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My Confession: Part 3

So in conclusion, I can’t pass a law. I don’t have the authority without my colleagues in the Congress to apologize to African Americans. But as a person and a citizen of my country, and a US Congressman, I can apologize. I can say to you that I feel very [voice breaks with emotion] inadequate to stand up here and say that. I don’t have the words. I haven’t experienced the suffering. I feel it in my bones that it’s right. I’m very sorry for what’s happened. I hope that you’ll forgive me because it’s easy to pray, “Well, it’s those other people that did it.” No, I’m part of it, too. Forgive me. Forgive me for my sins. Forgive me for my ancestors, and [Applause] . . . This is just a start. It’s not the end. It’s the beginning. And maybe God, hopefully God, will take this conference, take these apologies and start to heal, start to close this wound that’s there. Amen.

Tony Hall

About a week ago, I found a description of life at BJU written by a former student — a well-liked, bright, Who’s-Who kind of student who just happened to be a person of Color. Just happened to be, right? It didn’t matter anymore that his ethnic makeup was more diverse than mine. BJU dropped that horrible racist rule forbidding interracial dating during Campaign 2000, right? The rule was a relic of an ugly, by-gone age, right? . . . RIGHT??

That’s how I’d distance myself from the racism around me: it’s not me who’s racist — it’s them — and BOY! are they racist!! I did that over and over for years.

What I’m about to say is not unique to me in any way. This is just how well-intentioned, but willfully blind whites live knee-deep in the ideological muck of racism.

Let me give you a very recent example that proves my point. Just about a year ago, a colleague entered my office and said about a student, “Well, I knew he was . . . well, BLACK.” She spat out the word reluctantly but still pregnant with prejudice. He had wanted to perform a Langston Hughes poem, but she refused to allow it because Hughes was a . . . Communist (yeah, that’s the reason! [/sarcasm]) and actually suggested — and I kid you not — a Robert E. Lee tribute. I was just a computer guru for her, a hack who could change the database entry. But as I clattered and clicked away, I heard her ever-so-politely articulate that very old and very Southern prejudice.

It was too easy for me to sit there agape and think, “That’s her problem. Not mine. Oh my, I can’t believe she’s saying that.” I rubbed my temples after she left as if to cleanse my mind from what I had heard.

Some time in the mix the student who had wanted to use Langston Hughes’ words to express his own voice told me about his own hurt. I ached. I empathized as best I could. I was sorry. And while I did speak out in the departmental meeting and said, “We came off looking like jerks in that situation!” I was still in it. Was there much difference between my sitting in the middle of that and Phil Yancey buying Lester Maddox souvenirs?

As much as I’d like to pass the guilt off on another person, the ideology was wrong. And I participated–perhaps unwittingly ignorant or perhaps willfully ignorant.

So when I found another student’s online description of what went on at Bob Jones University just months before (and after) the lifting of the inter-racial dating rule during Campaign 2000, I was appalled. I knew that BJU had roots in a broken ideology of the antebellum South, but I really didn’t know.

Maybe I didn’t want to know. Maybe I was too committed to “the cause” of a particular expression of Christian education that I shrugged off the problems. Maybe that’s just too easy to do because I’m white.

But I must say now — to all my former and future students, my friends, my neighbors, and the Body of Christ at large — I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my willfully blind participation in a racist ideology. In order to make amends, let me tell you what I best remember about my interactions with racism at BJU since 1986:

