Louie Giglio faces backlash for suggesting white privilege be reframed as “white blessing”

Christian leader posts apology video in response

Atlanta pastor Louie Giglio has been criticised for suggesting white privilege could be reframed as “white blessing”. Giglio, who is the pastor of Passion City Church in Atlanta, made the comments in an on-camera conversation on Sunday with Black hip-hop artist Lecrae and Dan Cathy, CEO of fast food retailer Chic-Fil-A on Sunday.

“We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do, and we say ‘that was bad,’ but we miss the blessing of slavery that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in and lived in,” said Giglio, in one of many recent conversations in US church circles between Black and white Christians (such as Hillsong’s Carl Lentz and TD Jakes).

“And so a lot of people call this ‘white privilege’ and when you say those two words it’s like a fuse goes off for a lot of white people because they don’t want somebody telling them to check their privilege.”

Speaking to Lecrae, Giglio continued: “I know that you and I both have struggled in these days with ‘hey if the phrase is the trip up, let’s get over the phrase and let’s get down to the heart, let’s get down to what then do you want to call it,’ and I think maybe a great thing for me is to call it ‘white blessing’. That I’m living in the blessing of the curse that happened generationally that allowed me to grow up in Atlanta.”

Giglio’s comments were swiftly condemned by social media viewers. They noted his reframing suggestion was an attempt to avoid “white guilt” – a term describing the sense of culpability felt by white people when they become aware of benefits they have received as a result of systemic racism.

“‘White Privilege’ is being able to re-define and introduce new words to suite their cognitive dissonance,” responded Tweeter Tina Ferguson.

“Using the term ‘white blessing’ instead of ‘white privilege’ erases reality,” wrote journalist Keith Boykin. “ ‘White blessing’ implies that white advantages in society are ordained by God and allows white people to absolve themselves of responsibility for their own creation and perpetuation of white supremacy.”

Giglio has since posted a video apology for what he said was a “horrible choice of words” while trying to make a broader point that “white privilege is real.”

“In trying to get that sentiment across on Sunday I used the phrase ‘white blessing,’ for which I’m deeply sorry,” Giglio said in a video apology. “… I don’t, to be clear, think there’s any blessing in slavery. To the contrary, I’m trying to understand and help people see that I, my white brothers and sisters, we sit in large part where we are today because of the centuries of gross injustice done to our black brothers and sisters.”

In the aftermath of Giglio’s comments, Lecrae himself was criticised for failing to take Giglio to task over his comments. The hip-hop star has since posted his own video saying “he wasn’t OK with it” and describing his own journey engaging in such discussions.

“Obviously I’m not OK with changing white privilege to white blessing. That’s a privilege in and of itself,” he said.