The Questions Baltimore Raises

If you are a white evangelical and don’t understand why rioters are upset, it is time to make yourself more aware of the deep-seeded injustices our African American brothers and sisters face.

By Carl Nelson

“It’s a much larger issue than Freddie Gray. We’re talking about inequity all the way around,” said Rev. Jamal Bryant, the pastor who delivered the eulogy for Gray. “We pray that through this (recent protests), it will be unearthed and it will finally be addressed.”

 

White evangelicals need to push beyond any judgements they’re tempted to pass, and press into the heart of the matter.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t may be tempting for white evangelicals to clam up and avert their eyes from the scenes of violence and destruction in Baltimore. After nearly a year of protests due to racial injustice all across the country, some people of faith may feel protest-fatigue. Or maybe others feel a pent up frustration watching cars burned and buildings looted.

But there is a deeper message here. White evangelicals need to push beyond any judgements they’re tempted to pass, and press into the heart of the matter. There are legitimate disparities and injustices our African American brothers and sisters are protesting. As Rev. Bryant encouraged, justice for African Americans must be addressed, equality for all must be unearthed.

While we don’t approve of the violence and destruction in the street, we can’t ignore the fact that the arrest and death of Freddie Gray has struck a chord with the black community, many of whom are a part of the evangelical church.

These riots are not just about one incident, one injustice, one life. Many of these people are acting out against a lifetime of hurt, a pattern of injustice, and a too-often divided country. Racial division in America – especially in the context of evangelical Christianity – is perpetuated by a lack of understanding.

This lack of mutual understanding raises tensions among all people. If you are a white evangelical and don’t understand why rioters are upset, it is time to make yourself more aware of the deep-seeded injustices our African American brothers and sisters face. Ask African Americans you know about their own stories of experiencing discrimination.

Our Response:

One of Transform Minnesota’s key initiatives is to pursue racial harmony. We as leaders in the church cannot overcome these rapidly growing racial divisions unless we begin to build relationships and seek to understand the protesters’ grievance. We need to:

  • Focus on building relationships with someone of another race or cultural background.
  • Be willing to ask them about their life experiences to promote learning and understanding.
  • Pay attention to studies that show the huge racial disparities in education, employment, traffic stops, incarcerations rates; and try to learn and understand what causes this.
  • Engage in change efforts that work to close those gaps and reduce racial disparities.

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May 1, 2015

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