Some Thoughts on Racial Reconciliation
OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS, I have been immersed in a conversation about matters of race and racial reconciliation. It has been an enlightening experience and at the same time a painful and hard conversation to have.
There are a few things that I have learned over the past few years as a result of this conversation.
- The conversation is worthwhile and necessary. There is so much to be gained by hearing the perspective of others who are of a different ethnic background than yours. Our experiences are very different from each other. For example, consider this question: “When was the first time in your life you remember thinking about race?” I discovered that as a white person in the predominant culture and growing up in a rural white community, I really didn’t think about race until I went to college. On the other hand, when a minority answers this question, they can’t think of a time when race wasn’t an issue on the forefront of their memory.
- I can easily get defensive about matters of race and be quick to dismiss any notion of “white-privilege.” And yet, when I hear the stories of black and Latino pastors and some of the things they have experienced simply because of the color of their skin, I have to admit that there are real systemic issues within our society that reinforce the racism that continues to plague our country. Can I point to improvements and advancements in this area? For sure. But those advancements do not dismiss the reality that there are still many hurdles to overcome.
- Finally, the evangelical church has a long way to go in contributing to racial reconciliation. This is perhaps the most painful part of the conversation for me. It was an eye-opener for me to discover that the evangelical church in America is 90% white. The reason this is the case is because we inadvertently reinforce racial prejudices without even knowing it. By emphasizing the personal responsibility of the individual, we downplay the systemic realities that bring about the oppression of a particular race and so we are slow to call for justice on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Consequently, we remain silent on this matter and our silence is equivalent to being complicit. We need to see racial reconciliation as a gospel issue.
These thoughts are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to think more on this matter, I would highly recommend the book Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America.
Here is a brief video for you to consider this topic further.
Spend some time on Monday, pausing to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to our society and pray that WEFC would be a place that grows in our ethnic diversity so that we might reflect well the body of Christ to our communities.
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