KTF Press
Shake the Dust
White People Helping White People Leave Whiteness with Scott Hall

White People Helping White People Leave Whiteness with Scott Hall

Season 3, Episode 5

No transcript...

Jonathan and Sy talk to Scott Hall from the White People Work podcast. They discuss how events from Scott’s life led him to training other White people on racial justice work, how to avoid being a performative ally, the tie between discipleship and being a helpful White person, and a lot more! Scott’s show is a great resource for White folks, and this is a conversation truly worth your time!

Shake the Dust is a podcast of KTF Press. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and the app formerly known as Twitter. Subscribe to get our newsletter and bonus episodes at KTFPress.com. Transcripts of every episode are available at KTFPress.com/s/transcripts.


Jonathan Walton – follow him on Facebook and Instagram.

Sy Hoekstra – He was only on the app formerly known as Twitter, but he’s done with that now, so…stay tuned?

Our theme song is “Citizens” by Jon Guerra – listen to the whole song on Spotify.

Our podcast art is by Jacqueline Tam – follow her and see her other work on Instagram.

Production and editing by Sy Hoekstra.

Transcript by Joyce Ambale and Sy Hoekstra.

Questions about anything you heard on the show? Write to shakethedust@ktfpress.com and we may answer your question on a future episode.


[An acoustic guitar softly plays six notes, the first three ascending and the last three descending — F#, B, F#, E, D#, B — with a keyboard pad playing the note B in the background. Both fade out as Jonathan Walton says “This is a KTF Press podcast.”]

Sy Hoekstra: I have a question for you. Do you want to attend the Evolving Faith Conference from anywhere in the world for free? Evolving Faith is an online faith community with all kinds of events and book clubs and things that they do, gatherings all year round. And as they say, it, “exists to cultivate love and hope in the wilderness, pointing fellow wanderers and misfits to God as we embody resurrection for the sake of the world.” They have a conference they've been doing for the past few years. It's in Minneapolis, but you can attend online. You can hear speakers like former Shake the Dust guests, Dr. Amy Kenny and Danté Stewart, or writers from our anthology like Brandy Miller or Dr. Randy Woodley—their first name's rhyme; I just realized that. The conference is live on October 13th and 14th, but you can watch it anytime you want if you get the digital pass between then and January 1st, 2024. And that ticket also gets you access to some other online events that are just for ticket holders.

And you can get that whole $129 value for free. How? Between today and Labor Day, that's September 4th, become an annual subscriber to KTF Press or upgrade your existing annual or monthly or no membership to a founding member level membership. You get a free book if you do that one by the way, the founding member one. And then you will be part of a drawing for one of three free tickets to Evolving Faith. That subscription, as you know, gets you the bonus episodes to this show. It gets you our weekly newsletter for free, and it supports everything we do at KTF Press. And it could get you an 129-dollar digital ticket to the Evolving Faith Conference for free. So go to KTFPress.com and sign up as a paid subscriber today, or anytime between today and September 4th and enter that drawing.

All right, let's get into today's episode with Scott Hall, and that episode officially starts now.

Scott Hall: We have an invitation to submit ourselves to our creator or not. And I don't think you get out of that. It's a basic Christian principle and we White folks, we need to submit. We need to submit to the Lordship of Jesus. That is old school, but some things never grow old.

[The song “Citizens” by Jon Guerra fades in. Lyrics: “I need to know there is justice/That it will roll in abundance/ And that you’re building a city/ Where we arrive as immigrants/ And you call us citizens/ And you welcome us as children home.” The song fades out.]

Sy Hoekstra: Welcome to Shake the Dust, leaving colonized faith for the kingdom of God. I'm Sy Hoekstra.

Jonathan Walton: And I'm Jonathan Walton.

Sy Hoekstra: And we are here today to talk about White people.


