Let’s Talk About Race
It’s all you hear about these days, isn’t it? Racism, #BlackLivesMatter, police reform, Breonna, George . . .
And there’s the counternarrative. “All Lives Matter! It’s just a few bad apples. What about Black on Black violence?”
The more neutral narrative has its say, too. “I’m not racist. Racism is evil. I love everyone the same. Can’t we just compromise? We could use some change and reform, but . . .”
Somewhere in the midst of these views we need to not just speak into the world, or into our echo chambers. We need to speak to each other.
I’m convinced that more conversation about race and racist policies is a good and fruitful thing to undertake, especially when it helps us identify the ways we will act to become anti-racist, active for true equity in any of a myriad ways that this work presents itself.
But I sometimes feel and often hear that understanding and engaging with issues of racism feels like a huge task. There’s so much division, so little consensus. Will we never find agreement?
The church in Galatia to whom the Pauline letter we call “Galatians” was written, was in some kind of turmoil. And from Paul’s reckoning, they were mired in disagreement over issues issues of circumcision, of custom and religious observance that was turned inward toward a constrained way to live their lives.
It was a way that Paul reminds the church in Galatia that limits their ability to follow Christ’s commandment to be love in the world as Christ was love. Christ poured love into the world by making wholeness, restoring the outcast to the community, bending the attention of the community to the outcast, and being present to people’s cries for freedom from oppression.
Paul reminded them of the Gospel he gave them, to live their lives in order to facilitate: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” These “fruits of the Spirit” are why he writes, “So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest-time, if we do not give up.” (Gal. 6:9)
Other translations say “good” instead of “right.” I prefer that here because it invites us not only to connect to our ethical and moral centers of righteousness, but to our centers of love, of joy and peace and kindness and generosity.
So when we tire of uncovering racism, confronting racism, advocating against racist policies, and rooting it out of our own hearts and minds, let us remember that we are not trying to win arguments, we are trying to follow a commandment to love as Jesus did. May we never tire of doing good in the name of Christ.
Blessings of courage and kindness,