The Theft of Identity

Our first claim is that White supremacy stole the truth about the identity of African Americans. In saying this, we are not speaking of identity in the theological sense. In much of the Christian tradition, and certainly in the Scriptures, human identity is grounded in the reality that God loves human beings and crowned them – all of them – with the glory of his image. We are speaking of identity in a different sense, not in the ineradicable theological sense but in the constructed and contingent social sense – that is, to the meaning and value assigned to a given person or group of persons by the social order in which they live. Our claim is simply that the social identity assigned by the order of White supremacy was a powerful theft of the truth of African Americans’ inherent dignity. 

This theft expressed itself generally in the artificial category of race itself. Through the appropriation of the category of “Blackness.” Whites viewed African Americans not in terms of their individual personhood, their familial background, or their tribal connections but through the lens of race. Over time, this physical description took on deeper meanings related to personal and moral capacity. By more fully understanding these deeper meanings, we can grasp the degree to which White supremacy stole the truth about African American identity and replaced it with lies. 

From “Reparations: A Christian Call for Repentance and Repair” by Duke L. Kwon and Gregory Thompson