Southern Baptist Convention President J.D. Greear argued in a new episode of his podcast “Ask Me Anything” that white privilege certainly exists, a position he has grown to embrace.
“When I think of the privileges that I have as a white person, or as a man,” Greear explained, “what I want is to see those privileges extended to as many people as possible.”
The 45-year-old pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina, went on to say he doesn’t “want people to lose all of their rights.” Rather, he wants more people to enjoy the privileges he does as a white male.
Greear said he came to understand and embrace the reality of white privilege after meeting with several minority ministry leaders and learning more about their experiences.
In a breakdown of the podcast, the SBC leader said he was initially turned on to the idea of white privilege by Dr. George Yancey, a sociology professor at the University of North Texas. The modern understanding of “privilege,” Yancey told Greear, was actually developed in the 1980s by a white woman seeking to raise awareness about “male privilege in academics.”
Greear defines “white privilege” in his podcast as “an invisible package of unearned assets that whites can count on cashing in each day.”
So how should Christians respond?
The southern minister argued Christians should work to recognize the “privilege” they may be experiencing, either as a male or as a white person, and seek to right the ship.
“If I’ve been given any privilege in whatever situation,” Greear said, “I’m going to leverage that not for self, but leverage it to lift others up.”
Greear emphasized his own ignorance regarding “privilege,” admitting he doesn’t feel “called or competent” to discuss the political ramifications of the subject. He did, though, tell his fellow believers: “Whatever privilege you have, it is your responsibility to leverage it to help others who are not as privileged.”
“As a Christian, whether you adopt more of a progressive or a conservative approach,” he continued, “you can care about this issue and want to see all people in our culture treated with dignity and experience the same privileges that any of us do.”
Greear concluded the episode by encouraging Christians to have conversations with people in a minority demographic, because “these things are only really learned about in relationship.” He said it’s important for people to “have friends that are not like you who are going to help you see things that are from a different angle than you’re used to.”