First, we must all remember our history and stop the blatant amnesia behind racial and power dynamics in our field…Women and enslaved persons were not a part of the founders’ initial understanding. The same is true for the founding identities of the Society of Biblical Literature.
Biblical scholars could yield profound insights into the deep and dangerous ways the Bible has been employed in the Doctrine of Discovery and Manifest Destiny. They might also have to reckon with the role of biblical scholarship in justifying imperialism.
Because whiteness lies at the center of biblical studies, the accepted way of doing biblical scholarship is one that engages white questions, white concerns. The system forces scholars of color, especially those who receive their doctoral trainings in the western educational system, to be familiar with white scholarship.
To forego a hermeneutic of charity risks abandoning a central part of the gospel, just as a lack of concern about standing in solidarity with the voiceless, the poor, and the marginalized would do.
Williams encouraged me, as a theologian, to be a minister in a variety of contexts, to purposefully place myself in uncomfortable situations, to expand my world beyond what I knew already. James Cone challenged me in the same way…
When a white scholar embraces a liberationist perspective it is considered pioneering. When I do it I am being “political” not scholarly, then I get labeled a troublemaker. This is the reality Milbank’s tweet is trying to erase, and the reason I spoke out.
The US Catholic bishops’ pastoral letter Open Wide Our Hearts seeks to assuage white guilt rather than inspire a courageous stand against white supremacy.