Sy Hoekstra: We're going to talk about kind of White people's responsibilities and roles in racial justice in the church and in society at large. We have a fantastic guest with us today to talk about that. Before we get to him though, really quickly, I just want to remind everybody that if you appreciate this show and what we do and you want to support us, please go to KTFPress.com. It's a Substack page. You can sign up there to become a paid subscriber. It gets you the bonus episodes of this show, our weekly newsletter with recommendations from Jonathan and I about highlights about media that has to do with discipleship and political education and theology. And you also support everything else that we do at KTF Press, the articles that we write, the books we've put out. And we really, really appreciate the support. We could not exist without our subscribers and we would love it if you would go and check that out@KTFPress.com. Again, KTFPress.com. Okay, I've given the pitch Jonathan. Let's get into the meat of it. Who do we have with us today?

Jonathan Walton: Today we have with us Scott Hall, who was raised in Oakland, California. He was a White kid growing up on a wealthy side of town who always was aware of racial injustice. He didn't know what to do about that until the LA riots of 1992 when he was in an African American studies class at UCLA. He changed his major to African American Studies and launched himself on a journey of learning from peers and leaders of color for the next 25 years. With a master's degree in intercultural studies, today Scott works as a justice learning director, a chaplain for youth who are incarcerated, and as a periodic D.E.I consultant for White Americans who want to learn how to do no harm and work toward racial equity. He hosts a podcast called White People Work that's designed to help White folks come to a better understanding of themselves and grow in taking responsibility for their presence in the world. Scott, thank you so much for being here.

Scott Hall: Thank you, Jonathan. You made me sound really great. I hope I live up to the hype [laughter].

Jonathan Walton: For me, I think you just got to talk about how you got into this work, because most people don't opt in. And so most people's reactions to the things that happen around the acquittal of officers and Rodney King in LA in 1991, ‘92, putting yourself in that space. You switched your major to African American studies. You went towards the fire, not away from the fire. Why did you do that, and how did that set you on the journey you're on right now?

Scott Hall: Yeah, that's a great question Jonathan. And it's funny that you say fire, because literal fire is actually a part of the story which I will tell… But here's the thing I'm going to say, just a disclaimer before I share all of this. So much of life happens you just take the one next step that's right in front of you. It was sort of the perfect storm of all these elements of my life. So I came to college. As you mentioned, I grew up in Oakland. I was always aware of racial disparity, economic disparities by race. I came into college, I was into Spike Lee movies. I had read the autobiography of Malcolm X in high school, but I was this pre-med student in college. But I had all these electives and I took a Black history class and as I was taking that class, this racial uprising in Los Angeles happened.

My mentor immediately put me in the back of his car, and we drove into the middle of Koreatown. And within 10 minutes, my roommate and I were helping a Latino family take their kids and their valuables out of their apartment that was on fire. I came back to class the next day and my professor scrapped her whole curriculum and said, “We are going to study the history of racial uprisings in the United States,” mostly from the 1960s, but actually going all the way back out of the United States to the Haitian Revolution.

Sy Hoekstra: Alright.

Scott Hall: And we're going to study this and why it's happening now in Los Angeles. And for me Jonathan, it was that perfect storm. For the first time in my life, I felt like the Christian faith, I was learning about Jesus's care for issues of injustice.

That integrated with my upbringing, where I saw these economic disparities by race that were never being talked about in my church and my academic career. They all converged, and suddenly I felt like all the disparate parts of my life were one. I was like, “I have never felt like this, there's something special happening.” And I had a really deep sense of divine invitation to change my major.

Jonathan Walton: Amen, and you said yes.

Scott Hall: And I said yes. My dad said no, but that's a different story.


Sy Hoekstra: Listen, having a kid who's a doctor, it's a hard thing for a lot of people to let go.

Scott Hall: All right.


Sy Hoekstra: This question is a little bit funny, but it's kind of important to me. On your podcast, you give a lot of examples of what not to do as a White person who's involved in racial justice or conversations with people who are not White. I would say the majority of those examples are you [laughter]. I would say most of them. Definitely more than 50 percent of them, I would say are ways that Scott Hall has screwed up. And we both think that that's intentional, and I was wondering if you could talk about why it is that you pick those things to talk about.

Scott Hall: Sy, I'm so offended by that. What are you talking about?

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah.

Jonathan Walton: [laughs].

