Christian Race Fatigue

to recocile peopleI’m Tired Too

Recently on Facebook, I saw a post from the ministry of a well-known international television evangelist. It read: “I’m tired of hearing about race! If you’ve been to the cross, we’re brothers and sisters.”

Brother, I’m tired of hearing about it too. Every time we turn on the news we’re hearing about some sort of race crime perpetrated on somebody’s black child by the very establishment that have been hired to serve and protect all citizens regardless of color.

As a mother and a Christ follower, I’m tired of seeing that kind of thing happen in the world.

The Knee Jerk Response

Yes, we are all one in Christ but have we taken it to the level that Christ prayed about in John 17:21… “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

Here’s a question I want to ask that TV evangelist: How has the world’s idea of race and racism changed because of our oneness? Is our oneness so strong that the world is turning to Christ. I don’t think so; not yet.

I hear a lot of rhetoric. Lots of scriptures tossed around. John 17:21. Galatians 3:28. Ephesians 2:13-16. And on and on. But I still feel that we’ve not moved past Rodney King’s plea, “Can we all get along?”

The media has a way of gnawing on a bone of news until we are so tired of hearing it that we get numb. That’s not news-casting. That’s social Novocaine.

When we Christians get tired of race talk, we go straight to the ‘cumbayah’ platitudes and nothing ‘God’ happens.

Start Doing Something

I’m so tired of hearing about race that I’m ready to do something about it so that this conversation stops coming up. As for me and my house, I’m going to keep talking and writing about racial reconciliation until that change happens.

The world might talk about it one way. They’ll say, let’s make up a new law or reform the existing ones. That’s a good move. But we as believers need to talk about and address race in another way. A way that does not lead to this race fatigue. A way that draws unbelievers to Christ in big and small ways. A way that fulfills MLK’s Dream and Jesus’s Prayer. A way that eradicates even the last vestiges of racism, classism, and sexism inside the very Church itself. Because unfortunately even though Christ removed the “dividing wall of hostility” (Ephesians 2:14) of skin color, class, and gender, we are still separated. In some cases, we’re in the same ‘multi-ethnic’ church but miles apart.

We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. We’re the bridge builders. The justice people. We are God’s children. Let’s start doing something.

Chicken or Ham

Trick or Treat
Smelly Feet
Chicken or Ham
In a red and green can

I thought I’d throw in a little Halloween humor (okay, maybe humor is a stretch), since it is close to October 31 (otherwise known as Halloween in the US). To many kids in the US, October 31 is a holiday worthy of celebrating with much fanfare and CANDY.

In my house, we don’t celebrate Halloween. Okay, we have been known to go to a fall festival or carnival on October 31 but I’ve convinced myself that by going out at night to collect candy and play carnival games is not celebrating the day as a holiday.

Halloween has always been a strange ‘holiday’ to me. I didn’t grow up celebrating Halloween (or going to fall festivals for that matter). That’s right, I never dressed up in a costume on the last day of October and begged for candy in the dark.

In my little girl mind, only white folks celebrated Halloween. Black folks didn’t do such foolishness. Nowadays, Halloween is totally integrated. Equal opportunity. Fully reconciled!

There must be something about the costumes or the candy that brings folks around the table of brotherhood. Maybe this is the key to reconciling American Christians.

Okay folks, dress up in your favorite (non-threatening) character from a sitcom, blockbuster movie, or Bible story, grab a sturdy (reflective) plastic container, and go door-to-door collecting food. Then go back to your homes, dump everything on the kitchen table and split it up evenly.

Everyone would be filled with awe and many wonders and miracles of multiplication would be witnessed. They would have everything in common. And everyone would have what they needed for months and months. Steak, potatoes, corn, beans. Chicken and ham … you name it.

Yes, it would be great. The First Church of Halloween.

Play Date with the Confederacy

Stars and Bars, Confederate flag
(Credit: PhotosbyAndy via Shutterstock)

On the way home from a play date, my 12 year old son asked me what I thought about the Confederate Flag. As he settled into the passenger seat and fastened his seat belt, I waved to the 13 year old friend Freddy (not his real name) bidding us farewell from his front porch, his sandy hair flying in the late summer breeze. Not a care in the world.

“Mom, what do you think about the Confederate flag?” my son asked. “Freddy said he was thinking about getting one.”

My heart did a funny little flip. Oh, Lord. I knew where this was going. My son and Freddy had been friends since 3rd grade. They shared a love for music and basketball. They had performed a piano duet in the middle school talent show, just like Paul and Stevie. Tickling the ebony and ivory keys together. In perfect harmony…

What did I think about that flag? I took a deep breath and responded, trying to keep the judgment from my voice. It was July 11. Two days after South Carolina Governor Haley had ordered the Confederate flag be removed from the SC Statehouse grounds. Weeks earlier, nine blacks had been brutally shot dead during Wednesday night prayer service at Emanuel AME by a young white man who had revered that flag and all he thought it represented.

In response to the senseless unprovoked slaying of nine Christians, To me, it made sense for Governor Haley to call for the removal of the flag from public property. I never agreed with the heritage argument that many whites (and even some blacks) unearth when the questions of ‘the flag’ comes up. The Confederate flag is part of history. Albeit a tumultuous painful one. It’s not a birthright or something owed to you without question or cost because of a certain birth order.

So on that short ride home, I told my son what I knew about that flag.

  1. It was used on the battlefield during the Civil War
  2. It was one of many different types of battle flags the Confederate army used
  3. After the War Between The States, it was also flown during lynchings

And that was that. For now …

I know this conversation will resurface because I know my son and I see the potential for barriers to be either torn down or built up. I’ll be honest, I’m not comfortable with my son being in the middle of this bridge building. Especially a bridge overshadowed by the Stars and Bars.

Racial reconciliation is not always easy. One thing is for sure; it is not a game.