Christianity

Dear Lilka (10/21/2016)

Last week, someone commented on the introduction that preceded our letters, “I can’t understand where these turmoils (sic) come from.”

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson
Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

How can I explain to my white brothers and sisters the importance educating ourselves about history, because remaining uneducated about it devalues the experience of those who went through it? How can I explain we have different worldviews that are rooted in this history? How can I explain, as we unpack it, we must all look at it through the eyes of those who felt the pain of it?

As a white woman, I can say categorically based on my experience in jobs, in health care, in the service industry, women are disadvantaged. Studies have shown we receive less pay for the same job, we receive fewer health care benefits, and we are charged more for many of the same services. If we are disadvantaged we can then say that white men hold an advantage or privilege.

At the same time I can say, based on first person testimony and my own research, people of color are disadvantaged and, correspondingly, white people are automatically privileged.

“In 2015, The Washington Post documented 990 fatal shootings by police, 93 of which involved people who were unarmed. Black men accounted for about 40 percent of the unarmed people fatally shot by police and, when adjusted by population, were seven times as likely as unarmed white men to die from police gunfire.” National study, Washington Post.com

For example, as a white person:

I can be certain when I move into a neighborhood, my neighbors will not judge me for my skin color.

I can walk into a store without having people follow me or watch me.

At work, my clothing, hair style or attitude will not be taken as a reflection on my race.

I can argue or lose my temper without someone being afraid of me or using it as an example of my race.

If a police officer pulls me over for a traffic violation, I can be 100% certain I haven’t been singled out for my race. I can also be unafraid I will end up arrested or dead. This is also true for my husband and my sons.

There are white people who will shake their heads at these examples and not believe them. There are skeptics who insist there is no racism, no mass incarceration, no racial profiling, no inherent bias in our justice system whether on the streets or in our courts.

Lilka, how do we begin to help each other bridge these experiences, decrease this skepticism and increase our empathy toward each other? How do we begin to face each other rather than turn our backs, and listen to the pain behind the anger on both sides? How do we communicate with the intent to bridge the vast gap between us?

So I give you a new command: Love each other deeply and fully. Remember the ways that I have loved you, and demonstrate your love for others in those same ways. Everyone will know you as My followers if you demonstrate your love to others. (John 13:34-35)

13 comments

  1. Bishop TD Jakes once said “What you ignore today will be at your door
    steps tomorrow.” I believe race issues as it relates to the church dealing with this boils down to not wanting to offend and losing members. Both will result in the lost of the all mighty dollar….I’m just being honest. We have taken a timid approach to difficult topics instead of speaking the truth in love and letting God deal with the fallout for lack of a better word.

    Not dealing with issues of race in this country is much like an unresolved issue in a marriage in which the least bit of tension can set an argument off because the former was not resolved. Issues of race will only be dealt with when we as a nation are ready to rest in humility, empathy and the strength of what’s right not who’s right.

    Has I’ve often said, “The blood of Jesus must run thicker than our differences.” So, let’s find common ground to firmly stand on that which will and can be fortified with oneness of spirit by the one who is spirit and truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is so eloquently stated Lionel.

      Common ground. “The blood of Jesus must run thicker than our differences.” Easy to say but I think many aren’t willing to push through what they are accustomed to. I can believe the church stays away from this topic as to not cause dissent and lost of revenue. Sad, but painfully true.

      If the Church was willing to be radical (like Jesus in HIs day) maybe we could push through some of the negative and fear mining chatter and make some real progress.

      My letter to Susan is tomorrow from a mother’s perspective. I’d love to hear a father’s comments. Join us again tomorrow…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Lionel, I responded in full on Lilka’s website. Thank you so much for adding words of wisdom here. It’s a blessing to have you enter into the conversation.
      Lilka’s letter will be posted on Friday; I pray you feel comfortable enough to add your thoughts there as well. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband and I were youth workers in a multi cultural church where 97 to 98 percent of our youth were black. I can tell you, these examples are on point. We had to learn more about their culture and they ours..it was an awesome time and many of these ‘kids’ consider themselves ours which is wonderful. Still we need to look and SEE and make changes where and when we can.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you – great comment. Yes, I agree we still need to actively look and see as well as listen and hear. Our willingness to understand is so important, and we must do it one person at a time, and form relationships one person at a time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Somehow I readily see kids gravitating to you!
      The church I attend is multicultural as was the one prior to that one. Your open mind to learn about another culture and love kids as God would have you to isn’t an option a lot of people willingly explore. Kids are pretty colorblind until they learn different from adults. Thanks for participating in our dialogue. Hugs to you guys!

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  3. Thank you so much for initiating this letter writing project. I wish i could put a picture in my reply. I was a reporter for the Selma Times-Journal and worked in the building on the South edge of the Edmund Pettus Bridge (just to the left in this picture). I could look out my office window and see the bridge and traffic. I arrived in Selma in the early 70’s and got my introduction to racism and prejudice. There were still “Whites only” and “Blacks only” (Some signs were not as kind) signs in restaurants, restrooms and shops in and around town. And there were plenty of places in that part of Alabama then where Blacks did not go. Ever. Being born and raised in a small Southwest Iowa farming town, I was not exposed to African Americans unless we traveled to Omaha, Nebraska, 60 miles away, to go shopping. I didn’t understand racism and the names some White folks called Black folks.
    We’ve made strides it seems towards a more civil society; however prejudice, bigotry and racism still exists. It seems the radical left and right polarize into hate groups, e.g. White Aryan Race, Black Panthers and dozens more.
    We may never break down those concrete walls they have erected between their deeply-rooted, ingrained ideologies.
    I think what you two are doing with your letters to each other is a shining example of the way we chip away and racial prejudice and discrimination. I look forward to writing letters to and with you. At some point I will share how an atheist transformed my approach to evangelism. And I think that might walk along side your efforts to bring relationship and peace to a hurting society. Jesus summed up His entire Gospel, in my view, in two words. “Love one another.” I believe that’s where you are headed. I’m right there with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you! Everything you say is On Point! I do wish more white people were more enlightened or “Awake.” The blinders have to be taken off and reality has to be faced head on in order to make any progress among the races.

    Like

    1. We all have to take the blinders off to be able to see each other. We need to understand the pain, the hurt, the anger, the fear on both sides and where it comes from to be able to get to the source and correct the misconceptions told about each other. We must meet each other face to face, one at a time in order to accomplish that.

      The roots of racism have grown deep; though the branches have thinned, we must uproot the tree and plant new seeds of civility and compassion.

      Like

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