White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions Revisited
by Harley Voogd
What do you get when you combine feminism, leftism, and missions? You get the website: A Life Overseas. Okay, maybe I’m being too harsh there. There are some good articles on the site. It’s kind of like the Woman’s World of missionary blog sites. They do, however, give voice to what I think are some fairly stupid viewpoints.
There was once an article posted on the site which inspired me to write this: White Privilege, SJWs, and Missions. The Life Overseas article was written by a woman who was deeply offended when she discovered an Asian missionary to not be really Asian at all. The reason she thought he was Asian was because he used a pseudonym for security reasons. She had high respect for that missionary and his teachings. That is, until she found out he was a white male. Oh the humanity!
I criticized that article outright and called it for what it was: racist. The article was removed because, as this woman exposed the white man for not being an Asian man, she also compromised his security. Here is an excerpt from that article…
If you are an overseas worker in a certain East Asian country, you will have probably heard of [evil white missionary]. He is a theologian and missiologist who writes and blogs about contextualization. Many people I know read his articles, and as an Asian person myself, I was pleased that people were paying attention to an Asian perspective. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that…
[Evil white missionary] was actually a white man.
When I found out, I was shocked, but my shock quickly turned to irritation and my irritation to indignity.
Why is a white man posing as an Asian, and speaking as an expert on Asian issues?
And why does the Western church profess to grasp the inner workings of faith within a culture that is not its own?
You can read my other article to see how I feel about “white privilege” and “cultural appropriation”.
But now, a new article has been posted on A Life Overseas written by the same author. And I think it might even be more stupid than the first one.
The author, calling herself Grace Lee, is now claiming the entire western missionary movement is racist. Her evidence: her hurt feelings.
Here’s an excerpt…
Something is rotten in the state of Western missions when the very communities that are meant to proclaim God’s inclusiveness seem to make people of color feel other and less than.
There was that time I heard about an all-expense paid retreat for women on the field. Excited about the possibility of a fun and relaxing trip away, I found the promotional video online and eagerly watched it. But my heart sank as the video only featured frame after frame of white women. I knew immediately that this retreat was not designed with me in mind. I was not even on their radar, much less on their screen.
So, basically what she is saying here is, “There were only white women in the video, and that hurt my feelings, and so therefore: Racism!”
Then there was the time that our missions agency was considering mobilization of internationals. Leaders from around the region gathered together to discuss the pros and cons of such an endeavor. I and other minority members expressed our apprehension of recruiting locals into a primarily white organization, citing concerns about expansionism and assimilation. I was thankful that we were given a voice in this decision. But I was mistaken. Instead of hearing our reservations and taking time to reflect on the alternatives that we suggested, a task force was immediately formed at the end of that meeting to move ahead with the plan.
I don’t know, maybe her ideas simply weren’t any good. The reader isn’t given enough information to develop an opinion. We just have to trust her that it was racism.
Her accusation is quite extreme: “Something is rotten in the state of Western missions…” And if you’re going to be making that accusation, you need some hard evidence to back it up. But you don’t see that in her article. All you see is her hurt feelings.
I can understand that the makers of the women’s retreat video were insensitive by not including any non-whites in the video. But, under what circumstances was that video made? Was it a high budget project filmed in the USA? Or, was it filmed by some missionary ladies with an iPhone in someone’s backyard? Maybe there were only white woman available.
Grace Lee provides no evidence of real racism. All she provides is her hurt feelings and a demand that the reader acknowledge her feelings as sufficient evidence. The real world simply doesn’t work that way.
Did Grace Lee try to sign up for the women’s retreat and then receive an email stating that she was not welcome because she wasn’t white? That would be real evidence. But I assume she never tried to sign up because the promo video was enough to send her down into the pit of despair. I wonder what she would have found if she went to the retreat. A bunch of racist white women (who for some odd reason decided to be missionaries in non-white countries)? I doubt it.
You can’t expect equality of output where there is no equality of input. But that’s what SJWs demand: equality of outcome. We need to deal with injustices as we see them, case by case, individual by individual. To accuse the whole Western missions world of racism is complete nonsense. Historically, Christianity has been centered in the white nations, so of course there will be a larger number of white people in missions. Over time this will change, but until it does, falsely accusing people of racism, and slandering respected missionaries (like the not-Asian white guy mentioned above), will only cause unneeded, unnecessary division.
When one criticizes this SJW behaviour, the response is never, “I disagree with you and here’s why…” rather, it is, “You’re wrong and shame on you!”
Manufacturing false victimhood through hurt feelings trivializes the suffering of true victims by victimizing the trivial. If you want to make accusations of racism you need to provide real evidence (something that would stand in a courtroom) and only then can we stand together to denounce those guilty. Hurt feelings, generalities, and vague examples of what may or not be racism are not only insufficient, but will do much damage to the unity of the Church on the mission field.
In other words: grow up, develop a thicker skin, and stop being offended at everything. Oh, and having a sense of humour doesn’t hurt either.
Further reading: “White Privilege” in Missions. Really?
P.S. If you believe you are guilty of white privilege, then never fear! There is an online course to cure you of your toxic whiteness. For only $297 U.S. you don’t have to be an evil white S.O.B. anymore! Click here to sign up!