John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” NIV
This has been a difficult time for the world. Americans, of every ethnic background, but especially Blacks, have taken to the streets in an outrage over the senseless death of another Black man at the hands of a police office, hearts are broken. As protesters have hit the streets all across the world, there is a harsh realization that racism towards people of color is a world-wide pandemic.
A pandemic is (a disease) prevalent over a whole country or the world. And racism is a disease of the heart that is prevalent over this entire country, even this world. I don’t want to blog about it, but to blog about anything else is to casually acknowledge that this is wrong, and then to go on with my life. This is why my blog is so late in getting out today, just struggling about what to write.
Do you know what happens in times like this? I’ll tell you! You have a video player in your heart that clicks on, and every instance of racism you have experienced, heard, read, or thought about fights for a right to play in you mind. You think of your family members and friends who have been subjected to racism and you fight to push back the feelings of anger that want to rush into your heart. And then, you intentionally begin to remind yourself that as a Believer, you have to hang to the words of Jesus like never before. Love as I have loved you!
This is not a denial of what is happening! Not by a long shot. This is not an overlooking of what has happened. It’s not even possible to do that! But it’s a place of starting the healing in my own heart with the intent of moving forward to a brighter tomorrow.
The Covid-19 pandemic, and the influenza pandemic in the early 1900s, were curbed with social distancing. Unfortunately, this pandemic of racism, is a result of social distancing. Not just in the past several months, but as far back as we care to remember. As we have maintained our White communities, our Black communities, our Latino communities, our Asian communities, and so forth and so on…we have in essence given the pandemic of racism a place to thrive. We may work together, we may even socialize together, but we don’t live life together, loving, as we should.
Even in the church, where this commandment should be front and center, it is still not the case. Some how, Black Christians tend to be looked upon as if we are some how an anomaly of the Black community. So, we are accepted in the church, while the “rest” of our community is not accepted. As new creations in Christ Jesus, we are definitely different than the non-believing Black person, but we are still a part of the community of Blacks. And when we don’t see our church leaders take a stand against racism, it creates a division in our hearts, if not in our sanctuaries.
I remember when I arrived at my duty station in Italy. The Senior Chief that I reported to made a statement to me, in the presence of a Black First Class. Said the white guy to the black woman, “I don’t like women, I don’t like Blacks, and I don’t like Southerners. And you are all three.” Seriously? Did you just say that to me, to my face? The First Class laughed, I was appalled. After I reported it, (weeks later after he tried to undermine me and my performance), he was removed from our base. But before he left, he stopped by my room to get me to retract my “accusation” because he was just playing. Will someone please let the world know, this is not a joking matter! Racism is serious business! Because it comes with such negative connotations to people of color and is accompanied with violent consequences, why would anyone think it is okay, or even a minor issue, when it’s always a part of our lives.
We’ve made some grounds in the area of racism, but we have not made enough! Most racists are not as “in your face” as the Senior Chief was, but it is still there. As people of color, we are constantly being told to get over it, to move on, to not hold it against them, to forgive and forget. But in the same line of thinking, when will it stop? How many more people of color have to be falsely arrested, falsely accused, beaten, tazed, and choked to death? How many more times do we have to watch the men and women who have sworn to serve and protect us, be the ones we need to be protected from.
I really wasn’t going to write another blog about this situation. Really! But a couple days ago I received a text. In the text, a young mother of an infant son, shared her heartaches and concerns about what is going on. She’s afraid for the world in which she has to raise her son. This is America! That should not be her concern. She’s not concerned about crime in essence, but about her son being stopped by the wrong officer or white person, and not making it back home. I almost cried. Can I say it again? This is America!
I am not angry! Not even close! But am tired! Nonetheless, I will continue to work on the commandment given to me by my Savior, to love as He has loved me. He’s forgive me of much! More times than I care to admit. He has loved me through the good, the bad, and the ugly. He has loved me when I felt I couldn’t love myself. He loved me so much, He gave His life for me. His love caused Him to come to me on more than one occasion to help me get through trying situations. His love has never failed me. I sense His love even now!
So today, I want to say, that in spite of my emotions about all that is going on, I choose to continue to work on my love towards white officers, in particular. I choose to assume good over bad. I choose to have a right heart instead of a suspicious heart towards them. I choose to love. Also, I choose to try to help others see the need to walk in love and forgiveness towards those who have brought hurt, harm, and loss of life our community once again. Will it be easy? Probably not because every one has to make their own decisions. But this will be my way of adding to the solution and not to the problem.
If we’re going to end this pandemic of racism, we are going to have to close the distances in our society. We’re going to have to stop saying the white people I work with are okay, but not the white cops. The Blacks I attend church with are okay, but not the ones that live in that other neighborhood. We are going to have to reach out to one another with love of Jesus and make a greater commitment to stamp out this pandemic.
If you have been doing that already, thank you! Keep up the great job of building bridges and relationships. If you have not, it really isn’t too late. Start now! If God would have thought that the world would be just wonderful with just white people or just black people, or just brown people, then there would have been no other race. Every nation, kindred, and tongue is expected to be a part of the Bride, so we may as well get it together now, for it will be that way throughout eternity. Wonderful Jesus!