I’m a day late! Oops! I actually am beginning to wonder if I am avoiding this topic unintentionally. I’ve waited and waited. Creatively avoiding the topic. Knowing of the negative names I could be called and the opinions that will be formed. But, I can’t avoid it forever. So…here we go. Based on the parable of the Good Samaritan found in Luke 10:25-37, we are shown ‘My Neighbor is of a Different Race”, which is the topic of Chapter 9 in who is my neighbor? by Wayne “Coach” Gordon. This topic can be heated and divisive, hence the reason that I have probably been avoiding it. Sometimes we like to think that racism is a fairly new concept and only occurs here in the United States, or in the south, or only between blacks/African-Americans and whites/Caucasians. Although as Coach reminds us, this dates WAY back at least 2000 years ago – or Jesus wouldn’t be dealing with it in this parable. Not to mention, most wars around the world ‘are rooted in conflict between ethnic groups’.
The Lord’s Word clearly states…we are called to love God and our neighbor. He didn’t say that we should only love our white neighbor, or our latin, black, first american, or asian neighbor. He said to love your neighbor. Someone once said that there is only one race…The Human Race. Agreed. Yet, there are different skin colors, different cultures, different ethnic backgrounds – which we commonly refer to as race. Today, we can use the same bathroom and water fountain; and we can even ride the same bus and eat at the same restaurant! We even voted in a black/African-American President. Racism is dead, right? Right? Really? No, I don’t think so. Not at all. Racism is deeply rooted in our society, our way of thinking, our way of worship, our way of governing, in every aspect of our lives. Coach states…
We are still struggling as a society and as Christians with how to do better. I’ve observed that some of us white folks feel we have ‘arrived’ when we say to there people, “I’m colorblind. I don’t see you as a black person or a Latino person or a Middle Eastern person. You’re just like I am.”
However, I’ve come to understand that to be “colorblind” should not be the goal. For one thing, God made us multicultural and multiracial. We re enriched by diversity and out to celebrate it. For another thing, if we are blind to racial and ethnic differences we will also likely be blind to the inequalities associated with these differences.
Most of you know that I live in and love my community that is over 90% African-American/Black. I dare not speak for all whites or all blacks. I speak for me, and me alone. I don’t want to be colorblind. I don’t want to be blind to the inequalities, so I do try to learn as much as I can from talking to my neighbors, my colleagues, my friends, whom I love. These friends, who look different than me, share their stories, their pains, and their hurts. And, they become my stories, pains and hurts, because when my friend hurts, I hurt. In addition to listening to my friends and entering into their pain, I also try to learn as much as I can about our history, especially here in Richmond….the untold history. The history that we didn’t learn in school, where the books were written by white folks. If you want to learn more, you can read Richmond’s Unhealed History by Ben Campbell.
In addition, you have an opportunity this Saturday. Dr. John Moeser, Senior Fellow at the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement at the University of Richmond and Professor Emeritus, Urban Studies and Planning, at Virginia Commonwealth University, will present an overview of the 2010 census as it relates to race and economics in our region. This Saturday at 9am at Northminster Church. For more details check this link out…. Unpacking the Census. Hope to see you there.
Lord, we need your help. We need it bad. Forgive us of the times we have hated on people. We are all made from your image. Help us to see the God in everyone. This earthly world is so full of hate, resentment, and power-hungry people. Help us, Lord, to heal. Help us to right some wrongs. Help us to rewrite stories and change the present and the future. We can’t do anything about the past…but we need your help in the now. Open our eyes and teach us how to love our neighbors who look, dress, and act different that we do. Heal our Land, Lord. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
This is the 9th post in a series that I wrote about in a series that I wrote about in a post called who is my neighbor? series. I am reading who is my neighbor? by Wayne Gordon and exploring just one chapter a week. In addition, I hope to post on each Wednesday. The first post in the series can be found here: Neighbor 1: Hurting.