“Racism is rooted inside the soul and psyche of America.” – Oprah
Last week I started a dialogue with Yvonne Chase and Calvonia Radford, both black sisters in Christ, both fellow bloggers, about racism in America today. You can read Part I in this two-part series here. For Christians, it is important to take an anti-racism stance to truly love our brothers and sisters as Jesus did.
We also need to understand that racism not only encompasses the cruel, violent acts we see on TV and social media. Racism includes attitudes, microaggressions, lack of opportunities, insensitive language and so many other things that have plagued black Americans for as long as there have been black Americans.
The Bible tells us to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15) and “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2). How can we possibly do that as the body of Christ if we don’t seek to understand that which sits heavy on the hearts of our black brothers and sisters. So I continue the conversation today with Yvonne and Calvonia to help us all understand a little better.
Pastor and author Dr. Tony Evans (who has some racial unity resources on his website) said, “We cannot expect to solve the racial problem in our nation if we do not, and have not even begun to solve it in the church.” What, in your opinion, can churches do?
Calvonia: “The first thing the American “church” needs to do is repent. The history of the church in this country is stained with the mistreatment of the indigenous people groups and people of color. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, we find the recipe for revival. The church will never see true revival until God’s people turn and repent as a corporate body for their past and present sin. Churches are the most segregated institution. Diverse and multicultural congregations often have less diverse leadership. They should ask themselves if the cultures represented in the pews are reflected in the worship experience.”
Yvonne: “The church has a history of not talking about hot topics. They sweep police brutality and systemic racism under the rug and put a ‘forgive as God has forgiven you’ and a ‘Jesus is love’ band-aid on it. This is one of my biggest pet peeves with the church. The world talks about everything loudly while we’re quiet. That needs to stop. Churches can start by examining themselves and their leadership. Check our hearts to make sure no strain of racism exists. Have public conversations about systemic racism and police brutality. Pastor Steven Furtick and Pastor John Gray were the first two pastors I saw have a conversation on the platform at church about this issue. It was powerful. We, the church, cannot fix what we don’t face. We have the answers the world needs. Our voices need to be the loudest. We need to take the lead because the reality is this, there is no law written or law revised that can change the heart of Derek Chauvin and others who have such hate in their hearts towards black people. The only thing that can change hearts is an encounter with Jesus Christ.”
Charles Blow, an American journalist, commentator and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, says “this country is not responsive to black pain”. Do you agree with this, and if so, do you have any stories from your own life or someone you know that would illustrate this?
Yvonne: “I agree with Charles. Why did it take the lynching of George Floyd for the country to care? Police brutality against black people didn’t start on March 25, 2020. It’s been happening for years. Systemic racism is ingrained in the DNA of the USA.”
Calvonia: “Yes, I agree. A correct response to pain doesn’t deflect. It seems when we cry out, ‘Black Lives Matter’, people who are not black or brown get defensive. They get it twisted. We are not implying that other people’s lives don’t matter. Of course all lives matter. However, from our purview, our lives have never mattered. We have read the history. 150 some years ago, black people were considered mere property. During Barak Obama’s presidency, his wife Michelle was referred to more than once as an animal – an ape in heels. Proof that mindsets have not really changed.”
What would you say to someone who does not believe white privilege exists?
Yvonne: “Honestly, I wouldn’t waste my time trying to open their eyes. There are protests happening all over the world. I would use my energy to continue to fight the good fight. That person obviously wants to remain in denial and has made up their mind. Therefore, I will let them be. They have chosen not to see beyond themselves and their white world. Trying to reason with an unreasonable person is an exercise in futility.”
Calvonia: “White privilege is a societal advantage. It doesn’t mean that white people don’t struggle or that white people as a whole are given everything on a silver platter. It means people of color have to work harder for everything we accomplish. It’s hard for a white person to understand white privilege. I was taught by my grandparents to study harder, dress better and be more articulate because I had two strikes against me. I was black and I was a woman. Those of us who have achieved educational milestones and climbed up the corporate ladder had to cross more hurdles than our white counterparts. And we have to work harder to stay there. Our society holds a secret for success and the template is white. We are always fighting systemic discrimination.
What books/ podcasts/ movies or documentaries would you recommend to your white brothers and sisters who want to further their understanding of the black American’s experience?
Yvonne: You may not know this, Lauren; but it is offensive to ask black people to help educate white people about our painful experience in America. If you (not you personally) care, then make it your business to educate yourself.
Calvonia: The most valuable resource is the human resource. I dare not recommend any media without encouraging my white brothers and sisters to study their black and brown-skinned brothers and sisters. If they currently have POC in their inner circle, I challenge them to build relationships beyond meeting for a cup of coffee. If they do not know any black or brown people, I encourage them to pray and ask God to organically orchestrate such a connection.
Both women were gracious enough to give recommendations anyway:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skoot
Mary McLeod Bethune by Emma Gelders Sterne
Unshakable Faith by John Perry
Articles and Websites:
The Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
Your turn. What can you do to further your understanding of the plight of black Americans? What can you do to fight for equality and racial reconciliation? I challenge you to talk to a black friend or co-worker about this. Support black owned businesses. Choose a resource recommended above or another one you’ve heard good buzz about and dig in (next week on the blog I’ll share some that have been helpful to me the last few weeks). Speak up when you hear someone using racist language or stereotypes. Use your social media pages to denounce racism in all its forms. Start there and see where God might lead you. I’m praying for you in this.
I want to give one last thank you to Yvonne and Calvonia for their time, wisdom and vulnerability. I am learning so much and will continue to visit their pages and carry on the conversation with them online. Give them a visit and let them know how much you appreciate all they are doing.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/itsyvonnechase
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/realtalk859
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/calvoniaradford/
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