It’s in the news, and plastered all over social media. Everywhere you turn, the focus is on race. With a few unfortunate exceptions, people want to be part of the solution, but what exactly does that mean?
I’ve read numerous articles outlining how I, as a person of western European (and Jewish) descent, am supposed to respond. Most stress writing my politicians, speaking out on social media, and perhaps joining a demonstration. To me, that means a lot of talk, but not much productive action. I don’t want to just talk about racism, I want to do something that makes an actual difference for those who deal with it on a sometimes daily basis. In that light, I’ve come up with a few suggestions.
First and foremost, we need to pray. This issue is bigger than any one person, but even though anarchy is in the news, God is still sovereign. What should we pray for? Here’s how I started my list:
- Praying that God will point out any way in which I’m part of the problem. I can’t change you, but with the power of the Holy Spirit, I can change me.
- Praying that I’ll have the courage to speak up if/when I encounter racism in others.
- Praying God’s blessings over my black brothers and sisters in Christ.
- Praying for the conviction of the Holy Spirit on those who need to repent of racism.
- Praying healing over any who have been hurt in any way because of the color of their skin.
- Praying for God’s righteousness and justice to prevail.
Once I’ve started that conversation with God—and it’s an ongoing conversation, with me both speaking and listening—I’m ready to initiate a conversation with others.
Last week, our pastor invited two black couples from our congregation to sit on the platform and share their personal experiences of being black. I was impressed by their willingness to open up to such a large audience—our church is multi-ethnic, but it still reflects the composition of Colorado Springs, which is by far mostly white.
I learned a lot. I was saddened (but not surprised) to hear how they’d been hurt because of their race. Since I am rarely conscious of my own ethnicity, at least here at home, I was surprised at the way their being black affects every part of their lives. It brought to mind how I’ve felt while traveling in countries where I was a minority, and how I was constantly aware that I didn’t fit in.
I realized that we rarely talk about race, even with our closest friends. It’s time to listen. For example, a friend who emigrated here from Kenya has been sharing his thoughts on the topic on Facebook. I’m finding that even when we experience the same event, or see the same news report, we interpret it in vastly different ways. I’m glad he is willing to share his perspective and I hope it continues with new understanding coming on both sides.
Finally, we need to ask God for wisdom. James 1:5 says, “If any of you need wisdom, you should ask God, and it will be given to you. God is generous and won’t correct you for asking.” I love how it says that God won’t correct us (often translated “reproach”) us for being unsure about things. He doesn’t expect us to already know what to do.
If we limit our understanding to what we learn from often biased news stories and social media memes, we’re going to miss the truth of the situation. This is far bigger than anything we can solve with mere human understanding. We need God’s perspective. We need God’s love.