Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.
– Will Smith
Race issues have been on the forefront in our country. There are some who would prefer that the conversation ceases. I get it. Many don’t know how to have the conversation, feel that it’s a lose/lose situation or just prefer to ignore and concentrate on other things. Although difficult, there are five good reasons in my opinion why we should continue the conversation.
1. Because of its transformational implications.
I get why people do not want to address issues of race. That used to be me. When I came to North America I wondered why people talked about it so much. Then I became friends with people who experienced racism. My roommate was African American and what he experienced started to open my eyes. Then other friends, and finally my daughter’s husband. I will forever be thankful to the African American community for helping me connect the issue of injustice (what racial bias naturally produces) and my life as Christ follower.
2. Because of our missional mandate.
Like it or not we live in a connected world. A multicultural world. This is particularly a reality in the millennial generation as well as Z. They have messed it up for all of us! They are forcing us to leave our silos and engage with people different from us. If we are serious about reaching that generation, we need to address issues of justice and reconciliation. We ignore it at our peril.
3. Because it’s not a unilateral move.
Here is the key question. Who gets to decide when the conversation stops? Usually, my experience has been that people suggesting the conversation is over belong to one demographic. Racial injustice affects more than one segment of the population. The move to shut down the conversation and “move on” is both patronizing and incorrect. I pray every day for ears to listen. Even if I don’t see it or experience it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.
4. Because silence does not equal disappearance.
A common perception is expressed something like this: “If we don’t talk about it, it will disappear.” Race is sort of like a zombie/monster that stays alive by conversation, and the more you bring it up the more he grows in power. That’s good for a plot of the Walking Dead, not so much for real life. Here is a different alternative. Maybe the reason people talk about racism is, oh I don’t know, because there is racism!
5. Because it’s a gospel issue.
The gospel of Jesus Christ should propel me to automatically look for the disfranchised, the oppressed, the people in the margins. The gospel does not make me move away from, but towards the “other”. The gospel gives me security in Christ so my racial identity is not threatened by difficult conversations. Because Jesus and the gospel reached down, I can reach across. That is a beautiful thing.
What are your thoughts? How can we engage others in word and action in this reality?