On Saturday, August 12th, a group of white supremacists and far right wingers marched to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. Fights broke out between the hate group and counter-protestors, and then twenty-year-old James Alex Fields, Jr., drove his gray Dodge Challenger into the marchers. Fields injured nineteen and killed a thirty-two-year-old woman walking to support her non-white friends and coworkers before slamming his car into reverse and trying to escape.
It seems as though our nation—the country that I love, the only home I’ve ever known—is unraveling before our eyes.
I prayed as I made the thirty-five-minute drive from Flower Mound to downtown Dallas the following Monday morning. I co-host a morning show on 90.9 KCBI, and I knew I could not stay silent. I asked the Lord to give me words of hope and comfort, counsel and healing, not because I think people look to me to weigh-in on everything, but because God has put a large microphone in front of my mouth and I want to steward it well.
When I spoke, all of the pent up anger and emotion came tumbling out in these three words:
God. Hates. Racism.
He hates it. And I hate it.
I hate the unfairness of it; the illogic of it. I hate that so many of my brothers and sisters have been marginalized, passed over, persecuted, or nothinged because of their beautiful, chocolate brown skin.
I hate that the security guard who protects our building every day had to have a conversation with his two tween-aged children about our nation’s climate before they went back to school, which included the proper way to respond to racial slurs.
I hate that my barista at Starbucks, whose eyes filled with tears when I asked her how she really was, was afraid to be separated from her phone because she has family in Virginia.
I hate that another friend of mine has to guard her heart not to be suspicious of every white person that crosses her path.
I hate that I was so naïve as to think that we had actually made forward progress on racism in America.
I was wrong.
We are one nation, clearly divisible, and we must bridge the gap.
You see, unity is not an American concept, it’s a biblical concept.
When Jesus prayed to the Father asking Him to protect His disciples and the newborn baby church, He prayed this:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one; I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
—John 17:20-23, emphasis mine
To the church in Galatia Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28).” He urged the Ephesian Christians to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3, emphasis mine).”
How do we do this? How do we begin to bridge the ever-widening gap and heal centuries-old wounds?
One heart at a time.
You and I can’t single-handedly heal the nation. But we can make a difference in our circle of influence. Here’s what that looks like in my life:
Ask questions. I am not proud to say that I have stayed silent on this issue in the past because I haven’t known what to say and I didn’t want to hurt someone’s feelings by saying the wrong thing. It seemed safer to say nothing.
Nothing could be further from the truth. KCBI is a diverse group, and I am grateful beyond measure to my non-white co-workers for their patience with me. I have asked them to share their experiences and sat in dumbfounded disbelief as they recounted one incident after another of blatant racism. I have confided to them how clumsy and inadequate I feel in this arena, but that I want to be a part of the solution.
Listen to hear and understand. Too many times we make the mistake of waiting for our turn to talk instead of listening, hearing, processing, and asking follow-up questions. This isn’t an argument to win; it’s a burden to co-bear. We can’t empathize if we aren’t willing to enter the pain of the person sitting across the table from us.
Don’t diminish their experience. Don’t offer solutions. Don’t look for the bright side. If you are white, you have no idea what it’s like to be a non-white citizen with our nation’s history. If we are going to bridge the gap and begin healing, we must start by hearing and validating the experiences of millions of non-white Americans.
Do speak up. Evil is perpetrated when good people look the other way. We cannot allow hatred and bigotry to continue. We must name it and condemn it. We must refuse to tolerate it in our hearts, our homes, our neighborhoods, our schools, and our workplaces.
Battles of this magnitude cannot be left to our government. This is a street-fight. More than once over the past few years I’ve remembered that Jesus never lobbied the Roman Senate (although we should certainly make our voices heard to our leaders). He never protested the civil injustices of the day (although we must protest evil and hate). Jesus spread love everywhere He went, pointing people to His Father and the Kingdom of God. In other words, He took His cause to the street and got His holy hands dirty.
Friends, we are first and foremost citizens of Heaven. This world is not our home. We are called to a higher way—the way of love and truth. Jesus said that our unity would glorify our Father in Heaven and push back the dark. He gave us a new command—to love one another. By this the world would know that He is real and we are His.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things, there is no law.