I’ll be the first to admit that I rolled my eyes at the trending #BlackLivesMatter. After all, don’t #AllLivesMatter?
Last week, God broke me of that ignorance.
It’s funny; I love John Legend and I love Common. Never would I have imagined Jesus using them as a tool to break me of my own previously-un-realized prejudices and ignorance.
“Now we right wrongs in history, no one can win the war individually;
It takes wisdom of the elders and young people’s energy
Welcome to the story we call victory,
Comin’ of the Lord, my eyes have seen the victory.”
Listening to “Glory” in the car one day, those lines swept across my soul like a tidal wave.
I had just heard how some dear friends of mine had been exposed to what may or may not have been racism. Truthfully, I don’t know. I can only guess as to what these people’s intentions were in their actions towards my friends. But, it was the first time in my life that I realized, the African American community has to worry about that every. single. day.
My heart broke. Goosebumps broke out across my body. And I began to cry as I let John Legend & Common take me to church on I-25.
It was in that moment that God exposed in me some prejudices I may have had. Most of my life I’ve touted the flag of not being a racist. And truthfully, I still claim that. However, I realized that when I refer to my friends who are black as my “black friends,” it doesn’t send a message of acceptance, but one distancing myself by labeling my friends as different by the color of their skin.
I hide behind the fact that I have black friends, my cousin is married to a black man, I’ve always had celebrity crushes on black women (read as all of Destiney’s children & Aaliyah) as a way to not speak about the injustice they’ve experienced and as a way to boast to the world that I am in fact not a racist.
You see, #BlackLivesMatter because in our history as a country, no other race has experienced such extreme injustice at the hands of our system set up to protect us.
White people haven’t been counted as three fifths of a person because of the color of their skin. Black people have.
White people haven’t been told they couldn’t vote because of the color of their skin. Black people have.
White people haven’t been forced to ride in the back of a bus, use a different water fountain or bathroom, or sit in a different section of a restaurant because of the color of their skin. Black people have.
Jim Crow laws and desegregation aren’t something removed by centuries of time, but are still alive in the strength, exhaustion, grace, sadness and pride seen on the faces of black grandparents and great-grandparents everywhere.
These things aren’t generations and centuries removed from our history; they happened 50-60 years ago and live on as memories for many still alive today.
As I continue to process what God is teaching me in this, today this thought came across my mind:
If we, the white Church, continually ignore the pleas of and prejudices against those in need, then we cannot expect anyone to come to our aid when we inevitably face injustice and persecution of our own. We cannot selfishly expect any minority (black, woman, gay, immigrant, mentally ill, etc.) to come to our defense and to hear us out rationally, if we refuse to acknowledge the prejudices against them.
#BlackLivesMatter not because of the color of their skin or the color of my skin, but ultimately, because of the Gospel. If we, as a body of believers of all colors, aren’t willing to jump in the trenches of navigating the racial turmoil alive today, we are committing a great sin.
Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of all, uniting us with him in relationship with our Heavenly Father.
Jesus didn’t see race when he went to the cross, but he wasn’t ignorant to what today’s society would be like either. God is not surprised by the racial turmoil today; which means he’s also more than well prepared and equipped to lead us through it. We must congregationally seek His wisdom & counsel, then we must act.
While current systems set in place still oppress many, only one ‘system’ has been created for the freedom of all: the Church. We must seize this opportunity with humility, grace and courage. We must not rely on the government, police, schools or anyone or anything else to free others. We must be a place that all can find freedom in Christ, regardless of their race.
Until the Church accepts this responsibility wholeheartedly and we are willing to wade into the trenches, #BlackLivesMatter because they are the majority who recognize the sin of humanity while we turn a blind eye to it.