Theology Crawl Discussion Guide - Racism

August 9, 2023

Welcome to Theology Crawl

Yes, being in a conversation with drinks is fun, but we need some guidelines as you enter into conversation with one another:

Everyone is not right, and that's a good thing.

The concepts we talk about in theology can have multiple interpretations, but that doesn't mean they're all right. A lot of theology is investigating the words we use to see if they make sense and are if they're adequate for God. Being wrong is how we improve our theology, not by having all the answers.

Pay attention to how people are using words.

We all use words like “love,” “God,” and “grace,” but the the reality is we often mean vastly different things. Try to listen to how people use words and if they're using them the same way you would.

Ask for people to define what they mean.

We can't have a good conversation if we are all talking past each other. It's not embarrassing to ask people for a definitional a new word or concept, it's just how you have a good conversation.

Make this work for you.

Have someone in the group keep an eye on the questions and try to make sure you're staying on topic. At the same time, it's fine to go down the rabbit holes. Sometimes, the rabbit holes can help us clarify something that we missed.

Have fun.

You won't solve world hunger, you probably won't even convince that person in the group you disagree with. Relax, be respectful, and when the questions run out, enjoy yourself and talk about something that isn't theological. Hanging out can actually be pretty important for good theology too!

Starting Question

  • How have you benefited from a form of privilege?


  • Redlining – systemic housing discrimination supported by the federal government decades ago –  is a root cause of the current wealth gap between White households and households of color. Redlining discouraged economic investment, such as mortgage and business loans, in Black and Brown neighborhoods.
  • The effects are still with us today: African Americans still live disproportionately in concentrated poverty or in neighborhoods where they are regularly exposed to environmental toxins, and have limited access to quality care, services, nutritious food and economic opportunities. People that become homeless are likely to have lived in these types of neighborhoods.
  • A recent study shows that predominately nonwhite school districts receive $23 billion less funding than majority white school districts, despite serving the same number of students.
  • The racial disparity in incarceration rates has continuously worsened. The rate for African Americans has tripled between 1968 and 2016 and is more than six times the rate of White incarceration.These racial disparities are no accident. Black and Brown people are at far greater risk of being targeted, profiled and arrested for minor offenses, especially in high poverty areas.
  • The implications of overcriminalization are far-reaching: A criminal history can keep people from successfully passing background checks to secure both housing and employment. People exiting jails and prisons often face significant problems in accessing safe and affordable housing and their rate of homelessness is high.
  • A 2012 study found a more than 30-year difference in life expectancy between the wealthier, predominantly white Back Bay neighborhood and predominantly Black Roxbury. Back Bay residents have an exceptional life expectancy of 92 years. Contrast that with a neighborhood such as Roxbury, where residents can expect to live only 59 years. That's a difference of 33 years, only four miles apart.
  • The CDC says that Black women are three times more likely to die from a pregnancy-related complication than white women.
  • Black workers are overrepresented in low-wage entry-level jobs and underrepresented in senior leader and executive roles. In the U.S. private sector, Black workers make up 12% of the entry-level workforce and just 7% of the managerial workforce, according to McKinsey & Company.
  • On average, Black men are paid just $0.71 for every dollar paid to white men, according to EPI. Black women, who face both gender and racial barriers, are paid just $0.63 for every dollar paid to white men.
  • In Silicon Valley, 1 out of every 285 Asian women and 1 out of every 201 Asian men is an executive, according to Ascend Foundation.  In law, Asian Americans make up 5% of lawyers, but have the lowest ratio of partners to associates. Asian Americans make up 3% of Federal Judges and 2% of state judges. Source: Yale Law School. In banking, Asian Americans make up 7% to nearly 19% of executives or senior managers at the six largest U.S. lenders, yet they comprise 23% of middle managers and professionals, as reported by Bloomberg
  • The model minority myth stereotypes all Asian Americans as intelligent, hard-working, and diligent and therefore more academically, socially, and economically successful than other minorities. It is a problematic and harmful belief that pits people of color against each other and drives a wedge between marginalized groups. Asians are culturally expected to be invisible in most circumstances because we are doing what we are supposed to be doing.  Asian Americans tend to have more benefits from American capitalism than Black, brown or Indigenous peoples, even if many Asians  also experience poverty and marginalization. To the extent that Asian Americans experience advantage because of their race, they are also complicit in holding up a system that disadvantages Black, brown and Indigenous people.
  • Affirmative action refers to the programs and policies in which certain facets of identity — such as race, ethnicity, gender, disability status, even veteran status — are considered in the distribution of resources or opportunities.
  • The number of books banned in American school districts is increasing, a new report by PEN America has found. Between July 2021 and June 2022, books were banned 2,532 times in public schools across the U.S., according to the nonprofit, which works to defend free expression.  Some states ban books that include themes about race by using the term "critical race theory" in their legislation. Critical race theory is most often taught at the college or law school levels and acknowledges racial disparities have persisted in U.S. history and are reinforced in U.S. law and institutions.
  • A Black loan applicant in the United States is more than twice as likely to be denied a home mortgage as a white applicant, aggravating the homeownership gap between Black and white Americans, according to a new report.
  • On average, homes in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are white are appraised for $371,000 more than in neighborhoods where the majority of residents are people of color, the researchers found. This gap in values has increased 75 percent since 2013.

Discussion Questions

  • Why do you think Boston has been labeled as one of the most racist cities in the US?
  • Have you ever dated someone outside your own race? What conversations were had to navigate the complexities of that?
  • Why is it sometimes assumed that all white people are racist? Do you think there’s any truth behind that assumption?
  • What are your thoughts on the Supreme Court justice’s decision to end affirmative action?
  • How should we talk about slavery in the school system and other acts of injustice by the US Government?
  • Why do you think the white American church sometimes shows more willingness toward and excitement about cross-cultural missions internationally than to cross-cultural engagement with communities on the other side of town?
  • How do we best avoid the “white savior complex” when it comes to missions, education, non-profits, etc.?
  • How does unacknowledged sin hurt relationships? How does the gospel address our shame and guilt around racism?
  • Here is a list of proposed organizations around Families in Crisis that experience Systematic Racism we are considering partnering with:
  1. YW Boston
  2. Cradles to Crayons

How are these organizations addressing the needs of people?


  • So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. // Genesis 1:27
    My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. // James 2:1
    For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility. // Ephesians 2:14
    9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”// Revelation 7:9-10
    13 Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. // Proverbs 28:13

The Reunion Team

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