On Race and The Future of America

Standing in front of an integrated congregation, a young black woman courageously addressed our gathering on the recent race issues in America. Below are the powerful words, given by her, to our church.

This is her speech, her heart, her message, word-for-word.

She did such an excellent job that I am posting her thoughts here. Not only are her words brave, but they are also well thought out and inspiring.

There are many ways in which her words impact us all. Sharing the knowledge she imparted with us, I’d like to share my own thoughts first…

  • Number One – these current situations are very sad and reflect a great need for justice, understanding, repentance, and forgiveness. The white community needs to do several things including: listening, grieving, asking forgiveness, and seeking restoration. In other words, it is ok to say, “we were wrong.”
  • Number Two – this situation needs to be discussed openly in the white community without a lot of “yeah, buts”…
  • Number Three – it’s impossible to quantify the “privilege” I have received during my life by being white. I am, however, willing to admit that it is “something” and I desire that same privilege to be afforded my black friends who I love as my own family.
  • Number Four – I have reached out to my friends, allies, and strategic partners in the black community and told them directly that I am sorry for their loss and sense of deep grief, that I do think #BlackLivesMatter, and that I am committed to praying and acting for a solution.
  • Number Five – This is not a matter of Black vs. White. It is instead a matter of Love vs. Hate, Justice vs. Injustice, and Unity vs. Racism. White police who indiscriminately shoot an unarmed black man are equally as guilty as a black man who indiscriminately shoots white cops. Black women who pray for white police are on the same team as the white women who speak out against the injustice against black men. So pick your team and choose wisely. The future of our country depends on it.
  • Number Six – The concept of “uniformity” is flawed, instead in the concept of “unity” should push us to be better. Protecting history can be dangerous so we must avoid the erasing of the dignity of any race in a blind effort to blot out racial distinctions. If my 11-year old daughter should choose to marry a black man, I would hope she could do so in an America that doesn’t sneer at “racial lines being crossed” – whatever that means.

Autumn Howard’s brave speech is below. I think you will enjoy it.

Together, In Unity,

Ed

NOTE – If you are prone to criticism (or cynicism), you have my permission to keep your comments to yourself. You have my permission to criticize my words, but not Autumn’s. I also have plenty of other posts here that you can criticize. That said, helpful comments and your honest perspective are appreciated.

Speech Given By Autumn Howard at Bridge Church San Diego on Sunday June 10, 2016AutumnHoward

Sometimes the hardest place to be,

is right where you’re supposed to be

And I know I asked to be in his will

but sometimes when he leads he blocks the light

and I can’t see what’s in front of me

see, I’m afraid of the dark

but I know there’s an oasis out there waiting on me

but to get there then, i have to be here now

and this ain’t easy.

— Andrew Tyree, The Hardest Place

 “On Monday night, a black man by the name of Alton Sterling while pinned down and unable to move, was shot in the head at point blank range by a police officer. On Tuesday night, a black man by the name of Philando Castile, while sitting in his car, was shot in the stomach by a police officer while complying with his directive to show his license and registration.

These two men were added to a growing list of hashtags of black people unjustly murdered by law enforcement in 2016. Many of you in your seats right now will subconsciously try to explain away the evil by saying, “yes it’s unfortunate but we don’t know exactly what happened.”

Or “Yes, it’s horrible but if they had only complied and followed the directions of the police they’d still be alive.”

Don’t do that.

Moral purity and spotless decision making are not prerequisites to go home. Ineptitude does not warrant the loss of life. Translation: YOU DON’T GET TO KILL ME BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE ME.

Some of you may be asking about hip hop and black on black crime, again, I say this in the most loving way…

STOP.

Black on black crime, while a catchy phrase is not a thing. Sociologically speaking, people commit crimes against those who are in close proximity to them. If we took all media stereotypes into consideration, people should be terrified of black men because they are thugs, Mexicans because they’re members of the cartel, Muslim because they’re terrorists and white men because they are perverts.

This past week has been tough for many people, myself included. I’ve felt a tremendous amount of anger and my pillow has been soaked with tears. The difference between many of you in this room and I, is that this was only one week in your lives and it will pass. However, this week is a picture of the pervasive experience of black people in this country.

Brothers and sisters, may I entreat your hearts for a moment. America has a race problem. It isn’t a new one and it isn’t isolated to the horrific events of this week. No, our race problem is as American as protests and baseball, free speech and apple pie. It is baked into the DNA of our country and while America has come far from 1776, we haven’t come far enough. That is why the “Black Lives Matter” movement exists. The Black Lives Matter movement is an affirmation of black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression while being an ideological and political intervention in a world where black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise.

To be clear, there is no need to affirm “All Lives Matter” as a response to “Black Lives Matter” because when we say “Black Lives Matter,” we are not saying “Black Lives Matter only,” but “Black Lives Matter too.”  These three black women, who don’t self-identify as Christians, have in three words summed up a very basic Biblical principle, “The Imago Dei.”

Genesis 1:27 tells us

So God created human beings in his own image.

In the image of God he created them;

male and female he created them.

This means that regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexuality or ability, occupation or life decisions, every single human being is an image bearer of God. For that reason alone as people of God, must treat them with honor, dignity, and respect.

Thursday five police officers were murdered in the line of duty during a peaceful protest by members and supporters of the “Black Lives Matter” movement. That event was also tragic, but there was no doubt that the Dallas Police would pursue immediate justice for their slain officers. However, justice for black people in America is like that aunt that only shows up at Christmas with the most useless gifts – but you must plaster on a smile and say thank you and about once every decade she surprises you with a gift you can actually use.  We cannot let the injustices of our country outshine the heart of justice of our God.

Isaiah 1:17

Learn to do good. Seek justice. Help the oppressed. Defend the cause of orphans. Fight for the rights of widows.

Proverbs 29:7

The godly care about the rights of the poor; the wicked don’t care at all.

Zechariah 7:9

This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.

Psalm 106:3

There is joy for those who deal justly with others; and always do what is right.

Micah 6:8

He has shown you O man what is good, And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

The time has run out on our clock of complacency and we can no longer press the snooze button on ushering in the justice of our King.  Jesus while on this Earth, called us the salt of the Earth and the light of the world. We should be leading the charge and demonstrating true love, grace, peace, mercy, and justice – all the while condemning the evil all around us.

The question is: what should we do? Do we update our Facebook status to read #blacklivesmatter? Do we take a picture with the nearest person of color to prove that we support them?

No.

We do what Jesus did. We see a problem, divest ourselves of privilege, while not divesting ourselves of the Holy Spirit, and we enter into the pain and frustration of this world. We proclaim the truth of the Gospel while mourning with those mourn. We don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good.

We do it together. That is where we start and by the grace of God the love of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit we will see a world transformed.”

 

Great speech, right? What do YOU think? How has your life been affected or moved by these injustices for black lives? Remember, I’m looking for honest, helpful comments and viewpoints.

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