7. Christians Have to Stop Segregating Themselves. I truly believe that the Civil Rights Movement, Jim Crow, or even slavery would not have lasted so long if Christians would have stepped up to the plate and condemned the institutions, policies, and procedures that caused a body of people to endure oppression for a period of over 300 years. If the collective church that boasts to be of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all…” can remain silent and divisive when members of the church are oppressed, mistreated, or abused, how can anyone take their message of unity seriously? If Jesus died for ALL, but your Christianity only allows you to support those that look like you or have your political convictions, what should we make of your Jesus? When Dr. King was asked what kind of challenges or mistakes he had made during his tenure as leader of the Civil Rights Movement he responded: “Well, the most pervasive mistake I have made was in believing that because our cause was just, we could be sure that the white ministers of the South, once their Christian consciences were challenged, would rise to our aid. I felt that white ministers would take our cause to the white power structure. I ended up, of course, chastened and disillusioned. As our movement unfolded, and direct appeals were made to white ministers, most folded their hands—and some even took stands against us (see full interview here).“How could those white southern ministers remain silent as their fellow co-minister of the Gospel, Rev., Dr. Martin Luther King, braved water-hoses, incarceration, the KKK, and death as he fought for the realization of his God-given equal rights? This silence was not specific to Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement. This silence is just as prevalent today in many churches on both sides of the color line and will continue to be prevalent until we decide to truly unify with one another rather than tolerate one another. To remain divided on racial issues is to continue to cause great detriment to the body of Christ and it sullies the message of Christ. Either all of God’s children matter or none of them matter. Each time the church remains segregated along denominational lines, racial lines, political lines, economic lines, or social lines, a loud and public message is being to sent to the world about what really matters and who really matters. If you are a Christian, what message are you sending the world about racism? What message is your church sending the world about racism?
8. Rely on Yourself for Education. This summer I had the opportunity to speak in a corporate setting about the history of Juneteenth. I was amazed at some of the questions that followed my presentation. So few people truly understand the economics, the politics, and the social dynamics of slavery upon our country. Perhaps your education system glossed over these subjects and unless you majored in U.S. History or specialized in the Antebellum Period in college, it is likely that you never had to encounter a class about slavery or the effects thereof. Regardless of your education curriculum, there’s really no excuse not to have a better understanding of our country’s history in this day and age. Google makes personal research finger-snapping fast. There are excellent Internet tools, books, children’s literature, and magazines that can help bring insight into the racial history of the United States and how it has affected our country. Refuse to be educated by cable news empires that capitalize off of keeping you emotionally charged about subjects they are never going to fully reveal. It is not economically advantageous for news channels to provide the entire story because sensationalism and emotionalism-not truth and facts brings profit. You must become your own teacher and learn the entire story for yourself. Once you’ve learned that story, teach it to someone else.
9. Be Patient with the Process. The racial division within our country did not happen overnight and we cannot expect the changes to happen overnight. We have to be patient with the process. Celebrate the daily strides you make to be the change you want to see. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you notice that old habits are changing slowly. Change takes time. Our future is predicated off of the decisions and actions that happen today. If we all do our part, there is nothing we can’t do. Right now, people from all over America are sending their resources to help victims of #HurricaneHarvey. People are driving down to be a part of the rescue efforts. Strangers are helping strangers. Neighbors are checking on neighbors. People who speak different languages and who have different skin tones are clinging on to rafts and boats to get to safety. It is sad that sometimes it takes natural disasters to remind us of how much we need each other and how much we all have in common. #Charlottesville is us, but #Houston is also us. We all have a choice in which America we will create for our children and grandchildren. Be patient with the process, and commit to change one day at a time.