The election of Obama awakened me to the fact that my white Christian friends didn’t know black history. The election of Trump motivated me to actively address it. So many people have welcomed this dialogue and that openness contributes to my sense of hope. To all those who have encouraged me, thank you!
In conclusion, I’ll share the ways I have tried to seek and find peace in my corner of the world. Maybe there will be useful ideas for you.
In 2016, I started a private Facebook group called Hand in Hand Toward Racial Healing. I needed a place to openly discuss race and politics without the ire of detractors. The group grew from 50 of my own friends to 168 friends of friends. Eventually, I moved from cyberspace to work more locally, so I archived the group.
In the summer of 2017, I participated in a book group that read Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things. It was a small step engaging in-person on race. Click here for a great book list or message me if you have a specific direction of interest.
In the fall of 2017 I took part in a 12-week academy sponsored by the Charlottesville Police Department. It really helped eliminate my deepest biases against law enforcement.
In 2018, I led a Be the Bridge Bible study. A group of six black women and six white women met once per month to learn about racism and our role as peacemakers. We want take what we learned and lift up Charlottesville where there are disparities in education, income, housing, and health care.
What’s racially broken in your town? Is it zoning and housing? Is it education and policing? There are Good Samaritans in your backyard trying to alleviate this suffering. Join them. Jeremiah 29.17 says, Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.
Ultimately, I became a more committed learner. I watched a lot of videos, surfed websites, and my Amazon account shows the purchase of 14 books over the last year. I am still wading through them, but they have allowed me to see clearly what I have known deep down: There is no righteous nation. No, not one. We must not let American exceptionalism and any presumption of being “great” blind us to human depravity in these United States.
With all this said, let’s guard against shaming people into action. One of the greatest forms of reparations white Christians can offer blacks is a restoration of our dignity. Compare how Jesus elevated Samaritans to the way blacks are characterized these days as welfare queens and thugs. Or what about the negative data used to shame black people for ways we have not progressed? It’s crazy to find fault with people at the bottom who were put there on purpose and stepped on for three and a half centuries:
Similarly, some parents pass along racial animus to kids who are denied college admittance, blaming blacks and affirmative action in spite of other realities:
It’s just as wrong for blacks to guilt whites into repentance or action. No one living today is responsible for slavery. And shaming white men for positions they hold is just as evil as shaming black men for ways they lag behind. The term “white privilege” may offer principles worth discussing, but when used as tool of shame (like “black-on-black” crime), it leaves people defensive and unwilling to engage.
With each passing year, I have less and less time to infuse love into this world. That’s all I want to do as a mom, grandmother, and follower of Christ. I truly understand why Jesus prayed at the end of his life that we all would be unified. Brotherly love is a beautiful thing. It’s a God thing.
During this 400th year since the first slaves came to America, may we join hands in a spirit of unity that is stronger than ever, as a witness to the world of our God’s great love for everyone.
I’m praying not only for them
But also for those who will believe in me
Because of them and their witness about me.
The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind—
Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you,
So they might be one heart and mind with us.
Then the world might believe that you, in fact, sent me.
The same glory you gave me, I gave them,
So they’ll be as unified and together as we are—
I in them and you in me.
Then they’ll be mature in this oneness,
And give the godless world evidence
That you’ve sent me and loved them
In the same way you’ve loved me.