I'm far from an expert when it comes to addressing racism. I have my own history, my own guilt, my own path of dealing with it, and my own hopes for a better future. As a pastor, these are difficult times. We're not supposed to be 'political'. At the same time, out of respect for our religious liberty in this country I must also point out that our political leaders are not to show favoritism for one faith group over another, especially for political gain. With that in mind, I feel little restraint in speaking out, and for the sake of bringing unity, not more division.
The issue of racism should not be reserved for the arenas of political argument. Discussion of politics is considered to be taboo in our country, and when we confine the issue of racism to politics, this very important issue becomes taboo as well. Racist behavior is something that must be owned as a problem across the political spectrum.
As I have made my own journey to better understand the issue of racial injustice in my life, I've come to learn that one cannot effectively address it by simply saying that one is not a racist. Racism is a social behavior in which we participate each and every day, and we must admit it and recognize it. That's what is referred to as 'systematic racism' in that it is woven into the fabric of our society.
As followers of Jesus, we are obligated to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible tells us that God created us in God's own image, and I believe that the at the core of loving our neighbor as ourself is to see that image of God in one another. When we begin to dehumanize people simply because in our minds they represent something less than human is to dishonor that image of God in which we were all created.
The issue of racism in our country will not be resolved until we all own it together and address it together. We all have our own work to do, but it is most certainly work we need to do together. Racism can no longer be someone else's problem from which we need to defend ourselves. It needs to be something that we name and own together. It is a sin we all need to confess. We simply must embrace this reality together so that we can, through even the smallest changes in our attitudes and actions, bring this world closer to what God intends it to be.