We have been riveted by images that have shocked the conscience of a nation - graphic, horrific, tragic images of a black man, handcuffed, lying prostrate on the ground, pleading desperately for his life, with the knee of a white police officer on his neck. America is outraged!
For Christians, shocked outrage is not enough. We must ask ourselves questions. Questions like, “How can this be happening in America in 2020?” “What is the solution?” “How can I be a part of the solution?” “How can we partner across racial lines to stop this from happening again?”
Racism in America has a long and tragic history. The history of over 12 million Africans of all ages, sold into a lifetime of slavery and dehumanization. After the civil war, racism morphed into systematic discrimination that became embedded into the social structure and institutions. Social security, started in the 1930s, specifically excluded domestic and agricultural workers, areas of the economy almost exclusively staffed by African Americans. Federal mortgage policies made it legal to deny African Americans home mortgages because their residence in a neighborhood was deemed to reduce home values; and “Tough on Crime” sentencing laws disproportionately targeted African Americans for excessively long prison terms.
In 1968, the Kerner Commission, initiated by President Lyndon Johnson to study unrest in American cities insisted that “white society is deeply implicated in the ghetto. White institutions created it, white institutions maintain it, and white society condones it.”
Today the fruit of this centuries long systemic discrimination is evident everywhere. African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at twice the rate of whites due to poor access to health care. Police violence kills hundreds of African Americans every year. Black women are three to four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, due to lack of access to quality health care. Black children are more likely to attend poorly resourced schools; millions of African American voters have been disenfranchised because of felony convictions by a judicial system that is stacked against them; and unemployment rates among African Americans are sky high.
Last week, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote an oped in LA Times. He said that racism is like dust in the air, it seems invisible even if you are choking on it – until you let the sun in. Then you see that it is everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant because it’s always still in the air.
The Solution is Twofold:
- Shine the Light: We must shine the light on the dust of racism wherever it falls. To shine the light, we must be willing to engage in honest and constructive dialogue. We must talk about negative stereotypes, and implicit bias, embedded in movies and messages on TV. We must talk about white privilege, the fact that white America has the benefit of the doubt, the benefit of being considered better than, of having their hard work assisted by the assumption that they are smart, moral and more capable than others. We must be willing to identify racism, bias and prejudice in every sphere of life. These conversations will be painful, but they have to be painful to be meaningful.
- Commitment to Cleaning up Racism Wherever it Exists: A lot would need to change and it requires strong, unwavering commitment; commitment to address racial inequality in the workplace; the church; educational institutions; criminal justice system; business, financial institutions; workplace inequality for women and criminal justice reform. We desperately need transformation in the administration of justice; a systematic revamp across the board, that must include police retraining and accountability! The first test of our resolve will come this year in city halls and statehouses across America, and in Washington, D.C., as legislatures debate and evaluate reform legislation.
HOW CAN YOU BE A PART OF THE SOLUTION?
Engage in Decisive Dialogue: We must engage in honest, open, decisive dialogue. This can be a polarizing discussion. The devil would love to divide us into two camps - White or Black. But we must not let him! In times like this, I focus on the question Pilate asked Jesus in John 18:38, “What is Truth?” That is the only way to find out where God is, because He is THE TRUTH! So, I want us to know that there is a third camp, the camp of Grace and Truth. This is where Jesus stands, and we must find our way to that camp. We must be willing to face what is in our own hearts and have an honest conversation with ourselves. Tune in to The GraceTalk RACISM PANEL on Saturdays at 7PM for honest, raw, but healing live dialogue among black and white people on racism, bias, and prejudice in America. https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?v=2665603967012248 This is the type of dialogue we need to get to credible solutions.
It’s Time for Change: And it’s up to you and I to make change happen. We are at a critical time in our nation’s history, when leadership courage is required of the church of Jesus Christ. Jesus put us in charge of this planet and said, “occupy till I come”. This fiasco is happening on our watch. Today, the roll is being called for true Christians. Christians who will join hands across racial lines to love the “least of these”. Christians who will break the code of complicit silence. Christians who will value and fight for ALL human life, not just babies in the womb. Christians who will arise from apathy, indifference, and deflection, and commit to empathy, collective responsibility, accountability, genuine repentance and CHANGE. Christians who will demand a just government that secures for ALL Americans the most basic human right, the right to LIFE. Christians who will be part of the solution and agents of healing in America! The roll is being called. Are you present?
PRAYER: Powerful three minute prayer for racial healing and justice in America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KChHClXmZmM
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