First of all, I think it’s crazy how much of a impact a construct created 500 years is having right now on our society. The construct of race really came into use during the sixteenth century and was used to prevent the revolt and collaboration of the African and Indian slaves with the European slaves against the English authority. Going back further in literature to texts like the Bible and the ancient literature, references to race was barely, if ever, found. It was, however, common for people to move with their tribes to different lands, mix in trade whilst men and women of different ethnic groups intermarried frequently. People were distinguished by mainly languages, kinship, occupation and lifestyle differences, maybe even their gods, however even this varied as at time. So now that I’ve laid that foundation, “How does the church support you as a young black person?” let’s talk about it *sips tea*.
I have a two part answer to this; no, I don’t think the Church supports the black community in the way it could, however race is stupid. lol. Like I mentioned before, race is a man made power tool to oppress and it’s a shame that we now base our identities on it. Whilst I strongly believe that race is unbiblical, it’s now unfortunately our reality, something we must deal with since we’re deeply entrenched in the conditioning to a racial worldview. I think the Church doesn’t support the black community as it could (shoutout to all the pastor who were brave enough to speak out about the recent events in their churches, ya’ll tha real MVPs). And by the Church, I mean white Christians more specifically, as proximity shouldn’t be a prerequisite to activism, I personally believe that if you’re not actively standing out against it, you passively consenting to it. It would have admirable to see the Church (especially white Christians) stand on the front line in the protests (shallat to those who were *fist pump*). The way I see it, the Church provides for needs, whether it be for poverty, disadvantaged neighbourhoods, the homeless, prostitutes/brothel & human trafficking etc, the Church sees a need and we provide in the best way we can. Whilst not diminishing the struggle of any other marginalised or oppressed group, racism seems to be the one uncomplicated-complicated situation to deal with. Maybe because that would mean then confronting the problem, maybe Christians would see that the problem exist within us, then Christians would have to renounce privileges and a system that has benefited them for so long. We’re called to renew our minds and not conform to society, which is not easy at all, especially going against the very DNA of society.
In regards to the actual question that was posted online, there were some responses which I wanted to respond to:
1. “Don’t bring these divisive issues of the world into the Church.”
Christianity was once the main vehicle used to drive slavery, used to justify why non Europeans were subhumans and used to justify how it was God ordained. The Church permitted racism to exist within its gates, from its justification to allowing segregated churches. See the thing is the issue of race has always been in the Church as much as the world, only difference was that the Church had a moral obligation. Now, the Church is at the strongest point of racial harmony than ever before, however Sunday afternoons after church services, we go back into an a imperialist, white supremacist, patriarchal society. And this is our reality for the next 6 days until the next church service, to ask the refraining of bring these issues into the Church is like asking a homeless man to bring a change of clothing on Sundays because his torn clothing is a tad uncomfortable to look at.
2. “Church doesn’t have a racial problem.”
The Church may not, anymore, but individuals do. Christianity has become a white-washed religion, this is just the truth of the matter, white people have dominated Christianity for many centuries now. If implicit and institutional racism can still exist in society, what would make one doubt that the racial hierarchy that has been so successfully established in the world by white people wouldn’t show it’s face in the Church, which is dominantly by white people. I mean, we are all sinners who have been conditioned by the perverse society, trying to renew our minds. But we should be open and honest with the potential.
3. “All lives matter, we are all equal in God’s eyes.”
🙂 now, whilst I understand that this seems like the most Jesus-like response to the situation, it really isn’t. It deflects the issue at hand, deeming it as basically non existing, when it does, in fact, exist. And I don’t mean to focus solely on the oppression of the black community, the treatment of the LGBTQ community is just as bad, the treatment of the Islamic community is on the rise to being even worse, not to mention Native Americans being second class citizen in their homeland. But I do believe these different oppressions have the same root; sin and the fact that these groups deviate from the standard of western society, which is Caucasian, heterosexual, cis, and Christian. Whilst all lives do matter, to say this as if it is our reality is completely wrong and insensitive. #Letsgetreal: all lives matter wasn’t true when the Syrian refugees were seeking asylum at our doors, it hasn’t been true as the wealth gap between the rich and poor has continued to grow in many first world countries and it still isn’t true as many people continue to die in the hands of a unjust justice system (RIP #KorrynGaines). So whilst all lives matter, all lives don’t really matter in our society.
So what do we do?
This is a good question which I don’t really know the answer to. But something that has convicted me lately is that in this fight against oppression and social injustice, at the end of the day if all these people came to be equal in their ways, but don’t come to know God, what is really the point? Injustice, discrimination, racism and all of the different forms of oppression are rooted in the sin of man, whether it be greed, simple hatred to ‘the other’, pride etc. it is all rooted in sin. So not pairing the activism with prayer would be like cutting off the branches of the tree but not pulling out the roots.
Personally, I have to remember that before I am culturally black, I am Christian, sometimes I can get so angry at the ignorance and the complacency but neither responding in a pessimistic or angry manner or promoting anarchism (this, however, is oh-so-tempting) will be productive . Martin Luther King is someone who I constantly look up too in how he caused changed to come about as a man of God, and it’s hard for me constantly be in prayer, praying for people who I don’t want to but if I am advocating for change, prayer has really the driving force, there is only so much we can do but an endless list of what God can do.
To my white brother and sisters,
Don’t try to change the narrative, that’s not your place. It’s a problem that needs to be dealt with, so pray for our hearts whilst listening to us, don’t let the world be a smoke screen to these issues. There is only so much change the oppressed can do, the white brother and sisters have the power to leverage the situation to help the voices of black people be heard. I believe black people should be able to speak and have their voices heard but also white people in the church should be able to speak and have their voices heard and we should be able to listen to them before changing the narrative to our own woes. We shouldn’t be further segregated in conversation. Don’t let it be a situation where we sitting over here thinking about what ya’ll think and ya’ll sitting over there thinking that we might be mad at ya’ll. After all, this is surely a weapon used to pit humans against each other.
It’s a grey topic but needs to be addressed nonetheless because if not, it is normalized by mass media and deemed unproblematic. And though I speak of mainly racism, activism against discrimination should naturally equate to you fighting against discrimination against all kinds of people. As I mentioned before proximity shouldn’t be a prerequisite to activism. But until the next post, God bless.