The murder of George Floyd by a Minnesota police officer catapulted our nation and the world into a place of mourning. It was impossible to see George on the ground crying for help without feeling a deep ache in my soul. Since the news of George’s death broke, I’ve had a range of emotions. His death lifted a veil and exposed how many in my circles feel about racism, police brutality, and even people of color.
I’ve seen acquaintances and friends on social media arguing over whether “all lives matter” or “black lives matter” is the statement for the hour. I’ve seen pro-life black friends crying out for the murders of black men to be acknowledged like the violent deaths of black babies from abortion. I’ve gotten more calls, texts and social media messages from white friends in days than I have in years. Some of my friends want to know how I’m doing while others are writing to express sorrow for the ongoing pain my people face. Some want advice on how to process racial injustice and others want action steps so they can help. I haven’t gotten to respond to everyone but when I do I will share a few simple things.
First of all, as a believer in Christ, I urge people to pray. Our nation is divided. The violent murder of a man led to rioting and looting. Business owners are wondering how they’ll face the losses from Covid-19 along with the destruction of their properties. Hoards of young people like Antifa roam the streets with a spirit of rebellion, releasing anger in a way that is not right. Black people are shouting to be heard, wondering when they’ll get equal treatment in our land. Some white people feel overwhelmed by pressure to fix an issue that originated before they were born.
I entered into a 21 day fast with a ministry named Civil Righteousness because I can do little in my own strength. I need to seek God on behalf of America. We need the mercy and kindness of the Lord to heal hearts and bring unity to our land. The fast we are doing is inspired by Isaiah 58:
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
Secondly, we need to listen to one another. Black brothers and sisters should listen to their white friends who want to know how they can help. White brothers and sisters shouldn’t dismiss the pain of George’s death with statistics on “black on black crime” or the abortion rate in the black community. We may have facts and statistics that bear truth but what are our motives in sharing them? Do we share to silence another when we should be listening? It’s time to humble ourselves, put our opinions aside, and hear one another.
It can be difficult to listen with empathy when someone shares a worldview or perspective that is foreign to us. Our natural tendency is to be offended, get defensive, and strike back with our words. To heal our nation we’ll need to go low and consider others better than ourselves.
2 Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Lastly, we must do the work of racial reconciliation. Social media is full of people with opinions on racial issues. Have you read a book to understand institutional racism or racial injustice? Do you know about redlining or white flight? Do you know how gentrification impacts communities? Even as a black woman I have to study and learn about the things that have hindered my people’s progress in society.
Along with educating ourselves, we need to build bridges relationally. Having a black friend doesn’t fix everything or erase racism. However, having friends of different races does help us to better understand another person’s lived experience and have compassion towards them. When I got married I had 5 white bridesmaids and 5 black bridesmaids. It wasn’t like I intentionally sought to make my wedding party diverse. I’ve just cultivated relationships with people of different races and my wedding reflected that.
No person is born into this divided world knowing how to heal the pain of the past and fix the racial injustices of today. It takes time and study to learn to be a bridge-builder who can unite and not divide. We need unifiers who are full of hope and compelled by love. We need those willing to listen, learn, and make changes in their own lives. We need people committed to actions that will build up others and not tear them down. Our nation is in a time of crisis and we all must work towards its restoration.
I don’t have all the answers. I only offer a few steps to lead us forward. If you’re willing to search your soul and do the work of racial reconciliation, now is the time to start.