Scott Hall: Yeah. I mean, look, I am often my own worst enemy. Actually, this one is actually pretty easy for me to answer Sy. I think my biggest beef is with self-righteous people. And I don't say that self-righteously. It's probably because I have a negative personality trait that makes me want to try to get self-righteous. My mom would call me on it my whole upbringing. When I'm feeling real good about myself, I like to get my little high horse and lord it over people. So I know how nasty it feels to be self-righteous, so I think it makes me sensitive about that. And I feel like in particular, when White folks are talking to other White folks about racial stuff, oh my gosh. There's so much posturing and self-righteousness about one-upping each other that just, it's not about racial equity or justice, it's about showing off and it’s gross and self-referential.

And so I just feel like there's this tendency that I want to break up and push against. But also I think there's just a stigma in the United States of White folks being shamed for making racial mistakes. And the thing is, from my friends of color, they already see twice as many racial mistakes, cross-cultural mistakes as I'm already making. So the idea that I'm going to perfectly navigate, that's already an illusion. So for me to be able to just put it out there, I think breaks that lie that we as White people can perfectly navigate cross-cultural relationships and never have any foibles and blunders and deeply offensive things that we do. I want to take that stigma away because I think so many of the places of unawareness for us as White people, they're not even related to our own independent personal choice, but they're a result of external conditioning put upon us.

So it feels really important to just dispel some of the guilt and shame that gets loaded onto White folks and let us know, of course, we're going to make mistakes. We've been conditioned to make those mistakes and see ourselves as superior to non-White people. So we are getting out from underneath that conditioning. So of course, we're going to make mistakes.

Sy Hoekstra: I think a reason that's important to me is you talk in your show about the notion of distrust and how a lot of White people assume that kind of the default in cross-cultural communication should be trust. That everyone should trust each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt. And you really take that assumption apart in a way that I thought was really smart. But I think you talk about how it really does not make sense for a Black person or for anybody who's not White to come into a conversation with a White person just being totally open, fully trusting them, ignoring all their previous experience. It's actually kind of healthy to come into the conversation and say, “I need you to show me that I can trust you.”

I think the fact that you repeatedly tell stories about yourself that are frankly fairly embarrassing [laughter], is actually a point of trust. I think it's something that helps that process, that makes that kind of communication smoother and makes real depth more likely because it's avoiding… implicitly you are just avoiding the performative nonsense that you were just talking about. You have a whole episode on why White progressives are sometimes the worst, which I kind of love, and this is a big part of that problem in particular, is performativeness. And I just want a list of, I just want like an HR policy that just tells me a bunch of do’s and don'ts so that I never screw up and I can be deemed to not have a racist bone in my body.


And I appreciate that you explicitly fight against that, even in the examples that you choose. I just thought that was an important thing to highlight.

Scott Hall: Yeah. Sy, you're exactly right. I mean, that trust thing, I think anytime someone's in the majority culture in the United States, historically at least White folks, I think the majority culture assumes that everything's equal and is the same for everyone. Well, if that's true, then you can have a starting point of trust. But if there are disparities of power, well then, the starting point isn't going to be trust because the system that's working for the majority might not be working for some folks. So Yeah, I think it's Coates that says there are no racists in America. And what I think he means, or even how he interprets what he means by that is, well, yeah. If you're self-referential, it's like, no, none of us are racist. And I just feel like it's really important to dispel that myth that we can completely be free from racism as White people. It's a different way of approaching it and I want to just dispel that lie by being transparent about mistakes.

Sy Hoekstra: One other quick thing I want to highlight is that you tell those stories in the context of, you said this, but I just want to highlight it. It's you talking to other White people. So it's not you like, “Hey, Jonathan, let me unload a bunch of times on you that I was racist.” Because well, Jonathan doesn't want to hear that necessarily [laughs]. That's not something that people…

Jonathan Walton: [laughs] Right.

Sy Hoekstra: … just need to have unloaded on them, and it's stressful and not fun at all. But you're talking about it in a place where it's useful. In a place where it's specifically like, “Hey, we are all here to learn and let's talk about the ways that we screw up as White people so that we can grow and be helpful to the world around us.”

Scott Hall: Thank you.

