“for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” Galatians 3: 26-29, ESV
I hesitated to post something on modern racism in America because it seemed just too controversial. However, after pondering about how polarizing of a topic this can be, I thought it not only appropriate but necessary to speak to it. As Galatians says, we are all one in Christ Jesus. God made people different to help translate his imaginative genius, and this must be appreciated. This is an attempt to help reconcile and understand both viewpoints because we are commanded to love another by Jesus himself.
I have grown up as an upper middle class white male, and have always lived comfortably. On top of all of this, I have always attended a small, predominantly white, Christian school. Living in a small town in Indiana, I seemed to have not perceived explicit racism in my Christian environment. I only knew the world in which I was raised, and this was only natural to me. Therefore, I concluded racism was essentially non-existent. I recall watching an interview of Christian rapper KB about five years ago wherein he stated that racism was alive and well. I was caught off guard, so I decided to investigate.
Amidst searching, I stumbled upon rapper and poet Propaganda. This artist hails from West Covina in the heart of Los Angeles. Growing up in this setting, he was a victim of racism throughout his childhood. As the son of a Black Panther, he grew angry at white people and discusses his struggles of learning to trust white men. When he accepted Christ as his savior, he sought to reconcile his faith with his distrust for the white race and help others see the racism that still active to this day.
So, he has set out to make modern day racism known to the world in his own unique way. He does so through poetry and spoken word, and the culmination of this artistry peaked with his poem last summer titled ’20 Years.’ In this work, he compares systemic racism throughout America’s history with a husband who has beaten his wife for 20 years. The husband, after abusing his wife for two decades, finally begins to stop doing so. Immediately after he discontinued this, he proposes a dinner party to celebrate their anniversary. This allusion refers to the Civil Rights movement wherein there were significant advances for the African American people.
In doing so, he acts as if he had never beaten the wife in the first place. He never apologizes, but rather attempts to move on by ignoring that the problem had existed at all. Suddenly, the man begins to relapse, and begins to yell at her again. Instances of this come out in things such as police brutality and killing of innocent black men and women. In her frustration, she hits him. Propaganda contends that the wife hitting back is comparable to riots like those seen in LA during the 90s. Hearing his analogy, most people understand the reason why the wife hit back. In the same way, he says that sometimes the black community lashes back because America, which is the husband, simply ignores and in many ways continues to allow racism to persist.
In hitting back, the husband begins to blame her as the villain yet again, claiming that the wife is merely ungrateful for everything that he has done for her. Propaganda explains that our society has done the same with African Americans outraged by the treatment that they have received for the past 200 years. He continues to bring up common misconceptions about how many white citizens are wrongly perceiving the current racial situation as well. In a clever blow to how many church-going people react, Propaganda states this: “Don’t other wives get hit too? Don’t all wives matter?”
With this quotation, he makes it clear that saying “all lives matter,” is not a successful Christian way addressing the persistence of racism. Propaganda does not contend that an African American has more intrinsic value than a white person, but that many are saying this because the black community has been marginalized for so long. This made me realize how ignorant I had been for most of my life. I had not only ignored the problem of racism, but in the way I addressed it I even allowed for it to continue. This poem caused me to realize that being white and privileged does not mean that I am necessarily adored for my color of skin, but that not having to ever deal with racial problems is the privilege in itself. With my life being this way I grew to see the life of others (including African Americans) as the same, and I realized this was a lack of empathy.
not having to ever deal with racial problems is the privilege in itself.
As a Christian, I am learning to sympathize with the African American community, and find that trying to understand where they have come from and the struggles they face help me to learn how to address this issue. To live according to the Bible is to not let other humans be marginalized for any reason. So, in this sense, I do not say “all lives matter.” This is not because other races are more important, but because the perpetual deprecation that African Americans have received even up until this present day is wrong. Christ advocated for individuals who were the most downtrodden of all, and we would be grossly wrong to not do the same. Do not be afraid to name those suffering and to support them explicitly. It does not mean that I support violence done in various riots, as Propaganda does not either, but rather that I can now understand the reason that people may act out this way.
This is not because other races are more important, but because the perpetual deprecation that African Americans have received even up until this present day is wrong.
God taught me to love anyone and everyone, especially when they face persecution. I thank God that he exposed me to Propaganda, making me no longer ignorant of the fact that racism is alive and well. So, let us go into this year seeking to reconcile and understand one another instead of proving one another wrong. God longs for his church to be reunited, but we must be willing to leave our viewpoints behind and look at everything through the lens of the love of Christ. This may force us to lay aside political agendas and preconceived notions limited to our own lives, but it is not only important, but imperative.
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