Imago Dei (Image of God)

Dr. Robin Diangelo, author of White Fragility: Why it’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism.

Peggy McIntosh, author of the essay “White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack”.

Daniel Hill, author of White Awake: An Honest Look at What it Means to be White.

Steve Garner, author of Whiteness: An Introduction

And the list goes on…

We seem to be obsessed with whiteness, and especially with white privilege. The subject matter is being taught on college campuses.

After the death of George Floyd, when whites began to closely examine why blacks felt the way they did about their treatment in America, they were advised to be quiet and listen. I, on the other hand, have always questioned the effectiveness of this decision in the long run however, mainly because we have been talking about racism since before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and more boldly so by blacks since the Civil Rights Act. The problem I saw with the talking is that it tended toward pointing an accusatory finger at whites without any accountability on the part of blacks for the condition of race relations in America today (I am using the terms race, racism, and race relations for the sake of clarity, even though I am well aware that the existence of actual races is debatable). So, what we end up with is not a discussion in a mutual effort to end the tension between the races and foster better relationship, but instead, we have a debate which sniffs out guilt and screams a demand for capitulation to the other’s pattern of thought.

Initially, the be quiet and listen admonition served a purpose to wisely afford blacks the opportunity to open the discussion first and to reiterate their reasons for feeling as they do after the on-camera death of George Floyd for all the world to see. In communication, you can’t listen and talk at the same time. In an effort to show empathy to someone, you don’t argue about their feelings. But in the long run, something has to be done differently if we want to see a different outcome from these “talks”. A question that begs an answer here is—have blacks really done nothing to derail the relationship between the races? Do you, the black person, genuinely believe that to be the case? Do you, the white person, believe that as well? What is a discussion without a civil back and forth, with each side exhibiting an approachable and receptive attitude?

Based on the literature mentioned at the beginning of this post, the talk appears, still, to be about accusing whites and making sure they know that they are guilty—this is seen even to some degree in the Church, propagated by some among both blacks and whites. It is this perceived headway into the Church which leads to this blog.

As discussions have taken place, and the Black Lives Matter (BLM) organization (This is the organization distinct from the popular sentiment that black lives matter) has gained national and world-wide recognition and support, it is difficult to speak about this issue without bringing BLM into the mix. Many of you might have heard the group referred to as a Marxist organization. You might have also noted that there is debate around this idea of Marxism associated with the group (among Christians as well as the world). Those who resent the reference to Marxism accuse those who refer to them as such, of being racists who are using negative name-calling to turn people against the group; using conspiracy theories and scare tactics so that the message they proclaim is derailed. Maybe these accusers believe this about the people who consider BLM to be a Marxist group; or, with this bit of negative name-calling themselves, they wish to shut down any resistance to their cause.

What about those accused of being racist, mean-spirited conspiracy theorists? Upon what do they base their insistence that Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and many of the theories about whiteness are steeped in Marxist theory and ideology? Could it be because two of the founders of BLM, Patrisse Cullors and Alicia Garza, are trained Marxists as relayed by Cullors in a You Tube video from 2015? Could it be because Opal Tometi is described as a student of Liberation Theology (theology which focuses on aiding the poor and oppressed through involvement in political and civic affairs; influenced by Marxist philosophy)? Could it be all the talk of oppressors and oppressed? And talk of the overthrow of the oppressive systems? Does all of this give one some sense of “Marxist-ish” leanings even if you are not willing to call them Marxists?

I think there are times, in the political landscape today, that we easily get caught up in accusing those having different view-points from our own as being Marxists, Fascists, Communists, Socialists, or Nazis in an attempt to discredit the political opposition, knowing full well that the person is not actually full-fledged Marxists or Nazis. But in the case of the BLM organization, you have leaders who are admittedly trained Marxists. And if many of the liberation theologists or Whiteness experts who want to teach you how to get over your whiteness, teach methods whose philosophy eerily resembles a Marxist thought process, there is at least the possibility that they are Marxist-ish and their work may very well bring about similar outcomes if they succeed.

Some of the confusion may be over Classical Marxism versus Cultural Marxism. Most people cringe over the thought of being considered a Marxist, considering the classical meaning of the term. The classical Marxist ideology is one of economics—the bourgeoise vs the proletariat (the haves vs the have nots); the middle- class vs the working class. When the expected worldwide uprising of the working -class overthrowing capitalism did not occur as Karl Marx was so certain it would, later students of the ideology attempted to discover why, and they came up with the idea that the culture influence had not been taken under consideration. It was the oppressed vs the oppressors. So, capitalism was considered the oppressor and the working class was the oppressed. Today, with cultural Marxism, the majority culture (white) is the oppressor and minorities have taken the place of the working class. The agenda of the oppressed is to overthrow the systems of the oppressors. Anything “white”, and part of that  “system”, is racist, more specifically, you have systemic racism. There is no individuality now when it comes to racism because it is a system. If you do not lay down your “whiteness”, you are racist no matter what is in your heart, or think is in your heart, because you are part of the system of the oppressor. By the way, this would exclude blacks from being racists.

I would hazard a guess that many of the people locking arms with BLM and Antifa would resist the label “Marxist”. They just want to fight what they consider to be injustice, but they can’t see, or just don’t know enough to know that they are following a playbook reminiscent of Karl Marx and his students. Some of the people accusing them of such may not know enough to recognize exactly what they are accusing them of being and so just throw out a wholesale accusation of Marxism. I have had to do quite a bit of reading just to give you what I just gave you in the effort to understand myself why these groups were being called Marxists.

Some who have read my book, 9 Things Kaylan Should Know, or have read some of my comments on social media, know that I absolutely do not like the term White Privilege (Dictionary.com—the unearned, mostly unacknowledged social advantage white people have over other racial groups simply because they are white). I go into details about why I find this term objectionable in the book. I now have two other terms to go along with that one—White Fragility (Oxford dictionary—discomfort and defensiveness on the part of a white person when confronted by information about racial inequality and injustice) and Whiteness (Oxford dictionary—The fact or state of belonging to a human group having light-colored skin; From the Urban dictionary—a socio-economical identity pertaining only to white americans; a term that defines family structures and organized systems as only coming from Caucasian cultures). Most of the times that I hear these terms or read them in a book or a blog, they have greatly negative connotations and sound like an accusation. How can one not become defensive when one is constantly being accused of something negative simply because of the color of one’s skin? Notice how these terms have been turned into racial labels. Now, I ask you, how do those terms/labels, tossed about with reckless abandon, help to foster racial harmony or reconciliation? How does “check your privilege!” exhibit humility to your brother and sister in Christ? These are philosophies, and the motivation behind their use do not appear (in my mind) to line up with God’s truth. And whatever does not line up with God’s truth, I don’t care to embrace.

In my most recent reading in regards to whiteness and white privilege, there are a few conclusions I have drawn about these topics (I am writing this as commentary for my Christian brothers and sisters, for I know that those who do not claim Jesus as Lord would probably not receive the Bible as their authoritative influence in regard to thoughts and instruction):

  1. Based on the explanation of these philosophies, and the instruction given by their teachers to overcome this condition, white privilege and whiteness are treated as though they are sin. You have sinned just for being born white, and you are being blamed for something you had no control over (the amount of melanin in your skin). Not only are you in sin, you have committed an unpardonable sin, because the instructions usually given to whites who are attempting to shed their privilege or whiteness come with the caveat that you can never obtain the goal. You can become “woke” and continue to work on your penance in order to be a better person, but you will never arrive. Calvary took care of all other sin but this one, they appear to say. There is no true redemption. Well, this certainly does not line up with Scripture. Jesus says that when you repent and accept the gift of calvary, you are redeemed and there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ. You are a new creature. His blood covers all your sin.
  2. The talk of whiteness and white privilege from a Christian perspective, makes much of mourning with those who mourn, but what about the part of Romans 12:15 which goes with that—“Rejoice with those who rejoice”? In these discussions of race, we apply the mourning aspect to those who are considered to have suffered injustice (during slavery and present day) and are marginalized. How, and to whom, do we apply the rejoicing? Whites maybe? In the same vein as the application of the mourning to the minority, can minorities find it in their hearts to rejoice with their white brothers and sisters when they are celebrating the accomplishments of the founders of this nation during the Fourth of July? These verses possibly point to the hopes and answered prayers for which we rejoice, but when placed in the social arena, I believe the example has merit.
  3. The “oppression” focuses quite a bit on inequality and specifically, inequality of wealth. It brings to mind a word—covetousness. God has commanded us not to covet our neighbor’s property. He has decided what we each will have, and it is all His. He has told us that He causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. Jesus gave us the parable of the man who hired workers throughout the day and gave them what he wanted them to have. Those who worked few hours got the same as those who worked all day, and the ones who worked all day thought this was unfair. However, it was the owner’s choice to do so as he pleased. God is sovereign in who to give to and from whom to withhold. He wants us to honor Him with what we have been given.

 

Jesus gave us the parable of the talents in Matthew 25:14-15. This man was going on a journey and gave several of his servants some of his wealth. He did not give all of them the same amount, but he expected each of them to maximize his dividends on what he had given them. He did not spare the one he had given the least amount to who did not work his best with what he had.

 

Thomas Sowell states in his book, The Quest for Cosmic Justice, “Envy was once considered one of the seven deadly sins before it became one of the most admired virtues under its new name, ‘Social Justice.’”

  1. These philosophies are teaching whites that they are privileged, and blacks are victims. Do we really want to do either of these things? To teach blacks that they are perpetual victims, is to give them no hope of overcoming any challenges. God is their hope. Instead, they will tend to turn to government, and its laws, to deliver them. God word tells us not to put our trust in mortal men who cannot save.

 

As far as the privilege of whites and whiteness—do we really want whites to focus on being white? There was a point in history that they did just that, and it was the notion of white privilege (the true meaning of the term privilege, a special right or advantage) which gave rise to black slavery and Jim Crowism in America. Whites had the “special right” of freedom; blacks did not. Whites had the “special right” of sit- down dining in most restaurants; blacks did not. They also had the “special right” of going to certain schools or churches; sitting in certain places (including on juries, in spacious waiting rooms, and floor seats at the movies); living in certain neighborhoods; becoming supervisors on jobs. Blacks had none of these privileges. Now, we are yet again, planting a notion of white privilege into the minds of white people. We worked hard on helping them to see that skin color should not be what we judged one another by. Now, we are thrusting the idea upon them.

For now, it is an accusation against their advantage of being in the majority culture, but what effect does it have, ultimately, upon impressionable minds; this insistence to accept that yes, I am privileged simply because of the color of my skin? How long before we hear, “Do you know who I am?” from someone who has come to expect privilege? I am already seeing some whites who feel that they can tell blacks how they are to feel about their experience in this country (they insist that we should all feel oppressed, and there is something wrong with you if you do not). If we continue along this line, I pray we don’t end up back in the place that started all of this chaos and struggle between the races.

 

  1. When we have a “system” to blame, we are absolved from taking responsibility for our choices. We are not seen as individuals but as an identity group. However, when Jesus returns as the righteous judge, we will stand alone. God’s word to the Jews (and pervasive throughout His acts of justice) is this from Ezekiel 18:20– The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.

 

Since the death of George Floyd, chaos has reigned across quite a bit of America. Much discussion has taken place, but I have seen confusion in some of God’s people regarding where to go from here. I would remind my brothers and sisters of this—

God is not unaware of what is going on. He is powerful and He is wise. He is who we looked to for direction before May 25th, and we can continue to look to Him. I must say that it saddens me that we have some whose attitude seems to be that His Word is cliché for such a time as this; that they must look elsewhere for direction. God provides perfect justice, according to His will, not based on selfish human desires. His Word is about relationship—with Him and with others. Following His lead will lead us in the best direction for unity with our brothers in Christ and our treatment of others. We should not allow the world to guide us in this, for they have many vain philosophies.

Colossians 2:8 tells us—See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

The following was taken from a post by Darrell B. Harrison on July 18—

“George Floyd was killed on May 25, 2020. In the weeks since, several white Christians—many of whom are pastors—have asked me what they should be doing to come alongside their black brothers and sisters. My answer is: do what you were doing on May 24, 2020. Melanin should never be a factor in displaying the love of Christ. Love them because they’re brethren, not because they’re black and brethren.”

 

Patricia Knott

 

 

 

 

A LITTLE LEAVEN

CHAPTER 1

I sat with my fingers on the keys, at an actual loss for words for a period of time, my heart mourning for the nation. My heart mourns for our inability to reach some sort of peaceful equilibrium. My heart mourns for our inability to lay aside our differences in favor of the strength of our sameness— or at least our same core desires. I CAN’T be the only one. I HOPE I am not the only one. I KNOW that I am not the only one. Yet, even as I approach despair, I rest in the certainty that there is One Who is able to do the impossible for us. And so my fingers began to move across the keys to the hopeful rhythm of my heart; a heart which refuses to give up.

There is a war going on in America, on many battlefronts which makes it difficult at times to identify friend from foe. If we are not careful, we might find ourselves swallowing the bloody finger of the person trying to feed us. Oftentimes, we might not recognize that many of us are actually on the same side (or at least want close to the same things). And though we can’t always see him clearly, there is actually one resolute enemy we should all resist with extreme prejudice. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but he doesn’t tell you that. He wears a variety of masks, from angelic smiles to twisted snarls. Those snarls are easy to recognize. It is the kind, compassionate, empathetic words and “sincere” smiles which lure us in before we realize that we have ventured onto a gigantic mouse trap, and we are too far into the danger zone to make it back to the edge before it springs.

I am going to be “raw” honest here, as I think the time for delicacy is past. I went to bed one night and America was making strides in race relations. I awakened the next morning and felt like Rip Van Winkle—except time had not moved forward. Instead, I found that time had made a trip backwards. That seemed to be the case as far as various opinions about race relations are concerned.