    • I heard my first Southern roommate talk about “them” while my mouth hung silently open and my eyes widened. Are you kidding me? You believe that?!!
    • I listened to my Southern classmate’s public speech arguing for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s ignoble connections to Marxism. I did object in writing on the student response sheet.
    • I heard another classmate assert that African-Americans should go into the military because “well. . . . they are good at following orders.” I pretty loudly objected after being disappointed in my earlier silence.
    • I hung my head in shame as I saw a small group of my classmates, a few years my senior, actually mourn the national celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr’s birthday by donning black arm bands. They thought it was pretty funny.
    • During that first semester as a graduate assistant while lecturing on avoiding sexist and racist speech, I scolded my student, a prominent administrator’s son, who stopped me in the middle of my talk and proudly declared that “blacks were made to be our servants.” The class did audibly gasp in horror, and I said with my brow furrowed, “You have no logical or statistical or biblical proof for that statement!” Then the bell rang, interrupting us. I took action with my supervisor who wrote the boy’s father. “That kind of talk is okay in South Georgia,” the father, an administrator, explained to his son, “but you can’t talk like that around here.”
    • I ached when a dear friend of mixed ethnic heritage described her “viewing” before two administrators so they could decide if she was white or asian. They chose white for her.
    • As a full-time faculty member, I refused to allow a faculty child to speak on the glorious benefits of slavery for an upper-level speech class. I offered no explanation. I just said emphatically, “Uh. . . no!”
    • I rolled my eyes at Dr. Bob Jones, III speaking in faculty meeting about the interracial dating rule, stating, “If you don’t agree with this rule, then leave.” No one I knew actually agreed with it. But no one left either.
    • I took a leave of absence in 1996 from BJU to study rhetoric at Indiana University. I took the mandatory diversity training required for all Associate Instructors, and I enjoyed it. I learned a lot. I still don’t understand the controversy around these sorts of requirements.
    • I took the African-American rhetoric class in my department and even wrote an award-winning paper on Malcolm X. The biggest thing I learned from my white professors (albeit published and respected scholars in African-American rhetoric) was that as a white woman I didn’t get it. I could never really get what it was like to grow up black in America. I do understand that I don’t understand.
    • I cringed when John McCain made a spectacle out of BJU’s racist policy. I had been praying quietly for BJU to change that horrible rule. It was a blight. BJU deserved the rebuke, but McCain seemed like nothing more than a rank opportunist.
    • I listened to Dr. Bob Jones, III, then-president of BJU drop the interracial rule on Larry King Live on March 3, 2000. I’ll never forget that day. I was enduring my first (of four six) pregnancy losses. I was at the hospital in Bloomington for a D&C, and all around me I saw people poring over the USA Today article and the cable news channels were blathering on and on. The receptionist called me to the front for my insurance card, and she looked at it and loudly said with amazement and disgust, “BOB JONES UNIVERSITY?” I felt the room glare at me. I said a quiet “yes.” For the first time in my life, I was very ashamed of my alma mater and employer.
    • That night when Dr. Bob announced the elimination of the rule, I was too relieved to hear the liberties he was taking with the truth. The rule was no big deal? Meh — that’s just ’cause he’s clueless up there in his Ivory Tower. One-world-ism? Are you kidding me? I’ve never heard that one before. The rule was never preached or taught? Not hardly. . . .
    • Dr. Bob said about the interracial dating rule: “Students never hear it preached. There have been four, five, six generations of students that graduated from there have never heard this preached in our chapel or taught in our school.” That wasn’t true, and Joel points that out. Just a few months before March, 2000, students were expelled from BJU for “interracial dating.” Students of Color heard for themselves in their Bible classes — before and after 2000 — that they personally were cursed descendants of Ham.
    • Upon returning to BJU, I planned a tribute to Black History month in my curriculum. I determined that every Rhetoric and Public Address major would have some exposure to Malcolm X and understand that his version of separatism was not much different from theirs. Like my diminutive additions could counteract the racist hermeneutic elsewhere. I don’t know. Maybe it could help.
    • I put Marcus Garvey and Eldridge Cleaver and Toni Morrison on my office shelves–right next to Cixous and Steinem, Nietzsche and Foucault, of course. And Billy Graham and Jonathan Edwards, too.
    • I wrote my dissertation. That final chapter was about Campaign 2000 and the fallout before and after. I relished the rhetorical opportunities available to be inside the camp and still be critical about the rhetoric around lifting of the ban. I took Dr. Bob at his word when he said that the Board wanted to eliminate the rule in May 1999.
    • In discussing the lifting of the rule, I said in my dissertation: “The Associated Press reported the next week that the rule was only partially lifted: students now needed parental permission to date outside their ‘race,’ the report said. But the story was incorrect. As of March 3, 2000, no prohibitions on interracial dating whatsoever exist at Bob Jones University despite continuous media reporting to the contrary.” I know now that that’s simply incorrect. If you look at the footnotes of the book, you see that I had a brief email conversation with the Assistant Dean of Men at the time (I was at IU). I asked him if students had to get parental permission to date “outside their race.” If this was true, then the rule hadn’t ostensibly been lifted at all; another layer of bureaucracy had just been added to the enforcement. The Assistant Dean of Men simply told me that “No, they don’t need parental permission.” I should have probed deeper. I now know that Dr. Bob III did make an announcement in chapel on Monday, March 6 stating the parental permission stipulation only to rescind it on March 7th.
    • I also said in my dissertation/book: “Reverend Calvin Butts, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church in New York City, does not believe that ‘Bob Jones has had a change of heart. I think that perhaps Bob Jones has had a change of mind.’ The difference between ‘heart’ and ‘mind’ is lost in this civic context.” I honestly didn’t understand what Reverend Butts was trying to say. Now I do.
    • I continued: “Maxine Waters, prominent Democratic Representative from California is ‘suspicious when a change comes under this kind of pressure. I would not rush too fast to believe that we have reached a new milestone here.’ Dramatic, albeit tardy, changes in policy are ignored.” I concluded that timing was the problem in BJU’s rule change. I now better see Waters’ point. It wasn’t timing alone that was the problem. It was substance. No repentance had been made.
    • When our daughter Elise was born still, I asked that in lieu of flowers donations be given in her memory to the BJU Minority Scholarship Fund. I think upwards of $600 were given. The doctor that delivered her was on the board governing those funds.
    • In talking with God on the Quad author, Naomi Schaefer Riley, I explained that the interracial dating rule was nearly impossible to enforce. What is race after all? And so what the administration did was stretch the boundaries of “white” as far as they could logically go. As if everyone really wanted to be white.

