A Christian organization whose mission is to equip women to be peacemakers has been accused of trying to erase comments by a black Christian speaker about white supremacy.
During an onstage interview, Ekemini Uwan, a Nigerian American public theologian, told an audience at the recent Sparrow Conference for women in Dallas that their concept of race was incompatible with the Bible.
In response, several women walked out.
Uwan said organizers tried to downplay any sign of her presence at the conference.
While the Sparrow Women social media accounts published photos, excerpts and highlights from several conference speakers, no images or quotes from Uwan’s comments appeared on its feeds. A video of the interview that had been published to YouTube of her remarks was removed for copyright violation.
Uwan told RNS that she had to hire an attorney to force Sparrow Women to send her photos and video of her interview.
On Friday, Sparrow Women apologized for “content shared during the testimonial interview at the 2019 Sparrow Conference,” held March 29-30 at The Music Hall at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas.
”We publicly apologize to both Ekemini Uwan and the conference participants for not handling such a complex subject with more care and therefore putting everyone involved in a such a difficult place,” the statement read. “That is not the heart or mission of Sparrow Women and we take responsibility for what happened. We want to be peacemakers and see gospel reconciliation and we fell short of our goal here. We will learn from this and are praying for healing and peace for everyone that participated in this year’s conference and those that have been affected by this.”
When asked for more details about why they apologized, leaders at Sparrow declined to elaborate.
“Thank you for reaching out, at this time we are unable to say anything beyond our statement,” director of operations, Kristen Rabalais, said in an email in response to a request for further comment.
Uwan, a co-host of the popular “Truth’s Table” podcast, dismissed the apology as a “PR cleanup job.” Uwan and two other Christian black women who host “Truth’s Table” routinely address white supremacy, racial justice, and other related issues.
Uwan said that Sparrow’s founder, Rachel Joy, told her she was a fan of the podcast, so Joy should have known what to expect during her talk.
“If you listen to ‘Truth’s Table,’ my interview was standard ‘Truth’s Table.’ There was nothing there that was like completely new, or mind-boggling,” Uwan said.
Sparrow Women started over seven years ago as a church homegroup and attracted women who were “African American, Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, and from different socio-economic backgrounds,” according to the organization’s website.
The organization described the recent conference as “a catalytic event for over 1,500 women” to learn about racial division and social justice.
Uwan, a Westminster Theological Seminary alumna, was interviewed at the conference by Elizabeth Woodson, Sparrow Women’s resources coordinator.
“Race is not a category in the Bible. It did not exist because it is not something that will be redeemed — it was meant to hold and hoard power,” Uwan told Woodson, according to a transcript of the interview provided by conference attendee Carmen J. Caccavale.
“Because we have to understand something — whiteness is wicked,” Uwan said. “It is wicked. It’s rooted in violence, it’s rooted in theft, it’s rooted in plunder, it’s rooted in power, in privilege.”
She told the audience they should give up whiteness and “recover” the ethnic identities “your ancestors deliberately discarded.” Rather than thinking of themselves as white, they should try to rediscover their immigrant cultural ancestry: “Are you Italian, are you Irish, are you Polish, are you Turkish?”
“Celebrate that,” she said.
Uwan, who said she saw about 10 women walk out during the discussion, mentioned the term “whiteness” more than two dozen times throughout the 30-minute talk.
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Source: Religion News Service