Though people of color have formed a loose coalition to combat what they consider to be the evil acts (past and present) of the predominant white race, I would like for simplification purposes (not ignorance of the similar concerns of other ethnic groups) to use the Black/White struggle in America to encompass the racial upheaval that has plagued America since the days of slavery.

In an attempt to make sense of what I see happening in our country, I did not want to make too simple what is a very complex issue; one which, like an onion, has many fragile layers which have to be teased apart and examined if we are to even THINK of finding common ground upon which to begin to build a future together. There are things at play which encompasses much more than what the eye sees—from the psychological to the spiritual—and it would, and has, filled many books over the years.

I think what we have to ask ourselves is—where do we want to go from here? Are we more concerned with “being right” or building relationship? I myself prefer to build relationships. I think the key to race RELATIONS is RELATIONSHIP building. I happen to believe that God is the wisest being ever, and He wrote the book on relationships. It is called the Bible. Yes, it is about relationship with Him and relationship with our fellow humans. This is embodied in His two greatest commandments—1.Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength and 2. Love your neighbor as yourself. I am convinced that if we would receive His counsel on the matter we could have race relations be the best that it could be.

Of course, you have those who will ask the question, “What about those who don’t believe in God or the Bible?” First, let me just say that whether you believe in God or not, His principles are true. If you show kindness to someone even when they have been mean to you, you will get a better result than if you return spite for spite (Proverbs 25:21-22—If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat. If they are thirsty, give them water to drink. You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads, and the Lord will reward you). Secondly, I have discovered that many motivational speakers have lifted principles straight out of the Bible. They word it differently, and many don’t give God the credit. The danger in not giving God the credit is that they continue along that track without loyalty to God, and not depending on God’s Spirit to lead them in His wisdom. And at some point, man’s wisdom is going to show itself lacking (or harmful).

If we say we desire relationship then we have to ask ourselves if we truly sincerely desire it. And if we truly sincerely desire it, are we willing to ask ourselves the tough questions—and to be honest in the answers? And are we truly sincerely willing to DO what those tough questions lead us to do? I don’t know about you, but I don’t wish to remain stagnant, kicking the can down the road when it comes to race relations. I would like to see genuine answers to genuine questions and genuine efforts to come to a solution. I mean no disrespect to anyone, but the Church should be the leaders in this, because we have placed our trust in the author of the greatest book regarding relationships. The person who has not received Christ in their heart (the natural man) looks upon quite a bit of what God has to say in the Bible as foolishness, so it is up to genuine followers of Christ to show how it is done by following His wisdom.

To get this ball rolling, I have a few introspective questions we could ask ourselves in order to start from a basis of truth. No need for anyone to know your responses. Just answer truthfully in the quiet recesses of your heart and mind:

–If you are White, do you think that Whites are superior to Blacks? Naturally smarter than Blacks? Do you even care what a Black person thinks or do you just blow off anything they have to say? Do you even THINK about what might be important to Blacks? Do you think that Blacks have nothing of importance to offer the rest of society? Do you prefer Blacks to live in a different neighborhood than you do (simply based on the color of their skin) or go to a different church than you do? Do you hope your child never marries someone Black? Do you laugh at derogatory jokes about Black people? Do you have any close friends who are Black (as close as your closest White friends)? Do you care as much when a Black person is killed, raped, or kidnapped as you do a white person? Do Black people make you angry? Do you always take the “White” position against the “Black” position?

–If you are Black, do you think all Whites (simply because of the color of their skin) are racist? Do you think Blacks are morally superior to Whites when it comes to racism? Do you believe a white person’s feelings matter? Do you hope your child never marries anyone White? Do you laugh at derogatory jokes about Whites? Do you have any white friends who are as close as your closest Black friend? Do you care as much when a white person is injured, beaten, killed, raped, and kidnapped as you do a Black person? Do you prefer Black friends to White friends? Do white people make you angry? Do you believe Black people should stand together against white people? Do you resent White people? Do you always take the “Black” position against the “White” position?

We can’t answer these questions for anyone but ourselves, and we have to desire to change our attitude and behavior towards one another. It can’t be forced. Recently, the ladies’ group in my church went through the book, Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend. In one of the chapters on relationships, they made the comment that in the marriage relationship, we do well in coming to some agreement about who will cook or mow the lawn or carry out the trash. Where we lock horns is when we attempt to control the personhood of our spouse—like their feelings and thoughts. We can’t and shouldn’t try to control their personhood. We can’t anyway, though it doesn’t stop us trying. We can only control OUR personhood and our responses to theirs. Their feelings and their thoughts are theirs whether we like them or not. Maybe we can persuade them with logic, reasoning, love and the truth to change their thoughts or feelings, but we can’t really force them to—their illegal actions as a result of those thoughts and feelings yes, for those, the rest of us in society can hold them accountable. And as fellow Christians, we can hold them accountable to God’s Word. What I sense in recent days in America is an attempt to control feelings and thoughts—and a desire to use the strong arm of the law to do so. Racism is part of one’s personhood. It is your thought or feeling. Law has outlawed the actions based on racism in many areas of our society, but the law has never managed and never will be able to control racism itself. The law has made available the means to combat any proven harmful acts of racism on the job, in housing, in hiring, and in business, etc. It is obvious that as a nation, we do not approve of racial discrimination in any of these areas, and we look upon racism itself with disdain. Unfortunately, as a nation, we cannot control a person’s heart. That does not stop us however, from appealing to their sense of right and justice, or their conscience, to possibly change that way of thinking.

Whenever we discuss racism in this country, there is not just one elephant in the room—there are several. They are all the things we ignore that are germane to the problem we are experiencing in race relations. To come up with a solution, we must first truthfully and adequately define the problem. Instead, for more than 50 years, we have focused on only one aspect of the problem—white people and their foibles.

Admittedly, with the dismantling of Jim Crow, there was a need to help people see the lingering acts of Jim Crow-ism which refused to die a certain death. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed segregation and discrimination based on race. My hometown school was still segregated in 1970! Now, we have entered a phase of American life where when asked about racism, we talk more about the past than we do the present. When we speak of present day racism, the actual concrete proof becomes nebulous and is quite often steeped in supposition, interpretation, and feelings. When I was growing up in the Jim Crow South, I did not have to search for, prove, convince, or “feel” in regards to racism. The objective evidence was always on display. There were the “White” waiting rooms, fountains, seats, restaurants, schools, and churches—with the “Black” counterparts to all of these. No guess work. No interpretation. No “feelings”.

I would be foolish to believe that racism doesn’t exist any longer to some degree, individually or corporately. At the helm of every department in a business is potentially a person who can’t see past my race when it comes to me and the white person applying for the same position. But when we cry that systemic or institutionalized racism is running rampant in our country in the present, I can only agree to the possibility of it happening. I disagree to the supposition that it is so rampant that it calls for riots.

I have lived genuine, bonafide, government-sanctioned institutionalized racism, so much so, that to see “Whites Only” and “Coloreds” was normal.

When I look at and listen to America NOW compared to THEN, it is like having watched Will Robinson (Lost in Space) on a Black and White TV and thinking, “how fanciful!” and recognize that now, there really are robots and artificial intelligence to help us in our everyday chores and duties and decision-making. To think that one day I would have absolutely EVERY right to go, live, or sit anywhere any white person did and not be afraid of a beating, a gunshot, or a hanging was the stuff of fantasy and dreams. So too was the thought that if I felt that I was being treated unfairly, I could march in protest without hoses or dogs turned on me, and incredibly, I could actually get in the face of a police officer and call him names and still be alive when facebook or the papers got ahold of it.

Having said all of that, I must say that I despise racism and injustice. I despise them both, whether they are propagated against someone White or someone Black. These things are ugly. I think the majority of Americans feel that way, which is why companies spend a lot of money on diversity training and compliance. No one wants to run afoul of the American public’s sense of justice and fairness.

But those elephants in the room which I spoke of….

-Single parent homes and the effect on poverty

-Black on Black crimes

-Whites who don’t recognize the sense of rejection (real or imagined), self-doubt, and uncertainty felt by the Black person that may be in their midst. Or the Black person at the dinner who just longs for a slice of sweet potato pie while everyone else is raving over the fruit salad.

-Black racism (As I have said previously, we have talked much about the white racist over the years).

-Psychological effects of slavery and Jim Crow on Blacks (It has also had effects on Whites)

-Bitterness, anger, fear, distrust, and yes, racism, passed down from generation to generation like an inheritance

These are but a few of the elephants crowding the room, but there are still three major ones unaccounted for in this list. They loom larger than all of the other elephants and they impede even the beginning of constructive talks. This is what they look like:

  1. The belief that it (race relations) is the white person’s problem to fix
  2. Whites who make decisions regarding Blacks out of a sense of guilt for the sins of their ancestors or a sense of condemnation for being White, allowing their emotions to guide them more than the facts (this is not about those Whites who just plain hate injustice and prejudice and when they recognize it, they speak up or do something about it. But when they do something about it, it is based on reason and justice for all). We love the heart of those who might “feel” guilt, but we appreciate the actions, not reactions, of those who hate injustice and work to end it.
  3. Black victimhood. When you see yourself as a perpetual victim, you can’t see your victories.

 

All three of these elephants trample any attempt at relationship building or real communication between the races, but I think number one just might be the one that cracks the very foundation upon which all else is built.

I have heard or read the thoughts about this (racial reconciliation is the work for Whites) from Blacks and Whites. A prevailing thought among many Blacks is that it is the duty of the white people to make this right. Blacks are the ones who were brought here against their will and used as slave labor. Blacks had their rights confiscated during Jim Crow while they were legal citizens. The thought is that it is not incumbent upon those who were oppressed to make the oppressor comfortable or feel less guilty. This has definitely been played out—in the multiple moments over the last more than fifty years; in the words spoken with seeming impunity by many Blacks in regards to the white race by way of songs, poetry, protests, speeches, art, television, movies, and plays. They have boldly proclaimed the evil machinations of the white race perpetrated against black people, and they have not been inhibited in saying what they thought about it.

Whites have apparently, in large part, considered that they DID need to make amends for their sins. They have tiptoed around the issue of race and pretty much allowed Blacks to have the microphone (except for the white supremacist groups which have dwindled in numbers over the years. Now showing only a shadow of their former glory, they spew their hatred online, in meetings, and in chants as they hold their periodic marches). A lot of these who have chosen to allow the Blacks to have the stage, have done so in the interest of not being labeled a racist; others are possibly doing some self-examination while also commiserating with the people who had to fight so hard for basic liberties; still others are maybe thinking that it just isn’t worth the notoriety it would bring to put forth a rebuttal. It is just better to remain quiet and hopefully, keep the peace. Yes, there are some who feel the guilt of the sins of their ancestors and grandparents or some whose conscience dictates a strong sense of justice. They would probably tell you that it is ABSOLUTELY the task of the white race to make this right and to forge a solution.

CHAPTER 2

Is race relations the white person’s problem to fix? I consider this to be an error in assessment and planning of the solution to the situation. My response to this ideology is—“A little leaven leavens the whole lump”.

Humanity has a problem with hate, anger, prejudice (only one of which is racism) and a whole host of other unpleasant attributes. In this society, these negative attributes (among others) have caused pain and hurt and no one has been exempt from their effects. So, say Blacks have become frustrated, angry, bitter, and sometimes hateful because of historical injustices and some present day acts of racism. Let’s then say every white person becomes loving overnight and totally void of any racism; But this doesn’t happen in the Black community. In fact, they are allowed to have whatever feelings they wish. You may have many Blacks who see and respond to the change they see in Whites. It settles their spirits, and they decide to let the past stay in the past. But you would still have some of the Blacks who are angry, bitter, unforgiving. They respond to the “new” Whites with the dislike or distrust they held for the “old” Whites. They don’t buy it that there has been a change and they scrutinize every word and action based on history. Let’s say all of those feelings and actions from this group of Blacks are the left over leaven in this scenario. Just as a small bit of leavened dough from the previous batch might be used as the starter for a new loaf, this left-over leaven in society will leaven the whole lump, because they will keep the effects of anger and hate going. Pretty soon those loving white people will become impatient, angry, and probably retaliate. We have a vicious cycle which forms.

This is some of what we see going on now. You have people (just plain human nature, not talking religion) who are decent people who are just plain tired of being shut down and called “racist” and “hater” just for having an opinion which differs from the “Black” opinion. You don’t reconcile a relationship when everything hangs on one person. There is a good and a poor response to the overture of the person reaching out to reconcile. The Good Samaritan in Jesus’ parable embodies the rest of His teachings about how we are to respond to those who hate us or mistreats us. I have said that He wrote the Book on relationship. I think we would be wise to listen.

Besides not being feasible due to our human nature, there are other reasons we cannot leave this issue to Whites:

  1. Whites are not the only ones who got us here. The thought that every white person (based purely on the white color of their skin, both past and present) must be made to pay penance and atone for the sin of American slavery and racism, is in itself a bit of racist dabbling. If present day Whites are to carry the burdens of the actions of their ancestors, and we truly believe that to be justice and the way to fix the problem, then there is yet another elephant which just lumbered into the room—the native Africans who were duplicitous with Whites in the slave trade. By this logic of being white descendants, or just being White in America, makes one responsible for others’ sins in the past, it should also cause some Blacks, maybe even myself, to be held accountable as well. Maybe it was my or some other African descendant’s ancestor who kidnapped others’ ancestors on the continent of Africa and bartered them to the white slave traders for rifles, metal, and other trinkets or baubles.
  2. Leaving Blacks out of the equation, robs them of the blessings of obedience. Whites are receiving excellent teaching these days about the sin of racism. You might say that in mixed congregations, we are ALL receiving great teaching. Let me share a small nugget of reality with you—when a white minister makes the statement, “Racism is sin” or “Prejudice is sin”, Whites, rightly so, get the message loud and clear. They, hopefully, examine their heart, maybe repent, and ask God to help them get rid of it. Based on the actions and words of some Blacks, I surmise that they get a different interpretation of the words. First of all, many do not believe Blacks can be a racist. So, if you do not believe a Black person can be a racist or you believe that Blacks are righteous in their anger and dislike towards Whites, then guess what these people hear when the preacher says “Racism is sin”? They hear “Whites are sinning”. They feel this message is for white people and they are glad the preacher is finally calling them on it.