I now know better after reading my former student’s account. It wasn’t just “white” or “race” that was ambiguous. It’s the word “dating.” “Marriage” is plain and clear, but what’s a date? Sharing a meal with friends? A conversation? A serendipitous meeting on the sidewalk? A glance across the room? Sitting two or three down from a person? Who knows?

I now know that what had happened since the Supreme Court loss was that the rule went underground, more unspoken and hidden behind closed administrative doors. “The principle” behind the rule was revised as “one-world-ism” when it was nothing more than a sinister fear of miscegenation.

I say that because of documents that have recently been made available online. The Nation article when Dr. Bob III states that “a Negro is best when he serves at the table.” Letters that prove that a large church was pushed out of the BJU orbit because it welcomed an interracially married couple into membership. Testimonies from fundamental African-Americans who were harshly treated when they so gently pointed out the sin of racism in BJU.

There are many things about BJU’s religious House of Cards for which I could apologize. But I don’t know of any more foul than the trenchant racism. The philosophical-theological-political mess I’ll leave to discuss in another post. For years I’ve wanted to bellow an apology to every person of color I’ve met. For now, I’ll just say this: I was so concerned to cling to a pristine image that I ignored the disease growing right next to me. It’s like a woman who paints over the melanoma on her face. She can’t see it, but everyone else can. And, if she ignores it, it’ll kill her. Her doctor may say, “You have a ton of these cancerous blotches, but we have to start with the worst one.”

I can’t do much. I really can’t. I’m not rich or powerful. I’m a stay-at-home-mom with a blog. I can’t pass a law. I have little influence–less influence even than Senator Tony Hall. But the very least thing I can do is repent. I know that the vast majority of my former “co-laborers” at BJU feel the exact same way I do, but they are too deep in the ideology to form the words of an apology.

So again, I am sorry.

26 thoughts on “My Confession: Part 3

  1. I also add my WOW to the post. How powerful.

    Langston Hughes was also a homosexual. Actually, how powerful would it have been to select the right Robert E. Lee words and say them as a person of color? But, that could never have happened there.

    I grew up with that kind of garbage, too. My mother actually had a very bad “picture” of MLK with Castro and some other communists at some “Red Training Session” – all before the days of photoshop.

    I can think of 2 reasons: It costs money to have diversity training and it might open someones eyes and have them have a change of mind – and heart.

    We heard that a lot in the late ’70’s – it was a favorite topic of Jr’s.

    You really were subversive! The future student body is worse because you are not there.

    In a world of white privilege, everybody does want to be white.

  2. Camille,

    Thank you for writing this. It is hard for me to understand how someone who thinks like you do could have voluntarily joined the BJU faculty and remained there so long, but perhaps that is one of the dangers of the muddling of religious faith and political ideology, maybe even the muddling of faith and religious ideology.

