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


Sorting Through the Emotions of Another Black Killing

I asked Pastor Lawrence if he would share his thoughts in the wake of last week's violence and all that has happened since. He was reluctant because sorting through the emotions has been tough. Here are his thoughts...

"Man Against the World" by fMoya

"Man Against the World" by fMoya

A Proper Response To a Reeling Culture
    This morning as I finally weigh in on the trauma that has happened in America, I do so with a very heavy heart.  I do so fighting the emotions of anger and praying through the attitude of reverting back to viewing our country AND LIFE through the lenses of race and racism.  I weigh in hopefully having taken the time to discern appropriately for where I am as an African American Christian and where we are in America.  My goal is to hopefully help us respond to those who are like us appropriately and to relate properly to those different from us racially and socially. I also want to empower us to effectively engage our world and to not shrink back from our duties as citizens and our responsibility to live out our true identity in Christ Jesus in a time such as this.  Someone once said that when the darkness is really dark the lights become brighter.  I hope that we become lights to those around us.  
American citizens are reeling from the murderous atrocities that took place this past week.  African Americans are angrier than ever before at the horrendous murders that took place at the hands of white policeman.  This outrage is escalating because the recent killings are being linked to the memories of numerous past killings and injustices perpetrated upon among African American men.  Some of the talk among the African Americans that I’ve encountered is that they feel that a prejudice and racist system will move craftily, and I emphasize craftily, to exonerate the white policemen thereby fueling their outrage and anger.   Years of incidents filled with injustice, racist remarks, and practices are being rolled into these events.  The anger and the outrage from the African American community is one that is fueled by a mentality that is “fed up” with so many injustices and the seemingly “it’s okay business as usual" attitude towards African Americans in America.  The issue is not just the unnecessary and uncalled for killings by policemen who have taken an oath to be serve and protect.  The issue is that all across America there seems to be (from our perspective) an indifference to the complete plight of the African American community.  
So how do gospel centered Christians white and black respond to a crisis such as the one we’re facing right now where there seems to be an undercurrent of mobilization from “a few” in the black community who have decided that a proper response to the needless, uncalled for, and free season killing of black men is to kill white policemen?  First and foremost the driving position of our hearts and minds must maintain the fact and keep at the forefront of our hearts and minds that our race is secondary to who we are in Christ Jesus.  This means that we must respond in a manner keeping with the standards of holiness and righteousness even though the outrage from which ever position you hold may be justified.  Secondly, we are our bothers keeper.  We have a duty and responsibility of love for each other to understand each other’s hurts, way of thinking, and to engage each other “with compassion” (Definitely not pity or revenge) from the position of what is right.  For example the retaliation of killing the police officers is definitely wrong!  No action on the part of one justifies this type of reaction on the part of another.  In my conversations with my African American peers, some see this retaliation as acceptable, IT IS NOT!  I listened to a video post on Facebook by Kalyn Chapman James, the first African American woman to win Miss Alabama.  She shared her grief and mixed emotions of outrage at the numerous killings of African American men by police officers.  She stated in her grief, that she believed that the Dallas shooter was in “many ways a martyr.”  She is wrong and any attitude to suggest the possibility that the Dallas shootings, as well as the others that took place are justified, is a wrong and dangerous attitude.  On the flip side the proper response from our white brothers and sisters is to see the hurt that we’re experiencing in the African American community.  The real truth is that the African American community is in a tail spin downward.  We are and have been for years.  As citizens we are the last hired and first fired, last in education, and last in economic standing.  The seemingly readiness by police officers to kill black men so easily tend to say to African Americans that the attitude of America towards us has not really changed.  We have been hurt “TWICE AGAIN IN ONE WEEK” by these killings by police officers.  As a Christian who is white now is the time for you to step up, speak up, and stand with your African American brothers.  As a Christian who is white you must try to see what we’re experiencing right now and stand with us in love. You have to walk with us as we work through this.  You must not agree with your peers that we’re making a “mountain out of a molehill.” Presently from the videos and regarding the fact that no crime was being committed in either case, the cause for lethal force, in my opinion, was not warranted.    
Our engagement with each other must be one of compassion and understanding from both groups.  We have the scriptures to guide us and the Holy Spirit to empower us to shine in this dark hour in America.  1 Corinthians 12:26-27 states, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.  Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”  We are in this together therefore we must take this tragic time in our country and use it to engage our culture through Christian love, care, and concern for our brothers and their hurts.  This is not the effort of one race but one body, the body of Jesus. 
The darkness over us created by these killings has also given us the opportunity to respond to our culture in a manner that they see Jesus in us.  If we respond in any manner less than what Jesus would do (because we have the Holy Spirit in us to empower us) then our response would be no better than the attitudes of those who perpetrated these crimes or the ones who reacted wrongly to them.

Prayerfully & Respectfully,
Lawrence Robinson


It is time for us to patiently listen, to love like Jesus, to weep with those who weep...

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."    I Corinthians 13:1-7