Tag Archives: healing from race

Disturbing History

Image result for removal of confederate monumentsAmerican slavery is being discussed again.  But, not because African Americans brought it up.  It is in the news due to debates around the removal of Confederate statues.  It seems that there is a way to talk about American slavery that persons are comfortable with.  If it is about honoring so- called war heroes that fought to keep Africans and African Americans in perpetual servitude to European Americans, then, “Pull up a chair.  Let me tell you all about it.”

That’s more than awkward; it is alarming.  Because they are not war heroes but traitors to our shared humanity.  Forget walking in someone else’s shoes, they didn’t want to share the earth with Africans and later African Americans.  These persons thought the abolition of slavery to be anti- American.  And they did more than protest in city streets, they started a war.

They even gave themselves a new name, The Confederate States of America also known as the Confederacy, representing the eleven states that seceded from the union.  From 1861-1865, they rebelled against the law of the land.  Rather than play nicely with the African Americans, they segregated themselves, cut themselves off from persons who disagreed with them.  They even created a new flag to pledge allegiance to.  No compromise, no discussion, no meeting persons halfway, their personal wealth, largely dependent upon the forced labor of African Americans, was more important.  Profits over people.

Persons who argue that the statues should remain say that we cannot change history.  But what we can change is our view of it.  We can say that this story, this time in our lives was bad and what we did was wrong.  The stir that this has caused is proof that apologizing for slavery is not enough.  Instead, actions must follow that say that we do not support or look up to our past actions.

This disturbing history is an opportunity to reexamine our own.  Though as Christians, our sign should only be Christ’s cross, in June, an article in Christianity Today asked, “Should Churches Keep Their Civil War Landmarks?”    Churches, schools and city streets were named after members of the Confederacy.  Following local governments who are removing statues erected long after the Civil War, churches like the National Cathedral are removing stained glass windows honoring generals like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.  This history should always disturb us and move us to examine ourselves.  If it hard for us to remove statues, how much more difficult it will be for us to replace stony hearts (cf. Ezekiel 36.26).

Healing Relationships

CZQ4aooWAAAkhG7We give and spend millions of dollars in hopes of curing diseases that infect the body and prematurely take the lives of those we love.  Worthy causes they all are.  We also need to invest in a cure for race.  This social infection compromises our relationships, vanquishes our self- awareness and understanding of our neighbors, local, national and global.

The effects of its prejudices and stereotypes have been devastating.  It causes people to separate into groups of us and them.  We take sides that do nothing more than pull us apart.  Without techniques and proper training, there seems to be no means of putting them back together again.  Friendships never form and we will never know how much has been lost in the absence of cross- cultural conversations.

We walk miles to raise money for these causes.  It is good for our health and for the momentum of those who fight, but what of the distance we do not travel to make connections, random but intentional, with those who do not share our culture and traditions? Race has caused our members to be spread so far apart, not wanting to touch though we cannot function without each other.

Jesus asked a necessary question of a man who had been ill for thirty- eight years, “Do you want to be made well” (John 5.6)?  Because it cannot be assumed that because a person is ill or even asks for help that she and he want the condition to change.  Sometimes, we can get use to fighting, arguing, hating, living separately.  And while the possibility of wholeness is accessible through the presence of Christ, we have gotten use to lying down.  We’ve gotten comfortable with our position.

Today, I challenge us to answer the question or stop talking about the problem.


A Conversation: Undoing Racism in American Cities

Undoing Racism in America’s Cities is a discussion with city leaders and other experts on local efforts to respond to the national crises that have elevated issues of race, racism, racial healing and racial equity.

What is the world coming to?

00037508_bDuring this season of Advent, we remember and celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ, of divine feet on earth, of God with us.  Still, I can’t help but wonder what the world is coming to.  The recent death of Laquan McDonald still has my mind reeling.  What is happening to us?

What is happening to my mind when I watch a seventeen year old child shot sixteen times?  Or, how will my eye sight be impacted after watching Eric Garner being choked to death?  And what of the deaths of Tamir Rice or Walter Scott or Samuel Dubose?  What of our humanity has died with them?  Their last breath should not be wasted, held or not used to voice this loss of relationship.

As we reflect on the humble beginnings of Christ and the meager ways he came to us, I challenge us to look at the ways that we have arrived at our present state.  How do we enter the community and the conversations of others and are we humble?  What do we ride in on when we enter a room?  And who surrounds us, who are we looking at when we talk about Jesus?

What the world comes to is based on our willingness to move in ways that encourage authentic and transparent conversations and resultant community.  But, we must come ready to talk without defense or excuse.  No shouting matches or blame- shifting.  Shh.  Remember, the baby is in the manger.  Christ has come and God is with us.

And whatever we do or don’t do, our world will come to God in the end, divine feet on earth, touching all country roads and city streets to include the one that held Laquan McDonald.

Say Something New

case-for-talking-raceThe news reporting is the same.  Same angles, views and I suspect that is the same pencil used to sketch and draw the same conclusions.  The words used to describe race relations remains unchanged: allies and hate mongers, race cards and race baiting, tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation.  We reach conclusions that are the same as before.  And no matter what is said or how often we say it, we agree that we need to talk about race.

But, we do talk about race and we do hear more about prejudice and racism.  Now apart of the twenty- four hour news cycle, unsolicited and unfiltered YouTube commentary, hash tags and trending topics, there are many conversations being had.  Consequently, the news about (suspected) race- related incidents is spreading and spreading quickly.

Because there is a smart phone in the room, persons may not tell racist jokes– even when behind closed doors.  Dashboard cameras and private citizens videotaping police interactions also limit what is hidden behind the badge.  We are seeing more of the personal, social and systemic works of race.  Yet, we are not able to talk ourselves of it.  Why is this?

I think that I have an idea.  Now, this is just a theory.  I don’t wear a lab coat and I have no experiments or lab rats, dead or alive, to support my findings.  But, I believe we have created a prejudice about conversations about race and that once we hear the word race, we already hear what we have come to expect or experience.

What do we do about it?  Stop making assumptions as to how the conversation will go.  We cannot begin a conversations with conclusions as to how this is going to end.

Instead, start from beginning.  Begin with introductions not assumptions.  Learn their name and their story.  Race is not personal and will not tell you about them.

We must also be aware of the prejudices that we bring to conversations about race.  We must ask ourselves if we want to have a friendship or a fight.  Be sure that the other person agrees to this end before you engage them.

Question yourself and your intentions.  Have you worked through your issues with race in order to be ready for a cross- cultural conversation and relationship?  Do you want a conversation or a verbal wrestling match?  Do you want this interaction to win- lose or win- win?  What is your goal, your aim for talking about race?

And begin to listen and hear what is being said in order to say something new.  Conversations about race are defensive in nature.  Removing the assumptions will allow us to lower our guard and allow a new perspective to enter.  We not only need to stop and listen but we need to slow down and think.

Think our responses through and let them be for this moment and in this instance.  We cannot tackle and should not take on hundred of years of history and millions of hurts in one sitting.  Instead, let’s do something new.  Let’s take it one day at time and one person at a time.