    There _is_ something powerful that you can do. You can make sure that you raise your children to be race-blind until they can be consciously welcoming of the diversity of all God’s people. I did this and I am happy–very happy–to say that it worked.

    For starters, I made sure that I never to referred to anyone by their race. The child never thought of skin color as an identifying feature. The lady across the street “looks like Mrs. Isaacs,” his friend at the bank. The man across the street “looks like LaVar,” his Reading Rainbow hero. Once he asked for a certain doll; he described every single article of his clothing before I realized that it was the one and only black boy that he wanted. His daddy was African-American because, well, he was an American who had lived in Africa.

    We did not have the news on much until he was 12 or so–too much murder and mayhem and stupidity for a child even on NPR–so it was only then that he heard public figures referred to as black or African-American. We ourselves still do not refer to anyone using racial adjectives.

    The habits of mind instilled early are stronger than anything society does. For the past four years, he has worked with fifth-graders of all racial and ethnic groups and has never identified any of them, even when they are problems, by skin color or feature or even language. When he had to write an essay on diversity for college entrance, he basically said, because that’s all that’s ever been in his heart and mind, that everyone is different and he doesn’t think about it much. (He got in.)

    May God help you. Racism runs so deep.

  3. Hey, Victoria! Nice to “meet” you. Quite honestly, what you describe is the way my parents raised me — right in your neck of the woods! 😉 I don’t think my kids notice much either about our neighbors. Racism is something that’s taught, I do know that. It’s an anti-Christian, anti-Gospel, misanthropic idea. I just sensed that I needed to clear my “plate,” so to speak, by laying this all out there.

    Anyway, thanks for popping in!

  4. Several times I went to Barnes and Noble and saw the book ‘Souls of Black Folk’ by W.E.B. DuBois. I would pick it up…. and put it down because he claimed to be Marxist. Finally my curiosity got the better of me and I picked it up, bought it and read it from cover to cover. No wonder he was Marxist. whatever the American gov’t claimed to be, it certainly wasn’t that for ‘black folk’! Next to ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’, this was one of the most moving books I have ever read, When I saw my black friend next I said to him, “I have no clue, I don’t know if I ever can.’ He replied that understanding that was the beginning.
    As for color, I think being color blind is a disability. God made color and I love seeing my black friend as black as he will see me as white. I want to see red roses and yellow roses and I think seeing color is a wonderful gift from God.
    I enjoyed your post. This is the second time I have read it. My daughter thinks I should read it every day. Maybe then I won’t feel like I am reading an epistle when I do! “smile” I appreciate you ability to share you thoughts to lucidly.

  5. Camille,

    I don’t want my children to be color blind. I want them to love colors, all of them, in petunias, personalities, and people. My son, who seems to have a hard time remembering names, always wants to play with the “brown” kids down the street. That’s the color he sees and that’s the way he describes them. There’s not a shred of prejudice in noticing their color. He loves them, prays for them, and plays nicely with them – just like he does with any and every other child that walks into our yard. I want him to see differences and glorify the Creator for making them. Being “color blind” may have some semblance of equality in it, but it’s boring!

    I was born in Africa (I hate that term as it is a continent not a country, but I’m trying to be a little obtuse) and lived for the first 13 years of my life as the odd man out so to speak. I then moved to rural upstate New York where there was little racial variety. What little there was, though, seemed irrelevant – honestly. I then moved to BJU and the South and finally learned what it was to be racially prejudiced. Wow, I still get stunned once in awhile. Every spend any time in Mississippi??? I worked their for a month once. Wheww!!

    I was at BJU during the first court case (early 80s?). Every Bible teacher was mandated to explain to the students why BJU was taking that stand. I had 3 Bible classes that semester and… you guessed it, I got 3 disparate reasons. I came away from those classes feeling sorry for the teachers who were put in such an indefensible spot. Maybe they were complicit and maybe they thought there was a greater good somewhere in towing the line. I know I felt sorry for them at the time. The whole thing was so phoney, especially when it came time to make application. And yet every BJU Review and publication came out with all the colors of the rainbow as if those pictures accurately represented the student body makeup. I really believe the elitism goes well beyond just color though…..

    For me, the most disgusting aspect of their theologically based (yeah right!!) racism was the way in which it marginalized the Gospel. It is so disgusting to me that someone should have to become American (culturally) or white (ethnically) or higher class (socially) in order to enjoy and participate in the Gospel. What nonsense!! The true Gospel transcends all of those barriers – James 3&4.

