When I was a child I lived in Fairfax county in Virginia where there were so many different cultures I never had the opportunity to see myself, or anyone else, as different.
We were all different and that gave us a sameness.
As I aged, I began having experiences with people who did not think like me and had no problem being vocal about it.
Visiting family in West Virginia one year, I experienced my first drive-in theater. It was wonderful. However, my enjoyment came to a screeching halt when I heard a young white boy use the N-word. I told him, very directly, not to say that around me. He conceded. The young black man he was speaking about could not have said what I said, how I said it, and gotten the same result.
I suppose this is what white privilege looks like.
In my young adulthood I attended a party… partied way too hard… and became pregnant by a young black man I had just met. I was barely 19 and already had one son. The young man who impregnated me was in school and leaving shortly thereafter. Abortion seemed like the perfect solution to an already frightening situation.
My friend who hosted the party drove me to an abortion clinic.
Later I discovered that she had logged into my AOL messenger (for those of you who know what that is) and had been propositioning men for sex, pretending to be me.
One of the messages this “friend” sent out invited one man to “do anything” he desired to me because “I could just have an abortion. I got pregnant before and I killed the baby because it was black .” This is what racism looks like.
I was heartbroken over my decision already. She twisted the knife. I quickly realized that
1) this young lady was not my friend
2) she was closet racist
I had never seen evidence in all the years I had known her. Our mothers were friends for some time and I had never known her mother to speak that way either.
Racism is often quite hidden. But only for those who are not people of color.
Whether we want to address it or not, this issue still causes division within the church.
A fellow minister and friend of mine is a pastor in a local county nearby. He just recently informed me of the “sister churches” that became divided into seperate churches, one black one white, during the Civil War and have never reunited. His church is one of many that has been touched by the depravity of racism.
“The church needs to be a light to the world and we cannot do that when we hold darkness in our hearts.”
He and I discussed ideas for bringing reconciliation between the churches. My friend has a long road ahead of him if he chooses to embark upon this task. But all of us are responsible to address this within the church and outside of the church walls, in our communities.
I grew up in a home that had many issues I identified with stereotypes of black communities in America. Most of my friends were black as a result, though I lived among many cultures. I assumed they all had broken homes, parents with addiction, and borderline or actual poverty.
Unbeknownst to me, I had used my limited exposure to part of the black community (my friends who did have these issues) to define an entire race of people.
In high school I joined the Awareness of Black Culture club. I quickly realized that my perspective had been more informed by society’s view of black Americans than by their culture and who they really are.
I lived among, went to church with, partied with, and went to school with the black community and STILL I was misinformed about their culture, issues, and as a result their value.
No let me be very direct in saying that I did not value them less than myself or anyone else. I had simply failed to recognize the contributions that they have made and continue to make to this country and also the world at large.
The one thing that I was blessed not to miss out on was the black community’s contribution to the church.
It was in a very small, historical predominantly black Baptist church where I first experienced the Holy Spirit. I witnessed and participated in worship that was truly free. I saw grown women dancing as freely as this child out of pure joy in the Lord. I heard honest testimonies of broken people that had been redeemed by the Lord.
There has always been a transparency in the black community, whether in the world or in the church, which I have greatly admired. I took it upon myself to be just like this. Always real. Sometimes real to a fault, but honest nevertheless.
I want to call you all into action on this as well.
Let us not leave the dialogue about race in yesterday just because today is not a holiday that draws attention to the power and value of the black community.
I want each of you to take an honest inventory of your own heart in relation to how you perceive people of color.
I want you to write it down.
I want you to pray over it.
You can tear it up when you’re done, or burn it… Just do it for goodness sake!
Write it all out and turn it over to the Lord so that we can truly begin moving beyond hate, stereotype, and the racist expression of these things.
The church needs to be a light to the world and we cannot do that when we hold darkness in our hearts.
If somebody like me who is so engaged in the black community could STILL have misunderstandings,then surely all of you can take a few minutes to evaluate your own thoughts on the matter.
I thank you for joining me in this effort and I pray that God reveals to you places that need to be healed and forgiven if and where they exist.
It is imperative that our brothers and sisters of color know that they are not alone in this fight and that we are willing to wage war, even on our own flesh, to better unite with them. We are to bear one another’s burdens and when we refuse to, in the light of truth, we are in sin for not doing so.
I love you all and pray you have a blessed day that is full of revelation, hope, and restoration.