic, and contradiction are not greatly valued.  They are considered white.  The circular reasoning is amazing.  Again as Kafka, if you do not admit you are complicit in racism it proves you are. If you admit it, there you are.  Racism explains everything and is unfalsifiable as an explanation.  It is argued that American whites are prosperous due to racism, whites are more successful due to racism, and America’s wars were due to racism.  

Baucham gives his summary of reasons for racial disparity.  He does not believe the primary problems are the ones identified by CRT folks.  In this, he accuses the CRT folks of bearing false witness, and if Christians buy into CRT they will likely be bearing false witness.  I will note his list of false witness thrusts in CRT. We should note that Bauchma was raised poor in a single-parent Black home.  

Here are some important Biblical norms and evaluations from Baucham.  

  1. Humans seek to dominate and to favor their own kind.  Blacks would do the same if they had the power and the money.  The Sunnies in Iraq oppressed the Shiites for decades. When the Shiites prevailed, they oppressed the Sunnis.  All have sinned. Therefore, transformation by the Gospel and the prophetic role of the Church is crucial.  All are to repent, but of real sin. 
  2. Those speaking of systemic racism are on the left and identify with the left. Therefore, they ignore conservative blacks who have given incisive analysis. CRT solutions are leftist: more redistribution, bigger government and more central government power or control over our lives.   
  3. Baucham raises the question of the demise of the Black family as an enormous root of the disparity. He quotes a speech from Barak Obama from 2008 pointing this out and declaring the lack of fathers as a key reason for the disparities. 
  4. Baucham points to the issues of culture in the black community re; lack of discipline in schools and lack of real achievement in passing to the next grade level.  He again quotes from Obama’s speech for this.  The culture of violence, gangs, and drugs for young men is endemic.  Obama pointed to this as well. Yes, sentencing non-violent offenders to jail rather than community supervision and restoration is a major mistake that is contrary to the Bible, but it has to be admitted that most are in prison for violent crimes.  Baucham’s description of the decline in the poor black communities since the Great Society programs, the drug epidemic, especially with crack and fentanyl today is devastating.  It was less due to systemic discrimination and much more due to white paternalism.  Have we taught blacks that they can only succeed through whites?  Does the victim emphasis hurt them?
  5. The incentivizing of fatherless homes was a major institutional foundation of systemic racial disparities.  
  6. The public schools are another institutional systemic racism problem to use CRT terms.  Most black parents would prefer vouchers to use in successful schools of their choice. However, blacks are subject to public schools that fail them year after year though some are very well funded (as New York and Baltimore).  The solution can be seen in those private schools, especially Christian schools, in the ghetto that are succeeding at amazing levels.  I am connected to one in Richmond where 90% gain literacy and the majority go to college and succeed.  Yet the left and the teacher’s unions see their power.  How about speaking about teachers union privilege that oppresses the Black community.  Yet the solution of CRT is to through more good money after bad and to dumb down the math, language standards, and other aspects of objective attainment.  Testing is racist.  (Yes, tests need to be really objective and not culturally prejudice). Objectivity is a white value!  
  7. The issue of crime requires much more policing. Once there is a massive police presence to end drug dealing and violence, then the potential for progress is greater.  Blacks in these neighborhoods desire this but elite leftists want fewer police and to defund the police.  Part of this error is based on false witnesses.  Bauckham presents the false witness of the level of police brutality and the killing of blacks.  Yes, it exists. Yet he proves beyond a doubt that it is not disparate compared to whites and the crimes being committed.  Statistics are used in lying ways in CRT and this will greatly hurt marginal Black communities. 
  8. In general, there is no black responsibility emphasis except for those blacks that do not identify with Black Lives Matter and CRT.  They foster white supremacy and privilege and are Uncle Toms.  
  9. Thomas Sowell’s latest book is pointed to as a key to reading the statistics on disparities and when one looks closer, they do not say what is being claimed by CRT leaders.  

CRT and the Church and Baucham 

Baucham’s greatest concern is that the Church not embrace the false Gospel of CRT and loses its power and focus.  The way of overcoming ethnic and racial division is through the Gospel and building communities of faith.  There is enough presented in Baucham to show a serious problem of compromise in the Church.  But there are issues that Baucham does not address that speak to the CRT issues.  The primary issue for me is the kind of churches that have been created and the kind that should be created.  

Some years ago, Donald McGavern in Understanding Church Growth, argued for the Homogenous Unit Principle.  Churches grow best and evangelize best when they are made up of people of their own kind.  This has been shown to be true.  Way back in the sixties when he wrote this book, he called for Jewish congregations that would be more successful in Jewish evangelism.  Yet, the Church must demonstrate inter-ethnic/inter-racial love and unity.  While there will be a gravitation to styles and culture producing greater homogeneity, we must always work to overcome it.  If a church is largely white, Hispanic, Asian, or Black, close unity with other ethnic-based churches is important.  It is also important that there be churches that include multiple ethnic peoples while preserving respect for the cultures of these ethnic groups.  This has not been well done in America and for this, there should be corporate church repentance.  Baucham misses this important failure.  

Baucham shows the weakness of the black church, especially in sexual morality and abortion. For this, there must be much repentance. However, what of the repentance of the white churches.  Yes, sexual morality now is at an all-time low.  However, Yeshua is also just as concerned that the focus of Gospel efforts be to the poor and marginalized.  They are to be served, won to Yeshua, discipled, and built into the kind of communities that alone can disciple people. Mentoring, alternative schools, job training and so much more could have come from the Church and its business people.  There are stellar examples but way too few.  By not following the example of Yeshua in Luke 4, the Church has left the vacuum for CRT to fill.  We have giving our children to the secular education system, sacrificed them to Molech, and then not provided for the poor. I don’t mean a handout but a real hand up.  There is a great need for corporate church repentance.  I dream of the day when we have true Luke 4 churches and that the racial disparities in our culture are overcome by the Gospel. I would hope that a right engagement with CRT would challenge the Church to pursue the real answers that come from the Gospel and a coherent Christian worldview.