(AN ASIDE)–If the words in the Bible which speaks to the condition of the heart or the attitude of the heart do not cause us, Blacks, to examine our hearts, then we see no need of repentance for our thoughts, feelings or ill-will towards Whites. We believe we are exempt from this sin. We are disobedient in this area, and it robs us of the blessings Whites receive when they repent of this sin. They get the chance to be set free. We remain in bondage. We MUST see that “Racism or prejudice is sin” applies to ALL of us. If Whites are held accountable to this truth, then Blacks must be as well. Our White brothers and sisters (as well as those in our own race) must lovingly hold us accountable to this truth no matter how daunting the task. They should not, and we should not, hold Blacks to a lower moral standard than we do our White brothers and sisters. Our souls are at stake. Racism and prejudice is sin no matter how justifiable we think it is.

 

America did not get this way overnight and it will not be fixed overnight. The “fix” isn’t a simple one. We must be patient with one another and be willing to work together with ALL of us getting involved. Maybe we should start by focusing on the person right next to us. Do what God has told US to do, one person at a time. We should work together to rid our nation of any lingering injustice, whatever it looks like. And consider—just as a little leaven can mean something undesirable spreading through the lump effecting change, it can also hold true for the good which is done. A little of this leaven can spread to many others in your sphere of influence and bring about a change for the good.

PKnott

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hold Up… I Think There Is Something In My Eye!

I read an article recently which I felt went right along with the subject matter of my last post, “Same Kind of Different”. In that post I attempted to tackle the spiritual effect our (Black Americans) outlook on race relations is having on the Black culture. Initially, I hesitated to discuss it—for a number of reasons. I must admit that the thought of the responses I might get from any observations I might make caused me to pause greatly, because usually what I say is counter to the narrative as a whole in my culture. And I must admit, sometimes I grow weary from swimming against the tide. It was actually this weariness however, which spurred me forward. I have mentioned before that I am determined to put forth a different narrative for the future generations of Black Americans to consider regarding how to handle and engage in race relations; a narrative which I hope will encourage and embolden them to grasp what is available to them and run with it. Many may not agree with my observations and opinions, but at least there will be options to consider. Let each one then, do what seems sound and right to him.

The article of which I speak is one titled “WHAT DOES REPENTANCE LOOK LIKE FOR THE WHITE CHURCH?: A CONVERSATION WITH LISA SHARON HARPER”. (I will try to upload the link to it at the end so you might read it in its entirety)

From just the title alone, a couple of things leapt from the page and clawed for a position of prominence in my brain. Those two things were the words “repentance” and “White church”. I did at first consider that this person (Lisa Harper) was a fringe dweller (when it comes to opinions on this matter) to have such thoughts, but as I brought my mind from the brink of chaos, I was able to think clearly, and I realized that I have heard these sentiments too often for them to be just those of one person out there on a ledge. In fact, to a lot of people, I might be the “fringe dweller”!

Is there a different repentance for Whites in the Church than for Blacks? What exactly IS repentance and who gets to determine what it looks like? What are they repenting of? And to whom?

In the church, repentance is more than contriteness and sorrow; it is a turning away from the deeds of evil. A change in the heart occurs. The intent is to admit the problem and turn away from it ever happening again. So, the intent is that there will be a change in actions. Only God knows what is truly in the heart of the confessor. Only He knows if an action was done out of evil in the heart or without evil intent. Then He will direct the change in actions which will occur as a person repents.

The key here is conviction. If a person is not convicted of the wrongness of his action, he will not repent. He may go through the motions of saying I am sorry, but he could be saying “I am sorry” for a number of reasons which have nothing to do with repentance. He may never feel the conviction we think he should have—because either he does not feel that what he did is wrong or he is hardheaded and stubborn and will never admit it in a thousand years. Sometimes, the intent behind the action may be repented of but not repentance of the action itself. Sometimes the action itself may be repented of but not the intent. Only God knows the heart. Let’s face it—there are times when Christians have opinions which may not be in agreement with one another, but we place the relationship under subjection to the Scriptures—to love one another and to bear one another burdens; and in essence, we are warned not to cause our brother or sister to violate their conscience.

 

I mentioned that “white church” captured my attention. Not so much as the “repentance” did, because the “white church” phrase could be intended to just make the distinction of a subset of the whole. Such as when the Bible brings up the Church in Jerusalem, Philippi, etc. As long as we don’t fool ourselves into believing that Christ is going to return for a Black bride (or one of color) and a White one. He is returning to claim His bride period. I often ask myself “What do people think He is going to do with those who don’t want to live in heaven if it means sharing with a different race?”

It seems that the egregious action which has brought on Ms. Harper’s call for repentance from the White Church is the “sin” of having voted for one Donald J. Trump. Of course, it is not just the 2016 election for which she calls for repentance. She reminds them that there are years of oppression to account for as well.

Lisa states that Trump is one of the “least qualified people ever to assume the presidency”—(my response) I think the point was to choose a nonpolitician who would lead and think differently from the career politicians who are continually elected back into office despite disappointing accomplishments. I guess a good debate may be had in regards to his skills (or not) as a leader and his success (or not) in business carrying over into the office of President.

Lisa also commented: “the key demographic that ushered him into the White House, white evangelicals”—(my response) Is this statement true? My understanding of the poll which states that 80% of evangelicals voted for Trump is that the question was asked, “Are you evangelical or born again?”, and “Are you White?” There is dispute about who is truly evangelical. Some people consider themselves evangelical because they are not Catholic. Some who are born again do not consider themselves evangelical, but the choice placed before them was asked as though they were one and the same, “evangelical or born-again”, so they would have checked the box. Some people consider themselves Christians even though they have never made a profession of faith, but they think of themselves as one simply because they don’t consider themselves to be Atheist and haven’t proclaimed any other religion. Then there are those who don’t attend Church or maybe only once a year.

All of this begs a few questions—Out of all the voters who voted for Trump, how many out of that number which voted were truly evangelicals? How many other nonwhite evangelicals voted for Trump? The survey only asked about Whites; how many of these voters were truly evangelicals AND White? And how many were born again and white? The answer to these questions would probably decrease the 80% and then you have to ask how many voted, not in support of Donald Trump, but against Hillary Clinton’s agenda? This would decrease what can be extrapolated from the votes for Donald Trump, especially the extrapolation implied in the narrative of the article which states that the person interviewing Lisa Harper (Deborah Jian Lee) continues her work of “asking how evangelicals of color have been responding to this betrayal at the polls”. In other words, the votes for Trump were “a betrayal at the polls”.

I find overall that Lisa Sharon Harper made some sweeping general assumptions in quite a few of her answers, such as her statement, “ What we can say is that people who consider themselves religiously evangelical also have as high or higher allegiance to white supremacy. That is a fact. It was born out and manifest through the vote in the election.” There is no attempt to defend this statement with any objective evidence which caused her to come to this conclusion. I can understand that she might THINK that to be the case, but she stated it as fact, not opinion. In fact, her general assumption throughout the interview which takes place is that White evangelicals who voted for Trump did so because they are white supremacists or do not stand against racism and they can live with, and accept, policies created by racist ideology.

She mentions that evangelicals are captured by a “political identity” and it is clear she believes that to be the Republican identity (At this point, the irony of it all “captures” me—if the Republican Party has “captured” white evangelicals, which is surmised by the fact that they tend to vote Republican, then, using that same logic, does that not cause one to believe that black evangelicals have been “captured” by the Democrat political identity for over 50 years?).

She goes on to make the point that it was not just evangelicals, but white Catholics and other white Protestants who took part in the betrayal. She states that “Basically, white people voted for Trump. The entire white church, the majority, voted for Trump”. I can’t help but raise a glaringly obvious point here which is—Of course, White people voted for Trump. It is white people who always elect the Republican candidate since, unlike Whites who vote in large numbers either Democrat or Republican, over 95 percent of Blacks always vote Democrat. (Except Trump did manage to draw a little over 5 percent this election).

I agree with her on some things—but maybe not as you might imagine. For instance, I would agree that our identity should not be in our politics (either black or white evangelicals). Our identity is in Christ.

There are 2 major opinions she mentions in stating that that there are some things we (Blacks) have done for too long. I can say that I would agree with her on principle, but again, maybe not for the same reasons. Her 2 points:

1.“We have centered white people in our conversations around race and power. We have placed at the center of the conversation the question of whether or not white people will accept the message”. (my response)I have often said in my blogs or talks that we speak of conversations about race but there is no dialogue. Usually, discussions about race is code speak for rehashing what has been done to the black race by the white race. We relive slavery and the acts of Jim Crow and then expectantly wait for what the white people are going to do to fix that problem. Apologize? Accept blame? Demand special privileges for blacks to make up for past wrongs? Give Blacks positions? Reparations? Exactly what have we (Blacks) been waiting for? I have often thought that we have depended too often on Whites for validation of our worth—Unless the white person validates it, our worth is not valid. Many thought that President Barack Obama being elected president was their validation. I knew my worth long before 2008, because my identity is not tied to what a white person thinks of me. This is what I taught my children and my grandchild and it is what the Black culture should have been teaching their subsequent generations over the last 50 years, but we have been too busy waiting on something from Whites. We looked at Whites with a magnifying glass, but we refused to examine ourselves. Our very existence has been contingent upon what Whites thought. I have often asked, “If racism never goes away, what are we going to do?” It is a question we should have been addressing while at the same time standing against injustice for everyone.

2.“We have spent too much time centering our attention on winning the hearts and minds of white people rather than focusing on our own communitieswe have not done the work that is needed in order to free our own people. We must repent.” –(My response)I agree. Except I do not believe I agree with the intent of her statement. She seems to indicate that the neglect has not been in the way of charitable activities or compassionate ministries, but it has been in a neglect of changing the power equations in their districts, cities, states and nation. I interpret that the neglect has been by failure to work on developing political clout. I have no problem with joining together for political clout, but my idea of focusing on our communities involves more than politics. We have neglected to look at, and address, what we have done which contribute to the racial divide and contribute to our economic condition. We have centered our attention on what Whites have done and refused to discuss how the skyrocketing rate of out of wedlock children (about 70 percent) has affected the economic level of a Black household or how Black on Black crime decimates neighborhoods and fill the jails; how constant finger pointing and accusations (without acknowledgment of any progress) wears thin on the patience of those attempting to make changes though not as fast as some would like; how constant accusations of “racist” made toward any white person who disagrees with a “Black” position on an issue only widens the divide . Lisa’s statement does not appear to address such self-examination. Without self-examination as part of the equation, you are still focusing on Whites and making them the center of any hope for “freeing” Blacks. It is truth which will set you free and no truth is found when no true discussion is held which involves evaluating and examining both perspectives of the concern.

Lisa is finally asked–“ What does repentance look like for the white church when it comes to pursuing justice?” Here, she essentially goes into the need for Whites to renounce what seems to me to mean “white politics”. She states they should renounce this lie that they are created with a unique call and capacity to rule. She states that this repentance looks like confronting all of the different ways that the white church has been telling lies about the supremacy of whiteness.

Is this what the white church is doing—teaching that whites are uniquely called and given capacity to rule? Are they teaching the supremacy of whiteness? She doesn’t explain this accusation. She does not discuss or suggest allowing God to direct their path as part of the call to repentance, though the one act of repentance she mentions which I could agree with is “looking at the bodies of black and brown, Asian, and native people, indigenous people, looking into their eyes and seeing the image of God.” Except I would say we (Blacks and people of color) should return the favor.

She ends the article with an implied need for them (white evangelicals) to turn to Christ—which apparently they had not ever done before.

Harper makes a statement that white Christians who voted for Trump had betrayed Black Christians. I pointed this language out towards the beginning of this blog and I wish to discuss it further as I prepare to end this novella. If there are accusations of betrayal from white evangelicals based on candidate selection, then I dare say there are enough accusations to go around. By this same logic, then, Whites can claim that they have been betrayed by black Christians for years. Black Christians have known that one of the greatest issues for white evangelicals for years has been the issue of abortion (the belief that it is wrong), yet Blacks (including Christians) have always stood solidly with the party which promotes and upholds it. Whites have not understood this loyalty to the party which promotes abortion, but they have not accused their black brothers and sisters of “betrayal”. In the last election cycle, the Democrat nominee was heard to say that Christians were going to have to change the way they looked at things (regarding things like abortion, gay marriage, and essentially any moral issue). Their (Christians) thoughts, in other words, should bow to progressivism. I can only surmise that she (the nominee) believes that the Bible submits to the changes of the times. Within the last years before the election, some of these constituents were targeting Christians who were attempting to live by their Christian conscience and either force them to violate their conscience—or lose businesses or face prohibitive fines. Yet, many black Christians stood with this Party. I personally do not look upon someone’s vote as a betrayal. They are exercising their right to vote for the person of their choice. I simply point out that the betrayal language can work both ways.

Overall, this article appears to be a judgment regarding white Christians. I think we should be very careful when assuming to know a person’s heart, because they may not have done things the same way we would have done them. God has warned us about such things. Maybe there are a lot of things all of us can examine ourselves about regarding this election. It calls for quiet reflection before the One who knows our thoughts, deeds, actions, and our hearts. God can convict us to repentance—and what that repentance should look like.

