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Monday, January 2, 2012

Resolution Against Racial Injustice

Let's take a moment to recommit ourselves to perusing the redemption of a racially broken world, to seeking racial justice and reconciliation for the sake of the cross and the unified body of Christ. Here, we'll examine some small first steps that those in positions of privilege can take to begin the journey this year.

Firstly, of course, we delve into the Word. Study passages like Rev 7:9-10 in the context of racial justice. What does it mean that God's will be done 'on earth as it is in heaven'? Build foundations in scriptural mandates like Ephesians 4:1-14 and Isaiah 58. Looking at John 4:1-42, how does Jesus handle interactions with the marginalized, the disenfranchised, those considered different? What would today's Samaritan look like?

How does the early church handle being confronted with systemic racial injustice within their ministry in Acts 6:1-7? Take your time going through Matthew 8:5-13, Mark 1:16-19, Mark 7:24-30, Mark 14: 3-9, and Philippians 2. What do they have to say about  marginalization and our interactions with the 'other'? What do they say about justice in the context of the Kingdom? Who are the people that are exalted? Who are the people that are made low?

In addition to scripture, read books that will educate about the modern condition of racial brokenness in which we live. Begin with books like More Than EqualsDivided by Faith, and Why Are All The Black Kids (others here). Catch up on the history and literature that was neglected during our childhood education (See: White History Month). How much have we missed out on because we felt it 'wasn't for us'? Reread books you might not have appreciated as a kid, and delve into new ones that you might not have previously considered to be part of your heritage.

In black literature, for one example, Toni Morison, Octavia Butler, Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes are great places to start. Sure, you've heard of them. Probably even read Caged Bird. But what else? How many speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. have you actually read? The original writings of Frederick Douglass and Malcolm X? And these are just the headliner names.  Explore 'White Readers Meet Black Authors' and immerse yourself in the rich options before you. Learn histories, watch films, study the important figures and their contributions to your world.

Notice, that above are all steps that can be taken within the comfort and safety of your own home. They are important to lay a foundation of understanding to give context to our daily interactions. It's not the job of those already marginalized to help us catch up in our own understanding. But real reconciliation only happens in the context of relationship. 

Healing, redemptive relationships happen when we meet others on their own terms, in their own time. This means shedding the privilege to be comfortable, to be amid the familiar, or to progress on your own timetable. White folks have lived in almost entirely unchallenged self-segregation: maintaining separate schools, neighborhoods, churches. While for folks in the minority this can be an opportunity to find rest and sanctuary, for those who regularly dominate majority culture it is a reflection of our own unjust privilege to perpetuate disparity. 

So often, we want to be reconciled and yet fail to yield to the very kinds of situations that we perpetuate on others daily. Take the opportunity to build relationships by surrendering some of that privilege. Regularly place yourself in situations where you are in the racial minority and submit to the leadership of others.

Join a gospel choir, or a book club that intentionally explores literature by people of color. Go the gym or join a church where you are no longer in the majority. If you choose not to, understand it is your privilege that allows you to make that choice. But we will need major shifts in the status quo to affect meaningful change. 

Do not do these things as if joining an expedition into "authenticity" or the "real POC experience," but enter with humility and submission. Invest in relationships, sacrificing time and energy for the sake of  redemption. Relinquish pride and privilege, being respectful of hesitancy and self-preservation on the part of others. Be mindful of the limitations that are the consequences of our corporate sin, and refrain from invading safe space. That being said, persevere even as Christ has preserved in His love for us.

Position yourself as a servant in the fight for racial redemption. Be prayerfully and intentionally relational with those around you, becoming an active advocate in your community. Find sisters and brothers of accountability and encouragement. Ask questions and be open to the answers.

  • What practical steps have you taken for racial redemption? What aspects of the above are most challenging or confusing? What are the next steps for you in your journey? What advice do you have for others?

1 comment:

  1. Just found this useful resource, '25 Things Your Congregation Can Do to Affirm Diversity and Challenge Racism' from GCORR of the UMC:


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