“Ferguson.” “Thugs.” “White privilege.” “Illegals.” “Baltimore.” “Don’t shoot!” “Black lives matter.” “Charleston.”
We have seen the headlines, but what do these words mean to you? When issues of racism grab our attention nationally, what does the conversation look like locally, amongst your co-workers and peers? If you are a part of the ethnic majority, do your ethnic minority peers feel like you truly want to understand what is going on within their people group? As an ethnic minority, are you initiating with the majority culture to help them understand you as an individual and as a part of a people group?
- Are we asking questions (even if they seem silly or naive) to better appreciate the culture of the person next to our cubicle?
Are we looking inward and being honest with our own prejudices? (We all have them.)
- Do we realize that racial issues are not an “old” problem but a problem in our generation, too?
- Are we humble enough to say, “I don’t know what I don’t know?”
Dr. John Perkins, the keynote speaker at a race reconciliation event I attended, observed that the Church has been largely silent on racial matters. If the Church is not a part of the change, then how can we expect healing to come in a biblical way? If the Church is not a part of the change, how can we expect justice to flourish from the Gospel?
We all have different opinions about the deaths of the Black men and women these headlines highlight and about the topic of immigration. And we have the right to disagree: these events are part of a history that is enormously complex. But even as we disagree, are we willing to say to each other, “Help me understand why Blacks and Whites struggle to get along?” Or, “Help me understand your life (as a Hispanic, Asian American, Native American, or another ethnic identity) in this country.” Or, “Are there things I say or do that make you feel substandard as an ethnic-minority?” People around us are already engaged in these kinds of conversations. If we are not part of the discussion, how will our non-believing co-workers ever see the hope of Jesus?
Have you noticed how so much of this article has been in question form? My hope is that it inspires us all to ask questions first and, as we learn, to repent and forgive as God moves our hearts. Through such a process, I believe we will be better equipped as loving bridge builders and ministers of reconciliation.Lord, help us crush our own flawed lenses and see the beauty of all skin colors and all peoples the way You do!