I don’t know the character of the Whites Lisa has come in contact with, but most of the white Christians I know, and many of the ones who voted for Trump, have always decried the history of slavery and Jim Crow in America; they are saddened at the sin of racism; they humble themselves before God, repentant of any and all sin and begging for His help to walk in righteousness with their fellow man. Can Whites today repent for slavery in our nation’s history? Should the young Whites of today repent for the actions of Jim Crow? I can understand desiring to hear someone say “I’m sorry” for past injustices and letting you know that they are willing to stand with you against future wrongs. Some Whites are actually apologizing, and maybe even “repenting”, to those who seem to need it in order to move forward with reconciliation. But how many times must they “repent”? And over how many generations? And are they to be condemned if they don’t?

I know that the commands God gives my white sisters and brothers are the same commands He gives to me. I know that I will be judged by the same Word He will use for them. I know that our standard is Jesus Himself, and when we compare ourselves to Him, we are all lacking (woefully so) in righteousness.

When I read the words of Jesus from Matthew 7, they force me to take inventory every time, and it’s never comfortable:

1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.

 

2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?

4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?

5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

 

May God have mercy on all of us!

 

PKnott

(Link to article):

 

http://religiondispatches.org/what-does-repentance-look-like-for-the-white-church-a-conversation-with-lisa-sharon-harper/

Same Kind of Different

I was shopping several months ago, looking for some of my favorite tops, when a salesperson asked me if she could be of assistance. I don’t typically like being approached by sales people, preferring to be left alone unless I make eye contact with a questioning look on my face or I approach THEM. Otherwise, I am perfectly fine if they just stay a distance—but not TOO far away that I can’t find them when I DO need some assistance. I tend to feel the same way about waiters too, but I tend to be much more patient with them interrupting the flow of conversation every 3 minutes (Is everything okay? How’s the food?). After all, they are the ones bringing out my food and there is a period of time when they have possession of my chicken Marsala, but are hidden from my watchful eyes. Honestly though, I enjoy interacting with my waiter or waitress.

 

But back to my rare shopping spree…The salesperson who approached me was a thirty or forty-ish black female with a pleasant smile, and she was ready to offer all the assistance I needed, but not the over-the-top too eager type who tends to scare you off. I told her the brand I was looking for, and she took me right to the section of the store where I could find it. As she was pointing out various selections, she began to tell me about a previous customer she had helped who had looked at these same designs but walked away without a purchase. Then, with this “just between you and me” look on her face (a slight eye roll), she made the comment, “You know how white women are”. I don’t think I made a face. But just the fact that my expression froze (I felt the stiffness) would have been a clue to an observant person. I politely asked her, “What do you mean?” Still not quite picking up on the stillness of my face and words, she continued on with her explanation, “Well, you know how they worry about every detail of their appearance including the face, hair, and their shape and what other people will think when considering what to buy.” To which I responded , “I don’t think that is unusual for ANY female”. That’s when I saw the dawning of understanding on her face and I can only imagine the thoughts that ripped through her mind before she dropped the conversation and focused on what I needed.

 

I wish I could say that such a comment is rare for me to hear, but it is not. My youngest sister has made a statement on occasion that she sometimes weary of having to come to the defense of Whites; not because the white person has done anything egregious, but because the statement made by the black person is so unflatteringly stereotypical, and based on preconceived notions (with no basis in fact) in regards to a particular white person who is the topic of conversation. But my sister determinedly persists in breaking down strongholds.

I have written a good deal on race in an attempt to highlight (to African Americans) the progress America has made despite pockets of racism which continue to exist, and thus help to heal some of the racial divide in the country. I have wanted to encourage hope that you can prevail no matter what has gone before, and that a lot has to do with how you look at and use that history. Now, I wish to focus on the spiritual toll our response may be taking.

 

I fear that the culture which has historically been that of slavery and oppression has begun to exhibit symptoms of the malady which afflicted the historical oppressor. The white racist has been accused of a myriad of character flaws. Now (I make the following statements based on personal witness or reading their words or listening to their speeches), so many of these flaws are numbered among too many Blacks. Blacks accuse Whites of motives which they have no way of proving, but do so simply because their skin is white and the person said something which disagrees with the way they see things. Some Blacks make derogatory assumptions about Whites purely because they are white, lumping them into unflattering categories, which is what my salesperson did. Many Blacks want every white person to pay for a crime though there is no proof they committed it, but they are guilty as charged for being White. Some Blacks exclude and say hateful things about Whites as well as use derogatory terms for them. Some Blacks applaud the beating or killing of a white person at the hands of someone Black, because after all, it is what they deserve for what they have done to so many Blacks (read the comment section of an article about the harm to a white person at the hands of someone Black, and you will find this statement to be true). Blacks, sometimes, want special rights instead of equal rights. Too often the emotion is hate and not love towards the white person; ridicule instead of understanding; violence instead of peace; revenge instead of resolution. Then one day, the black person looks into the mirror, and if he is honest with himself, he recognizes the racist he sees there, except this time the racist has a black face. Funny that a comic strip can so succinctly speak the truth, but POGO said it well, “We have met the enemy and he is us”. When we respond in kind to a perceived wrong, we often end up becoming the very thing we hate.

 

Many Blacks would disagree with that statement, because many believe that it is impossible for Blacks to be racists since so many have come up with a means to lay all of that burden upon the white race. See, they define racism by defining institutionalized racism. Jim Crow was institutionalized racism, but institutionalized racism was only able to be perpetrated and prolonged by the efforts of individual racists. Otherwise, it would have died a quick death. Some Whites fought against the institution, but yet some Blacks would still accuse all Whites (erroneously, I believe) of being a racist. That is because deep in their inner-most being, they recognize that racism is an individual attribute. I know that if it is an individual attribute, there is no protection from it by the color of your skin. Racism is sin. Sin is an equal opportunity infestation. The sin of racism infects the heart and is ugly whether the acts of racism are delivered by the hands of someone with white skin or black skin.

 

Jesus said that those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick (Mark 2:17). The thing is, He came here for the Pharisee as well as the common man, but most of the Pharisees did not know this to be the case. They did not know this to be the case because it is hard to know that you need a physician when you don’t know that you are sick. Those that were able to recognize that they were sick (sinners), flocked to Jesus and were healed and delivered from their sins.

 

I am going to say this with the best of intentions and without any hint of malice. Too many Blacks are not aware that the sickness of racism has taken up residence in their hearts, and because they don’t recognize that they have the disease (or admit it), they cannot be healed, delivered, and set free.

 

At this point, someone Black may be tempted to say, “Well what about them (meaning white people)? What are you going to tell them?” Peter asked Jesus a similar question once when Jesus had told Peter what would happen to him. Peter pointed to John and said, “What about him?” Jesus essentially told Peter not to worry about John. He would take care of that with John (John 21:21-22). The issue right then was Peter.

 

The angry, hateful response of some Blacks to someone white because of historical oppression, the need for revenge, or the hostile demands for Whites to admit they are racist, or that most of them still are, is not in line with what God has demanded each of us to do, which is to love your enemy and to do good to those who mistreat you. We can argue all day long about whether racism is as pervasive as it was in slavery and Jim Crow days (I happen not to think so. We have made progress), but the issue is not “What about THEM?” The issue IS what is Jesus talking to me about, and am I obedient? (Notice that I am not saying that if there is mistreatment on an institutionalized scale, that people should not stand up against such an injustice. If it can be proven, and is not just accusation or supposition, then by all means, all colors and races should speak out against it). The white racist will have his talking to at his appointed time.

 

Racism is just as much a spiritual issue for Blacks as it is for Whites. The consequences of these heartfelt feelings (or any sins) are dire and keep us from serving God freely and without restraint. We are chained by them, and they keep us from experiencing the blessing of true freedom.

 

I am convinced that the reason some of us (Black and White) have so much drama in our lives from our friends and companions is because of the measure by which we choose our friends. For some of you, if you are Black, your best friend may be that white person you won’t let in, because you think all white people are racists OR you yourself are the racist. If you are White, your best friend may be that black person you haven’t taken the time to get to know (because after all, Whites are the predominant culture and you don’t have to go out of your way to have friends and acquaintances who understand your way of life). OR you might believe that black person has nothing to offer. What if we chose our inner circle based on character, with no consideration of skin tone?

 

If we trap ourselves into our skin color, or limit our activity, or limit the places we go because of our skin color, how are we free to serve God freely without reservation and in obedience? If we are limiting ourselves to our skin color how do we know that we have ministered to who GOD wants us to minister to and not just who we THINK He wants us to minister to? In God’s kingdom, we are no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male or female. We are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).

Blacks in the Church have a responsibility, I believe, to let go of the divisiveness (Yes, Whites as well, but I am speaking of the Christians who are Black for now) and stop filtering all things through skin color, but they should be filtered through the word of God; no excuses for behavior which is contrary to Scripture but which benefits Blacks in the short term. We are looking to eternity, and God is our source. God’s way is always going to be best no matter what it looks like in the present. To the world, looking at things in the natural, the things which we believe because we are Christian look foolish. That is what Scripture says. Christians should be showing what the wise and good thing to do is. We should show the world how to respond to those who have wronged us and how to build bridges, not destroy them. We do that by the wisdom of Scripture. If Christians who are Black cannot be the salt and light for the rest of the culture, then where does that leave us?

 

On the Day of Judgment, the Bible tells us that we may be surprised by who is in heaven. If we continue down this line of anger, un-forgiveness, vengeance, slander, and outright dislike of Whites because of something a racist did or said to us, we may look up on that day and see the white man we called a racist standing alongside Jesus, and we may be like the rich man who raised his eyes in hell and begged Abraham to allow Lazarus to go back and warn his brothers so they did not end up there.

 

I don’t know what is in your heart. I don’t know what the exact experience is that you have had. I do know that there is no hurt that God can’t heal. I do know that God has given us the command to love, to do good (act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God—Micah 6:8), and to do all from a pure heart no matter what our experience with any true racist has been, or might be, in the present or future.

 

When I was coming of age in the segregated Mississippi delta, racists kept me out of restaurants, neighborhoods, schools, churches, waiting rooms, and homes. I WILL NOT allow the racist (those in the past or any I may yet encounter) to now keep me out of heaven.

 

PKnott

The Hidden Ones

There were some great things which came out of forced segregation, believe it or not. At least for me. I would never wish to go back through that though. Next to slavery, it is one of the vilest and perplexing times in American history, in my estimation. I realize that is my perspective but may not be yours. If you were born before 1960 and you are White, you may have a totally different perspective of the “good ol’ days”. I need only point to the “Stars and Bars” or the Confederate “battle” Flag as an example. The problem arises when people with one perspective do not respect or empathize with the “memories” of the people with the different perspective. If we all (every one with a perspective that is, and I think we all have one, both Black and White) cared more about the feelings of persons at the other end of a perspective, how different might race relations be today?

When it comes to the Civil Rights Era, I have written these words before—“Talk to a member of the white and black races who experienced life during the 1950s and 1960s and you will get a portrait of two parallel worlds which clashed with perfect storm intensity whenever the two came into close proximity.

There was one world of ice-cream parlors and socials, cancan dresses, convertible dates, Ozzie and Harriet families and neighborhoods, Ed Sullivan Shows, and scandals that ranged from secret affairs to the indecency of that new rock-and-roll singer with the swiveling hips.

The parallel world knew of the ice-cream socials, Ozzie and Harriet neighborhoods, and the lovely cancan dresses. Those who could afford a television set even watched the Ed Sullivan Show. They watched their counterparts from a distance, never invited to join in. The best they could do was a pale imitation of what they observed. Some even became quite good at it.

Unlike their counterparts, they often lived in poverty and frequently in fear. For their neighborhoods were invaded at times by hooded mobs burning crosses in their yards and sometimes dragging them from their homes accusing them of all manner of crimes. They were given second best in waiting rooms and seats on busses. The best was reserved for those in the other world. No one welcomed the members of this world into the pretty and clean restaurants with tablecloths and candlelight.

Official after elected official ruled over them, officials they had no part in selecting; officials they dared not attempt to select or their attempts would be met with violence. Both parents worked wherever they could find work in order to keep food on the table and clothes on everyone’s backs. A car was a luxury few could afford. Their children had to learn in substandard conditions to those of their companion world.

Parents shielded their children the best they could from the hurt of rejection, but every parent in this world at some point early in their child’s life had to have “the talk”, explaining why members of the other world disliked them so when they had done nothing to bring it about. Why had God made their skin black?

Just as they were discontent with the chains of slavery, the colored world would not settle for the stigma of second-class status in their towns and cities. They eventually demanded full citizenship as had been promised to them by amendments to the Constitution. Though they had been promised voting rights, these had been withheld. They would demand these rights as well. Since they were citizens, they wanted full and equal benefits as such, just as their white counterparts enjoyed.

The two worlds would collide time after time. Violence would honor no bounds in an attempt of the privileged to keep the underprivileged from invading their world. In the minds of the privileged, it was the way things were supposed to be—two worlds, and never the twain shall meet.”

There were two different worlds with two different perspectives. It is only natural that we would come out of it with two different memories of what it was like to live during those times. Both “memories” should be respected, but a lot can be learned by discussing them.

 

In terms of the good things that came out of segregation, I note one in particular. I went to all-black schools until I was 13 years old. Then I had three white students in my grade which quickly dwindled to one. The only reason we remained integrated is because of Mrs. Saunders, my literature teacher, and Tommy Fratesi who refused to give up and had the distinct honor of becoming the first white person to graduate from my high school. So until I was 13, I was taught by black teachers amongst a class that looked like me in complexion. I was comfortable. I saw a lot of other things too. I saw that Blacks could be professional and could become educators. I learned from these teachers about other great things Blacks had accomplished. Even in a time of slavery, against great odds, the intelligence and creativity of Blacks could not be dampened. Thanks to one of those slaves, the propeller was invented for boats (though it had to be patented by his slave master). Our teachers made sure we were aware of the many great accomplishments, and the ways in which Blacks had contributed to the progress of this nation.

