CCM: I’ve heard you express your interest in apologetics in the past, and that passion seemed to come out most on “New Portrait.” Could you share the story behind that song?
KB: There’s a movement in the city I was born in, St. Petersburg, I won’t name them, but they’re considered a terrorist organization. I think the FBI takes it so far to say they’re a “terrorist organization,” but they are certainly anti-police. They call officers “pigs” and want to kick them out of the community. They’re very militant. They’re non-violent, but very angry. I think some of the anger is justified, but parts of it just sound like it’s white hatred and black nationalism.
I actually went to go spend some time with them. I didn’t know who they were, but I knew that they were active in the city that I love, St. Pete, and they have a headquarters, so I went. I left my wife in the car because I know they’re against interracial marriage, so I didn’t want to get upset in there if they were to disrespect my wife. I went inside and said, “Hey, I’m from the community, and I just want to know what y’all do and see if I can talk to somebody.”
Long story short, I spent an hour up there. I tried to be as affirming as possible. Then when I started to talk, I was like, “Well I just want y’all to know, I am a Christian.” Everybody gasped in the room. “[Gasp] Do you realize what you’re doing?” I think for the first time they had a conscious black Christian who had answers for why there was no issue with Christianity and Africans. I took them through history. I started challenging them, and they had no answer for me because they hadn’t thought about it before.
I even told them, “Your hatred for white supremacy is actually making you a victim of white supremacy because the belief that Christianity is the ‘white man’s religion’ is the height of what white supremacists would want you to think, right? They want you to think that they own it. They want you to assimilate to their thing, and that’s what you believe, and it’s wrong. The most biblical, more historical way to look at this is to see Christianity as something that belongs to, first of all, the Lord—God Almighty—and He extended it not in Europe first, but in the Middle East.”
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