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Dominique Dubois Gilliard: What Joseph, Pharaoh, and the Apostles Teach Us About Privilege

Dominique Dubois Gilliard
Photo courtesy of Dominique Dubois Gilliard

Dominique Dubois Gilliard is the Director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church. An ordained minister, he has served in pastoral ministry in Atlanta, Chicago, and Oakland. Dominique also serves on the board of directors for the Christian Community Development Association and Evangelicals for Justice. His latest book is “Subversive Witness: Scripture’s Call to Leverage Privilege.”

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Key Questions for Dominique Dubois Gilliard

-Can you define privilege for us? Why do people deny that privilege exists and what are the consequences of doing so? 

-How do we define what privilege people have or don’t have?

-Can you give pastors advice on how to begin to have conversations around privilege?

-What would you say to someone who asks, “Can’t I just lead my congregation to serve the poor? Why do I have to get into addressing ‘privilege’?”

Key Quotes From Dominique Dubois Gilliard

“Privilege is not about condemnation, shaming, or guilting one another into coerced actions.”

“There’s a social currency that’s been ascribed to how bodies are formed and shaped in this country in particular. And because of that, there has been the creation of this kind of sliding scale of humanity that is diametrically opposed to the biblical truth we find in Genesis 1:27.”

“Historically, if we try to unpack what we’re talking about, we’re talking about the fact that there has not been equitable access and opportunity for all people in the history of this country.”

“Privilege is not about saying that your life has always been easy. Privilege is not about saying that you have never endured hardships.”

Joseph is somebody who’s born with the silver spoon in his mouth, but ultimately he endures hardship because his brothers essentially sell him into trafficking and he endures humiliation, persecution. He is discriminated against and God lifts him out of that place. And when God lifts him out of that place, God places him into a position of privilege. And in placing him in the position of privilege, God puts Joseph in the second most powerful place with a position within the land. And Joseph has the opportunity when his brothers come back before him, where he’s now in a position of privilege and power to ultimately exploit that privilege, to enact revenge.”