What I DON’T remember happening in all of this learning about our black history, is this “putting away” or “hiding” some of those who had made their mark. It wasn’t until years later I learned that, at times, these greats had different opinions about how we should go about functioning and succeeding in a country determined to treat us as second class citizens. That was not the focus of my educators back then. They wanted to present to our young impressionable minds that it did not matter how stupid or ignorant we were called, we had already proven them wrong and we could accomplish great things. They used every Black accomplishment to great advantage as they taught us.

Recently, many people, Whites in particular, were simply amazed that Clarence Thomas was not included in the National Museum of African American History and Culture (only in a story concerning Anita Hill). He is the second Black to be appointed to the Supreme Court (Thurgood Marshall was the first). Many of you all may be knowledgeable of his well- written opinions from the court and respect his intelligence and insight. Naturally, you would wonder then, why this man is vilified, ostracized, and criticized in the Black community. You might also wonder why you hardly see celebrations in the Black community of the accomplishments of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and Dr. Ben Carson.

The exemption of Justice Clarence Thomas from the museum, the lack of support for and ridicule and criticism of Dr. Ben Carson, and the recent castigation of Steve Harvey, revealed to the public eye, the possibly heretofore unknown (to the vast majority of the White community) tendency of the Black community to “hide” those who do not walk the strict line of black conformity or talk the approved rhetoric of “Black think”—you know, the talk of continued widespread prevalent victimology of Blacks at the hands of a racist America; the belief that Whites are inherently racist and Blacks can never be; that all Whites have the advantage of privilege because of their skin complexion and Blacks do not; that it isn’t about “All Lives Matter” right now, but we need to focus on making everyone aware that “Black Lives Matter”; that every resultant violence between a White cop and a Black person is because of race; and that all of these are the reasons why Blacks have not reached economic equality with Whites, and these should be the only things we concern ourselves with addressing as a nation before we dare stand for a flag that represents a country which will not publicly bow her knee to her past injustices and concentrate on admitting them and setting them right.

The “hidden” individuals may or may not hold some of the views mentioned above. I can’t tell you what is definitely in their hearts, though they have traditionally conservative ideas. Many in the Black community though will not know, or even understand, their largest accomplishments, not just because of their conservative thought, but also for another reason which immediately places them in the “hidden people” category—they have an “R” behind their name when spoken of politically. They have either been identified as “R”, voted for an “R” or been appointed by an “R”. Poor Steve Harvey, a “D” who dared to meet with an “R”, found himself vilified as well.

These people, whom many of you applaud, have been called vile names by some in the black community for voicing a different thought about how Blacks can hope to progress further as a group or they have simply worked politically with someone who has a different opinion (Steve Harvey was given no exception for only meeting with “the enemy”). You have probably heard these names now—“COON”, “House N-gg-”, “Uncle Tom”, “Sell-Out”, “Oreo”, and (a new one for me, courtesy of Black CNN commentator, Dr. Lamont Hill) “Mediocre Negroes” (yeah, I shake my head too at the thought of Carson, Rice, Thomas, Powell, or Harvey being called mediocre). See in the Black community, there is a narrow window of qualification for being declared authentically “Black”. I do not choose to go into that to any large degree in this particular post; just suffice it to say that skin tone won’t necessarily certify you. And if you in any way sympathize with an “R” opinion, you have lost points on your pedigree. It has become so venomous in nature and so hard to meet the qualifications for being “Black” that I wonder sometimes if Dr. King would be accepted as authentic by today’s standard if he were alive today.

I believe we do a disservice to our young Black people when we offer them a one-dimensional “Black” world. I would say the same if it were Whites who were teaching all their offspring to engage the world with only one worldview. It has been freedom of diversity of opinion which has led to some of the greatest solutions to the world’s problems. Why do we feel that intolerance of diversity is the solution to the Black crisis in America?

My teachers told me of ANY Black accomplishment. I never knew the degree to which Booker T. Washington and W. E. B Dubois disagreed in the method to be used to further the cause of the Black American. I did know about their strides in education and invention. I knew that against many odds, they succeeded—because my teachers did not “hide” either one.

There are Blacks whose philosophy or political opinion I often disagree with. I would not “hide” them from my grandchild or any other young Black person I was speaking to. Though I disagree with the methods of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, their contributions early on to Civil Rights are not disputed and this is appreciated. They are part of Black History and an example of what can be accomplished with hard work and perseverance. The same for John Lewis. I may disagree on some political points with President Obama, but he is an example to young Blacks of the limitless possibilities to them in America. He is a black person who rose to the highest office in the land. I would not think of hiding any of these men as examples of accomplishment I can point to and say to my granddaughter or anyone else, “Yes, you can”.

Before there was a President Obama, there were many others in the public eye, and especially in politics, since the Civil Rights Era. There have been many black Democratic Congressmen whom we hear about quite often, who are interviewed by black journalists and magazines for their opinions and who are awarded by NAACP. They are invited to speak at black colleges and universities. They are quoted in books and blogs and held up as inspiring models of freedom fighting and accomplishments. And they should be. But there is another small group that remains largely ignored, except to ridicule and despise. Never would I “hide” Dr. Carson, a man who grew up in poverty but went on to become a world renown neurosurgeon (though he lost ground most recently with a number of Blacks when he ran for President on the “R” ticket). I would not think of “hiding” Justice Clarence Thomas, a man who also grew up in poverty and segregation but went on to become a member of the Supreme Court. Why would I “hide” Condoleeza Rice who became the first woman to become National Security Advisor and then first black woman to serve as Secretary of State? I could not think of “hiding” Colin Powell who distinguished himself militarily and became the first Black Secretary of State. Colin Powell and Condie Rice distinguished themselves as “first Blacks” in high level political positions. These were trailblazers beyond the representation of a portion of the country. They held the welfare of the whole country in their hands. The President of the United States depended on Powell and Rice to advise him of international concerns. In their position as Secretary of State, they were fourth in the line of succession for President of the United States. What if they or Clarence Thomas had fallen short in such positions which called for unquestioning trust in their skills and capabilities? I believe they were able to serve with distinction and show the world and any remaining skeptical Whites that yes, Blacks are capable of doing the job. Because of them, Barack Obama could.

I am thankful for the teachers I had in school. I am thankful that they told me of all the great black pioneers and did not get bogged down in politics and rhetoric. I am determined that I will “hide” no one because of a difference of opinion when telling my granddaughter, or other young Blacks, of what is possible for them to accomplish. I will teach that they are capable of thought and invention and “creation of solutions” which should not be dampened by fear of exclusion and ridicule. I hope that at some point it will cease to exist as a practice in my culture.

I just do not think that Dr. King fought so diligently for freedom and equal opportunity just to turn around and have us shackle one another.

PKnott

CHOOSE YOU THIS DAY

 

 

Towards the end of the day on January 20th, I found myself just plain down in the dumps. Not because Donald Trump had been inaugurated as President of the United States. I had watched the swearing in and the rest of the pomp and circumstance with starry eyes and hope-filled heart along with many others. I was amazed once again that we live in a country where the transfer of power is done with such civility, both parties adhering to the rule of law, and doing so with dignity and grace. I was also watching a piece of history unfold before my very eyes. The bits of history were there if you looked for it and did not allow political differences to blind you to its making.

President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama (our first black president and first lady) relinquished the titles to Donald Trump and Melania Trump (the first nonpolitician to win the presidency in over a century and the first immigrant first lady). This was the first time a black Supreme Court justice administered the oath of office to the vice president elect. This was the first time to have 6 faith leaders pray at the inauguration, and it was a long time since the entertainment was offered by someone other than the elite of Hollywood and the secular entertainment industry, with a larger presence of people acknowledging God and Jesus.

Then, where was this down in the dumps feeling coming from? It wasn’t until later that night that it hit home. It was there because no matter how grand the day; no matter how much talk was done about unity and working together, a scroll through Facebook had brought home just how divided America is. Barack and Donald may have been shaking hands with a smile, but their constituents were growling and throwing barbs at one another. I was allowing it to bring me down. Some might call me to be the poster child for “Why can’t we all just get along?”

I had to get alone with God to keep the wave of disappointment and discouragement from taking me to a place difficult to come back from. As always, when I see things like this, I wonder—why?; why is it that there is so much contention and disagreement?

I come back to the same reason each time. I have wondered this and then thought about the reason on more than one occasion. The one reason I come back to time and time again is this—we don’t let the main thing be the main thing.

We live in a world where we have tossed God to the side and either labeled His word as NOT His word or relegated His word to the land of fairytales or fables. Yes, they are nice words, but you are not meant to really believe that and try to live by them. They have no place in reality. Or we think, “That was then. This is now”. When we do this to God and His Word, we have no moral absolutes and then chaos and confusion ensue as we try to use man-made logic and tactics as our guide to peace and harmony.

When I was a child in Sunday school and the teacher would talk about idols, I always imagined the golden calf in the wilderness or a small statue I could hold in my hand. It was not until I was older that I realized that the idol did not have to be clay or gold. It could be flesh and blood or even just an idea. It is whatever you replace God and His Lordship with. It is whatever you allow, above all else, to determine your path. This is a tricky one for Christians, because we think all is safe because, after all, we go to church; we sing His praises; we call out Jesus’s name in all our FB posts; we quote His Scriptures. But you know, your religion (as well as your pastor, your Church, or even your denomination) can become your idol—It is tricky, and it is why we have to always pray and draw close to Him.

One big idol which has taken off and grown to great popularity is politics. Politics has a religion and its two main denominations are Democrat and Republican. The leader of the Party is the Pastor. We Christians think we are safe, because we say we give thanks to God for all things. We repeat the phrase—“No matter who is president, God is still King”. We tell ourselves that we place our faith in God and Him alone. Then “Why”, you think to yourself, “is she saying that we only THINK we are safe?” I will tell you why.

As I watched the election of 2016 play out (actually, it started way before 2016, but 2016 was able to shine a light into all the cracks and crevices of our thinly veiled forbearance of one another), I was struck by how we related to one another, in our thoughts as well as our words and actions.

On Facebook, I would see posts in which people would applaud one another, build one another up, encourage and pray for one another. But let someone bring up politics and the air became tense, sometimes argumentative, unfeeling, and on lots of occasions, downright ugly and angry.

Why does politics cause such friction and division among us? I fear, among other things, it is a Lordship issue. Not only do we refuse to submit our feelings, thoughts, and behavior to God and the authority of His Word (get rid of what does not line up with His Scripture), but we refuse to submit our politics (get rid of what does not line up with His Scripture). Because we refuse to submit our politics, politics has become our idol, because we place it above God and His authority. The main way this shows up is in how we treat one another.

If our politics causes us to speak to our brother or sister in Christ in angry callous words–or to attack their character or call them names–when the word of God has commanded us to love one another, love our enemies, and do unto others as we would have them do unto us, then do you see that there is a problem? Because of our politics or political choices, God’s command takes a backseat.

We also might be worshipping at the altar of politics if we find ourselves excluding some friends from our get-togethers when we find out they vote differently from us. Or we don’t call them as often or pray for them as much. What changed, except they hold a different political thought than we do? Okay, sometimes, they just won’t agree to disagree and end up turning every get together into an uncomfortable agitated evening. I’ll give you that one. You have to protect your other guests.

We might be worshipping at the altar of politics when we change churches because the pastor preaches God’s truth which may not line up with our political thought.

We might be worshipping at the altar of politics if we unfriend someone on FB because they post support for someone we don’t care for politically. I know there are extenuating circumstances here. Some people cannot speak civilly about an issue and you can’t take it any longer. I am talking about our everyday friend who happens to see life a bit differently than we do.

We might be worshipping at the altar of politics if we stop speaking to someone entirely because of their political thinking.

We might be worshipping at the altar of politics if we can’t see the elected politician who is the opposite party of our choice (I confess, this is a difficult one) as a soul for whom Christ died and we need to pray for him or her.

We might be worshipping at the altar of politics if we lose all hope because our party did not win. It means we had our hope in the wrong place to begin with.

(STRONG OPINION ALERT!!!) Don’t get me wrong in all of this. I love a good civil political debate on the issues. I strongly believe Christians should participate and be heard on the political issues. We live in a country governed by the people. We are in this world and have the opportunity to effect this country for the good (and I believe God’s wisdom is always good in the long run) of all the people. I wonder if this country is as divided as it is because not all Christians have firmly submitted their politics to God’s word and stood united to show the world that God has a better way. I often wonder if the Church has been too silent on the issues out of fear of offense, and so we have left the world to formulate solutions from man’s logic instead of God’s truth. It is easy to say, “I just won’t talk about politics. It is too divisive”. It is harder to say “We must find a way to discourse with love and compassion but also with truth”. We can lead by example in showing love and kindness and acceptance of the people themselves. But we also must speak. We must find a way to do both in a country where the people ARE the government. For too many in the world, silence is consent. (END STRONG OPINION ALERT!!!)

If we place a politician or Party or political thinking above our desire to love our brother and sister in Christ, to do well for them, to be kind to them, to fellowship with them, then I think it is time to examine just how much we have allowed politics to become an idol in our lives. I know I do a reality check from time to time, and I make some changes when I see it going in the wrong direction—when I see my passionate political thought is causing me to treat people differently. I always want the main thing to be the main thing.

 

PKnott

Killing Us Softly

When I was an intern working in the emergency room some years ago, I remember a case of a young black male who was in need of stitches for a beating he had sustained from a “mob”. This was not your typical unruly, angry, “refusing to listen to reason” group you think of when you hear the word “mob”. In fact, many were found who applauded THIS mob for the hurt they had inflicted. This young man had raped a young teenager in the black community in which he lived. The neighbors, upon learning of the deed, immediately took action, and as a community, administered swift justice for his crime. I never heard of any arrests made of anyone in the community other than the patient seen in the ER. This is not to condone vigilante justice, but to call attention to the pervading attitude of that community. They believed in holding a person accountable for their actions.

