By Graham Glover –
In 1865 our nation’s long and arduous struggle to end slavery was won. In 1964 Congress passed the historic Civil Rights Act. Six years ago, the citizens of the United States elected our first black president. These monumental events should make every American proud of what our nation stands for and what our republic can do. For centuries, America has led the way in championing equality, and in spite of the naysayers, is the shining example of what freedom means.
But America, we still have a problem. Despite our tremendous accomplishments, race is still an issue plaguing our land. Across the board, among every racial group and sub-group, racism is evident. And this racism infects every single one of us, polluting our neighborhoods and communities, and leaving in its wake nothing but destruction.
The events in Ferguson, Missouri this past week have brought this issue front and center. It is impossible to separate the racial component of what is going on in Missouri from the events transpiring. Although it is premature to make a judgment call on whom or what is to blame, race was and remains intimately involved. That being said, all of us need to take a deep breath and let the investigators do their job. To the best of our ability, we must remain patient even as we pray daily for peace. But above all, we Americans must recognize that our country is not over our racial problem. Racism is still very much an issue in these United States.
Mine is not a call for new or different laws. We have plenty of laws to fight the evils of racism – we certainly don’t need more of them. Nor is mine a call to repeal the laws we have in place. Our nation’s civil rights laws were passed to guarantee equality to all races. Without them we could find ourselves fighting the same battles we confronted in the 19th century and later in the 1960s. We must also recognize that we are sinners, and as such will never be able to create a utopian society where racism is nonexistent. Until our Lord returns, sin, including racism, will continue to rear its ugly head.
But we can be, we must be, more proactive as citizens in addressing the evils of racism. To begin with, every single one of us should admit that we are guilty of harboring racist thoughts and perhaps, acting in racist ways. To be clear, this guilt is shared by every race. We are all guilty and all part of the problem. Nobody is above reproach on this issue.
Next, we must talk openly and honestly about racial issues. These conversations should begin in our homes and extend to our schools, our workplaces, and our churches. Obviously they should be addressed in the public square. But we must talk and we must confess. These conversations will be uncomfortable and likely contentious, but that’s okay, because nothing will change if we do not admit the truth about our problem and make a sincere attempt at reconciliation.
Finally, we need to act. Talking is important. Confession is critical. But only actions will allow us to get a handle on our nation’s racial problem.
We need not be overwhelmed by this call to action, as it is the small things – the everyday things – that can transform our nation.
As with most things, change begins in the home. Never should we accept the racist words that sometimes emanate from our lips, for such words are the linchpin for racist actions.
We must, to the best of our ability, expose our children to all races, even if we ourselves are uncomfortable. Together, alongside our children, we can break prejudices and learn to accept our fellow Americans of different races.
We should shop in stores and eat in restaurants that are not part of our neighborhood. Racism evaporates when races live in and among one another.
I’m certainly not the most politically correct guy, but we have to be sensitive about the jokes we tell. We certainly need to be able to laugh at ourselves, but lest our small offense cause a greater harm, we should do our best to shy away from certain comments.
Although a monumental task, we should strive to have our houses of worship more reflective of the cities we live in, which includes people of every race, not just those we are most comfortable with or those who have historically attended our congregation.
And we should educate one another about our past, even if that past is filled with hatred. From this past we should laud our accomplishments as we seek to make a better nation for people of every race.
Admit it my fellow Americans, our nation still has a race problem, and this is an issue that we should all work tirelessly to alleviate.