*An evangelical pastor of an Atlanta megachurch is apologizing for suggesting that slavery should be viewed as a “blessing” to white people.
Pastor Louie Giglio with the Passion City Church made the comments Sunday during a conversation with Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy and Black, Christian hip-hop artist Lecrae.
“We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do,” Giglio said. “And we say that was bad, but we miss the blessing of slavery, that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in.”
He went on to say that instead of using the term white privilege, he prefers “white blessing.”
“I’m living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta,” the pastor said.
Lecrae nodded during his remarks, and noted that the idea of curbing the term white privilege is an act privilege in and of itself.
“You have the ability to not think about it. I cannot change my skin tone,” Lecrae explained. “I cannot live another day without recognizing my blackness.”
The pastor’s comments were condemned on Twitter and Lecrae also caught heat over his response.
In an interview on Tuesday, Lecrae described how the conversation will impact how he engages with white evangelicals going forward.
Below are excerpts from his Q&A with The Washington Post.
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The night before #whiteblessing. Okay. In the spirit of Transparency I wasn’t gonna put this out but I’m done accommodating. This is my real pain. The next morning I went into that interview tired. pic.twitter.com/VxnxJsypX0
— Lecrae (@lecrae) June 17, 2020
After the conversation, you said, you spoke with Giglio about what had taken place. What did you talk about?
We talked through several things that happened that were questionable. I said I did not speak for all black people, but I was the only black person onstage. [Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., was supposed to join but backed out due to health reasons, Giglio said.]
The moment where he talked about “the blessings” was brought up as well, as well as the moment when my shoes got shined. I wanted to turn the tide and tried to steer the ship as best I could. And I probably was a little too diplomatic in the process. But it was uncomfortable.
It helps me to think through how to deal with things moving forward in the future. It’s difficult to be honest in front of the people.
What did you think when Giglio described the “white blessing”?
I’ll be honest, at first, I was like, ‘Whoa!’ In context, I understand what he said.
Even with good intentions, it sounds way more benevolent and beneficial than privilege. What’s more helpful is helping people understand what privilege is alluding to and how you are in the privileged because you do not have to think about race in the same way.
[Giglio] has definitely admitted his shortcomings and his need to learn. There’s so much more growing that needs to happen. But this was a sincere attempt in that direction.
You have a lot of white evangelical fans. How do they respond to you on questions of race?
Four or five years ago, I began to speak very publicly about racial injustice. And I was met with silence or discord by white evangelicals. A lot of my shows were canceled, and people just refused to support me. I was kind of flabbergasted. My family and I took a financial hit. I had to kind of deconstruct my faith and reconstruct it. There’s some historical trauma in that space that I’m still navigating.
I had to stop listening to the leaders I was listening to, including evangelical leaders, and find new leaders of color that I could hear from a new perspective. I needed to understand how my faith and my ethnicity merge together. It was harder to understand that in these predominantly white spaces.
Will this change how you engage?
I think so. I hear the pain of so many people. It is a long process. It is the fragility of not being able to say ‘privilege’ because people can’t hear that — it’s a problem in and of itself. It encourages me to kind of draw my line in the sand on certain things and just let the chips fall where they may.
Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio said slavery should be viewed as a “blessing” for white people during a panel on racial reconciliation on June 14. (Passion City Church)
Do you still want to keep engaging in white evangelical contexts?
We get frustrated when white evangelicals don’t speak up. There’s not a lot of listening going on. One of things I try to do is highlight black leaders that people should listen to and study. This needs to be a time where [white evangelicals] listen and learn, and not a time when they’re leading.
What was it like for you when Cathy shined your shoes?
The dynamic that I was battling with, and I’m not saying this was right, was, I’m in your backyard talking to your people. I’m trying to be respectful, but I’m taking a backlash. It’s a gesture of sincerity, but that’s not where people are. Brothers and sisters are quick to come up with a solution instead of listening and allowing people to learn what they actually need in those moments. It was on the fly having to be the representative of black America. It was a lot.
Read the full conversation here.
Scroll up to watch his conversation with the pastor.