Unlearning race and undoing racism is hard and time- consuming work. It is a challenging work because it requires confrontation. But, wait! Before you start to clear your throat to recite what you would tell someone else about how “they” have treated you, let me interject. It requires self- confrontation. Race is always personal first.
While we like to gaze in the mirror while wearing our favorite outfit or appreciating our latest haircut, many of us are hard-pressed to look into the mirror to examine the ways in which we have contributed to the race problem. We must ask the real questions: “How has race been a problem for me? How has it gotten in the way of me, restricted my ability to see who God has created me to be? What confusion, self- alienation and internal distance has it caused within me?”
At this point in the conversation on race, it does not matter who started it. It matters if we want to end the fighting. That’s step two of this labor process. Answer the question: “Do you want to stop fighting?” If not, then stop reading because you are not ready to give birth to a post- racial generation.
We have to be willing to put down our weapons, our grudges, our justified and understandable reasons for fighting. We cannot carry both peace and vengeance. We cannot speak healing and prejudice. We cannot see people and stereotypes at the same time. We have to be willing to put down one in order to pick up the other. This will mean that we will have to stop repeating the story of injury and start addressing the wound.
If it is gaping open, then stitch it up. If it’s a break, then reset it. If the relationship needs rehabilitation, then start to walk it out. Get over the fear and put some pressure on it.
Not before we have held ourselves responsible and after we have addressed the wounds and the wounded, then, we can forgive. Once the pain is addressed and a planning of healing is in place, then it is time to forgive. But, it is not forgiveness in order to forget but to restore our relationship and celebrate what we have accomplished.
Let us remember what we have gone through together and allow it to make us stronger. Let us rejoice that we no longer fight each other, that we no longer un-see each other because of race. Let us forgive so that we can love.
That’s the natural thing to do and a most appropriate next step. There is no love without forgiveness. We must give this next generation a love that conquers all– even race. We must show them that our love is greater and stronger than our hatreds. We must tell them that race is not the way and that love is only means of travel, that if we want to go any where in this world, we must love.
This is how we will be able to walk together. We will be reconciled while we walk together in love (cf. Colossians 3.14). It is only when we reach out to heal that we can hold hands in fellowship.
This next generation is waiting to come forth. They are the hope within us. We need only push ourselves to confront ourselves, to heal ourselves, to forgive ourselves and be reconciled to our true selves in order to give birth to a post- racial generation.