The Work of Racial Justice and Reconciliation is Hard!

The Work of Racial Justice and Reconciliation is Hard!

One of the most depressing activities to be engaged in in the American society is the work of racial justice, and the imperative of racial reconciliation and harmony in Christian churches in America. Sometimes, it seems to be an isolated or lonely journey. (You will lose friends, and people will call you names, stop talking to you or will not interact with your work.) However, racial justice and racial reconciliation are a necessity for human flourishing, to heal America’s “sick soul,” and for the triumph of the Gospel message of grace in our society.

While we must continue fighting together against systemic oppressions that seek to tear us apart as a people, and those that devalue human life and dehumanize the image of God in targeted racial groups and ethnic communities in our culture, we also have an equal responsibility to teach little black, brown, and white boys and girls about the success and triumph of these underrepresented individuals  and communities in our society. Their triumph and success is also ours and ultimately America’s triumph and success.

The little white girl needs to know it is okay to have a black hero.

The little Asian boy needs to know it is fine to have a black heroine.

The little black boy needs to know it is all right to have an Asian role model.

The little white boy needs to know it is acceptable to have a Hispanic/Latino/a role model.

They, too, sing America!

In The Vocation of the Elite, published in 1919, Haitian intellectual Jean Price-Mars discusses the importance of affirming the contributions of other peoples and nations in the process of creating a new humanism and move forward toward a more promising human society. He writes perceptively, “Our task at the moment is to contribute to a national way of thinking indicative of our feelings, our strengths and our weaknesses. We can do so by gleaning ideas generated by ideas contained in the masterpieces which are the pride of humanity’s common heritage. This is the only way in which the study and assimilation of the works of the mind play an indispensable part in the enrichment of our culture.”

It is a very unfortunate phenomenon that in American Evangelical circles, the racial factor and sociological ties are stronger than the spiritual bond that should have been the catalyst or the fuel to ignite the inextinguishable flame toward intentional unity and friendship, and a relationship of mutual reciprocity and selflessness. Gospel reconciliation ministry is a doing and a practice. We need to do more of it and write less about it.Although we Americans have never been a “united country” and “united people,” we have to strive together for unity and common understanding. Unity regardless of our race, ethnicity, social class, economic status, gender, sexuality, and religion is what this contemporary American society desperately needs. On the other hand, we understand that  genuine unity and reconciliation will not happen among us until we learn to talk to each other, listen to each other, and bear one another’s burden. We are a society of profound wound. A lot of us are hurting. A lot of us are suffering. It is time for healing. It is time for unity. It is time for repentance. It is time for forgiveness.  It is certainly the time for reconciliation.

Churches that continue to be silent on the problem of race, gender, and ethnicity, and ignore the painful  experience and history of the black and brown christians and other disadvantaged peoples in our culture are not Gospel-transformative and human-senstive communities of faith. These congregations will soon be  declined in the twenty-first century American culture. Their ineffective lies in their consistent refusal to help heal the wound, suffering, and pain of these people.

In a recent article, “Many Americans have no friends of another race: poll” (Reuters, August 8, 2013), it  is observed that “About 40 percent of white Americans and about 25 percent of non-white Americans are surrounded exclusively by friends of their own race, according to an ongoing Reuters/Ipsos poll.” The author of the same article affirms that  “Younger American adults appear to confirm this, according to the poll. About one third of Americans under the age of 30 who have a partner or spouse are in a relationship with someone of a different race, compared to one tenth of Americans over 30. And only one in 10 adults under 30 say no one among their families, friends or coworkers is of a different race, less than half the rate for Americans as a whole.” Evidently, there is not only a crisis of American friendship, there is tremendous problem to be relational in the American culture.

We need to validate each other, rejoice in one another’s accomplishment, and bear one another’s burden. Without being relational, interconnected, and interdependent, we will not move forward as a community of faith and as a nation. We need to cultivate more interracial and interethnic friendship in our churches, communities, workplaces, and neighborhoods. The work of racial justice and reconciliation is hard, but it is very rewarding at the end.

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I am tired!

I am tired!

I am tired of those individuals who are insensitive to human suffering, pain, and death.

