Jemar Tisby already is enduring racist comments for his article in yesterday’s Washington Post, “Why a Racially Insensitive Photo of Southern Baptist Seminary Professors Matters.” The article responds to a controversial photo of Southwestern Baptist Seminary professors posing as rappers. I will not repost the picture here, but one can find it attached to the article at the WaPo.
Significantly, Tisby touches upon the need for greater ethnic diversity among faculty members at US evangelical institutions. At one point Tisby writes,
Southwestern could certainly use this opportunity to dialogue about race and diversity, but I hope the seminary goes further. I hope it will commit to hiring professors and staff members from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. The professors could conduct an audit of their curriculum to see if they are assigning works by scholars of color. The seminary could review the places it goes to recruit students. The leadership could visit other seminaries with more diversity to learn how they could change their own campuses. Sit down with minority students and ask them if they are willing to speak honestly about their experiences at the seminary…. But diversity initiatives and attempts to talk about race haven’t resulted in broad, systemic change. The homogenous environment of predominantly white churches and organizations means people who have all the same cultural blind spots will still marginalize minorities. People are more than offended by pictures like these. They are in pain.
Tisby should be commended rather than castigated for demonstrating, again, that “the problem of the Twentieth Century” is alive and well in the Twenty-First Century. SBC authors’, Removing the Stain of Racism from the Southern Baptist Convention, can’t get here fast enough to re-address these concerns. However, seeing that the photo in question arrives only 22 years in the wake of the 1995 SBC’s, “Resolution on Racial Reconciliation on the 150 Anniversary of the Southern Baptist Convention,” I’m not sure the stain will go away before the return of Christ. Because, for whatever reasons, some people simply do not see the stain, and others do not want the stain to disappear.