This is the picture of INJUSTICE. This picture says it all and it says too much. I’m saddened, I’m mad, I’m heartbroken and I’m angry by the continued injustice. We all should be. I literally “can’t breathe” every time I see the footage of the police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck (unarmed and handcuffed) who pleads, "I can't breathe." Imagine being pressed down onto concrete with a solid 200 pounds sitting directly on your neck.
Blacks have suffered for centuries. We’ve known and recognized it and we have been suffering since we were first brought to the Americas. Although previous generations have made giant leaps forward in racial justice, the struggle continues—the pain of knowing people will judge you by the color of your skin. As a black man, I have been judged solely and simply by my color many times.
Racism is real.
I hesitate to write because a simple blog post doesn't seem like enough. But silence doesn’t work. To my dear white friends, this is not a singular case blown out of proportion by media with an agenda. We’ve seen this too often. This is not a time for passivity and silence. This MUST stop. If you change nothing, nothing will change. Your silence kills us and puts you into what Dr. King called, in his famous letter from the Birmingham jail, “the white moderate.”
If you don’t even know where to begin, I have some suggestions:
1- Pray—Pray for empathy where you need it. Ask Jesus to search and cleanse your heart and purify it from all unrighteousness and to teach you and lead you to live to love others WITH Jesus. We should start but not stop with prayer. Faith without action is dead. We must not only pray. We must act.
2- Learn and Unlearn—Listen. Simply listen. Ask questions when you don’t understand certain things. May we learn to open our eyes and our ears to what our brothers and sisters are saying and what is happening to the lives of those around us. Start by reading this book: White Fragility by: Robin DiAngelo
3- Support and Donate to organizations who are already doing reconciliation and anti-racism work. Support businesses run by POC (people of color).
4- Get out of your bubble. Make sure you befriend people who are different from you. Follow people on social media who look different from you. Learn from blacks, Latinos, and Asians, not just from whites. I cannot stress enough the importance of having deep friendships with those who are of different ethnic backgrounds than you.
5- Call a black friend today and ask what you can do. Show empathy and concern. Take the time to express grief and solidarity over the recent incidents. If you don’t have a black friend to call, you need to do something about it. My friend, Fred, reached out to me this week just to simply ask how I'm doing, express his love for my family, and ask for advice in this current season. I can't tell you how much that simple message meant to me.
6- Ask for forgiveness—Be courageous and ask for forgiveness where you need it. Living in community has lots of implications. One of them is that you will be hurt, and you will hurt others. The question is, how should you deal with that reality? Paul, inspired by God, tells us that we must "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another..."
The giving and receiving of forgiveness are central to our faith and when we live our lives based on this principle, we experience tremendous freedom, both within ourselves and in our relationships.
7. Be patient—be patient with your black friends. I know that living in deeply divided times, many of us are desperate for a single solitary sign of healing, or unity, or of hope. Yes. This is something for which the human heart desperately longs in times of tension and division. I know you may not understand the response of many right now, but please have grace and be patient and understand that there are some things that you may simply not understand because of your background and privilege. Some voices have been silenced or not listened to for too long and many have had enough. Please listen to the truth being spoken right now with open ears and open hearts. Yet I hear the voice of Jeremiah crying out across saying, "you treat the wound of my people as though it were not serious. You cry peace, peace, where there is no peace (Jeremiah 8: 11)".
8- Stand up and speak out against racism—Let’s keep the conversation on racism going. We must not be silent. Racism is in the DNA of our continent. It is a result of colonialism and we are still struggling with it. If you are not intentional, this virus we call racism will continue to cripple and destroy many lives of black men and black women. We need you to be BOLD in speaking out against racism. We need you to be our brothers and sisters. Brothers and sisters care. They love. They cry when you cry. They feel your pain and they fight on your behalf.
9- Get your church involved—demand your church leaders to be intentional about standing up and fighting for racism. Demand them to talk about racism from the pulpit and to lead the way. If your church is not diverse, there is a problem. And you need to do something about it. It would be hard to exaggerate the grandeur of the vision we find in Ephesians 2 of the new society that God has brought into being. Remember, the Church is the hope of the world. You and I are the hope of the world when it comes to stopping racism. I believe we should lead this movement. We are the new society, the diverse community that God created in Christ. We should model reconciliation, love, forgiveness, and true community to our world.
I am praying for wisdom, boldness, reconciliation, and peace. I am praying for the Kingdom of God to come… please pray with me. And let's stand together. Let's pray and let's DO something.
May we be burdened for the lives of our brothers and sisters and may we not turn away as innocent blood is shed simply because of the color of skin.
If you would like to continue this conversation or talk about how you can better love and support your brothers and sisters of color or minority groups, please feel free to email me: firstname.lastname@example.org I would love to keep talking and provide any insight that I can.
About the author:
Stanley J. Philippe serves in Santiago, Dominican Republic, as a cross-cultural church planter alongside his wife and children. He is a pastor at the multicultural community church and assists in overseeing a network of churches in the Caribbean. His passion is to see lives and communities transformed by the power of the Gospel.
Facebook: Stanley J. Philippe