Jennifer Harvey, a Professor of Religion at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, is calling on “white Christians” to repent for their forefathers’ sins and their current privilege by paying reparations.
Speaking at Drew Theological School, Dr. Harvey said that calling all races “equal” is “a morally incoherent paradigm” that cannot solve the racial injustices that are in the United States. Instead, white Christians need to “repent” by paying reparations to African Americans.
“Reconciliation rests on the assumption that all of our differences can be similarly celebrated and embraced,” she explained. “I can come to better love and appreciate your blackness, your native-ness, your Latino-ness, and you need to come to better love my whiteness?
“It’s a morally incoherent paradigm. It doesn’t work.”
Racial identities in the United States are not equal and treating people equally will not fix the US’s problems, she continues: “Even when we add attention to white privilege- which we must- even when we talk about justice needing to be present for reconciliation to happen- which of course we should- at its core, the reconciliation paradigm presumes a kind of moral, spiritual, cultural parallel in our racial identities, and my friends, it’s just not so. And we’ve got to stop pretending it’s so, or we’ll keep having these same conversations over and over.”
Instead, Dr. Harvey suggests that white Christians need to repent by paying African Americans reparations for their ill-gotten money.
White Christians have profited from “white supremacy” in the United States and black people still face discrimination similar to that of the 1960s and before, according to Harvey. Therefore, the “reparations paradigm” is the logical next step.
“Right now the prophetic fire of movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, the work that Dreamers are doing, is creating spaces within which white Christians might make that new choice,” Harvey declared. “Repentance and repair is not easy work. But it doesn’t mean that it can’t flow into obvious, pragmatic solutions. It’s uncertain and difficult, but it is sacred work.”
In a separate speech given in June in Minnesota, Dr. Harvey further stated, “A reparations paradigm can help us identify more clearly, and utterly necessary pathways for responding to our actual racial situation; pathways far more productive, truth-full, and life-giving than any that reconciliation has been able to open up so far.”
Dr. Harvey is the author of Whiteness and Morality: Pursuing Racial Justice through Reparations and Sovereignty and a co-editor of Disrupting White Supremacy: White People on What We Need To Do.
iOTW was the first national news site to report on Dr. Harvey’s statements at Drew Theological School.