I have been challenged recently by people who write on racism and friends who are people of color on this issue of racism. It is something that has weighed on me the past several years (the issue of racism) and when I moved to Alabama, I knew the Lord would keep working on me. The challenge is this: It’s not enough to simply think I’m not a racist. I need to be anti-racist.
I need to speak out.
I have worked on that the last year or so, much to the chagrin of many friends who have long since gone silent on me. Every once in awhile I’ll get something questioned privately, but that’s about it.
In light of this weekend’s mass murders, and especially with the one in El Paso, let me draw some connections. This has been stirring in my heart for over a year, so I want to start letting it flow from me.
The problem is white fragility. We’ve been fearful of losing influence. The Emancipation Proclamation couldn’t free US, as white people, from fearing change. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments could free us from the fear of change. The Ku Klux Klan rose as a result. We feared “being replaced.”
One hundred years ago, on the tail end of World War I when we had sent black young men to fight alongside white young men on the fields of Europe, new fear of “replacement” rose up. (As young men came home, the fear of blacks taking white jobs was a big fear.) This led to the Red Summer of 1919.
This weekend’s mass murder is key. The man who walked into the El Paso shopping mall had posted a “screed” online declaring his frustration with the “invasion” from Mexico. He also made references to the re-emergence of this fear called “the great replacement“.
I was also reading that while this mass murder now ranks in the “top ten” of mass murders in American History, it is somewhat inaccurate. That “top ten” rating might be about one shooter and gun violence. It is not nearly in the “top ten” of mass murders in American History, because what we continually fail to recognize are the lynchings in our history. And the Red Summer was one continuous mass murder. One particular episode in Arkansas saw over 100 black Americans slaughtered.
If you can’t see a pattern of the last 150 plus years, and then at least the spiritual correlation of the Red Summer of 1919 and the rise of the new fear of “the great replacement”, then I’m not sure I can help. But, I still have to point this out.
We can call it white terrorism. We can call it white nationalism. It flows from a false fragility that “whites” are somehow being “replaced.” A Civil War, 3 Constitutional Amendments, and 2 major pieces of legislation on 1964 and 1965 couldn’t “cure” this fragility. It needs to be faced and called out. We still need to work HARD on good laws… and we BETTER get to work on immigration reform while we’re at it.
But, as a white man, and even more importantly, as a believer in Jesus Christ, I have to be more specific and intentional in calling out racism. It is not enough to say I’m not racist. I need to be anti-racist.
Racism is NOT found in Christ. Fear is NOT found in Christ. To act in a way that puts down, deprives, demeans, enslaves, or oppresses another race is NOT Christ. It is not bearing the image of Christ. It is damaging the image of Christ.
We need to call it out. We need to join our brothers and sisters who are people of color and see in them the image of Christ. We need to call out the image of Christ in all of humanity. We do not degrade. We build up. We build up people. Not false walls.
I am anti-racist.