I used to hang out with a not-so-famous rap group when I was eighteen. Their name was “Dark Cap”, an acronym I can’t remember how to flesh out twenty some years later. One night, driving home from DC back to the suburbs of Northern Virginia, we were pulled over. The cop said I had been swerving. I didn’t think I had, and I hadn’t been drinking.
The cops then proceeded to search all three of the young men while one officer pulled me aside and asked if I was ok. Although I was the one accused of driving erratically, I was not searched or breathalyzed. And yes, all three of my friends were black.
I write this to tell you I have witnessed racial profiling first hand. I know it exists.
When the George Floyd murder happened last May, I was a mess. I called my friend and just started to sob. I wanted to do something but felt helpless.
As the months marched on, I thought about the issue of racism more than I ever had before. I experienced some of it from dating black men much of my teen and adult life, from both sides, but I know I will never know how it feels to be a person of color.
As a Christian, I have tried to process this issue through the lens of God’s word. I tend to see things as black and white (no pun intended), and as I mentally rejected some of the solutions presented to our societal shortcomings, I think I may have let some of my empathy fall to the wayside. I apologize for that. I know there are some small-minded, mean people in the world and it is never acceptable to be treated differently because of your skin color.
I remember my friend Julie and I watching “Harriet”, a thrilling movie about Harriet Tubman, her journey to freedom, and subsequent rescue missions back into the heart of slave country to bring more people to freedom. I remember the emotion the movie evoked and asking as we left the theater, “Would we have been on the right side of history?” I hope so. I hope I also would have stood with my brothers and sisters of color against the evils of racism and segregation during the Civil Rights movement.
Still, I don’t see a human solution to today’s issues. I don’t know what laws to change, or how to right wrongs committed by dead people. I recognize centuries of mistreatment and inequality, and it breaks my heart.
And yet…I still can’t see how labeling people victims and oppressors will help us move forward. I think it will just widen pre-existing divides. If there are any laws left on the books that are unjust and unfair, by all means, change them! If the issue, however, is sin and prejudice in people’s hearts, how do we legislate change there? We can’t! So what is the answer?
I think it’s the gospel. Jesus died to create a people for himself of every nation, tongue, and tribe, and he expects unity within this people. Therefore, if we are in Christ but still holding on to division, or preference, or unforgiveness, we are in sin and need to repent. A house divided will not stand.
We reject racism in our own hearts. We raise our children in the admonition of the Lord, teaching them to love and do good to everyone. We repent of sin, including racism, that holds us back from the unity we are to have in Christ. If we see oppression, we do something about it. However, talking about how terrible that group of people is solves nothing. It’s slander, it’s racist, and it’s not pleasing to God.
Also, I think somewhere along the way our definition of “poor and oppressed” has gotten confused with “people of color.” Many people of color today are neither poor nor oppressed, and don’t care to be labeled as such. That being said, we also love and grieve with people who have been hurt by racism. It does exist, and it’s never ok. Please forgive me if I have ever glossed over your pain from personal experience.
The only true way forward I can see is through God’s spirit and God’s people. We are to be the hands and feet of God, forgiving each other, bearing with one another, and on mission together bringing the gospel that changes hearts and lives to all people. Where the poor and oppressed (of any color) need help, we rise to meet needs. As we feed the hungry, disciple new believers, reduce unemployment, and teach people to follow the Lord and walk in his ways, we see fatherlessness recede as Biblical marriage takes its place. We see children born into stable families. We see cycles of crime and poverty lessen as people find new hope in Christ.
The church has to be about God’s business for this to work. And we have to do it together.
I’m not saying this will fix everything. There will always be sin and evil in this world until Jesus returns, but I believe this is the best way to rebuild brokenness and push back darkness, because it’s God’s way! The government can only do so much, and it doesn’t heal hurt, give hope, or fix hearts. Only Jesus can do that.
Just on my heart today.
Some resources I’ve found helpful:
Monique Duson (a former SJW and CRT advocate) has a great site here to help us move towards racial unity in ways that honor God and build up the church 👇🏼
For the Church Podcast: Jared Wilson and Shai Linne discuss Shai’s book “The New Reformation”