Black Lives Matter (BLM) is a force to be reckoned with. From the day it was launched on July 13, 2013, in response to the acquittal following Trayvon Martin’s shooting death, this organization has been a “radical,” “political” “black-centered” activist group as conceived by its founders Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. Aimed at raising awareness, mobilizing protests, and inciting radical change in society, BLM has forcefully steered the media spotlight onto a tangled knot of racial hostility, inequality, violence, and a mountain of racial and cultural grievances. BLM is loud, powerful, and deeply rooted in political liberalism.
What are we to make of BLM? Many political liberals and progressives see no problem with the methodology, political aims, and apparent philosophical underpinnings of the BLM movement. But, the reception for BLM has not always been favorable. I will not detail the complaints here, but conservatives, moderates, and nonpartisans, including many black people, have often felt marginalized by BLM because they don’t agree with BLM’s methods or politics, or they have reason to believe that the stated goals of BLM will create more inequality, more racism, and more violence for struggling black neighborhoods. Now, I’m not really weighing in on that debate here. That dispute is complicated, and there are strong arguments on all sides. Instead, I want to point out a positive here that should not be lost even if we disagree with their politics and practice.
It is good to seek racial healing, racial reconciliation, and racial equality. We should all seek to reduce violence, and foster greater understanding, trust, and comradery where once there was fear, hostility, and division. We can disagree over the methods and politics, but we should not be so narrow as to think that only one side of the political aisle has a voice worth hearing. We should not be so presumptuous as to think we have it all figured out, or that we have nothing to learn from dissenting voices. That attitude is dismissive. And it’s another grievance fueling the fires of racial animosity.
Disagreeing without Dismissing
When conservatives dismiss BLM over politics or practice, it can look like they are excusing racism and dismissing black people generally. If we conduct ourselves in a way that sounds dismissive then the conversation comes to halt, we get lumped in with the problem, and another opportunity is wasted. Acting that way would be foolish. But it would be equally foolish to give align with BLM in mindless solidarity if even half of the complaints against them are true. Neither of these extremes offers much hope for healing. We would do well to avoid the prototypical polarizing fight where one party is escalating and the other party is dismissing, and nobody is really listening.
If you have found yourself wishing you could support BLM, because you don’t want to dismiss the issue of race, but you cannot, in good conscience, line up with their politics, ideology, or methodology, then here are some alternative for you. Each of these non-BLM groups offers you an opportunity to support racial healing without having to commit to left-wing politics. If you support racial awareness and racial healing, but you fear that BLM is a trojan horse, with other agendas lurking inside, then you need some alternatives so you can direct your support toward positive change that you can believe in.
***Disclaimer: I have not vetted all of these groups. I’m in the early stages of collecting recommendations for non-BLM racial healing groups, so if you know of any serious problems with any of these, please comment below or message me. This list is an evolving entity. I need you, the reader, to make recommendations for inclusion in this list and to help vet these groups so we can find solid, reliable, recommendations. We need to be “shrewd as snakes, and innocent as doves,” never excusing evil and foolishness just because we like their marketing.***
Positive Alternatives to BLM
- Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation (TRHT) – a grant-based racial healing cooperative sponsored by W.K. Kellogg Foundation.
- Orthodox Peace Fellowship – peace-centered international collective, including a focus on racial reconciliation, based in the Eastern Orthodox (Christian) Church.
- Radiance Foundation – a faith-based 501c-3 founded in 2009 by Ryan and Bethany Bomberger. Ryan is the author of Not Equal: Civil Rights Gone Wrong (2016).
- Mosaix Global Network – “Mosaix Global Network was founded in 2004 by Dr. Mark DeYmaz and Dr. George Yancey. Mosaix was created to connect and support congregations interested in establishing healthy multi-ethnic communities. The stated goal of the organization is to “[see] 20% of local churches achieve 20% diversity by 2020” (source).
- Acton Institute – this group is focused primarily on economic and ethical virtues, including liberty, opportunity, and responsibility. Racial and cultural issues are addressed, but largely through economic empowerment and conservative Christian virtues. Acton Institute describes itself as “a think-tank whose mission is to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” The organization intentionally staffs for cultural and ethnic diversity, including a racial-ethnic mix of teachers spanning Islam, Judaism, Protestant and Catholic Christianity, although Catholicism is the chief influence.
- Theology Matters – an apologetics–centered theology and culture podcast hosted by mixed-race couple Devin and Melissa Pellew. The podcast is seasoned with their experience in local church ministry, college campus ministry, and prison ministries. While their ministry is not focused strictly on racial healing, they have a lot of keen insights and experience into racial healing. For example, listen to their “Response to Black Lives Matter” and their guest Harold Felder on “Race and the Bible.“
- Mendenhall Ministries (Mendenhall, MI)- A urban development mission led by John Perkins and Vera May based in the economically depressed and racially mixed city of Mendenhall, Mississippi. This ministry co-labors with Mendenhall Bible Church.
- Circle Urban Ministries (Chicago, IL)- An Urban development mission in Chicago Illinois led by James Borishade. Prioritizing racial reconciliation, they serve the community primarily with teen and youth programs, as well as offering crisis intervention and need-based services.
- Cottage Grove Church (Des Moines, IA) – a reformed evangelical church based in downtown Des Moines Iowa. This church declares “reconciliation” as a core belief of the church, identifying racial and community reconciliation to be a vital element in fulfilling the great commission.
- The Well Church (Keller, TX) – lead pastor Trey Grant, a multi-ethnic, racially conscious congregation devoted to unity and healing within the context of Bible-based Christianity.
- Transformation Church (Indian Land, SC) – Lead pastor Derwin Gray, a multi-ethnic church with a heavy dose of apologetics. Gray is a former NFL player and a graduate of Southern Evangelical Seminary (an apologetics school).
There are many individual people would be included on this list because of their work teaching and modeling racial reconciliation and socio-economic advancement for marginalized people groups. But I’ll save that list for another time. Meanwhile, each of these organizations is worth checking out. Perhaps one or two of them are located close to you so you can personally plug into their work. All of them can use some extra encouragement and material support if you can offer it. And all of them need your prayers.
I do, however, think this list is WAY too short. If you know of a group, organization, or church that you think should be included on this list then comment below or email me. I’d be happy to edit and expand this list. It began as a crowd-sourcing project on facebook, so I’m more than happy to crowdsource this list here on WordPress.