It’s easy for me, given my background, to dismiss talk of systemic racism or social injustice. Frankly, I didn’t see it much growing up and I haven’t seen it much since (at least not in person). And yet that is most likely not the experience of many Americans, and especially Americans of color. I am nauseated and heartbroken by the #EricGarner video, and yet I am even more distraught over the fact that abuses like this, whether from police, business owners, educators, etc., happen every day. This isn’t a statement that every police officer, every white person, etc. is a racist or an oppressor. Of course I’m not saying that. But I am saying that I, as a white middle class male, have NO IDEA what it means to be “black in America.” My ancestors weren’t forcibly removed from their homes and treated like cattle. My great-great grandfather wasn’t treated as a slave even after slavery was outlawed through oppressive economic practices. My grandfather and grandmother weren’t attacked by dogs or broken against walls by fire hydrants in Birmingham, nor were they chased down, beaten, and killed by the Ku Klux Klan. They didn’t have to worry about the Dragon Master who was also the Mayor, or the racist Governor who wouldn’t let them attend the state university. My parents weren’t arrested, beaten, turned away from a business, etc. because of their skin color. And I have never experienced a sideways glance at a traffic stop or in a store because I’m white. And yet this is the family history and personal experience of many black men and women in America.
What is the answer? Of course it’s not riots, and of course it’s not more violence. It’s also not always suspecting the police or assuming every other white person is racist. (To be clear: I’m grateful for our law enforcement officers, and I know everyone isn’t a racist. Ok last time I need to say that.)
But for me and my house, the first step is to pray that the Holy Spirit would give me ears to hear and eyes to see the oppression of my fellow men and women and my fellow brothers and sisters. To grasp the deep justice that Jesus has already wrought for his creation through his death and resurrection and that will sweep over the cosmos like a flood at his return. And to pray to the Father that his name would be hallowed throughout the earth so that his will would be done *on earth* as it is in heaven. THEN after prayer to the Triune God to bring justice, it is the church’s job to model justice as they gather and work for it as they scatter.
I pray that God would give us grace to love him and love others.