Drew Yoos is tired of hearing this:
“We’re all a gift from god.”
“Skin color doesn’t matter.”
“Diversity is a gift.”
He’s a pastor in the Bothell-Mill Creek area who believes that many white Christian churches are complicit in perpetuating racism.
“The white church is kind of stuck in this ‘All Lives Matter’ theology,” Yoos said. “The theology of ‘we’re all a gift from god; skin color doesn’t matter’ just doesn’t cut it anymore in a Christian voice. It doesn’t call us out of our own systems that we are perpetuating.”
Growing up in a predominately black community, it was only in seminary that Yoos was told by his teachers that he was benefiting from white privilege.
“It took me awhile before I was able to really understand even what those words meant,” Yoos said. “I feel like when we’re confronted of these notions of privilege systemic racism, power, for the first time, some of the reaction tends to be just to kind of put of a wall and say, ‘That’s not me, I’m not racist.’ And that’s the end of it.”
Confronted by the realization of his privilege, Yoos spent the next three years taking classes on race, culture, privilege, and mass incarceration. He read books by black theologians. He underwent anti-racism training.
And he took what he learned back to his parishes.
“To be an advocate for anti-racism, to use words like white-privilege, white supremacy, is a challenging thing. And it means putting your voice out there in a way that not everyone is very comfortable with. Especially not in the white church. And it’s going to be rejected in a lot of places,” Yoos said.
But it's an important challenge; one Yoos feels called to take on. He hopes Christianity can add a distinct voice to the national conversation about race.
With his wife, Sara, Yoos is exploring how a church can begin resisting the structures of racism at its very foundation. They plan to build is a parish in North Creek rooted in anti-racism.
“One of the difficulties that we’re facing, that I’m facing personally, is that I’m white,” said Yoos. “And trying to start a church that is inherently anti-racist, that resists some of the structures, I understand a challenge that is going to be for me.”