Jonathan Walton: In that vein, it's like you spend a lot of time talking to other White people and trying to dispel those myths and stuff like that. And so I wondered, what did the conversations look like between you and your wife when you're like, “We're going to live in these predominantly neighborhoods of color.” Why did you make some of those decisions? And then what did the conversations look like with your family and the White folks around you?

Scott Hall: Okay, Jonathan. Here's the thing. People say this as a cliché. I did marry up to one of the best human beings I've ever met. So my wife's name is Jenny, she is White. But Jenny grew up in a low-income community of color near the Mexican border in southeast San Diego in a Navy family. So she in her deepest bones, feels really comfortable in a community like that. And so she was an easy sell. My other friends, it's the funniest thing Jonathan. It's like this weird conversation stopper when folks don't know what to say and something just feels weird and people don't know what, and it just is kind of this grinding halt of real awkwardness. But both my wife and I felt pulled to put ourselves into a cross-cultural community.

I was working at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The local neighborhood of that college is dominantly African American and Central American. So it made sense to live close to the school. We were on the market to buy a house. And if you'll let me Jonathan, I'll tell a little God story. We were in the market to buy a new house, and we were shown this one house in the middle of the day. My wife Jenny, smarter than me, she said, “Well, go back at dusk and see how it feels.” And I went back at dusk and she had to do something else. And I pull over and I see this African American man walking from his car to his house, and I stop him. Later, he became a lifelong friend. His name is Cliff.

And his perspective later, he told me, as I approached him he said, “Who is this White boy and how lost is he” [laughter]? And then he said the Holy Spirit convicted him and said, “My anointing is on this man as my servant.” And he just turned it on a dime and he welcomed me. He said, “Hello brother, how can I help you?” And he told me about the neighborhood, and I drove home to Jenny. She said, “Scott, we have to do this. It was a sign, we are moving in.” And we put an offer the next day and we were there within a couple of months, and Cliff became a lifelong best friend. So when you go earlier of like, “Oh, wow Scott, you made these choices.” It's again, no, it was just me trying to be faithful one step at a time.

Sy Hoekstra: And a lot of other people—we were talking about this before we started recording—is so many other people, so many things that were external to you, like you were just talking about with the other question happened along that journey. That I find a lot of resonance with, is like I'm very thankful for a lot of things that a lot of other people did, as I've mentioned before, like Jonathan, to put me on any kind of journey like this because it was just so not my doing. And like it's something for which I'm just so grateful all the time.

Jonathan Walton: Amen.

Scott Hall: I love that Sy.

Sy Hoekstra: We have talked a little bit before on this show about the mistakes and the assumptions that White Christians make when engaging in conversations about race, kind of reveals the things that we don't actually believe about what we say we believe. That we don't actually believe about the gospel that we claim to put our faith in. And conversely, we've talked about how engaging thoughtfully and authentically in racial justice work can really help White people in discipleship. How have you seen those dynamics playing out in your life or in the lives of the White people that you work with?

Scott Hall: It's interesting. Just to go back for a second, this is answering your question, to the last thing I said, all we can do is take that next faithful step in front of us. And I think Sy, we're not all supposed to become some portrait of a poster child of opposing racism. We're just supposed to become who God intended us to be in the world. That's all we can do. And what I find is the deeper I go with principles for helping White folks get a handle on opposing racism, the further I go, the deeper I go, the more simple the principles are built upon. Where I keep finding myself landing on oh, what we're really just talking about is humility. Being a learner, putting others before yourself. I think when people make the journey of White people being… and you know, there's kind of this term that has had this weird evolution of woke people.

Whatever that means to different partisan demographics today, it's lifted up as this super special charism to use Christian language on it. I just don't think that's what it's about. I think the invitation for White folks cross-culturally is honestly just to live out the most basic principles of what it means to be a follower of Jesus. It's just that when it comes to being White in the United States, there's this way we've been conditioned to not be aware of a certain set of how humility could be applied. A certain way that putting others before ourselves could be applied. So I actually think the principles are basic Christian principles, but just pushed into parts of our lives that we as White people have been trained to not be aware of.

Sy Hoekstra: You put it more gently than I did. I was like, “We don't believe any of that stuff.”


