Recently, a Christian university posted their official statement against racism on social media, a statement which is founded on imago Dei and which is part of the school’s fundamental beliefs.
Immediately, someone criticized the university for not posting their statement sooner. “Do better,” chided the self-righteous individual.
This uncharitable attitude angered me.
Nevertheless, I can’t allow criticism, or the discouragement it causes, to stop me from doing my part against the evil of racism.
Innocent blood keeps getting spilled on the soil of our nation. That blood cries out from the very ground.
God hears that cry—and I dare not ignore it.
George Floyd. Breonna Taylor. Ahmaud Arbery. As I ponder the horrific injustice and deep damage done by systemic racism, I feel overwhelmed and helpless.
Yet I am white, therefore I have privilege. This puts me in a position of responsibility to be my brother’s and sister’s keeper—to speak up for those who, out of legitimate fear, cannot safely speak for themselves.
To be an effective agent of change, I need to avoid three attitudes:
- Apathy. I can’t pretend social justice is not my issue. Throughout Scripture, God makes clear his continual concern for the marginalized and oppressed. I can’t claim to follow Jesus and ignore the injustices being done to my fellow image-bearers.
- Defensiveness. To claim that I’m innocent of transgression against those of other races is to miss the point. The point is that the way things are, I enjoy benefits which non-white people do not.
- Cowardice. I can feel intimidated by the thought of looking foolish or somehow making things worse by trying to help. But God is a fan of faith, not cowardice (Hebrews 11:6; Revelation 21:8).
Besides, this is not about me and my discomfort—it’s about others who suffer the far bigger problems of ongoing trauma and fear
Along with avoiding apathy, defensiveness, and cowardice, I can:
- Listen. Since my life is so different from the life of someone with darker skin, I need to work at hearing their perspective. I need to ask the right questions.
A good starting point might be asking an open-ended question like, “When you see what’s happening in the news right now, how do you feel?” Then just listen.
It’s not time to pontificate at this point; it’s time to learn about what life is like for others.
- Empathize. I can put myself in someone else’s shoes. I can let myself feel their pain. I can allow their tears and even their rage become a catalyst for me to care more deeply.
I can weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15).
- Pray. Prayer is not a last resort, but rather a powerful way to bring about change.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is very powerful in its effect.” – James 5:16
One appropriate part of prayer for racial reconciliation is confession of apathy, defensiveness, or cowardice due to privilege.
Another is to repent for the corporate sins of our nation, and humbly plead that the wounds inflicted by racism will be healed in our land.
- Speak up. I can say something when I witness prejudice in action. I can call out injustice and speak up on behalf of my fellow image-bearers, however minor the incident may seem.
Rather than ignore the issue, get defensive, or shrink back, I can listen, empathize, pray, and speak up.
To those who enjoy privilege but have held back—let’s start here, and let’s help bring healing.