A white kid, that owned a jacket with an apartheid South African flag on it, walked into a historic black church in Charleston with a long history of civil rights activism, shot and killed nine worshipers. This is more than a tragedy. This is racial hatred on a level that should not exist in the United States of America. We are a developed country. We are the land of the free, and the home of the brave. We should be better than this. When, I read of this unspeakable act that follows a long history of unspeakable acts, I have come to three conclusions.
First, we have a serious and significant racial divide in our country. We need to stop ignoring that fact. I am tired of hearing racism is “better than it use to be.” Um, we are nation that just a few decades ago had “colored” water fountains that were lower than the white folk’s, so the negro would be demeaned by having to bend over more. Saying we are better is not saying much at all. It would be like me saying, I beat my wife twice a week last year, but now, I only beat her twice a month. I’m better guys…I am better. Better is a far cry from good!
We need to strive for good or maybe for great. Our nation is suppose to be great right? We need to realize that racism and racial divides are far more than a white guy shooting up a black church. How many times have I seen a white person and a black person or a brown person have an awkward conversation because they just don’t understand how to converse across color barriers. How many times I have heard people say, I just don’t understand white, black, brown people. These situations are not about hate. The people talking are not racists. They just lack the ability to cross the deep racial divides in our culture that have been built over the centuries. These racial divides affect us all. There is an us/them mentality in our culture.
We need to learn how to be in community with one another. We need to learn how to care for one another. We need to take time to build relationships.
Don’t give me this, “let’s all be colorblind!” nonsense. Black culture is important and doesn’t need to be color-blinded out of a person. Brown culture is important, including their language! How much better would white brown relations be if we said, “I’ll learn your language to welcome you,” in stead of yelling learn ours. White culture is also important. I don’t want us to ignore culture that comes from our color. I want us to embrace one another. Appreciate each others’ histories and ethic diversity. I want us to be mature enough to love someone different. We might just learn something in the process.
I don’t want this opinion piece to be one that just points to the problem. Anyone can look at this shooting and say we have a racism problem. I believe there are two ways to help the racism in America, which brings me to my second conclusion.
We need the Gospel to go forth. We need the message of God’s word to impact our culture and communities. So many Americans see the Bible as some outdated book, but when it comes to race relations, it is way more progressive that we are today. Solomon had a great relationship with the black queen of Sheba. Jewish Jesus spoke to and cared for the Samaritan woman. Samaritan was a race by the way. Philip ministered to the black Ethiopian. Non-Jewish Romans cared for and supported Jewish Paul’s ministry. Moses even married a black woman. Then, there are the great passages on worship found in various places that describe people of every tribe, every tongue, worshiping side by side.
We need the salvation of the Gospel. We need the love and compassion of God. We need God’s word to permeate our hearts. With the love of God, we will have the courage to begin filling the racial divides. We will begin to, not mend fences, but mend hearts. Through the power of the Gospel, we can love each other.
Yes, I know some preachers and white people use(d) the Bible for their racist purposes, but I assure you, they miss use(d) the word of God. God and His word loves all peoples and cultures. He had a great fish take Jonah closer to Nineveh because he wanted a Jew to go and minister to Assyrians, and God was not taking no for an answer from Jonah.
Lastly, we need to focus on education. Education has been criminally underfunded in this country. The state of many inner city schools are more about survival than equipping children to thrive and excel in their communities. The state of many rural schools is they are optional because I am going to work on the farm or factory regardless if I drop out or graduate. Politicians pass new standards and new test to help upgrade schools. Schools do not need new tests. They need money! They need teachers! They need equipment! They need smaller classes! They need a government that is committed to educating the young people of this country. Politicians are so afraid to raise taxes because they will lose elections. I want a politician with the guts to say, “our children are important enough to raise taxes!” We need politicians that say, “I’m sorry but government funded this or that is not as important as our children, so we are cutting this program to equip our schools.” The crime that leads to so many atrocities in this country is ill-equipped schools that are not producing educated young people.
Also, the cost of college and post high school education has to be addressed.
We must equip our schools. We must tackle the educational inequality of our schools. We must make education affordable for not only the middle class, but for all. By raising the education of our people, we will then have the ability to tackle racism and crime in our country, but don’t just take my word for it.
Take the Justice Policy Institute. Or the United Way, who created an interactive chart to show the impact of education on your community. Or the Alliance for Excellent Education. I could go on, but after the Gospel, the best way to tackle the complex problems facing us is by equipping people through education to deal with them.
Educated young people realize how stupid and hateful and hurtful racism is.
I urge you to not ignore the racial divide, but cross it and love others. I urge you to heal wounds by receiving and sharing the Gospel, and I urge you to support education, not only through bake sales, but by screaming un-ignorably at your elected officials to equip our schools AT ALL COST!