Newbell, who is Black, had spoken about imago Dei -- the idea that all humans, of all races, are made in the image and likeness of God. The man disagreed.
"He explained that I was subhuman, that I was a different species," recalled Newbell. "And he was trying to use Scripture as proof."
Newbell, 41, chooses her words carefully. But the Knoxville native is candid about the racism she's faced during her ministry, including the past seven years as a community outreach director for an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention.
"Too many times to name, I have gone after a speaking event and wept in my hotel room," Newbell recalled in a recent interview, "just realizing how deeply deceived some people are."
Since the death of George Floyd in police custody in May, conservative White Christians have condemned racial injustice in unprecedented ways
, with many acknowledging and pledging to fight the persistent scourge of systemic racism.
White Christian leaders have prayed at vigils and marched in protests, damned the officers accused of killing Floyd and recited the slogan Black Lives Matter, often while distancing themselves from the organization of the same name. One evangelical magazine, Christianity Today, called for a church-led reparations project
But even as they appreciate the scales falling
from some White Christians' eyes, some Black Christians remain wary.
That's especially true of those like Newbell who have spent significant time in predominantly White spaces. Many said they are bracing for a "whitelash"
-- the moment White Christians tire of talking about race and bristle when Black pastors or congregants want to continue the conversation.
Newbell said she is optimistic about the pos