I was thinking the other day about all the tension that’s in this country about race relations, and was wondering what can be done to improve it. I decided to write about it, and this is the first of three blogs in a series I’m calling “Love, Loyalty and Liberation: Prerequisites for Restoring Race Relations in America.”
To even use the phrase “race relations,” seems to be an oxymoron, given how little we register that this is even about a relationship. Which leads to my first prerequisite LOVE. As a Black Assemblies of God Pastor, I have experienced firsthand the strained relationships between blacks and whites as groups in America’s religious institutions, and how psychologically and emotionally dysfunctional they can be. To some degree, I hold people of faith responsible for the disease of racism in America. If through our various religions and the core belief that GOD is LOVE, and a “Creator” that has endowed us all with certain inalienable rights, we are unable to demonstrate LOVE, then we will never be able to uncover racism’s root causes, and will continue to address only the effects of it.
I must admit that it’s difficult for me to deal emotionally with the history of racism in America, and the role that “religion” has played in perpetuating and fueling its existence. Yet it’s imperative that we do, because until we can admit that there is a fault line leading from slavery to the Civil War to the civil rights movement to War on Drugs to the prison-industrial complex, America will continue to suffer from human-quakes; and misunderstand the real problem that has fractured us.
When we use religion or any other form of control to infringe upon people’s right of choice, or to spread hatred and fear, we’ve missed the mark. There is a haunting revelation in this country that there is no contradiction between our racial hatred, our lack of remorse for our crimes against other groups, our deficit of compassion for people of a different color, and our faith. If in racism, one finds a GOD compatible with our intolerance and hate, then something is wrong.
The current situation faced by our nation is a precarious one to say the least, because media messaging is being controlled by right wing groups, religious organizations among them, that promote an agenda of alienation and not inalienable rights. In my role as Executive Director of LARRP, I have the opportunity to work with people from various backgrounds and persuasions every day, so I count myself blessed. Their diversity has taught me something about true love and a respect for what they contribute to the work we do together, and that is what I believe America should be about.
Scripture declares that “truth exposes, but love covers a multitude of sins.” The truth is that our work in this world cannot be about color or any other external factor such as class, position or privilege. When I look out on the rainbow of people that are working tirelessly in the private prison divestment movement, justice and drug reform and immigrants’ rights movement, I see true love. We are bound together by the common thread and belief that human beings are worth something, and worthy of redemption and equality.
However, a love that binds us should not blind us. We must be diligent and alert in these times. We are living under an oppressive regime that is seeking to strip us of our rights and silence our voices from speaking truth. People are being asked to hate people just because they don’t look like them. Systems are being designed to keep them out of the “Land of the Free.” If we don’t examine our hearts, and fight for those who cannot fight for themselves, we will never know true love, and we will never be free.
See you next week for part two…