Let’s give Jesus a chance to fix this.
Many issues today result from churches failing to give Biblical leadership to reconciliation in 50’s and 60’s.
The day had gone like most other long summer days on our asphalt playground. We were standing at the water fountain rehashing the day’s softball, football and basketball exploits when out of nowhere, the boys from “across the expressway” arrived with sticks and chains.
Our worst fears had come to pass.
I realize that my boys and I were oblivious to the reality that the other boys had no playground.We knew about these boys: They coveted our playground and had threatened to take it over, but we did not know them. And now, after the attack, ignorance that had turned to fear had now become hatred. We doubted, feared and hated everything and everyone from “across the expressway,” and I’m sure “they” felt the same about “us.”
As I look back now, I realize that my boys and I were oblivious to the reality that the other boys had no playground. We occupied it from sun up to sun down and acted as if we owned it.
I thought of this childhood experience as an analogy to the growing racial strife in America. Not everyone is pleased that Black Americans demanded a right to play ball and to drink from the water fountain. For them, the demands for socio-economic and civil equity were disruptive to the traditions of the playground, so they pushed back. “Not here, not now, not ever” was their rallying cry.
Let’s give Jesus a chance to fix this.Ironically, in the 1950s and 1960s, the Black community as a whole was distinguished by its embrace of conservative Judeo-Christian ethics and personal and family traditions.
Tragically, the Church’s response to the civil right’s movement has been uneven and has failed to provide unifying, Bible-centered leadership.
Consequently, beginning in the 1970s, the “world” led our nation into a regressive revolution in ethics and morality. The succeeding generations have reaped the bitter fruit of this decline which, in part, manifests in counter cultural expressions.
All of our children are affected. We see it in the way they dress, the arts they create and their attitudes toward conventional institutions such as church.
Negative attitudes towards Blacks significantly increased.It has been reported that both George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn, the adults who in the past couple of years shot Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis respectively, expressed their disgust with the way these 17-year-olds dressed and carried themselves. Clearly these two adults carried these corrosive emotions for quite some time before their shooting days arrived.
While the tragedy of losing these young men is enough reason for us to examine our hearts, we must use these events as a context for acknowledging that racial hatred is alive and growing.
From their analysis of an Associated Press poll on the racial attitudes of Americans in 2008, 2010 and 2012, Josh Pasek of the University of Michigan, Jon A. Krosnick of Stanford University and Trevor Tompson at the University of Chicago, concluded that over the period. Implicit anti- Black attitudes increased to 55.7% of the population. That was a 6.4 percent increase from 2008 to 2012. During the same period, pro-Black attitudes decreased by 4.1 percent to 32.4 percent.
The killers of Martin and Davis were infected by the insidious false belief that African Americans are more prone to commit crimes than Whites. The facts do not support this belief.
In 1993, the Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Racial Bias in the Judicial System concluded that racial bias was a horrendous problem. Although African Americans comprised just under 13% of the U.S. population, they comprised 46% of the nation’s prison population.
In their report, the task force went on to say, “Many white Americans may shrug their shoulders at these figures because ‘everyone knows’ that people of color commit vastly more crime. What our research indicates—what everyone should know—is that after examining similarly situated offenders convicted of the same offenses, people of color are imprisoned at grossly disproportionate rates.”[i]
I see no possibility of the Lord excusing His followers from addressing this iniquity. Although the problem is too big for us, it’s not too big for Jesus. He can heal and deliver. He can bring redemption from the heaped mounds of failed efforts, bad policies, misguided anger and misplaced expressways.
Let’s look to our Father and, together, hear the Living Word who is able to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.
Rev. Richard Coleman is the Executive Director of Hope United CDC in North Minneapolis, and vice-chair of the Transform Minnesota board of directors.
[i] MINNESOTA SUPREME COURT TASK FORCE ON RACIAL BIAS IN THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM FINAL REPORT MAY 1993 page S18