Fast forward some twenty to thirty years. Imagine that same neighborhood. Some of the same people possibly live there, but older now. More than likely, you have a different generation which has risen to prominence. But imagine that it is still Black. Imagine that it is your typical everyday predominantly Black community today. Now, by typical Black, it can be anywhere from crime-riddened, drug infested, working class, blue collar or white collar—to gentrified (we come in all shades and shapes, you know). If we look at the same scenario, and then the response of the neighborhood, we would probably not see the criminal in the ER needing stitches. This may be because of a fearful respect of the law, but it is my suspicion that it would possibly, in large part, be because of a shift in the pervading attitude of the community. Now, we might see a call to the police, but many defenses would be made on his behalf publicly (not for his crime, but for how he came to be the young man who would do such a thing). On social media, that community would decry his action, but possibly defend him against the cry for justice from the rest of America, especially White America. It could, quite literally, become yet another politically charged, agenda driven, Black/White, Liberal/Conservative fight. And justice? Well, it is not necessarily about justice for the poor victim anymore. Then again, it may be more of the social media commentators than the actual community who will do most of the defending. That world wide web. You gotta love it.

I know that there are many issues in the race discussion which could be raised in the attempt to understand this young man’s actions, and many other black youths who are accused of crimes; who commit crimes, and who are believed to get tougher sentences and more arrests. I am sure I will hear them and read about them (possibly in response to this post) in the days to come—everything from a belief that police are racists and unjust, to all the socio-economic inequalities, and the psychological effects of racism in America. But that is a discussion for another day. Here, I point out to you a broad difference in the prevailing attitude of the times. One generation was focused on consequences/personal accountability, and the other, while not agreeing with the behavior, is focused on how social injustices maybe caused this person to do what he did, and that should maybe be the main topic for discussion. You have heard or read the comments, Yeah, I know he was wrong, but… It is not just about race discussions either. We heard it (and I am possibly guilty of the “but…” disease as well) in the last election—“Yeah, I know Trump was wrong in saying what he did, but…”. “Yeah, Hillary is not well-liked, careless, and lied, but…”. This too, is a discussion for another time, and I do have a blog that I am trying to work up enough nerve to write. Stay tuned. It may or may not happen. It is all I can do to maintain enough nerve to post this one. But I digress…

Many years ago, Roberta Flack had a hit song, “Killing Me Softly”. Though the song appears to be about a girl listening to a song which is right on point about her feelings and experiences at the time, and just hearing someone sing the words is like pressing on an opened wound even though he is not laying a finger on her, it is the title which captures me, and that title is an apt description of what I sense happening in the black communities today.

Blacks are not holding Blacks accountable. Instead, we make excuses for our less than stellar behavior. We have blamed America, White America, Republicans, police, Fox News, Academy Awards, the Church, God, Jesus, Slavery, socio-economic disparities, racism…and the list goes on. We refuse to discuss what WE (I) alone are doing to keep US (me)from reaching our (my) dreams; to keep the prisons full; to end up on the receiving end of a policeman’s bullet; to cause (non-racist) Whites not to want us in their neighborhoods; to be turned down for the promotion. Sometimes any, or all, of these may add to the “why” of social behavior, but it should not excuse the behavior. Should these things cause us to turn a blind eye or allow us to defend such behavior? I think not. Instead of holding “us” accountable, this enables “us” and is softly snuffing the life right out of us.

It isn’t just Blacks who are killing us softly. I will be the first one to say “thank you” to the many Whites who fought against slavery; who marched with Martin L. King for civil rights for Blacks; who have spoken out against racism as a whole. Thank you for a world-view that hates injustice and thank you for your brave stance against it even when it is unpopular. I love your heart. I appreciate your desire to see justice done despite race or color. Having said that, I think that in your zeal for justice for Blacks, some of you have taken on another burden which is not yours to bear. I have seen many Whites take on a guilt for being White—for having been born into a race of people who did the things to another race that your race did to mine.

You are White because God intended you to be White. I am Black because God intended me to be Black. You had no more to do with being White than I had to do with being Black. Both are good because God is good. Unless you believe you are superior because you are White; unless you categorize all Blacks, or any other race, into an unfavorable class, and it is okay to treat them accordingly, then why do you feel guilty? Sorrow for what your race did (beat, hanged, enslaved, belittled and marginalized, burned, withheld rights as citizens, and raped Blacks) is a noble emotion, but you are not personally guilty because of it. This guilt has played a huge part in killing us softly though, because for too many, the guilt has paralyzed any attempt at holding us accountable when we should be held thus. When Blacks don’t get the job, kill one another in unbelievable numbers, disrespect authority, disrespect their women in their music, burn and trash their neighborhoods, rob their neighbors, cry “racism” for any action or word which does not fall in step with their way of how things should be, all the while blaming America for their troubles, you either point a finger with them at your race or come up with solutions which further entrench their way of thinking.

What too many well-meaning Whites fear to do is to say boldly and with genuine care and concern, “Yes, the world in some cases have dealt you a rotten hand, but I did not see you apply yourself as hard as the white kid did. You didn’t work three jobs to afford the tutoring courses for your child to excel in math or ace the ACT. You didn’t stay quiet and polite and follow the policeman’s instructions. You did not do the “little extra” for the boss. You didn’t arrive on time or treat your co-workers with courtesy and kindness. You can’t get where you want to go without hard work and sacrifice. You can’t run with those who care more about what’s going on with the most popular rapper than they do about grades and who’s hiring, and expect to become lawyers, doctors, or teachers. You can’t have drug dealers, angry gangsters, and cool “playas” as your role models and hope to stay out of prison. You can’t blame others for your lack of success. You can’t wait on others to open doors for you. You can’t watch other Blacks killing other Blacks, remain silent and expect to be taken seriously when you say that black lives matter. You can’t accuse every white person or your coworker or your supervisor of racism (or beat or torture or call them by racial slurs) and expect to advance race relations or get the promotion. You can’t have multiple children out of wedlock and expect to sail on into financial security. You can’t allow your race to be your failsafe for lack of success. You can’t expect the government to eradicate your poverty. You can’t protect the criminals in your neighborhood from the police and hope to rid the community of the crime there. You can’t wait around on ‘fair’. You can’t disobey God and expect blessings”.

When you are building character in your child, you do not allow them to blame someone else for their poor choices. When your child makes a poor grade, you examine their effort. When a white person does not get the promotion they wanted, you encourage them to learn from their mistakes, apply what they have learned, and try again next time. If they find fault, or point a finger, you figure they are not what the company is looking for. Why then is there silence when we see Blacks engaging in “at risk” behavior? We are dying at the hands of political correctness, compassionate silence, and good intentions. We see lack of integrity, lack of discipline and moral fortitude, lack of motivation, lack of pride in accomplishments, lack of belief that we can accomplish anything (because of someone else’s behavior), and lack of truth regarding the consequences of our own behavior. All of these things—integrity, discipline, moral fortitude, motivation, pride in accomplishments, belief that we can accomplish great things, and truth—are slowly, softly, being snuffed right out of our culture, because we (too many Blacks and Whites with the best intentions) will not hold Blacks to the same standards as Whites when it comes to character, terms of success, consequences for choices, and accountability for our actions.

I have a granddaughter whom I love. Because I love her, I have helped her Mom plant the seeds of salvation through Jesus Christ. I have always pointed to Jesus as her perfect example, with His word as her guide. I have taught her to always give her best. I have taught her that God is her helper, and so no one can keep her away from what He has for her if she trusts (and obeys) Him. I have taught her not to use her skin color as a crutch. I have taught her that she cannot fault anyone else for the poor choices she may make in life. I have taught her that every soul matters to God and so should they matter to her as well. I have taught her that God doesn’t ask for sin to accomplish what is right. I have taught her that she is not who the racist says she is, but she is who God says she is. I pray that any person who wishes her well, will show her compassion, but love her enough to hold her accountable to these standards as well.

 

PKnott

(These are my thoughts and opinions and are not meant to represent those of anyone else. In fact, I am sure there are many other opinions out there)

 

I HAVE QUESTIONS

How many times have we heard the term, “Things sure aren’t what they used to be”? Most of us have probably even said it ourselves. I know I have. Because we have looked around and seen a gradual change in the moral fiber of our country. Once upon a time, when I was a kid, even married couples were not shown in a bed together on television—they slept in twin beds! Now, you see unmarried couples doing everything but sleeping when they come near a bed! This is the times we live in.

Considering the times we live in, it should not have come as a surprise to us that we would one day have the two major candidates that we have. They simply represent the times. Surely, after Bill Clinton was allowed to continue as President after his sexual misconduct in the oval office and lying about it under oath, we should have known there was no going back—unless a full scale revival grabbed hold of the land. Afterall, Bill Clinton, and now, our two main candidates for the White House, are a reflection of where we are as a nation. The sad thing is that we have come to the place that it is all thought of as being “just the way it is”. And for now, unfortunately, it is “just the way it is”.

I am a firm believer in prayer though, and God has promised His people some things if they would humble themselves and pray, turn from their wicked ways, and seek His face. If we are honest with ourselves, it is not only the “world’s” fault that we have come to this place. We in the Church can ask ourselves what we can do differently. I will save those thoughts for maybe a different post at a different time.

So, here we are, and unless God does the miraculous (which we all know He can do), one of these two representatives of our culture will win this race to the White House. And with so much animus flying around on social media and the television, I started thinking about a few things and asking myself a few questions…

–HOW DID A VOTE FOR OR AGAINST ONE OF THESE TWO CANDIDATES BECOME THE MEASURE OF OUR SPIRITUALITY?

I think the fact that Christians can disagree about some things shows that we are indeed NOT the Stepford Wives. We have different personalities and gifts which serve to edify the body. Sometimes we are going to have some differences of opinion about some things.

A wise pastor has taught a number of times about the difference between principles, opinions, and traditions. There are certain principles we hold to if we are going to claim Christianity as our faith—Jesus Christ died, He was buried, He rose again, and we can have salvation through none other. The Bible is our guidebook for living and what it calls sin, we call sin. What it calls righteousness, we call righteousness. It also says He will one day return to judge the world. The Bible is truth. We can compromise on opinions and traditions but never compromise on the principles.Christians believe in baptism. We are commanded in Scripture to be baptized. We can compromise on the “how”—whether you should, “sprinkle” or “pour” water OR whether you have to be totally submersed in order for it to “take”. But we cannot compromise on the principle. To be Christian is to believe as Christ said in Scripture, that He is the only way to the Fateher. This is principle. There is no compromise. Many of our problems and squabbles arise when we try to elevate our opinions and traditions to the level of principle.

To my mind, much of what we read which is swirling about in this election, is at the level of opinion, including what I say here. We have Christians who are supporting one or the other of these candidates. Though I do not understand some of them, they have their reasons. You have Hillary’s supporters pointing fingers at Trump’s supporters and vice versa. Meanwhile, you have a whole other group of people standing aside pointing fingers at anyone who would dare support either of the two, while the first two groups are pointing a finger right back at them! Me, I am wondering, “What is God thinking as He looks at all of this?”

I remember reading in the Book of Acts about a disagreement which arose in the early Church about whether Gentile converts had to be circumcised and made to follow the law of Moses. James offered a compromise which was well received by everyone. These brothers did not accuse one another or question the others’ salvation or spiritual strength. They compromised in order to reach a workable solution. Granted they based their compromise on what they saw God already doing. He was doing salvation work among the Gentiles without benefit of circumcision.

Christians are making tough decisions in this election. They disagree with one another. I have not heard one Christian Trump supporter say that they approve of sexual assault, vulgar talk, or any other impropriety he may be involved in. In fact, they have vehemently denounced it. Their conscience is clear that given the present set of circumstances, considering which direction they wish to see the country go in, they plan to vote for Trump because his name is at the top of the Republican platform this time around. About two thirds of the evangelicals did not wish Trump to win this nomination. They voted for other candidates who seemed to exhibit the moral principles they held dear. But their candidate did not win the nomination. Trump did. Now, it is the platform (which includes religious liberty and pro-life work) for which they are casting their ballot—and AGAINST pro-abortion and limiting the freedom to speak God’s truth (AGAINST being made to bow to political correctness rhetoric). Most of them have not stopped trusting God. They are trusting God to help them make good decisions for their country. It is quite possible that there may be some who have placed too much trust in a candidate and not enough in God. I become suspicious of that when we begin to ridicule one another and forget to act and speak in love as Scripture instructs us to do, because we know that in the end, God still has control.

Another Scripture I am reminded of is when Paul warned against causing our brother or sister to sin by going against their conscience. It was about eating meat sacrificed to idols. It bothered some because it made them feel that they were taking part in the idol worship. Others were not bothered by it at all, including Paul. But Paul told them it was sin to cause their brother to stumble. If they did eat the meat believing it was wrong, then to them it was sin. Some Christians feel that to vote for Trump is a violation of their conscience and they would be supporting his lifestyle if they did. That is their sincere conscience.

From what I understand, we are up to 60 million lives taken because of abortion. 60 million lives. The Democratic Party’s platform will allow for this number to grow because of a woman’s right to choose. Many of those voting for Trump are really voting for the Republican platform which intends to curtail this onslaught on innocent lives. Some may say that abortion is the law of the land. Move on. So was slavery at one point in our history. And abortion rights have not remained stagnant. Liberals and Democrats have steadily pushed for more and more liberties with the law. Initially, abortions could be done in the first trimester (first three months). It was increased to 5 months. Then Bill Clinton vetoed a bill which made partial birth abortion illegal. Partial birth abortion is where a baby could be aborted at any time as long as part of it is still in the mother’s womb. So you could deliver a baby’s head (or feet up to the chest if it was breech) then scramble its brains to kill it. What is the next logical step? As long as you kill the child within so many seconds or minutes after birth, you are okay? Don’t think it could ever happen? They came up with reasons why a woman would need a partial birth abortion. You don’t think they will for the next step? When abortion became the law of the land, did you ever think you would see the day that this was okay? Young desperate girls are throwing babies in trash cans right after birth. Do you really believe liberals are willing to stand by and allow these girls to be prosecuted? Fortunately, the Republican congress managed to get a ban on partial birth abortion in 2003 and the Supreme Court upheld it in 2007.