Jonathan Walton: Well, okay. If I could lean in like one part. Because when you say trained, and if we put it in spiritual language, it’s like discipled to.

Scott Hall: Okay.

Jonathan Walton: So everything that you're saying, particularly like for me, I love Philippians 2, where it's like, “Do nothing out of vain conceit. Put others before yourselves. Whatever you've seen in me, do these things.” When you go to chapter four. But it's one of those things where it's like, if you have been discipled to the opposite degree. Because if we say yeah, humility, but then you define humility as not an embodied thing, but you define humility as a concept to understand, not to live out. Like what do you mean? I understand humility, but I got to get this money. Or I understand you don't put others before yourselves, but we're literally going to move our entire family and all our stuff and all our resources to make sure that we're taken care of for generations. You know what I mean? It's conceptual, it's not an embodied thing.

Scott Hall: I mean, yeah. John you're taking it beyond my pay grade, but I think you're talking about the difference between orthodoxy and orthopraxy…

Jonathan Walton: Yes.

Scott Hall: …to be kind of nerdy about it. And it's like, and where's that distinction in Jesus? And if those who follow Jesus are supposed to have a Christocentric theology, shouldn't Jesus be the lens through which we view every… I mean, Jonathan, the Good Samaritan could be called an iconic American Christian parable.

Jonathan Walton: Right.

Scott Hall: That's a parable about race. And yet that is not how I was ever taught about it. So I think what you're getting at is a way that my Whiteness was strained out of any gospel presentation. When there's a cross-cultural dynamic in a parable like the Good Samaritan, that's absolutely a core part of what Jesus is even getting at when he teaches that parable.

Jonathan Walton: [slowly] Okay. … So… because we could… preach and go on tangent for like…

Scott Hall: I'm getting you started. I see it on your face Jonathan.


Jonathan Walton: Okay. So to wrap that up or bring that back, you have these conversations with White leaders. You deliver the critiques, but then how do you get them to do things or call them to do things beyond protecting the institution that is just performative? How do you get them to act or how do you invite them to act from a place of honesty and sincerity, as opposed to just making sure they're seen as like, “Well, we’re one of the good ones?”

Scott Hall: Oh, Jonathan. Let me just say, I can definitively say I'm not very good at what you're talking about, because you're talking about White leaders and having a conversation that when it comes to the critical point where there's skin in the game for them… I had an experience as a consultant. I was brought in for a one-year consultation. The senior most African American married couple in a predominantly White, meaning 85 percent White Christian missions organization. The senior most African American couple on staff hired me after George Floyd was murdered, to help the organization grow in racial awareness and racial equity. That consultation was going really well. We were talking about Acts 6 and how race comes up in that. Conversations like this Good Samaritan conversation.

Everything was great. The White president of the organization, he and I were having two phone calls a week building trust, and we got to the end of this Acts 6 scripture study and I just said honestly what's in the text, and everyone was agreed upon was in the text. So the dominant culture leaders needed to respond to this situation and make structural changes of who was in positions of leadership. That's just what happened in Acts 6 in the early Church. And everyone was agreed and convicted. And I said, so I think that the 16 White senior leaders should go through a six-week training with me to become aware of White culture and grow in their own cultural awareness.

And within two hours, the senior most African American staff sent me an email that that White president had sent them that was trying to get me fired and was pitching an African American woman on YouTube whose teaching was all based on attacking critical race theory. And I think in my opinion, training that was all designed to help White people feel really comfortable saying, “I think we should hire her instead of this guy, Scott.” So Jonathan, my track record is not good.

Jonathan Walton: I think I have to go back and rephrase my question.

Sy Hoekstra: [laughs]

Scott Hall: Okay.

Jonathan Walton: I wanted to not know how it's successful, but more how you go about doing it and you just described how you do it?

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah, you did kind of answer the question [laughs].

Scott Hall: I did. I build trust, I'm honest. As I was talking about earlier, I share stories of my own failure. And here's what I do find Jonathan, is there's a percentage of the room that's all the way on board with me. And those folk really want to have an honest conversation, like we need to do something here. But very often those are not those with the most power or skin in the game to make systemic organizational changes.