    I was turned on to your site by a mutual friend whose eyes were recently opened a bit more by VanVonderan & Johnson in The Subtle Power. I spent too much of my life thinking I was covertly operating in the bubble without having the bubble mentality. Now that I have a few year’s distance, I confess that while I might have been closer to the edge of the bubble than some, I was still in it. Praise God for Phil 1:6!! He’s still a-workin’!

    While I appreciate the subject and your candor in handling it, there is an edge that concerns me. I’d love to see you define yourself more by what you love than by what you hate. The worst part about “fundamentalism” as a movement is that it is so intent on stuffing down people’s throats that which it also finds unpalatable. If you’ve been struck by grace (and I know you have), then ooze grace yourself. Contrast the prejudice with profoundly expressed joy in the diversity of your great God. Show how our differences magnify His grace in creation and re-creation. I hope I don’t sound like I’m coming down hard because I certainly don’t mean to be. I’m a newbie on your site and have read little enough to legitimize any criticism I might levy. I just have an idea of the phases you go through in your recovery from elder-brotherism and I’d like to bump you through this phase a little quicker than I went through it.

    Christ is all!

  6. Hi, Rudy — If I might chime in here with a thought or two. I don’t want to detract from the point of this post on racism, but this seems like a good place to talk about the ideas you bring up in your last paragraph.

    Camille and I have faced a lot in this last year — some things we’ve talked openly about, some things that are still so hurtful that we have not. We’re still healing.

    One of the truths we’re still in the process of grasping is that our Sovereign God is good and that He does, in time, work all things together for good. Even in all of the wrong that occurs in our lives, He is the ultimate “maker of lemonade from lemons,” if you will. But that He graciously performs this miracle time and again does not excuse the un-Christlike behavior of the wolves around us, those who willingly participate in what is wrong, those whose actions detract from the Gospel message, those who, through their own selfishness, pride and greed, obscure Christ. The topic of racism is a perfect example of an evil attitude that has invaded our ranks and that victimizes innocent people. I know you agree.

    Camille and I can both appreciate that the way we have chosen to speak runs contrary to what other people may choose if they were in our shoes. We’ve been told many times to tread with care, to speak softly, to tone it down, to keep our mouths shut, to be silent. That our consciences have compelled us to choose otherwise is what landed us outside of BJU and outside of Fundamentalism. That BJU and Fundamentalism have rejected our words and our manner only point up the fact that we are, time and again, focusing on the culture’s sore spots — boils that are painful to the touch and sensitive to scrutiny.

    Not all people believe that stark, point-blank rhetoric falls within the scope of words that are “seasoned with grace.” Where “tough love” is exhibited, some see only vengefulness, harshness, and gracelessness. Though it’s very much human nature to wish for it, it’s just not realistic to expect that the Good Shepherd will guide us all in the same way, single-file along the same path, bleating our “baa” in perfect unison. When the wolves invade, there *should* be a great deal of alarm. There are moments for idyllic passivity; but there are also times when the right thing to do is to cry at the top of our lungs that something is very, very wrong.

  7. Grant,

    Thanks for the response! I have gone through a very similar dark valley and am all too familiar with the pain. And I would only offer you both a knowing hug. No condemnation, no censure, no ostracization or excommunication. Your pain was and is very real and will be something you will likely deal with for years to come. I still am.

    I have no issues with the clarity of your warning cries. There is a lot of evil there and your exposure can be multiplied manyfold. Too many have chosen to be quiet for too long while graceless Christianity outfitted their show window with external trappings. You have seen past the facade and have felt the bite of the wolf. Their is warrant for you to cry loud and hard and long. I’m certainly not asking you to be quiet. I’m not, though I am blogless.

    My minor divergence is that God has not been rendered impotent in any way by all the sin that goes on under their priestly garments. WHILE you sound the alarms, also cheer the coming triumph of One who conquered sin and death and hell and legalism. Maybe the nuance is too subtle. Likely, I’m just incapable of effectively communicating my thought. But out of that aura of hopelessness has come hope for me. Since leaving, I have found God to be so much bigger and BJU so much smaller and irrelevant than I could previously fathom. While III thinks that the status of Christianity in the world is attributable to this one institution (the real quote is even more disgusting), God has chosen to work in incredible ways through a lot of really ordinary people, only an incredibly small fraction of which have even heard of BJU.

