Exploring “America’s Original Sin” With Author Jim Wallis

“White privilege is an ideology. It’s an idol.”

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

Racism is America’s original sin, and must be named as such. That is the assertion made in a new book by a white social justice activist, preacher, and author, Jim Wallis.

Wallis’ new book is titled America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America.

Wallis makes the argument that race and racism are an American story, and a part of who we all are as Americans historically and still to this day. He says it is a truth we must all confront, even when it makes us uncomfortable.

Wallis says in his new book that “there still is no safe space for black people in America… [and] that must change absolutely, unequivocally, and fundamentally in every aspect of American life.” Here to talk about how that change can happen is Jim Wallis.

The great original sin in America wasn’t slavery, says Wallis, as slavery had existed for thousands of years before America was created. But rather, he says, the dehumanizing of black people as being lesser-than white people. Subhuman.

“In all our social systems the original sin still lingers,” says Wallis on WDET’s Detroit Today. 

The most important political fact in America right now, says Wallis, is we’re a nation 20 or 30 years away from minority-majority population. Wallis says this trajectory should force Americans to ask what we want the country to look like politically and socially.

“How are we becoming a new nation?” Wallis wonders. He says he thinks there is a new and young generation that is ready to forge a new vision of America. But he says systemic racism still runs rampant. “We’ve been separated from each other by policy.”

“This white fragility, or whites living with this lie [of racist beliefs]… isn’t good for your soul,” says Wallis. “White privilege is an ideology. It’s an idol.”

Wallis will engage in a community forum at Gesu Catholic Church on Oak Dr. in Detroit on Sunday, September 11th, at 4 p.m.

To hear more of his conversation on Detroit Today, click on the audio player above.

Laura Weber Davis/WDET



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