Jonathan Walton: Right. And just to put like a, so I can have this succinct as you were saying. It's like senior most Black couple invites you to come, senior most White leader says, “Don't do this. Let's fire him and hire Candace Owens.” [Sy laughs] Is that what you're saying?

Scott Hall: Pretty much, pretty much, yeah.

Jonathan Walton: Did he ask those Black folks to pay for that consultant?

Scott Hall: He didn't ask. He requested that they change their opinion of who they should hire [Jonathan laughs], even though they had been empowered to make the decision.

Sy Hoekstra: Ah.

Jonathan Walton: Yep.

Sy Hoekstra: I would like to submit an opinion change request.


Scott Hall: Yup.

Sy Hoekstra: Gosh.

Scott Hall: And to their credit, they called him out on it right away. And that was three months into the consulting and they stuck with me for nine more months, but it wasn't pretty.

Jonathan Walton: Is the president still a part of the organization [Sy laughs]?

Scott Hall: Yeah. And I better not share too much or it's going to become a libel suit.


Jonathan Walton: Are the Black leaders still there?

Scott Hall: Yeah, they are. They are.

Jonathan Walton: Fascinating.

Scott Hall: They are. I mean, that leads us into a different conversation Jonathan, about Black folks surviving in predominantly White institutions.

Jonathan Walton: Hey man. We could talk about that in a different podcasts, but yes.

Sy Hoekstra: Jonathan, when we were thinking through questions for this, you talked about the idea of institutional enmeshment, like White leaders.

Jonathan Walton: I did, yes.

Sy Hoekstra: Can you just explain what you meant? Because I think it's just a good thing for people to think about the kind of emotional side of this for White people.

Jonathan Walton: Absolutely. And Scott probably has some comments about this, but one of the things that in emotionally healthy spirituality or family theory systems theory or things like this enmeshment attachment kind of language. And so I can form a healthy bond with someone because it's usually used relationally. But when you form enmeshment, enmeshed is when my identity and your identity become fused, where you're not allowed to have your own thoughts and your own feelings and your own identity. And so to be able to incarnate as Jesus did, there's this transformational thing that happens where I enter into your world, but I stay my own person, which is like differentiation. So again, usually it's about relationships, but what if we made that about institutions?

So I am World Vision, I am InterVarsity, I am IJM, I am the Catholic church, I am the Republican party. I am the Washington football team. We start to say “we” when we start to use institutions. And so I wonder what steps we can take as leaders to identify institutional enmeshment, even if people don't say, I want to leave it. But the master is embedded in the plantation. He has to be willing to leave the institution of slavery and then shut down the plantation. But people, particularly let's say folks who feel “politically homeless” right now, where they're like, “I'm not a Democrat…” I don't even think they realize they were enmeshed with an institution, and now need to deal with the reality of that separatedness. When they actually needed to have that process happen in the first place, to be able to critique where they came from, honestly.

Sy Hoekstra: Right. So the practical thing that happens is Scott comes along and says,” Your institution might be systematically racist.” And then the White leaders say,” Scott called me a racist,” and he did not [laughs].

Jonathan Walton: Yes. Right. Yeah. But if you feel some sort of way about that, you probably are…

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah. Well, that's a separate question.


Sy Hoekstra: The emotional health point, yeah.

Jonathan Walton: The emotional health point is we need to be able to differentiate ourselves from others, and our false selves is a whole other thing in these institutions for sure.

Scott Hall: Yeah. I mean, Jonathan, in some ways I feel like you're answering, you’re going back to Philippians 2 and that call to kind of count others above yourself. And how there's this, “Oh yeah, I'm going to apply that to all these kind of interpersonal elements of my life, but when it comes to living out the American dream and being incredibly selfish, I'm going to skip that part.” And I think you just described, well, actually it's because Jesus is calling us to something that is going to pull us out of a different operational life system. That's just called Christian discipleship. And in the New Testament context it was a Roman one. And so I think it's a great insight Jonathan. The one other thing I'll add on that I do find really helpful for White folks. And I'm channeling an insight I got from a colleague named Larry Thiel.

