Last Friday night I was so blessed to host a group of friends for a discussion on race in America. The gathering emerged as a result of earlier talks I’d had with these friends at the height of the Ferguson protests. Those who came to my home were mostly white: six women and two men. But Joe was also there, my son Michael, my daughter Carrie, another black friend and me, for a total thirteen.
A nurse and a store owner.
Three educators and two homemakers.
An artist and a musician.
A software engineer and an entrepreneur.
Two non-profit leaders and two interracial couples.
We ranged in age from 20 to nearly 60; diverse in so many ways, yet we shared a common desire: to grapple thoughtfully with America’s racial conflict and consider Christian solutions.
Our conversation was lively, sometimes uncomfortable, but candid and fun. We shared personal stories of feeling or being profiled for being black, for being white, for being Irish, for being an “oreo.” We asked hard questions about why our churches are segregated and why interracial dating is still controversial. We admitted to our weaknesses, hand wringing, and pessimism about the potential for unity. We recognize that much of what we long for is a generation away.
We didn’t shatter the earth last Friday, but we walked away with these thoughts on how we can impact our own small worlds:
- Each of us can call out racist talk whenever we hear it from friends and family
- Each of us can lead a discussion in our churches about whether diversity is a priority there, and we can choose to walk away from churches that lack such a commitment
- Each of us can broaden the base of our relationships, move away from our homogenous friendships, and get to know people of other races
After Friday night, I had way more hope than I did on Friday morning. That’s because I was reminded that God’s family really is unified about race, we just haven’t mobilized to combat racism. Before Ferguson, we could sit back and wait for things to get better. But recent protests have shaken us out of our complacency, forcing us to face what Christian abolitionists faced, and what Christian Civil Rights marchers – white and black – faced: the cross of Christ, compelling us to proclaim and embody the peace he died to give us. He is the One, True Hope.
It’s our time, Christian friends. Let’s talk about it. And let’s act.
Interested in hosting a discussion on race in America? I’m happy to offer ideas on how you can create a comfortable atmosphere for productive discussion. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org