Mar

29

2013

Thabiti Anyabwile|12:39 pm CT

I Can Be Insensitive, Too

Some of you have been following the series of email exchanges Doug Wilson and I have been having regarding his book Black and Tan. In my last post I attempted to define “racial insensitivity” and then to cite instances in Black and Tan where I thought Wilson was guilty of that charge.

In one of my citations, I made reference to Wilson cataloging a list of the sins of Black people while not mentioning in comparable ways the sins of White people. I attempted to parody Wilson’s comments with a list of “White sins.” In context, I simply wanted to illustrate what I found insensitive in Wilson’s comments by reversing them. In my list I made mention of Trayvon Martin being killed for “walking while Black.”

A couple of gracious and thoughtful readers wrote to let me know that they were at least caught off guard by the reference to Martin and some were offended. They felt the reference injected race in an unhelpful way and rushed to judgment in the Martin case. It’s plain to me that these persons were coming to the blog to be edified and with that remark were instead hurt. It’s also plain to me that my comments lost me my argument. Rather than illumine the point at hand, the remark clouded the judgment and hearts of some.

This was not a case where only one person felt injured. At least three others responded similarly. So I’m left to conclude that these persons were not being “too sensitive” and to wonder if others might have been wounded but did not reply.

In failing to make it clear that I was putting forth a parody of Wilson’s writing, I replicated not only Wilson’s error but also the harm. I am truly sorry for that and I ask my readers’ forgiveness. I am completely willing to accept whatever consequences come as a result of my words, including the loss of esteem, respect, or support my words deserve. I fully understand if that line costs me the point I was trying to make in that section or costs me your empathy as a reader. I will have earned those losses.

Rather than retract the statement and pretend as though I had said nothing offensive, at the counsel of the readers, I have left the comment in with an asterisk directing future readers to this apology and a similar apology in the comments thread. Going forward, I will endeavor to write more carefully. I will attempt to consider the reactions, feelings, and perspectives of others even when I’m trying to challenge and provoke thinking. It’s fitting that I should take care to do so since that’s what I’m arguing needs to be done for me and others.

Again, I hope that those who read that post can find the spirit’s strength to forgive my carelessness with words. The Lord be gracious to you this Good Friday,

Thabiti

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