“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
Markets and governments mediate access to the resources shaping our lives. Since the 1400s, racialized capitalism has been the ruling regime, the “pattern of this world.” Under racialized capitalism, elite White men have created institutions underpinned by implicit and often explicit violence to control the material and social relations we need to survive, let alone thrive—from the ability to attain nutritious food and shelter, to the “authority” to keep our families intact. One need only look to Africans enslaved by European colonists in the Americas, who gave birth to children they would never see again once they were sold.
White male elites assert by implication and quite overtly—through pseudo-science, spurious interpretations of the Bible, and notions of hierarchies in civilization—that they, and importantly only they, are made in God’s image. Powerbrokers claim those of other racial, class, and gender statuses deserve their inferior positions. The vast inequities we see today between elite White men and everyone else demonstrate the brutality of this social order. Arguably, the most important social fulcrum, given how labor arrangements evolved under cash crop production and industrialization in the Americas, is “race.” Anti-blackness, is at the heart of racialized capitalism. It’s expressed by myriad market and government processes excluding Black people from opportunity structures, while extracting from their households and communities by such methods as charging them higher interest rates for loans (if they can get them), underinvesting in the quality of their drinking water and schools, incarcerating them disproportionately, and placing landfills in their backyards.
If this is our inheritance, what must we do to not conform to this malignant pattern? What must we reach for to transform this pattern? How might we extricate ourselves from broken systems we depend on? Particularly for Christ-followers, how do we lean into the constructive tension that God has already redeemed the world through Christ, and yet that each of us is commissioned to be God’s reconciling minister, extending God’s love and light into the world? We start by remembering our Greatest Commandment: to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and all of our neighbors as ourselves. This demand trumpets that there is no neutral. We must not settle for the patterns of this world, even as we discern the Holy Spirit’s guidance on how love should take shape in social systems now. And we must never tire of seeking the Spirit that is always out ahead of us! We indicate our openness to the Spirit when we speak the truth in love regarding the ravages of the political, economic, and social systems engulfing us. Here’s the truth about racialized capitalism, spoken in love, and with due recognition of our complicity in sin-filled systems: racialized capitalism is an abomination from the pit of hell! Why? Because it distorts the abundant life God offers all humanity!
So, where do we go from here? I intend to write more about this – stay tuned. In the meantime – may it be on Earth, as it is in heaven!