If you are a member of a historically oppressed group, it seems that there are some privileges that come with the category. While persons who are oppressed are certainly deserving of liberation, protection from the threat of future harm, reparations and restorative justice, it seems that members of this group and those who would like to be identified as their ‘allies’ are encouraging behavior that is detrimental to the advancement of the people that they seek to move forward. At least in the case of Ferguson, forgiveness and reconciliation are not apart of the responsibilities. The suggestion for some meant that persons did not feel the full weight of the tragic events that led to the death of Mr. Michael Brown, Jr., were out of touch with reality and/ or did not care about socially colored “black people.”
I, like many others, have been a victim of a few crimes. It is a horrible experience and certainly leaves you violated, shaken, untrusting, angry even. But, because I have been a victim of a crime does not mean that every person who reminds me of my perpetrator will do the same thing (That would be stereotyping by the way.), that I now have a right and a responsibility to pay them back for what someone else did to me. It does not suggest that I have the right to victimize others or sit as an expert on how to judge the next person who commits this crime against someone else.
And if someone I know and love has been the victim of a crime, this does not afford me the right or responsibility to hate them until death does part us. Yes, you must demand justice. Yes, you must change the laws to ensure that death is prevented and the grief of a family is averted. But, you must also change the conversation and those you are conversing with. We cannot talk about retaliation and retribution generation after generation. At some point, we have to talk about our relationship with those we hate and those who have hated us.
We must get out of our communities and go to the jails and precincts, go to the cities and suburbs, get out of the pews and our armchairs and talk to our ‘enemy.’ Relationships not rules will change the ways in which we perceive each other. This is how we will change the way we speak to each other. It begins with “Hello” not “I hate you.”
Because I confessed Christ, his words are now mine. I vowed to speak as he would, blessing those that curse me and turning the other cheek. Unless, of course, race is an exception to these commandments. But, I don’t think so. There is no fine print there, only red letters.
Still, there are those that wrestle with their allegiance to Christ and their affection for race. These persons have endowed oppressed people with certain inalienable rights. Here are a few that I have taken note of.
1. Oppressed people have the right to judge and pass judgment every time they are reminded of the event.
2. Oppressed people have the right to hate because it is what the oppressor deserves and is the only applicable response.
3. Oppressed people do not have to forgive because it would minimize the impact of their experience and signal that the oppressor is free to hurt them again.
4. Oppressed people have the right to break the law, in this case loot, because of their condition as oppressed people.
5. Oppressed people, who are confessing Christians, are excused from practicing the commandments of Christ during times of conflict.
6. Oppressed people have the right not to form relationships with persons who are members of the culture that oppressed them– though it might bring about cultural healing and personal growth.
7. Oppressed people have the right to stay in the past, stick to the date of the offense and not move beyond being offended.
8. Oppressed people have the right to stereotype all future generations of the oppressor’s culture as future oppressors.
9. Oppressed people have the right to call oppressors mean names and attempt to inflict upon them the same pain that they have experienced.
10. Oppressed people have the right to rename and remake God (who then becomes god) if said God does not endorse the rights of oppressed people and attempts to hold them to the same standard as all those who confess Christ.
I am sick of race changing and challenging the Word of God. The only rights and privileges that we have as believers are those afforded to us by the cross of Christ, whose members are all oppressed by sin.