    I can empathize with your disgust. I also feel strongly for those who are still duped into thinking that one cultic city block is a piece of heaven. The awakening, though, is God’s work. I marvel to hear your story and that God has again, to the praise of the glory of His grace, rescued another from that system. But, honestly, this is happening a lot more than you or I realize because God is more passionate about justice and kingdom building and sanctification and restoring hope than you and I ever thought of being. There are even some subversive types over there that are sneaking grace and hope in right under the nose of the law – missionaries to self-professed missionaries. Focusing on Christ has the side benefit of taking the focus from that which is not Christlike.

    I have travelled down the road you’re on and am maybe a few steps ahead. Hope is dawning and will for you. Freedom is here, but knowing the depth of it is still ahead. Healing takes time but is happening. Health will return and joy with it. Time will reveal the kind providence behind the pain.

    Christ is all!

  8. I’ve twice posted a comment that was erased before it went through. . . so I’m going to hold on to my thoughts and just say that I’m reading. . .

  9. Great Post! I have also seriously contemplated BJU and its previous race relations. I wrote my senior history paper on the topic at BJU. Frankly, I was a little surprised that my topic was approved, and that the library was very helpful by allowing me to dig through their archives. However, they allowed me access to some of the material with the understanding that it would not be released publicly. Anyway, here were some of the more interesting things I learned in my research.

    1. Jones Sr. believed that segregation was biblical. He claimed that God had segregated the Jews, and therefore that “God Almighty himself is the author of segregation.” Anyone who claimed segregation was wrong was “slandering the God of our fathers.” Bob Jones Jr. also promoted segregation in a 1958 sermon, which he published in a right-wing magazine after NBC refused to air it. Although the reason for NBC’s rejection is unknown, the editors of this magazine asserted that it was rejected because the sermon was an attack upon NBC’s “darling,” integration.

    2. Sometimes, extra-biblical reasons for the University’s racial policy were cited by school officials. For instance, Jones, Jr. also claimed that integration was a “social problem,” that “from the standpoint of a pure, hard common sense, it is unwise, and unfair to the children, and an unnatural thing.” Jones Jr. also claimed that integration would prevent black students from developing leadership skills because they would “rarely have an opportunity to rise to the top on the basis of personality, intelligence, leadership, etc.” Jones Sr. argued that most Christian blacks were uninterested in integration, and that if blacks were taught by white teachers, they might lose the simple faith passed down from one generation to another.

    My conclusion:

    Old southern values and religious beliefs, which BJU had embraced, came into conflict with changing times. BJU was torn between following the faith of their fathers and staying culturally relevant. Despite the school’s attempt to stand for its beliefs, the University changed. Slowly and stubbornly the school became friendlier in its race relations, but the stigma of racism plagued the school for many years after the 1983 ruling [and probably still does]. The alarmist cries of Jones III about the death of religious liberties in America have turned into little more than dusty notes forgotten about in the BJU archives. The cultural heritage that BJU embraced, struggled for, and slowly abandoned has become a reminder that even in Christian setting where truth is proclaimed, non-biblical values can get mixed up with biblical values and cause all sorts of confusion.


  10. Wow, I just discovered your blog today, and am riveted to the spot reading your genius! Boy, Camille didn’t know you had it in you 🙂 Yes, I remember the racist days of BJU, even getting blasted in bible class by Dr Hand about the sins of interracial dating (I didn’t do well in that class after that, I refused to listen to him anymore)I am black or whatever they choose to call us these days. Had the ban been lifted in my day (’87 and ’91 bachelor’s and master’s) life probably would have played out very differently. I went to school, got my degree and did not do an extreme amount of dating. Unless you consider going to lunch with a friend of the opposite race and sex a date, which “they” did. As it is, I returned to Canada where racism is not as prevalent, I married a white man and have 3 great children. Canadians don’t bat an eyelash when we walk in the room. I married a man end of story. Anyway, that being said am I bitter, nah, it just wasn’t my time. Life was good there, the friends made was worth it all. I became friends with Grant through facebook yesterday which is how I found this site. Your stories are amazing, and I shall certainly keep up. God bless as you move on to bigger and better things. God’s plan for you will help others see the truth as it is meant to be seen. Serve Him as he is meant to be served without condemnation or legalistic ideas from others.
    BTW you guys look great after all these years, what’s the secret? Take care, I’ll be checking in often!!

