In the weeks and months that have passed since the disturbing shootings of Philando Castle and Alton Sterling, our national attention has gradually shifted elsewhere. However, the underlying questions around racial tensions and how to solve them remain largely unresolved. For me, personally, many questions remain about how to respond to the violence in our country in a God-honoring way. I question what response could possibly make a difference in the face of a problem that is so complex and deep-rooted.
I have (as I am sure you have) read a downpour of various opinions on social media. From black friends who are angry, hurt, or confused, feeling that their lives do not truly matter. I have also read many posts from non-black Christian friends chiding black Christians; stating that this response is divisive, that these black Christians need to look to Jesus for the answers, and maintaining the alternative mantra of “All lives matter.”
I’m writing this as a member a multicultural family; made up of black, Asian, white, and mixed race family members. I have heard the discussion from many points of view, and I’m mainly writing to implore non-black Christians not to dismiss this issue as media hype and victim mentality.
We cannot simply slap a general “Jesus is the answer” onto this wound without first acknowledging that a problem exists. Yes, Jesus is the ultimate answer to all of our wounds and problems. However, Jesus commands us to love each other as He loves us, and with love comes a responsibility to advocate, and to listen.
Please, before responding with retaliatory remarks towards the black lives matter movement or towards the heartbreak of our black brothers and sisters; take a moment to listen.
Listening is a lost art in our world; we would rather be heard.
True faith stands up for the oppressed and the broken……..Obviously many can’t see the systemic effects of racism and abused authority. Many can’t see that racism has stained this country because they are privileged to not see it. Also Christians saying that ‘preaching the Gospel is all we need’ ignores how sin affects infrastructures and societal systems. – Lecrae
The main message that we should take away from this is that we should not be quick to dismiss a struggle that we have not personally experienced. It can be easy for someone in a position of majority privilege to think that these are isolated incidents and that racism no longer exists, but that’s only if you are viewing things from a point of view where people do not fear you or find you suspicious simply because of your skin color.
Though I have not personally experienced this particular form of discrimination, I know from black friends and family that one can easily be treated suspiciously or negatively by authority figures when one is not doing anything illegal or wrong at all. Some of my black family and friends are frequently followed by security guards when they enter stores. One family friend was arrested and jailed for a night simply for walking on the same street as a loud party where the neighbors complained. These are not isolated examples. From South Carolina congressman Tim Scott, to the black men who serve as law enforcement officers, almost every African American man, and many women, have had some kind of similar experience.
This is not to say that all white people or all cops are racists, it is simply to say a problem exists, and it is widespread. Racism has been going on for ages, but it is being brought more to the surface now through our access to technology.
So the question remains; what should the response be for those of us that are not personally profiled or discriminated against? Here are a few ideas:
- Acknowledge that black lives matter without saying all lives matter. Of course, all lives do matter, but the point of the matter is that the black community has experienced less respect, dignity, and safety than has been afforded the majority community.
- Listen to a friend or someone you know who has been personally affected by these events, have a conversation and put yourself in their shoes.
- Pray. Ask the Holy Spirit for guidance on how to stand with the oppressed, and how to love our brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for the unity of our country, for the families of both the victims of police shootings and the police who were victims themselves.
- If you don’t do so already, attend an African-American or multi-racial church service.
We live in a fallen world and nothing on this side of heaven will ever be perfect, but let us strive to be the light, let us strive to stand with the oppressed. I pray that with the exposure of these problems and wounds, and through the body of Christ, there will come growth and healing.
Amy is a stay at home mom and artist who lives in Toronto with her husband, Victor, and daughter, Hallie. She enjoys getting to know new people and having good conversations. The family is expecting another little one in November.