As we seek to form our responses to the racial atrocities of our day, we must wrestle with why and how we respond. Our voices are important, but we must use them with prudence. When we do harm to our white brothers and sisters in our speech, we are harming members of our own family.
Recently, in response to the article “I, Racist” written by John Metta, a white friend of mine wrote a very impassioned Facebook post expressing heartfelt frustration. Her post ended with the following:
“I can’t possibly understand racial issues because I am white and the cause of the problem; But at the same time I’m supposed to speak up and help fix the problem.”
Responses that Alienate
As her brother in Christ, her frustration grieves me. The racial conversation in America is extremely exhausting for Blacks. We have a right to be frustrated and angry, and a right to express these feelings. Could it be that in all our expressions, we create tension with our white brothers and sisters?
I am not advocating our white brothers and sisters get a free pass from hearing our feelings and concerns. I am saying it is possible the rhetoric we use to discuss issues impacting our community is also language that alienates our white brothers and sisters.
As long as sin remains, there will be tension along racial lines. We cannot determine how the majority culture responds to racially charged incidences. However, we can control our response and how we discuss these issues. I offer the following questions to consider as we move forward.
1. Is my response to racial issues Christ-exalting and Gospel-advancing?
In the heat of the moment, it can be difficult to identify the true enemy. We must remember the root cause of racism is sin. The remedy for sin is the Gospel. A good model for response would be one that identifies man as a sinner (Romans 3:23), exalts Christ as Savior (1 Timothy 1:15), and offers the Gospel as the hope for reconciliation (Ephesians 2:11-22).
2. What are my expectations for a response?
Does the black community say white people are incapable of understanding the problem while, on the other hand, expecting them to solve it? Do we have standards for what would qualify as an acceptable response? If so, have we made these guidelines known to our white brothers and sisters?
Most importantly, is it fair to have the expectation that they speak to our issues in a manner that we deem appropriate?
3. Are we truly part of one Body?