Racism is on a lot of people’s minds right now. Most of us have either seen or heard about the terribly disturbing video showing the death of Floyd George. And many of us are aware that such injustices happen far too often, particularly to African-American men. There is understandable anguish, anger, and outrage. That outrage has spilled over into violence, with at least thirty cases of arson in Minnesota. The Fire Department reported that their equipment sustained damage from rocks being thrown at Fire Trucks being sent to put out the fires. Protests, both peaceful and violent, have spread to cities throughout the United States. This has led some city governments to impose curfews and other lockdown procedures.
This wasn’t only about Floyd George, though his preventable death should not be minimized. There is fear mixed with this anger: Fear for African-American men and women’s lives. Fear for the loss of good people — sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, fathers and mothers — all with hopes, dreams, and limitless potential. There have been abuses of power by those in authority, as the video of Floyd George’s death certainly showed. Such anger and despair also arise from overt cases of racism like the murder of Ahmaud Arbery by a white father and son in Georgia as well as Amy Cooper calling the police on Christian Cooper in New York City’s Central Park. Instances like these don’t always make the news, but they happen across the country every day.
Another element of this is the history of white-on-black racism in the United States. Words cannot do justice to the grief, pain, fear, and resentment this has caused. And while progress has been made towards acknowledging that history and making changes for the better, there is room for improvement. As we have seen in recent years, there are people of all races who hold onto the poison of prejudice.
Before I continue, I need to state that as a white man married to a black woman and the father of three biracial children, I have a unique perspective on this. My in-laws, who I love dearly, are African-American. Many of the people from my church, many of my brothers and sisters in Christ, are African-American. I understand their fears and frustrations.
I won’t claim to have definitive answers; I can only offer my perspective as a Christian husband, father, and writer. These tragedies should not occur. They happen because evil is in the world. Racism and prejudice are most often taught through example. And people can respond to one example of racism with their own racism. It begins in the mind and heart. It leads to malicious thoughts. Those thoughts eventually manifest in some outward display, whether hurtful words, actions or even violence. The atrocity of racism festers in the corners of every ethnicity on the planet and no one is immune. Because it can grow so rapidly, fueled by emotion, it has to be guarded against.
It can seem hard to love others when faced with this kind of problem. There’s been so much pain caused by so many bad things happening to so many people over the years. This can make a person want to withdraw from others or just be around people like themselves. But that kind of thinking is divisive. It creates self-segregation, where people mainly (or only) hang around others from their own ethnic group, whatever that ethnic group is. It is my opinion (based on experience), that if someone is only exposed to their own ethnic group, it leads to ethnocentric behavior and ultimately, some form of racism. Whether it’s in one’s social circles, work environment or even church, this can happen.
Some of this is caused by fear of the unknown. Some of this is caused by a need to be around what one feels comfortable or safe with. And some of it is caused by privilege and feeling one does not have to go outside their comfort zone. Whatever the reasoning, it creates an insulating culture and that is not good.
In contrast, deliberately becoming involved with people from all kinds of diverse backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures is very effective at combating and even preventing racism.
My concern, and the reason for my writing this, is that people are becoming consumed by their emotions due to these terrible circumstances. I share the hope of many that the justice system will prevail and those who have done these wrongs will receive appropriate punishment. However, no matter what happens, my prayer is that people will not let their hearts be infected and darkened by these events. I want to see people show more kindness to one another as human beings, not as this race or that race. We all have hearts and we all bleed red. We can get along and thrive if we keep making the effort to. That's not wishful thinking. I (and others) have lived it, I know it can be done.
Outrage in the face of a travesty is normal, it’s human. We should be upset when someone is treated unfairly. But then what? We have free will. We can make choices. Will we control the anger and turn it around into something positive? Or will we let the anger control us? Only you and I can decide that.
I’ll finish this with a scripture. In Matthew 5: 43-45 (KJV), Jesus said:
"Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.”
Thanks for reading this.
About the author
Allen Steadham is a nondenominational Christian, happily interracially married since 1995. Father of two sons and a daughter. He and his wife have been in the same Christian band since 1997. He plays electric bass, she plays strings, they both sing. It's all good.
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