“Unhealed history repeats itself.”
~ Russ Parker, Healing Wounded History: Reconciling People and Restoring Places
I hate “Black History Month” and I am so glad that it’s over. Gasp. Before you deduce that I lack an appreciation for the struggles of my ancestors, that I am too young to understand the sufferings that were endured, the strides that have been made or just plain ignorant, let me explain. I hate the way that history is told and retold. I hate the way that the accomplishments of this group or that are highlighted in such a way as to promote racial division and competition. I hate that these celebrations often include pronouncements or declarations that conflict with our Christian confession. For example, I hate that people of faith are still singing “We Shall Overcome” when we have already overcome because of the testimony of Jesus Christ who lives in us and his blood (Rev. 12.11).
I hate the way in which the accomplishments of African Americans and for that matter, all cultures are celebrated in America. These celebrations are segregated, cut off from one another as we are invited each month to join this group or that to highlight their accomplishments. And these celebrations are idolatrous in many churches as we praise the accomplishments of our skin and make no mention of Jesus Christ and what Christ has done for us. We gather to sing “our” national anthem, to celebrate the creative genius of “our people” and to remind persons of our “wounded history.” What of Christ’s work in us and what is Christ calling us to do about our history? Christ is certainly not calling us to live by it or to live from it.
I hate the way that we talk about history. We rehearse old conflicts, get mad all over again and begin repeating hate speech and making hate covenants. There is nothing Christ- like about it and yet, we feel justified in doing it. We make no excuses or apologies for our prejudices or our hateful speech. But, point to the past as if it exempts us from Christ’s commands to love and forgive.
We must begin to talk about our collective history differently, not in segregated months but in daily conversation as it is necessary and applicable as sisters and brothers in God’s family. History is not black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige. Time cannot be color- coded. History is the past and we’ve got to heal ourselves of it. Or, we can continue to repeat it, celebrating yet another black/ white/ red/ yellow/ brown/ beige history month.