I grew up in the South Suburbs of Chicago. My neighborhood and schools were made up of black, white, and brown people. Some black people were violent, some white people were violent, and some brown people were violent. I witnessed with my own eyes a white male teacher physically assaults a young black woman in the hallway. “Go to the principal,” the teacher said, “Who will he believe, Me, or you.” I saw that girl crumble into herself with fear and shame. She never told.
Some black people were good and wonderful people, some white people were good and wonderful people, and some brown people were good and wonderful people. I witnessed countless acts of love and unity between races in our community.
I grew up not judging someone based upon the color of their skin, what car they drove, or where their house was. I got to know people as individuals. I had white, black and brown friends. It was normal for me and the people around me. There were racists, no doubt. White people infuriated by the black and brown people moving into their white neighborhoods. Their prejudice left when they all moved away, which was good in a way. It was sad to see how many of the people I had known my whole life, seemingly with good character and morals, run for their lives to all white communities to hide. It sickened me. It made me realize how deep the racial divide was in the hearts and minds of white men and women.
Our church split because a majority of white people did not want to invite their new black and brown neighbors to worship with them. They wanted to uproot the entire body of believers and move to an all-white neighborhood mile away from the changing one.
I was again, dumbstruck at the atrocious behavior of “Jesus Followers” I had looked up to and admired my entire life. Men stood up and shook angry fists during church services and business meetings. Harsh angry words, unrepeatable and unforgiveable. I remember being 17, completely speechless at the behavior of these adults. What was amazing in the midst of all of this was our pastor. He was an unshakable, unmovable pillar of strength. He stood strong and true to the real Jesus. The Jesus that loves all the children of the world, Red, Yellow, Black and White. The bad guys left. The church flung open its doors to the community, and quickly became a truly multi-ethnic place of worship, one of the only ones I’ve ever seen.
The racial divide in our country is unacceptable. Thank God for cell phone videos and pictures to record the horrific acts of violence that have marked our country since it’s birth. Our nation was built on the backs of black slavery. Never, ever forget that. George Washinton himself owned hundreds of slaves. He didn’t regard them as equal. The sin of racism is as deep as the roots of our great nation.
I beg you to repent if you are inclined to view one race higher or lower than another. Repent and find the true Jesus, the one who loves all men and women, all the races with equality.
The real Jesus doesn’t use racial slurs or roll His eyes at black men and women demonstrating and marching for peace. The real Jesus stands among them, because He too, was forcefully and unjustly maligned and killed. The real Jesus marches on, spreading joy and light and peace. Join the real Jesus. Be free from the ties that bind our hands and hearts to the ties that bind us and have bound us since our nation’s inception.
Be free to love. Be free. Let freedom ring.