Some of the Christian “Never Trumpers” can’t get over words and past indiscretions to bring themselves to vote for Trump. Their conscience won’t allow it. Some of Trump supporters can’t get past the 60 million babies (and potentially millions more).

At this point, I will share something I have never shared with anyone except family, but it seems pertinent to what I see happening here. PLEASE. PLEASE, I do not wish to start a debate on this one. I only mention it as a point to reference the political disagreement the Church is battling today. When my children were about 6 and 8 years old, the Lord suddenly impressed upon me quite strongly to stop celebrating Halloween. Period. No costumes of any kind. No substitutes. No giving out candy on that day. Take no part in it. To me, to do the smallest thing was to take part in it. Here is the thing—I have men and women of God (whom I respect and admire and trust) who take some part in the festivities. I have not once questioned their devotion to God or their salvation or spirituality. God obviously did not speak to them. He spoke to me though. If I partake, I really feel that I will be in sin. So I don’t. I figure if God wants someone else to stop, He will speak to their heart, but I will not be starting a “movement” about Halloween.

I don’t think we should be pressuring someone whose conscience will not allow them to vote for either candidate, anymore than they should look down on those who have no such qualms. If each group of Christians are holding fast to the principles, we have to learn how to show love and grace when we disagree.

–WAS TRUMP SINCERE WHEN HE GAVE HIS HEART TO CHRIST?

I find that I don’t second-guess someone’s profession of faith. At least I try not to. I think sometimes I have been guilty of it though. I can speak to whether their behavior is Christ-like—or if their talk or teaching is Biblical. If someone says that they have asked Christ to come into their heart, then I would prefer to be there to help them grow, even if it means I am only going to be praying for them. But God is going to be the one to separate the chaff from the wheat in the end. In the meantime, He has given us some direction for the brother or sister who persists in willful sin. It is difficult not to second-guess whether someone has genuinely professed Christ given the many times we have seen celebrities or others come out in a blaze of glory, on fire for God, then to see them return to the world’s beckoning after renouncing their faith. And depending on their past, it may be even more difficult to believe the profession of faith. I guess that is how the disciples felt about Saul after God changed his name to Paul.

Trump has said he is a Christian (so has Hillary, by the way). He has at least shown himself friendly to the faith and the people’s desire to live their faith. He has surrounded himself with people of faith. Some people even want Pence to head the ticket and want him to keep Ben Carson close as well.

Trump has a past though. An audio recording showed just how crass he could be. If he has sincerely given his heart to Christ, what do we do with him now? Does anyone have videos or tapes in the present (and not a decade or more ago) in which he is speaking this way? Is it possible that he realized the error of his ways and is on the road to recovery with the help of those he is willing to surround himself with? He has apologized. Do we continue to heap accusations for decade old sins, or do we show grace? Just what do we do with Donald Trump? If in fact, he has changed, he would be a perfect one to admonish kids to be careful what they speak. It can always come back to haunt you. Thank God for second chances.

–WHAT ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON?

Why is it that we can open social media and we can find multiple blogs about whether Christians should vote for Trump? “Why Christians Should Vote for Trump”. “Why Christians Should Not Vote for Trump”.

“Should Christians Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils?” And so on, and so on.

What about Hillary? What little the media allows to leak out does not paint a pretty picture—from lies and ridicule of groups of people, to leaving soldiers to die and lying to their families, and placing the country’s national security at risk. The list goes on. But the people who don’t even trust her are willing to vote for her to keep Trump out of the White House.

Where are the blogs about whether Christians should vote for Clinton or why they shouldn’t vote for Clinton? Where are all of these opinions? Is it politically incorrect to ask the same questions regarding Clinton (political correctness is one of the reasons Trump garnered the nomination. People are sick of it)? It is okay to dump on Trump and his sexually explicit talk from a decade ago, but somehow it would not be so readily acceptable to point out the questionable actions of Mrs. Clinton. Are her sins any less than Trump’s? We don’t have to go back 10 years. We just have to look at 10 months ago.

In a character race based on previous behavior, neither one of these would end up smelling like a rose. So why isn’t the media focusing on the issues and plans each candidate has for the direction of this country instead of heaping on one candidate and allowing the other one to move about with impunity?

–IF TRUMP WAS A DEMOCRAT WOULD EVANGELICALS BE AS TOLERANT OF HIS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT TALK?

Bill Clinton is notorious for his sexual escapades—and so is the disgust those on the right, and Christians, held for them. Granted, Bill Clinton WAS President and WAS in the Oval Office during quite a bit of his sexual escapades, whereas Trump was a private citizen ten years ago. But just that many years ago, Christians would have never helped someone with Trump’s reputation get the nomination. What changed? Well, society continued to go the way of moral decline until unfortunately, we are no longer as scandalized by such things as we once were. I have other thoughts, but again, I will save that for maybe another time.

–IF TRUMP WAS A DEMOCRAT WOULD DEMOCRATS BE MORE TOLERANT OF HIS SEXUALLY EXPLICIT TALK?

About 10 years ago, Trump WAS a Democrat. He was good buddies with quite a few who vilify him now, even Hillary Clinton. The fact of the matter is, America has become so divided along political lines that there is a tendency to be blind to the faults of the party of choice and look upon everything with a jaundiced eye from the opposing party.

–HAVE WE ALLOWED THE MEDIA TO FORM TOO MUCH OF OUR OPINION OF EITHER ONE?

I think it is obvious that the media is all too human and just like society at large, has become too politicized. We the People are going to have to ask questions and require validation when something is said for or against any candidate. Otherwise we are no different from the North Koreans and people of China who are fed propaganda all day long. For instance, when the media began the rhetoric that Trump is racist, was it because he actually admitted he believed in white supremacy or went around using the “N” word? Or did he have an idea for policy which disagreed with the way they felt things should be and so he got a label which stuck and everybody began to repeat the rhetoric. I find it rather ironic that this “racist” has worked with so many Blacks and fought to open his club to minorities, and is the first Republican nominee since the Civil Rights Act to siphon so many Blacks from the Democratic Party.

Some of the conservative sites who unload on Clinton are beyond believable. I look at the picture designed to make her look like a madwoman, read the caption, and just keep on scrolling.

We need discernment and should desire it in order to navigate the quagmire and get at the truth. We should learn to ask questions and look for our journalists to ask EVERY candidate followup questions and investigate.

–HAVE WE FRIGHTENED OUR SPIRITUAL LEADERS?

We are given direction for about every area of our lives—marriage, raising children, sex, etc—but most ministers dare not hint at how to choose political leaders. Can you blame them? They can’t win! Whatever they say, someone will be offended and complain about their teaching. The Democrat-leaning Christians are going to say he is partial to the Republicans, and the Republican-leaning Christians are going to complain that he is partial to the Democrats. And then they all will decide that the rest of his teaching can’t be trusted so they find somewhere else to go. And this happens even if he never mentions the name of a candidate or party! It just SEEMS like he is partial to the one versus the other. Wisdom tells him to stay away from it.

I think we should grow up and handle differences of opinion about politics with more maturity, allowing our spiritual leaders to give us wise counsel about how Christians can choose leaders from a Biblical perspective (not tell us who to choose, but tell us what factors are wise to look at when we do the choosing). I think we are in the shape we are in because Christians have gone silent in the political arena. At one point I think we went too far, practically swearing allegiance to a party. Then we went silent and left it to those with no desire to look to God’s word for direction. It is easy to say that we will just keep hands off. It is harder to learn to disagree in our opinions, yet find some common ground and work from there. It is also difficult to stand firm on the principles, but do so and say so with love. It is my opinion that we must work to find a way.

We listen to our pastors and trust their teachings, but the minute they say something that doesn’t square with our political beliefs, they lose us. Maybe it is our political belief that needs changing, especially if it does not line up with Scripture. OR have we elevated our politics above God’s law or His wisdom?

–WILL HILLARY OR DONALD REALLY BE ABLE TO BRING ABOUT GOOD CHANGE?

After the election and your choice has won, will you feel secure that America is in his or her hands? Will you believe that all is well now? We have presidents who come and go. Promises are made, and some of them kept. But soon we begin to look for the next great leader, because the one we have is, afterall, just a man with faults and shortcomings.

Christians know that we need God for our help. That is something we agree on. God told us we could repent and pray and He would heal our land.

I think that as we pray and go about our Father’s business, we should be grateful that we still live in a country where we can worship freely and spread the Gospel (for now) and we also have a say about which direction this country takes by casting our votes. Our greatest aid is prayer. Our provider is God. Always.

PKnott

NINE THINGS KAYLAN SHOULD KNOW (THE FINAL CHAPTER OF “CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION”)

 

I like to talk about how God taught me to deal with the issue of racism, because I find it so amazing and wonderful. Even now, when I see so many who wrestle with it to this day, I stand in awe. To tell you the truth, sometimes I have wondered if I am just blind to something everyone else sees, like the cartoon character who waltzes through all manner of pandemonium, but he comes out unscathed. I have actually tried on occasion to conjure up some angst regarding my race’s historical treatment in America just so I can be “on the same page”. But it is just not there (this does not mean that I do not despise racism or consider that American slavery and Jim Crow law were not shameful periods in the country’s history. They were). I do not claim this lack of angst and anger facetiously or in a boastful manner. It is just fact. It took some time to recognize this as the blessing it truly is. I am free! What is truly amazing is that God placed a man in my life who has been blessed in the same manner!

When I look back upon the principles God has taught me regarding this societal issue, I can say without a doubt that it started when I made the decision that it is not about me. I realized that it is ALL about Him and what He desires. I had to submit my will to His will and then trust Him to take care of the rest. The effects of slavery and racism has been like a yoke around the African American’s neck. I exchanged that yoke for the one offered by Jesus. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. Hallelujah! Amen!

It was this perspective that John and I taught and modeled before our children—God has taught us how we are to treat others and that is our focus, not the color of their skin. We, along with her mother, are teaching these same principles to our granddaughter, Kaylan. I hope that many others will join with us in modeling a healthy response to the issue of race for our future generations.

There are nine specific principles beneath the umbrella of faith and submission to God’s will which I am able to identify as part of the lessons God taught me along the way. A couple of these may be pretty specific to the African American experience, but most of these can be applied to any and all who are struggling with issues of self-worth, hurt, or rejection. Here are the nine things I wish Kaylan to know:

#1—She should not allow the racist, or latest fad, or society’s norm to determine who she is and what is her worth. All of these standards shift. They change. What is popular and all the rage today is tossed aside tomorrow. Fashions change. Popular actors and entertainers share the limelight for brief moments. I cringe at the wide lapels, bell bottoms, and platform shoes of the sixties and seventies. These are all based on the fickle affections of men. It is on Christ the Solid Rock, Kaylan should stand. All other ground is sinking sand. God’s word should determine her worth and what she shall become. God’s Word is unchanging. It is eternal. It is true. Though they served an immediate purpose at the time, sometimes I feel that some of the slogans we have come up with in the past have been like a dose of false courage, as though if we chanted it long and loud enough, it would make it so—“I AM somebody”, “Say it loud, ‘I’m black and proud!’” The slogans would soon disappear to be replaced by something which sounded much better. There will probably be more. Kaylan should know that she is worth so much that God, the Creator of the universe, sent His Son to die on a cross for her. She is that precious to Him. He loves her with an everlasting love. She is made in His image. That truth will never change or go out of style. That truth will never change no matter how loud and long racism proclaims the opposite.

#2—Kaylan should know that God is no respecter of person. Since He is no respecter of persons, she is no more than anyone else. This portion of Scripture is the humbling truth which should cause any of us to toss aside pride, classism, and divisions. At the foot of the cross, the ground is level. To those however, who have been marginalized and made to feel unworthy and unwanted, this Scripture which says that you are no MORE than anyone else, is also saying that you are no LESS than anyone else either. To Jesus you are important.
#3—When it comes to those in her culture who will try to tell her that racists will not allow her to aspire to her particular goals, I want her to know and believe that if God has something for her, then no man, woman, or racist can keep it from her. Yes, there are some in this country who would love to stop her progress based on her skin color, but God is bigger than they are. I will not accept that it is because of her race that she is held back—not when I see behavior which tells me she is not giving her best or behavior which is sinking her own ship. If racism is contributing to the problem, before she lays that out as an excuse, she should have objective reasons she can point to which prove it and a wise plan in place to combat it, but never, ever, throw up her hands and blame “c’est la vie!” I want her walk and relationship with God to be so personal and strong that He guides her choices in life. Once God has opened a door to her, no man can close it!

#4—Yes, unfortunately, there are some who will hate her because of the color of her skin, but she will have those within her own race who will hate her and speak ill of her because she does not believe every white person is a racist and that some black people are. She will recognize that racism is ugly no matter what color it is wearing that day.

#5—It is okay to like country music. How many times have you gone to country music concerts and looked around to find large sections of black people? Or the ballet? Or symphony? There may be a few, but we will not overrun the place. And the few who do brave the venue, run the risk of being accused of trying to be White—because that is just not the Black scene. Or they risk being treated to the look. You know, the one that says, “I see. He’s one of those.

It is common in the Black culture to talk a general rhetoric. I can’t tell you the number of times I have engaged in a conversation with strangers, and they assume I look at life the same way as they do (from a social and political perspective). No questions asked. They just begin to voice opinions as fact and never ask what my opinion is, because I am Black, right? And I KNOW how it is. There are horrible names for those who dare to voice or live a different opinion!

