When a White Evangelical Is Called a Racist Because of Who He Voted For
My social circles have been full of mourning and, often, deeper entrenchment in the aftermath of this election. And yet, what we most need now is to foster more safe spaces for discussion, where thought, decency, and a desire for deeper understanding can prevail over enmity and ego.
Recently, we published Yolanda Pierce’s thoughtful commentary on how a fragile hope had been broken when she learned that many of her white Evangelical brothers and sisters — 81 percent of them, to be exact — had voted for Donald Trump. Jim Howey, a member of that group, offered his perspective in the comments:
I hesitate to comment here, because I guess I am that middle-aged white guy, an Evangelical who voted for Trump. I’m not sexist, I’m not racist, and my reasons for voting for Trump have nothing to do with what was suggested above. My daughter was in Kenya at the time of the election, and Kenyans are very interested in American politics. They were all excited that Trump won and wanted to party, but didn’t understand why my daughter wasn’t as elated as they were, especially since she voted for him. They couldn’t understand that sometimes while we vote for something, it doesn’t mean we necessarily celebrate everything about that person.
So here’s my question, since this article and most of the comments I’ve read would assume that I am scum of the earth for voting for Trump. The left trumpets diversity and tolerance, yet I have found I can’t have an intelligent conversation with someone who opposes my viewpoint because they’ve made all kinds of assumptions about me.
So I would ask Yolanda, or anyone else, “How can we have a conversation when there are so many pre-conceived notions about me, or broad generalizations about the 81 percent described above?” I saw a Facebook Live with Krista today and wanted to hear what she had to say about a question submitted to her, and I truly appreciated her response, even though I’m on the other side of the aisle.
Interestingly enough, I went to high school with Ted Cruz in Houston. We had an AP History teacher who would not let any type of generalization go unchecked — you had to own, understand, and be articulate in your position. There are many broad generalizations in this article and the comments.
I truly want to understand our present-day culture better. Things I have been blind to in the past (racism), I want to be able to see, recognize, and respond to. I have a track record of caring and loving people — all people — that was passed down to me by my dad, who was a senior-level executive at a big company, yet who always rode public transportation. He regularly brought home people different from us and showed genuine love and care for everyone he came in contact with on the buses.
It seems that most people on this page would pigeonhole me just because of who I voted for, without even asking questions or trying to have an intelligent conversation.
I have plenty of my own opinions and thoughts about Obama and the Clintons, but I’m not going to make assumptions about anyone who voted for them or even likes them.
I’m going to further stick my neck out. As an Evangelical who has seen my fair share of discord, even amongst church members, I’ve seen so many people get tangled up in a position or belief or doctrine that becomes damaging to relationships. I’ve done it myself, and I work with people in counseling situations to step back from what we think about an issue, a doctrine, a position and study the Bible to find out who God is, what his attributes are. What you find is that while God is all about justice, he’s also all about love, mercy, and redemption. And if I can now look at my circumstances through that window, I can start to see my own situation differently, as well as my relationships, communications, and decision-making. Not based on my perception, but based on who God is, and my desire to live a life worthy of His calling.
How does that apply to these topics? It gives me the ability to say, hey, we disagree, but I’d like to truly learn more from you — not to prove you wrong, but to just learn from you, and gain a new and different perspective that I might not have realized.
Again, as the middle-aged white guy, from where I sit, everything is being framed from the standpoint of racism, sexism, Islamophobia.
And people who don’t know me would call me a racist because of who I voted for.
That doesn’t move the conversation and/or solution forward one bit.
As an example of how it can work, check out the story about what happened when the owner of Chick-Fil-A got to know a big LGBTQ advocate. It broke down walls for both of them.
Quite frankly, I’m tired of the headlines shouting about the problems with white people — no more generalizations. How about we start discussions about what we all can do to fix these problems of race, of perception, of sexism?
Real-world and practical.
Jim’s response embodies an open and generous spirit that heartens us in this work. His thoughtful invitation to conversation and compassion beyond agreement is a welcome and uplifting challenge. I admire his courage in extending an open hand across the divide.
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