I am tired of those individuals who misinterpret the words of Scripture/Jesus to devalue life and dehumanize people.

I am tired of those individuals who are afraid to change, forgive, and repent of their sins.

I am tired of those individuals who appeal to human depravity and social sins to justify the miscarriage of justice and support the mistreatment of those who are hurting.

I am tired of those individuals who are/ have been silent and use their power and status to shut the mouth of those peak against injustice, inequality, oppression, and social evils.

I am tired of those individuals who appeal to human reason to rationalize and counter the fact and the evidence so that they can feel good about themselves, and prove the world that they’re rational and brilliant.

I am tired of those individuals who are not bold enough to practice social justice, love their neighbor, and defend the innocent and their right to exist.

I am tired of those individuals who deny the social implications of the Gospel and Christian responsibility in the public sphere.

I am tired of those individuals who area afraid to suffer and be humiliated and alienated for the cause of love, justice, truth, and peace.

I am tried of being traumatized by fear, fear of death, and fear of social alienation.

I am tired!

Holy Discontent: These Things Make Me Sad!

Earlier in a post today on Facebook, I wrote that “sometimes words fail to communicate what we want to articulate.” Although words still fail me, here are the things I have been contemplating about today (Language will always remain a fallible vehicle to clarify effectively the human mind, communicate adequately the human thought, and action):

Holy Discontent: These Things Make Me Sad!

There are many things in this world that are very depressing to me, but the following fifteen issues are notorious:
1. The depressing living condition of the Haitian people in Haiti.
2. Politics in Haiti.
3. Politics in the United States.
4. The Race Problem in America.
5. The failure of Evangelical Christianity in America to care for the poor, the needy, and underprivileged families.
6. The unholy alliance between Evangelical Christianity and the Bourgeoisie class in America.
7. The failure of Evangelical Christianity to practice justice and be in solidarity with the oppressed and disheartened.
8. The disastrous effects of globalization and free market capitalism.
9.  The end of (spiritual) piety and the triumph of secularism and atheism.
10. The end of compassion and love.
11. The end of human hospitality and community.
12. The triumph of (social) evil in our society and the world.
13. The fear of the stranger and difference.
14. The desecration of life and dehumanization of people.
15. The continuous battle of people of color–black people in particular-in this country to acknowledge their humanity and show that they too count in America.

In America, Some Lives Matter, and Some Do Not!

In America, Some Lives Matter, and Some Do Not!

 In the United States of America, not all lives equally matter to some people. There are individuals in this country who have the power and resources to ruin, destroy, and protect (some) lives. While some American citizens can boldly sing America, others struggle to even understand what it means to be an American citizen in “this land where life is cold and joy is wrong.”

The (intentional) poisoning of the public water supply or reservoir–not the preservation of life–in the city of Flint, Michigan, is the most transparent example of the American life characterized by social evil, social alienation, and (intentional) mass social death.  For some people, it would be an exaggeration to call this historic act in Flint  water supply terrorism?

Water in michigan.jpg

We are thirsty for true justice, equal citizenship, and genuine equality in “Our Land.” In the United States, some lives matter, and others do not. This is not a new issue. Since its foundation, the United States government, (in fact, every subsequent administration) has struggled to promote the dignity of all people and protect all lives. Every administration has failed on this account.  One of the pivotal issues in America in the twenty-first century is/remains the question and meaning of citizenship and equality for all.  It is in fact an old question. Please, allow me to close this brief reflection with a poem by Langston Hughes, in which the poet envisions a new American life characterized by compassionate love, kindness, brotherhood, happiness, and collective destiny.

“Our Land” by Langston Hughes

Poem for a Decorative Panel
We should have a land of sun,
Of gorgeous sun,
And a land of fragrant water
Where the twilight
Is a soft bandanna handkerchief
Of rose and gold,
And not this land where life is cold.

We should have a land of trees,
Of tall thick trees
Bowed down with chattering parrots
Brilliant as the day,
And not this land where birds are grey.

Ah, we should have a land of joy,
Of love and joy and wine and song,
And not this land where joy is wrong.

Oh, sweet away!
Ah, my beloved one, away!