I did not grow up during the Civil Rights era. I grew up in the aftermath. For me, the world was always integrated. Schools, businesses, buses and bathrooms have always been open to people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds. That does not mean I haven’t seen my share of racism. The “n” word was prolific enough in my world that I barely noticed when someone said it. Today, thankfully, it is an affront to my senses and I rarely ever hear it uttered (and when I do, I am deeply angered and moved to do something about it.)
I remember the horrific beating of Rodney King and the riots which broke out in California and a few other places as a result of that atrocity. Race was still an issue, but my insular world seemed to be far removed from all the hostility surrounding race relations. I later came to realize that my position was one of white privilege. While I did not grow up with wealth or status, my locus was still one of privilege because of the color of my skin. I would likely never be subjected to suspicions of shoplifting, nefarious motives or random pull-overs by police as people of color often report.
All this is to say, what is happening in our world today scares me. I hear news reports of shootings and killings almost daily. Public demonstrations which are meant to be peaceful protests have become targets for massive fits of anger and frustration at the cost of innocent lives. I’ve followed the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and the counter-movement of ‘All Lives Matter’ and have to wonder why no one has noticed that to have to say publically whose lives matter is truly an indictment of our society. Of course all lives matter, but the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is about bringing awareness to the fact that people of color have not ever lived in a society where they were actually treated as equal, even though legislation says they are. To counter this with ‘All Lives Matter’ negates acknowledgment that there is inequality in our society.
As a Christian, as a pastor, as a mother, wife, friend and member of God’s great family, I do not know where all this will take us, but I continue to hold out hope that God will prevail. I hold out hope that God sees what is happening and grieves for the human hurt that surrounds us and will intervene with healing and a pouring out of love on this world that will overcome all the hate and injustices that abound. Perhaps we can become vessels for that love.