I think there's a way that White folks, because of the individualism that we operate with, and if you compare that or contrast that to a more collectivist identity that a lot of communities of color and individuals from a community of color operate with, we can just have misses. It's not even, no mal intent, like a genuine miss that let's say Jonathan, a Black man says,” Man, I hate White people,” and you don't mean Sy. You mean a collective thing. And Sy goes, “Jonathan, how dare you? That's so rude. I've been a great loyal friend to you.” And Jonathan goes, “What? What are you talking about Sy? I love you man. You're a brother to me.” And Sy goes, “You just said you hated me.” And Jonathan goes, “Whoa, no. I said I hated your people.” And that there can be this distinction that says, there's a collective thing. But you as an individual, I have a completely different read on you, the individual, Sy. And that’s a fight that Jonathan and Sy don't even need to have…

There's enough fights out there that need to be had, or I should say complex conversations to wade into. But I think sometimes we just miss each other because White people take things so personally so quickly that it's like, I'm talking about a system that you're a part of. You may or may not as an individual White person subscribe to that system.

Jonathan Walton: And that's the lack of double consciousness.

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah.

Jonathan Walton: Black folks, women, any ethnic minority or a marginalized group usually just goes back and forth. I don't know if anybody's written a book about that. I'm sure it's been done.

Sy Hoekstra: About double consciousness?

Jonathan Walton: No, about…

Sy Hoekstra: I was going to say I think Du Bois has that one covered [laughs].

Jonathan Walton: No, no, I know. But I was thinking about the White equivalent to be able to explain that in a way that's accessible and liberating as opposed to oppressive and costly. So when Du Bois wrote that, I feel like a whole bunch of lights went on. Booker T. Washington might have got upset, but like a whole lot of things opened up for people. But what is the equivalent for a White person reading that and feeling like this is an invitation to freedom? Because that's the thing. Someone said sin is like a cage that's really, really pretty that you just sitting there, but you don't even know you bound up. You know what I mean? And so it's like there's no way to substitute the cross of Christ to get resurrection. You can't take it out. And so I think a question that's forming for me is, why do you continue to do what you do if you are not American Dream successful, or even Christian industrial complex successful with the work you do with White people?

Sy Hoekstra: And when so many White people are not listening to you, or telling you that they're not ready to do what you're asking them to do.

Scott Hall: Yeah. Okay. My answer, I do have an answer. It might sound like I'm being fake because it's who I'm supposed to be in the world in the deepest sense. When I encountered Jesus and felt that invitation to surrender my life to Jesus, I felt invited into this different expression of who I was supposed to be that was learning about what it means that I'm made in the image of God. And the more I lean into that, the more it feels like I know I'm supposed to be a person pushing against racial injustice and inequity in the world. And I think to some extent, I actually believe White folks that want to follow Jesus at some level, I think we're all called to that. So yeah, there's a lot of folks not listening to me. And honestly, I feel like if zero were listening to me, would I be able to sustain what I'm doing? Man, I don't know.

Probably not. But would I feel like I'm freed to go pursue something else? No, I wouldn't. I feel like I know who I'm called to be in the world. And then to be a little less spiritual about it, I think there's a right side of history and a wrong side of history. And it's always easier in hindsight, but the present we're living in is going to be judged by those that come after us, and I feel like I want to be on the right side of history for better or for worse. And if I can even at a one percent degree be counted among those that pushed for the kind of revolutionary change that makes the world what it's more supposed to be, closer to what the kingdom of God is, then I'll count myself honored to be anywhere on that list. And I know that's sort of a, “wow.” But I'm like, I'm 51 years old and I'm trying to not waste my life and I'm trying to be who I'm supposed to be in the world, just like all of us are called to.

Jonathan Walton: The redefinition of success as obedience in justice work is I think the most consequential turn that an activist can make.

Scott Hall: There you go. So well put.

Jonathan Walton: Where it’s like I am not doing this because we will be free, or they will be free, or the decision will be overturned, or any of that stuff. I'm doing this so you know it ain’t right. because I was told to be a voice in the wilderness to prepare the way for the Lord.

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah, that's prophecy. That is prophetic.

Jonathan Walton: Right. Yeah.

