Another week, another shooting, another protest, another round of people shouting at each other about whose fault this racial mess is.
I have a plea for white America… especially white Conservative Christian America. I’m addressing white Christian America because I’m part of white Christian America. If I were part of black Christian America I’d likely have some different things to say.
I want us to ask ourselves if ‘Don’t blame the cops (or white people), it’s YOUR fault you have troubles’ is actually an acceptable response to the outcry coming from our black brothers and sisters.
I want us to ask ourselves first if ‘It’s not our fault, it’s your fault’ is a CHRISTIAN response. Is that the response of people whose birthright it is to bear the burdens of others? Is it a response of a people who follow a King, who being blameless Himself, not a thing any of us can claim, entered humanity to take away our brokenness and sin? Is it the response of people who are called to be their brother’s keeper? Why should the response for a Christian ever be ‘it’s not our fault’? If we are acting like our King we will draw near to others in their pain. We will want our eyes to be opened to whatever ways we might be currently blinded. Is it a Christian response to so easily blame everything on those who are most downtrodden?
I want us to ask ourselves if ‘It’s not our fault, it’s your fault’ is a TRUTHFUL response. To begin with, who is ‘our’ and who is ‘you’? Does is take into account the generations upon generations of oppression black people have faced? Does that even matter? Is it fair to trace the problem of violence in black communities back to ‘thug culture’ or ‘black crime’ or ‘fatherlessness’ without looking at the social dynamics that made fertile ground for those things? Does it matter that our justice system continues to treat black folks more harshly and that employers are likely to not give qualified black applicants the same shot they give white ones? Does it matter that throughout most of the 1900’s, redlining many financially qualified black families were denied the ability to own a home in a good neighborhood? Does it matter that the trauma of centuries of oppression and terrorism continue to negatively effect the way black people’s genes are activated? Is it fair to tout ‘personal responsibility’ as the end all of justice issues when for centuries our American system pushed down certain people groups, denying them the ability to live in to their God given potential? Many people still don’t believe in ‘white privilege’, but perhaps you would consider the idea of black oppression and disadvantage’?
I’m not asking you to absolve others of all accountablity for their actions. I’m asking you to try to understand the bigger picture of where the black community is coming from. Understanding people’s troubles enables a far clearer perspective on what is going on in their actions. It inspires grace and an ability to collectively come up with more helpful solutions.
By the way, understanding the perspective of the police is hugely important as well. I’m just not addressing that now, mostly because I’m coming from a cultural background that has an easier time empathizing with cops than the black community. I’ve had to spend time trying to enter into the perspective of the black community and so I’m more passionate about addressing that angle. I also have a soft spot for the less powerful. Still, it would be a thing worth writing on sometime.
In the end, I ask my fellow white Christians- especially those who find it easy to simplistically blame the black community for all these problems- to try to walk a mile in the shoes of our black brothers and sisters. I ask us to consider how our callings as Christ followers and our commitment to the truth can help us enter into the messy place of our racial tensions instead of making sweeping judgments from the sidelines. We serve a God who enters into the messiness of human existence and carry other’s burdens- physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually, all the ways. As his body on earth we are called to do the same.