“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. Isaiah 1:18
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ
Jesus. Gal 3:29
Most minorities who came to this country got a raw deal. In 1891, eleven Italian-Americans were lynched in the city of New Orleans by an angry mob. The Irish and Scotch-Irish were pushed into the barren soil of Appalachia. Asians were forced into what amounted to slavery by railroad barons. If I forgot your group, I’m sorry. The list of immigrants and their sorrows at the hands of Americans that neither you nor I knew is too long.
However, no immigrant class got a more raw deal than African Americans. I think we can all agree on that: The first to arrive here didn’t choose to be immigrants. They were sold into slavery and many times with the help of their own race. They arrived here and were stripped of every facet of basic humanity…for two hundred and forty six years of horror. But overt discrimination did not end after the Emancipation Proclamation.
The Civil Rights era in America began a short while ago. Many good things have happened as a result. It is difficult to say, today, that our laws overtly proscribe racism. Our constitution and all state constitutions forbid overt discrimination on the basis of race. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is vested with the power to award damages in cases involving intentional discrimination.
Martin Luther King wrote that “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”. Curses seem to have an inertia all their own. They meander through the generations. Are we really clear of racism in America?
You know that our Lord was watching and convicting the hearts of men and women as the arc or our morality bent towards justice. He was watching over their shoulders when the slave master went to sleep and hidden under the floorboard, they pulled out the King James bible and puzzled out the forbidden words by candle light that our God is “no respecter of person”s (Rom 2:11) – that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).
Later on, our Lord was watching and convicting the hearts of men and women. He was watching when stereotypes were perpetuated in media such as Amos ’n Andy, nameless mammies or minstrels…. Benson the butler….or abandoned children (Whatchu takin bout Willis??) He was watching when financial institutions forbid loans on the basis of race, despite one’s creditworthiness, a practice outlawed in 1977.
Today, I am convicted to write that he is still watching and convicting the hearts of men and women. He watches us play those church games as we bring our diseases involving status and race into the house of the Lord. You may or may not know what I’m talking about. That’s between you and the Holy Spirit.
These days, we hear about the concept of “White Privilege”, which points to the inertia of the curse of racism. This subject is one of much debate. Personally, I’m willing to understand what it means. I don’t know entirely, but I do know this: my kid isn’t followed by security in stores, my kid doesn’t walk down the street to the sound of clicking of car doors locking and I don’t feel the need to have a talk with my kid about not making hand movements to his pocket if ever stopped by police. My kid can start a business in Macon, Boston or Boise. My kid is not presumed to have a behavioral disability when he acts out in school. I can’t argue with these facts.
The Lord of our hearts says that a new covenant has come and the foundation of humankind is total unity in the body of Christ. But…..when the farmer slept, an enemy came and planted tares among the wheat. Matt 13:24:30. What are you doing to bring about the inclusiveness of the beloved community of Christ? What are you not doing? What are you seeing? What are you not seeing?