Tuesday Conversations, S1E12 (PODCAST): Can the White American Church Find Its Way from Its Segregationist Past to a Diverse Future?

Tune in to my new "Listening to America" interview with Clay Jenkinson at Governance Magazine

Welcome to Episode 13 of “Tuesday Conversations” here on #WhiteTooLong!

Before we get to today’s featured podcast, I want to give a shout out to the more than 150 new folks who have joined the conversation here since last week. If you like what you’re seeing, watching, and reading here, please consider sharing #WhiteTooLong with a few friends today.

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And ICYMI, check out last Friday’s post, “It’s the Culture, Stupid,” where I talk about what lessons should NOT be learned from the defeats Democrats suffered in off-year elections last week. Biden’s big infrastructure bill—as important as it is economically—and other economic policies may help turn down the flame and mitigate economic stresses, but they don’t address the deeper political divides among whites and white Christians. I conclude:

If we really want to heal the soul of the nation and achieve our country, we can’t continue to paper over racial injustice with economic policy. "It’s the culture, stupid”—or less euphemistically, “It’s the white supremacy, stupid”—must be the new mantra of political analysts today.

Can the White American Church Find Its Way from Its Segregationist Past to a Diverse Future?

Robert P. Jones says systemic racism is in the DNA of American Christianity and the communities it helped shape but holds out hope for redemption. The opportunity lies in telling a truer story about the founding of the church.

This week, I bring you a new podcast, just released yesterday from an unusual outlet for me, Governing Magazine. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Governing provides news, analysis and insights for elected, appointed and other public leaders looking to manage the present and anticipate the future of state and local government.

Their wide-ranging “Listening to America” podcast aims to help our state and local leaders understand the big trends impacting our communities. I’m indebted to host Clay Jenkinson—a nationally recognized historian, author, and public humanities scholar and winner of the National Humanities Medal—for structuring such an in-depth conversation.

Click to graphic below to listen in or read the abridged transcript of the conversation.


In nearly every interview I give, I acknowledged my indebtedness to James Baldwin, from whose work the phrase “white too long” comes. You can read more about that in the acceptance speech I gave at the 2021 American Book Award ceremonies, “Gratitude for the Incandescent Witness of James Baldwin.”

To take us out today, I’m including a clip from Baldwin’s remarkable speech in his 1965 debate with William F. Buckley at Cambridge University, which Governing also paired with the podcast.

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