Black lives matter is not an attack on all lives matter. When I hear well meaning white friends say “all lives matter” my heart cringes at the embedded privilege that saturates the statement. Yet, I have been that friend. I have been the one who has made ignorant assumptions based upon my 21-year-old, middle class, heterosexual, married, Christian, white, male social location. My social location has blinded me for most of life from the racial division that has and is continually plaguing this country.
Now, knowing what I know and seeing what I see, my heart breaks for the communities who are still suffering from the systematic racism in America. I want to apologize. I’m sorry for my ignorance, my silence. I will never truly understand the hardships the black communities face everyday, but what I can do is listen, encourage others to listen, and move towards a better future.
“Things like racism are institutionalized. You might not know any bigots. You feel like ‘well I don’t hate black people so I’m not a racist,’ but you benefit from racism. Just by the merit, the color of your skin. The opportunities that you have, you’re privileged in ways that you might not even realize because you haven’t been deprived of certain things. We need to talk about these things in order for them to change.”Dave Chappelle
When topics like race and racism come up it can be a quick road to guilt. For me, my gut reaction is to feel guilty about how I didn’t use my voice to help or how I didn’t speak up in certain conversations. Guilt only imprisons us. Grace alone can free us. Let grace win in these conversations and strive to listen to the narratives of those around us. The purpose of these conversations isn’t guilt, it is action. Conviction brings action while guilt brings stagnation.
What we are seeing today is not an increase in racism, but an increase in the coverage of racism. Will Smith says, “Racism isn’t getting worse. It’s getting filmed.” The criminalization of black people has been a source of injustice since the ratification of the 13th amendment (for more info: 13th).
December 6, 1865. The day the 13th amendment was passed.
July 2, 1964. The day the Civil Rights Act was signed.
May 25, 2020. The day George Floyd passed.
This has been a long road and will continue to be a long road. We live in the aftershock of the civil rights movement. No wonder we see statistics of how black people are more likely not to vote, not to have access to healthcare, or not to be able to secure loans. Recently, during coronavirus, almost every major news outlet has done an article on why black people are more likely to contract and possibly die from COVID at higher rates than white people.
All lives matter does not acknowledge the centuries of oppression black communities have endured that have brought us to today. All lives matter, but why are the black communities suffering in ways white communities are not?
How will God’s people respond as the world watches injustice roll down our streets?
The church has the hard but necessary job of speaking truth with love when it is easy to act out in emotion and hatred. The truth is that there is only one savior and none of us are him. We must ruthlessly destroy the savior complex within all of us. Our savior complex only adds to the brokenness and hurt around us. The true savior fought for life and proclaimed everyone is worthy of love because they are a child of God.
Always ask yourself, “Who am I making the hero of this story?” Who you make the hero is who you align yourself with. Whose kingdom are you bringing? The kingdom of self? The kingdom of America? Or the kingdom of Heaven? There is only one true hero and his name is Jesus. Any other hero only adds to the brokenness. Jesus can heal. Jesus can restore. Jesus can change our hearts.
“Come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.”Matthew 11:28
If we make Jesus the hero of our story then we can move from a place of charity to solidarity. Charity is concerned with filling temporary needs. Solidarity is concerned with changing the systems that create temporary needs. Charity is the Band-Aid. Solidarity is the cure.
As we listen and hear the stories of the oppressed we move on their vision, not on what we think people need. Only when we submit to the needs and dreams of the oppressed can we begin the process of reconciliation and begin changing the systems that create oppression. This type of living takes a next level faith and security in Jesus. If you are not secure in your eternal hope then you will do everything to make life as pleasurable and comfortable as possible. When Jesus becomes our savior he bids us to come and die.
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”Galatians 2:20
Injustice should make us uncomfortable. Injustice should raise convictions and questions within us. So we listen. We ask questions. We learn about experiences not like our own. When needed or asked we leverage our privilege to help create a better world. In doing so, we acknowledge the intention of our creator. All men and women, races, ethnicities, cities, languages, and backgrounds have value because we are God’s children. “For we are God’s handiwork…” (Eph. 2:10) We are made in his image for his purpose.
As the nation unifies and rallies behind those stories the door will be opened for all of us to join the song of justice that has been sung for centuries. Even in a dark time like this the unity seen nationwide has brought a silver lining to it all. May every race, church, and socio-economic status raise the banner of justice as heaven invades earth. I begin to think that this unity is a glimpse of what is to come in the presence of our one, true savior.
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'”Revelation 7:9-10
The Gospel Coalition: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/uncomfortable-hope-race-relations-america/