Functioning in a Racially Torn Culture

We were one week removed from the Sterling /Castille, Dallas police shootings, when three more policemen were killed in Louisiana.  Since then there has been other killings. Truly our society is broken. Typically our mode of operation is to express anger, hurt, and then dialogue in various places.  After things die down we continue life under “business as usual” until the next tragedy and then we go through the cycle again.   The reason for not moving forward lies in the complexity of moving forward.  People often ask, “What can we do to prevent these tragedies embedded in racial hatred?”  The problem lies in the question.  The question is too broad and too complexed because there is no single task that we can do to address all of the issues embedded in the hearts of people.  We don’t have any kinds of laws or legislation to cover all of these things.  However, I would like to put forth a proposal for the Christian community to function.  The reason that I sight the Christian community is because we are bound to each other (whether we admit it or not) by God’s law.  Others can join in but Jesus commands us to love one another.  This command is not just a command to white people, African Americans, or any particular race that have accepted Jesus.  The command to love is incumbent on all who have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior.  So then what does love on all of our part look like and how does love for each help us to function particularly at a time where killing people because of their race seems to be a justified action for someone’s hate?  Let’s take a look at it.
The outcry, rage, and anger was tremendous in what we, particularly in the African American community believe is the murder of Sterling and Castille.  Equally, the outcry, rage, and anger are tremendous in the murder of the policemen in Dallas, Louisiana, and other parts of the country.  In both communities the discourses began and continues.  I choose not to comment on the various reactions or responses on either group’s part.  I do however choose to comment on what I believe is the right response from the Christian community from both groups because we have a higher calling to live out the gospel and we have the power of the Holy Spirit working in us to empower to live out the gospel even in tragic situations.  
So then what should be the response of African American and White Christians in a time such as this?  Our response is not going to be easy at this very difficult time in America but I believe that the right response is to put love in action.  Jesus said this in John 13:34-35.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."  True love is an action on the part of one that benefits the other.  When we are loving each other, we must stand for what is biblically right and speak up for our brothers and sisters of a different culture.  First and foremost we must identify with our Savior & Lord more than our race and our culture.  In the many conversations we may have with our peers, identifying with Jesus will often be counter culture.  We must stand for what is biblically right as opposed to what may be racially acceptable among our peers.  The fracture exists among us because are taking sides.  In some cases black folks are right.  In other cases white folks are right.  The righteousness of Jesus dictates that we stand for what is right even if that stand is unpopular with others in our culture.  We can’t take sides.  For example in all of this much of the blame has been laid at the feet of white people in general, instead of the few who harbor hate and prejudices in their hearts.  Many of our brothers and sisters are white.  Many of them are hurting at the loss of lives “period” and that our nation is in this hate rut.  Some are emotionally devastated. Some want to reach out to many of their black friends but are afraid to try and because they don’t know what to say and are afraid that they might say the wrong thing.   America is in such a dilemma trying to overcome the race issues we have ignored the fact that our white brothers and sisters are hurting too.  How do we as black Christians love them?  First we say thank you for their compassion and willingness to try and understand our hurts and pains as difficult as it may be for many of them to understand what we are and have been experiencing.  Therefore we should join with them in their hurts and pains as they grieve.  1 Corinthians 12:25-26 states, “that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.   Next on their behalf we must say to our people that nothing in the past or present justifies killing policemen. Some of our African American brothers and sisters feel that the killing of these policemen are justified and shouldn’t be mourned.  That is the wrong spirit.  We live by a different Spirit, the Holy Spirit.  We are compelled to do and say what is right and reflects the righteousness of Jesus.  Any attitude among our people that is different is sin not love.  At a time like this we must reach out to our white brothers and sisters in love and comfort them and to understand them just as we want them to see our hurts and pains.  It is true!  We’ve been suffering a long time. It is true the injustices seem to mount.  It is also true that we live in a fallen world under a condemned enemy that seeks to destroy us all through seizing our emotions and marring the image we have in Jesus Christ.  We cannot allow that under any circumstances.  So by faith in full confidence that our God and Savior set a wonderful criteria by which we operate, we can love and put our arms around our white brothers and sisters who are also hurting, angry, and distraught over what is happening in America.  Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2.  This is our calling.  This is who we are and under no circumstance should we succumb to the cries of our cultures.
So to my white brothers and sisters thank you for expressing compassion and hurt to us at a time like this.  We also want to say to you that we’re sorry as well for the needless killings of the policemen.  It was wrong and it is our prayer that it won’t happen again.  You must also express your love to us.  You cannot turn your head or be ambivalent to what we’re experiencing.  In our community and from our perspective we see these murders of African American males as not only an expression of the America’s disdain for African Americans, but we also see a display of a devalued attitude of African American lives. We experience a major disparity in the justice system.  White perpetrators of crime get far lesser sentences than blacks for the same crimes.  We are the last hired and the first fired.  We are witnessing the rise of immigrant cultures to a better socio economic status than us while it seems that we have been “selected” by this country to be in a perpetual status of being second class. We are constantly reminded by the attitude and practices of white people on a daily basis on our jobs and in various walks of life, that we are inferior to them. Our opinion doesn’t count. Our expertise doesn’t count.  We have to continually prove ourselves even when our credentials justify our qualifications.  We get scrutinized and evaluated differently than our white peers.  If you think that I am imagining things or that I am too sensitive  take something minor like football and the position of quarterback.  The really good African American quarterbacks will almost always be described as talented.  Your average white quarterbacks will be described as intelligent and manages the game well. The indication to us is that talent doesn’t require intelligence and that intelligence is far superior to talent. i.e. the white quarterback is superior to the black.  You may think that I am reaching for straws but African Americans view life from this perspective. We believe that these killings are outright murder by “guardians of the system. ”  When the perpetrators of killings like these go unpunished after going through the judicial process, we see that as a major expression from America “that we don’t count.” If our white brothers and sisters are going to love us, then you cannot turn your head to this hurt we’ve been experiencing and that we’re experiencing right now.  So what must you do as a white Christian to express your love to us?  You have to make sure that you are not part of the problem.  You have to call your white brothers into account who may still hold on to a mentality towards African Americans that is not godly.  You have to be mindful that your actions affirm to us that we are equal.  
The action of loving each other on both of our parts is major.  It takes work. The real challenge for us is to live out the gospel in every aspect of life particularly when we interact with people of another race.  In times like these we should go the extra mile in expressing love to each other.  We should stand together in Christ Jesus and demonstrate to the world that we do love each other and that we bear one another’s hurts and pains.  We cannot succumb or acquiesce to the cry of our cultures.  We stand together in the call of our God and Savior.

Lawrence Robinson