  11. Camille,

    Sorry for the response on an old post. I’ve been reading your blog for a while, but am just now catching up after being in Iraq for most of the last year. This post is especially near to my heart as both a BJU grad, and an RPA minor.

    My wife and I have moved further and further outside of the BJU orbit as God has led us into a more grace based orbit, and I think that the further removed we are from it, the more our eyes are opened to just how prevalent the racist attitudes are/were. Although I took small stands while there, I wish I could have seen sooner just how damaging those attitudes were, and unfortunately how much I had even “bought into” in subtle ways some of their arguments defending their beliefs.

    Interestingly (at least to me anyway), it was classes with Dr. DeWitt Jones where we had to read, watch, listen to and analyze speeches by Martin Luther King Jr., Jesse Jackson and others of all political and cultural stripes, that I first began to seriously question much of what I had been taught about racism and even my heritage after being raised in a Greenville SC/ BJU orbit from birth. I know that Dr. Jones probably doesn’t remember, but I had a couple of conversations with him during private lessons that changed my thinking in regards to ML King, and those conversations became one of the key turning points God used to lead me in a direction outside of fundamentalism and to where I am now as a Chaplain.

    Thanks for all the honesty, openness and theological discernment that you put into your blogs.


  12. @Camille: you might believe it (I hardly did when I read Ben Howard’s’ post after writing this today (http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=20&post=40&uid=111095495607331#!/topic.php?uid=111095495607331&topic=20), but my OCP instructor was Dr DeWitt Jones. May God forever bless that man! I still remember the sepulchral silence after our presentation, only to be broken by Dr DeWitt Jones to chime in that the messages HAD been preached and a pamphlet HAD been promoted vigorously (before the rule went down) that supported theologically and socially the ban on interracial dating. His outlook and his prodding (when I felt dirty for even bringing the issue up) was what gave me the fuel to keep going. I look up to that man like you wouldn’t believe!

  13. Tears for what was, and what still is, and hope and prayers for the future because of writers like you.

  14. I agree with Rudy, and am curious to know if you all have had a chance to heal. I would be more encouraged to read the Gospel of Grace being lifted up on your blog.

      1. I was referring to the above commenter, Rudy, who said, “My minor divergence is that God has not been rendered impotent in any way by all the sin that goes on under their priestly garments. WHILE you sound the alarms, also cheer the coming triumph of One who conquered sin and death and hell and legalism.”

  15. Camille,
    You’re so brave. After reading your sincere heart felt writing, I couldn’t help thinking ‘how powerful the words of ‘a good woman’ are! See Proverbs 31! I agree that racism is ‘taught’. It’s taught right from the cradle. But it ‘can’ be removed from a person’s life, even a white christian’s life. By God using life’s circumstances to enter a man’s heart in a way man is not used to. An Epiphany? I wonder if ‘deeper concversion’ or ‘truer’ conversion is what would bring about the change? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if ‘more’ good people, christian or not, would start up many scholarship opportunities for black students? A good work of kindness and generosity to try to reverse some of the damage racism has tragically done to ‘men’s hearts and minds?” You are so brave! Barbara Quinn

  16. Camille, I truly appreciate your enthusiasm and drive to allow others to be fully aware of what has gone on in fundamentalist circles in the name of Christianity.
    Although me voicing my concerns of the racial prejudices many were faced with at BJU may not have been well received by some, this is something which needed to be aired.
    Life goes on, and I don’t expect an apology letter from “The Administration” however, my continuous concern is that this may have been seen as a myth or isolated case.

  17. Excellent. Read Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack” last semester and was floored with how much I’d taken for granted. I’m developing what Freire calls “conscientization” (critical consciousness) that I never got before. You penned some of my same experiences here. Having come from a multi-ethnic public school and having had many sophisticated discussions of race and oppression while at BJU, I really thought I got it. But I was blinded to the number of ways in which my silence and apathy to privilege contributed to the problem. I want to encourage you that “repentance,” “stay-at-home mothering,” and “blogging” have been and continue to be powerful tools for helping others work through the subtleties of racism and preventing still others from justifying it . . . but as I see this was written in 2008, I’m sure you see that by now. 😉 Thanks for posting!

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