Racism in the southern part of the US is still a very sensitive topic.
Yet probably for reasons other than you think.
In being from the south, I have seen us typecast time and time again as ignorant, heartless people who are incapable of change.
Due to this, we strive to distance ourselves from this stereotype and make sure people know that we have friends of other colors and cultures.
Yet in the midst of our efforts, we are still blind.
I have observed our (white middle class christian) culture throughout tragic events in our nation.
I find that we are asking the wrong questions of the wrong people.
We do not ask the question “Could racism be an issue?”
Instead we want the facts.
Who is guilty of what?
What exactly happened?
Were there prior convictions?
Was anything justified?
All the wrong questions.
They are wrong not because we are so enamored with justice.
They are wrong because they are rooted in fear.
Fear that we haven’t dealt with the issues from our past.
Fear that the unresolved heart issues of previous generations have become our issues.
Fear that reality may be different than how I want it to be.
Fear that I may be uncomfortable.
I have realized that my heart is as scripture says “deceitful and desperately wicked”.
I am willing to sacrifice the humanity of my brothers and sisters of color for my comfort.
I convince myself that it is an individual’s problem and not a societal heart issue so that I will not have to examine my own heart.
If I can prove Michael Brown’s guilt or an officer’s innocence, that keeps me from having to look at my own heart.
I point fingers at them and reinforce my walls of comfort.
Do I really care if the officer was innocent, or do I just want his innocence to prove my own?
I need to wake up to my heart issues.
I need to see that we live in a fallen world.
That as long as sin is present, so will racism be.
I will have to fight sin and racism until Jesus returns.
I will have to fight my own heart’s selfish desires until Jesus returns.
My issue is not that I have done the wrong thing.
My issue is that I have done nothing.
Out of self-preservation and comfort.
I am not willing to entertain the issue as a possible reality.
I am a “Good Christian”.
If I admit that this is an issue, then things aren’t as stable as I hoped.
In my distancing from the past to try to prove that racism is not an issue now but instead a series of individual peoples issues, I have in fact, become a racist.
I am trying to preserve my own race.
I am sacrificing the health of other races to preserve my own.
It is not as extreme as the past.
Same tree, different apple.
One is violent, the other apathetic and selfish.
Why do my defenses kick in when these issues come up?
Not a love for justice.
But a love of self-preservation.
A love for comfort.
A heart issue.
I don’t ask myself anymore could it be an issue.
It is an issue.
When I lift my eyes off of myself and my comfort, I see the pain of my brothers and sisters of color.
I am sorry.
I am sorry I sacrificed you so that I could have an easier life.
That is not Jesus.
That is not like who I say it is that I follow.
That is sin.
I am sorry.
When I started to listen, I didn’t hear people talking about guilt or innocence.
I heard people asking “don’t you care”?
Our actions as a religious community, I believe, have said “no”.
We have acted like we care more about justice than you.
When really, I am not that enamored with justice.
Justice has been my scapegoat.
God is working in my heart.
I don’t like it.
It is uncomfortable.
It is awkward.
I usually avoid these issues.
I have been too afraid to say the wrong thing.
But in my silence, I have communicated much.
That my comfort is more valuable than your struggle.
That my fear trumps your fear.
That my race is more important than yours.
I have been a “Good Christian”.
I have been a racist.
I am choosing to stop.
I am choosing to follow Jesus.
I am choosing to struggle,
with my brothers and sisters of color.
I am choosing to fight, not for justice, but for the gospel.
For when the gospel comes in power in our lives, justice will be the fruit of it.
I am sacrificing my comfort.
For if peace, hope, love, grace and truth are to flourish, it will have to be at the expense of my comfort.
This journey will be long.
We are all on it whether we admit it or pretend we are not.
May we do something, rather than nothing.
May we show value to all as Christ did.
May we not let fear rule our hearts, but instead the gospel of Christ.
May we realize that there are no “good Christians”.
But that we are all people, continually in need of God’s grace, for we are all in process.