WATCH: Kirk Franklin condemns ‘white-washing’ of Christianity and some white Christians’ ignorance of systemic racism
Article By Gina Davidson // EEW Magazine // Entertainment + Culture
GRAMMY® Award-winning gospel recording artist, Kirk Franklin, who is currently promoting his newest Long Live Love album, is decrying the division that exists among black and white Christians.
The producer and songwriter sat down with Angela Yee and Charlamagne tha God of Power 105.1’s “The Breakfast Club” to condemn America’s “white-washing” of Christianity, as well as white Christians’ ignorance about the negative impact of systemic racism on black and brown people.
If you’re not asking the questions and engaging with a group of people that are not like you, you’re not aware of what the systemic issues now cause and create, because a lot of white people, they understand racism, but they’re not fully engrafted into what systemic racism is,” said the 49-year-old writer of “Love Theory”—the lead single which has been sitting at #1 on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart for 17 straight weeks.
Systemic racism, which shows up in the wealth gap, employment disparities, housing discrimination, minority incarceration, infant mortality and more, is often denied by those who believe we are living in a post-racial society.
Co-host Yee chimed in to agree with Franklin’s position: “Some people will say, ‘Well it’s been over. Slavery’s over. There’s no more racism. You guys have to pull yourselves up from your bootstraps.’ But that’s not true. We still are suffering from so many things that have been put in place and are still in place today,” she said.
Franklin, known for his outspokenness regarding various social and religious issues, did not deny that there are some evolved, non-minority members within the Christian community that are fighting for social justice and change.
“Even with a lot of my white brothers and sisters in the Christian community, there are some good brothers and sisters trying to be on the front line of trying to break that down,” said the Fo Yo Soul/RCA artist, who is hoping his music will further break down walls of division.
Despite his hopefulness, Franklin said, when it comes to the black and white divide, “It’s still very heartbreaking how there’s such a division, but we’re all talking about how we love the same God.”
Speaking of the same God, Franklin further highlighted the fact that the westernized religious representation of God’s son, Jesus Christ, does not reflect the truth of who the Jewish carpenter was. “There has been a white-washing of Christianity in America,” said Franklin, adding that, “Europe didn’t influence Africa. Africa influenced Europe. It (Christianity) existed for centuries in Alexandria.”
Some historians believe Christianity was brought from Jerusalem to Alexandria, which is on the Egyptian coast, before spreading out to Northern Europe, where it was ultimately used as a tool of oppression during the time of slavery.
Despite the sordid and painful history that records many instances when Christianity was abused to keep Africans enslaved, Franklin hopes to turn the page, chart a new course, and showcase the truth of who the God of the Bible is.
“I want to make God fresh,” said Franklin. “I want people to be like, ‘Yo man, God is the dopest. You see Kirk’s God? He’s dope.’ God is the illest and is still real and relevant for where people are right now—not the white Jesus that’s hanging up in some churches that looks like one of the Bee Gees.”
The hosts laughed.
Franklin added, “That’s not even historically correct. I’m like, why we got Barry Gibb in the sanctuary? Why is Barry Gibb here?”
To view Franklin’s full interview on “The Breakfast Club,” where he lays bare his own insecurities, discusses homosexuality and conversion therapy, as well as the Alabama abortion ban, and his struggle to forgive his biological mother for abandonment, press play on the video below.