Sy Hoekstra: That’s I'm just going to do this because I received the word of the Lord as they all said [laughs]. And I'm going to go do it.

Jonathan Walton: Amen.

Sy Hoekstra: It’s funny, those things you said, I understand your hesitance or your caveat, everything you just said, Scott, because it can sound grandiose.

Scott Hall: It’s like, “Ah, he's being fake man. Who really lives like that?”

Sy Hoekstra: Yeah. Or it can sound performative too, coming from a lot of people. So I again [laughs], I appreciate that you're making it clear that being all those things and doing all those things does not involve being perfect in any way. In fact, it actually actively involves not being perfect [laughs].

Scott Hall: Well, and Sy, if you'll let me as I was just listening to you and Jonathan, I think the word that comes to mind for me is just the prophetic nature of submission. I have 16-year old twin children, and so they're a part of a totally different generation then in a lot of ways is turning so many constructs on their heads and in many good ways. And even pushing I think the church to have to better understand itself and in line with all of what you all are about really extracting itself from patriotic, nationalistic, civic religion of the United States of America. But one of the places that I just feel like is so basic elemental Christian principle that cannot be avoided, is that we, as human beings in our limitation, we have an invitation to submit ourselves to our creator or not, and I don't think you get out of that.

And I think to go back to half hour ago, some time ago in our conversation, it's a basic Christian principle and we White folks, we need to submit. We need to submit to the lordship of Jesus. That is old school but some things never grow old.

Sy Hoekstra: Amen. Scott, the show is White People Work. That's the podcast. I said in the newsletter, I don't think it's a place I would point an absolute newbie [laughs] to the race conversation.

Jonathan Walton: [laughs] Definitely not.

Sy Hoekstra: It's not necessarily a one-o-one level class, but it's definitely an incredible resource for people who are genuinely interested in learning. Or even people who are just kind of interested in learning [laughs], who maybe still do need some persuasion. But it's just such a great resource and it's free. You can support it on Patreon, but it's free. And is there anything else that you want to plug or places that people can follow you or anything like that?

Scott Hall: Really just one other detail. So yes, you can like, follow, subscribe to White People Work. It's streaming on all podcast platforms. There's also a website that supports the podcast that's just Whitepeoplework.org, just spelled out as one long word, Whitepeoplework.o-r-g. You can subscribe there and get some free resources. So yeah, it would be wonderful to have you come check that out. I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be here. And thanks Sy for your affirmation and encouragement of me and what I'm doing.

Sy Hoekstra: Of course. Thank you so much, Scott. We really, really appreciate you being here.

Scott Hall: I feel honored. And just the level of conversation and the quality of what the two of you are bringing to the world, I feel really honored to get to be included.

Sy Hoekstra: That's very kind. We really appreciate that.

Jonathan Walton: Thank you, sir.

Sy Hoekstra: Just a reminder to everyone to go to KTFPress.com and check out being a subscriber there. Go to both websites, Whitepeoplework.org, KTFPress.com. Go subscribe to both. You'll get the bonus episodes of this show, you get our newsletter with our highlights about political education and discipleship. And you support everything that we do at KTF Press. We'd really appreciate it if you would go and check that out and become a paid subscriber. Our theme song as Always is “Citizens” by Jon Guerra, and our podcast Art is by Jacqueline Tam. We will see you all in a couple of weeks.

[The song “Citizens” by Jon Guerra fades in. Lyrics: “And that you’re building a city/ Where we arrive as immigrants/ And you call us citizens/ And you welcome us as children home/ Where we arrive as immigrants/ And you call us citizens/ And you welcome us as children home.” The song fades out.]

Scott Hall: Thanks, Sy for your affirmation and encouragement of me and what I'm doing.

Sy Hoekstra: Of course. And if you need a DEI consultant who will tell you the truth and doesn't care if he fails [laughs], give Scott Hall a call.

Jonathan Walton: [like a commercial tag line] Call Scott Hall.


Scott Hall: I have a suspect relationship with the title “consultant” these days, so we'll see.


KTF Press
Shake the Dust
Leaving colonized faith for the Kingdom of God – Shake the Dust features candid interviews and informed discussions that guide us as we seek Jesus instead of empire.