General Patton had a great quote—“If everybody in the room is thinking the same thing, somebody isn’t thinking.” I have encouraged Kaylan to understand—Even when those in her own culture would tell her what she should believe or support, or even aspire to be (because they are filtering their opinion through the color of their skin), she should be bold and insist that God alone will give her a purpose and direct her path.

#6—When she looks at the African American history in America, she should recognize and appreciate the struggles and sacrifices of those who went before, but she should also understand that it took strength and tenacity to weather that storm. Their struggle, and eventual gain of basic civil liberties, fundamentally changed America for the better. Their blood sweat and tears helped to build this great nation and the tremendous liberties we now enjoy. We are not victims. We are victorious.

#7—She should know the freedom that comes with forgiveness. Forgiving someone lifts a heavy burden from your soul. You can’t hold onto unforgiveness yet expect God to forgive you of your trespasses. In fact, He says He can’t forgive us if we are unwilling to forgive others. Forgive those who treated your ancestors to the brutality of slavery and your grandparents and great grandparents to the injustice of Jim Crow. Also, forgive those who harbor racism in their heart today. Fight the acts of injustice but forgive the person who commits the injustice itself. Keep in mind that the less quickly you become offended, the less you have to struggle with to forgive.

#8—Trust God when He says vengeance is His even if it seems your enemy is prospering. Also, be ready for the fact that if your enemy responds to the Holy Spirit’s tug on his heart, your “enemy” may share Heaven with you because he is now your brother (or sister) in Christ. God loves your enemy too and it is His ultimate desire that none should perish, but that all should have eternal life.

#9—Learn to see people as God sees them (a soul His Son died for). None of us are perfect of ourselves. We are made perfect only in Christ. God loves us despite our many faults. Who are we that we should not do the same towards others?

 

PKnott

Thank you for going on this journey with me. Though this is the final chapter of this particular blog, it should by no means be the end of the discussion.

#race

#racism

#race relations

 

CONTINUE THE DISCUSSION (Part 7)

 

For the last six discussions in this series, I have attempted to examine the issue of race in America from a Biblical/Spiritual perspective, as well as from a common sense view. It was done in the spirit of reconciliation rather than a stoking of the anger and frustration which is prevalent in the country right now. This present atmosphere is hardly conducive to the peace I believe so many of us seek. I have wished to persuade my readers that in order to have meaningful discussion about race, each of us must search our hearts and minds to determine if we sincerely wish to ameliorate the problem or if we just want to be proven right, and so we continue to blame each other for our present set of circumstances.

I hope I have shown through my previous posts that I am not naïve enough to believe that there is no racism at all in America. On the contrary, my belief, sadly, is that not only does it indeed exist, but it exists in both races. Until that is acknowledged, I fear we will continue to march in place or even go backwards.

I hope I have shown that allowing the Bible to govern our interactions will help us to make tremendous gains in race relations. This is why I believe that improving race relations should begin with the Church (Black, White, and ALL races make up the Church). The Church should lead in loving the people God created and seeing them as He sees them. The Church should also lead the way in loving our enemies and being quick to forgive.

I hope I have illustrated that racism and hate bubble out of a heart which needs the work of the Holy Spirit. Thus, that person who practices such behavior needs compassion, and it is that compassion which will lead to prayer for them, since we know this behavior grieves the Father’s heart.

I hope I have shown that we should hate the sin of racism and desire to stamp it out wherever it rears its ugly head, but I also hope that I have shown we should beware that it is not the PERSON we are hating. Because this would cause us to desire to seek vengeance and destruction against the person rather than seek to bring enlightenment to him while we curtail his ability to hurt others due to his behavior.

I hope I have shown that reconciliation is not something only Whites need to work on, but Blacks need to as well.

It is the idea of reconciliation I wish to focus on for Part 7 of the discussion. I considered that I may have mistakenly used this term in the past. Shouldn’t it be conciliation since reconciliation would mean to bring about conciliation again? Has there ever been conciliation of the races? I believe there has been. Early in our country, Blacks worked right alongside Whites as indentured servants, and labor was not dependent on skin color. There was more of a “class” structure then. But one day, the slave ship arrived in America, and America headed down that awful path of racial slavery. Skin color became the great divider though classism continued to exist. Any conciliation which was present among Blacks and Whites was impaired from that time forward. In the realm of relationships, Webster defines reconciliation as: the act of causing two people or groups to become friendly again after an argument or disagreement. We have seen progress made in the years since slavery and Jim Crow, so why do race relations seem to be spiraling down a deep well?

First and foremost, I think the media has played a large part in the battle of the races. They make their money, and increase viewership, with the sensational and the controversial. When they sniff out anger or disagreement on an issue, they create an argument and get mileage for days out of it. They do this over and over with the issue of race. It is quite possible that the dire straits of race relations we have in our country today has been, to some degree, manufactured by a media saving itself from oblivion caused by the invention of the internet. But here we are. Most people believe that relations are worse, and since racism does exist, we need to always be willing to address how we may change that. We have to admit though that if we were to give the media nothing to work with, they would have no fuel to feed the fire.

Another reason we might find ourselves facing the present uptick in racial tension is because we are not using some common sense methods to bring about friendliness after an argument. I would suppose that to kick this off and bring about that friendliness, we would need both parties to do this—ADMIT/QUIT. Each one (race) should take an honest look at themselves and admit what they are doing, or did, wrong then quit it (It would take some doing, but at least we would be heading down a good road).

At this point, I am going to say something here which is tough, but it is the beginning of something I think will make a difference in relations. An argument could be made that most Whites have admitted they (or their ancestors) did something wrong. Most White people have lamented the treatment of Blacks during slavery and Jim Crow. In fact, some have taken the guilt on to such a degree that it almost seems as though they are ashamed to be White. You see evidence around you every day of Whites who have “quit” the behavior of their predecessors. They are so wary of being seen as racist that they will not even use a person’s skin color to describe them! We have had concessions from the government such as Affirmative Action to try and make it right. They have even at times lowered certain standards so Blacks can be a part of the American Dream—the requirements for getting into college, getting a promotion, landing a job (yes, they have done this to fill a quota).

We have made this “discussion” since the passage of the Civil Rights Act over 50 years ago about what white people need to do in order to fix the problem of race relations, but where in the “discussion” is the notion that Black people have to “admit” and “quit” something as well ? I am not talking about “quid pro quo” here—“Look at how many years Whites have oppressed us! We have never had a level playing field, so we have been unable to compete. And after all, they have white privilege. They are the ones with the economic clout, so we have the right to fight against their establishment by any means necessary just like they have fought against our progress for years.”.

Except this isn’t a tit-for-tat kind of situation. This is not about getting even, but it is about recognizing human behavior when it comes to the principles of reconciliation. Tossing out accusations will only cause stiffening resolve, and eventually revolting against the accusers. It is what tends to happen when the accused’s progress is given no consideration and they are constantly blamed, but there are glaring dysfunctions at work in their accusers’ culture which go unnoticed or they have no calling into account for their dubious actions. It is like the husband or wife who feels they are being picked on because all the counseling sessions are about what they are doing wrong, and their spouse’s contributing factors are never addressed. We see the revolt happening now—Whites are revolting against being blamed for every problem happening in the Black community and being called racist, often just because their skin is white. This should be no surprise. Blacks themselves revolted against slavery and Jim Crow. It is part of the human spirit. One thing we should realize about reconciliation is that it will not happen when we justify our wrong behavior by pointing to theirs. All we will accomplish then is the “which came first, the chicken or the egg” scenario.

One might ask, “What have Blacks done and what is it we need to admit/quit?” I will suggest a few things, but understand, these are basic suggestions with the understanding that complexities are often involved in making changes.

I would suggest we admit that we have a problem in our culture with anger, blame, holding grudges, and not letting go. This is a difficult behavior to change, but those of us who are Christians recognize this as ungodly, and we should be willing to allow God’s grace to lead us out of this and quit it. We can be the leaders in this to the rest of our culture. This disobedience to Scripture is affecting our ability to live free (in a free society and in the liberty which Christ has given us to live free from the bondage of sin).

I suggest we admit that we have a problem with crime (and astronomically so against our own race). We can go on and on about police brutality, but the sad truth is that our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, nieces, nephews, or friends are more likely to be killed by another black person than a police officer or another white person. And saying white people commit crimes too is not the answer. We need to admit this and quit blaming someone White. Instead we should come up with solutions which involve some changes in our own behavior—doing what is wise, helpful, and just plain right. There is another thing about human nature I should mention—when others see you working hard to do the right thing to help yourself or others, they have more of a tendency to come along beside you and offer assistance. You will probably get a totally different reaction should you just stand there and blame them for your problem.

I would suggest that we need to admit that we have minimized the importance of education in breaking down barriers to success. We need to emphasize reading to our kids at an early age and quit giving all the awards to the sports figures, actors, and singers. We can highlight the many educators and humanitarian workers among our ranks.

We probably need to admit that we allow the color of our skin to dictate our behavior, thoughts, and actions towards others instead of allowing God’s law to do that. So we need to admit that we have placed our skin color above God’s law. We need to quit our fleshly responses to perceived injustices and allow God’s Word to supersede skin color.

In this fight to end racism in this country, some questions we might ask ourselves are these—Are we interested in changing hearts or are we limiting liberties through the force of government? Are we interested in reconciliation between the races or are we more about putting the other race “in its place”?

 

I ask the question about reconciliation because of two recent high profile situations which have left me wondering about what it is we are really trying to accomplish in the Black community. The first one is the controversy over Beyonce’s performance at this year’s Super bowl game. The one where she and her entourage dressed in Black Panther-like attire and threw up the black fist. Now Blacks may say “But the Black Panthers have been so misrepresented, and they did a lot of good things for the Black community when they were in power”. Was this the spirit of Beyonce’s performance or was it a defiant “in your face” accusation and promise of things to come? It does not matter what her intent was or any of the good the Black Panthers may have done, she had to have known that such posture would be like waving a flag in front of a bull. I imagine plenty of Whites had the same response Blacks would have had to a white group giving a performance wearing white hoodies and robes with a swastika blazing on their chest. Before you blow off this analogy in righteous indignation, consider that many Whites felt that the Klan which developed in the 1920s (and the purpose of its original formation after the Civil War) was to do a lot of good things to defend them. The original Klan founder disbanded it pretty quickly after it became too violent. One of its core principles (at least in its charter document) was to help widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers. Another was to protect law and order during the turbulent times of Reconstruction. In some areas during the 1920s, the Klan donated money to hospitals, visited sick children, gave food and clothing to widows, and provided Christmas toys for the needy. But the fact remains that they used violence against a race of people which will forever color their reputation and cause a visceral reaction among Blacks.

The Black Panthers may have done some good (feeding hungry children and standing up to police brutality) but when you remember the fear of watching militancy marching down the streets with guns, denigrating Whites, using cussing in their rhetoric, calling cops names (pigs) and urging the use of violence against them, you don’t tend to hold them in reverence. Using the defiant posture of the Black Panthers may stir up fear or point the finger, but it will never bring about reconciliation. In fact, it will probably stir up enmity and a resolve to stand their ground. If reconciliation was what Beyonce was seeking, it may have been better to do a “I Have a Dream” performance, showing members of the two races determinately working together against all odds to make a brighter future or to end injustice.

One last example regarding the bringing about of reconciliation: The Black Lives Matter movement. A simple statement—Black Lives Matter; a statement easily understood, because of the media’s attention recently to every police shooting involving a black person and the riots and protests which have ensued(mind you, police have shot white people too in carrying out their duties, but the media does not seem to focus the same degree of speculative attention on these as they do the ones involving Blacks). Except the government, and many Whites, have been bending over backwards for a number of years now to protect the rights of Blacks. Are we to allow the media and all those concerned about a resurgence of racism to ignore this progress made by the country and so many individuals? We speak of racism as though we still have separate hospitals and waiting rooms and as though Blacks only have to sit at the back of the bus. I wonder how it makes those feel who have been stretching out a hand of conciliation to be met with a black fist.

 

If the intent of the Black Lives Matter movement was reconciliation of the races; to bring awareness to police brutality; or to shed some light on the plight of violence against Blacks, then three letters may possibly have made a world of difference—t-o-o. Yes, Black Lives Matter Too. A simple fix, and it includes the importance of everybody’s life while focusing on the group having the concern. But it should not stop there. Instead of using violence and threats of condoning “an eye for an eye” by killing cops, the movement might have been exceptionally received, I believe, if Blacks had done one more thing—if they had come out with their own discussion of possible solutions to the problem of violence against Blacks, which included focusing on a particularly problematic area of the black culture; a focus which would demonstrate they truly believed this slogan that Black Lives Matter Too and that they wanted to be a part of the solution. Blacks could have presented a clear plan to help decrease the problem of black on black violence and revealed their commitment to making sure this happened. Such a plan could have made a world of difference in the ongoing discussions of race relations. It is called leading by example—Convince them that you truly believe black lives matter too and you may have gained a partner in the fight.

One lone blog will not solve such a major issue as poor race relations, but it is a beginning. Hopefully it has done some good and caused us to pause and consider our methods. Hopefully, we will allow God to direct us in those methods, both for Whites and those of us in the Black community. This is a tough and often emotional journey. It is going to take His wisdom, and a love like His, to bring us through.

 

PKnott

(Coming up next: In the next few blogs, I will be discussing the 9 principles I have modeled for my children and what I am teaching my granddaughter about how to deal with the issue of race relations. Every Black child has to grapple with this issue of “being Black” in a nation that was split apart because of racial slavery and the subsequent racial hatred which sprung up afterwards. God taught me how to deal with it in a healthy way and I will pass it down to those of the next generation with whom I may have some influence…Because God is good, His ways are wise, and He knows best.)