Three months ago, while we were still in the middle of a Covid-19 lockdown in Peru, I posted a few thoughts about how all of the ugly political news coming from the United States was really getting me down. (You can read The Power of a Fresh Perspective here.) In that post I mentioned that I was researching some of the hot-button issues that were occurring in the US at the time, and I “promised” to share my thoughts in the near future. But within two short weeks, we were able to purchase seats on a humanitarian flight out of Peru, and we came to Ohio for the rest of the summer, so I got a bit behind in updating my blog. I’m sure you won’t fault me for not blogging when suddenly our whole world opened up… we had grandparents and cousins to visit, shopping (with masks) and swimming and biking and all kinds of family fun on the horizon!
Before we left Peru, however, I actually had spent quite a bit of time researching and reading through several sources so I could get some background on the racial unrest that was happening in the U.S. I really did want to find out what is right and just and fair.
Having grown up in a very white family, I was disturbed by the thought that I might be exhibiting “white privilege” without even knowing it, but I didn’t think that the best place to learn was by reading diatribes on social media posted by white Millennial women about how all white people are racist. However, I had to be honest about the fact that my own ideas are certainly influenced by my own “white family” experience, so I made sure to delve into resources that share the voices of people who aren’t like me… at least on the outside.
On the political side of the spectrum, I discovered and amazing voice of wisdom in Robert L. Woodson, Sr., the founder of The Woodson Center, and was very impressed with his writings and his work. Revisiting the “Vision and Philanthropy” Symposium after 15 Years is a fairly short read that does an excellent job of explaining the difference in the way liberals and conservatives try to help the poor, and why neither side has done a very good job. Mr. Woodson then gives some good advice on how to bring real help and change to minorities and poor neighborhoods, and The Woodson Center proves that it can happen.
A special project of the Woodson Center is called 1776 Unites, and according to information on their website, this initiative “represents a nonpartisan and intellectually diverse alliance of writers, thinkers, and activists focused on solutions to our country’s greatest challenges in education, culture, and upward mobility.” According to what I read, this initiative was launched specifically to counter the New York Times’ 1619 Project, which makes the claim that America’s founding really happened when the first slaves arrived in the New World, providing proof for the “fact” that our country was built on a foundation of racism.
I lost myself for several hours in the essays posted on the 1776 Unites page, appreciating the fact that almost every essay was written by an African American whose opinion on issues related to racism seems to hold much more clout than the hateful finger-pointing that filled Facebook pages during the summer months. I’m also very pleased to see that this project has recently launched a curriculum page, and I will definitely be using some of their lessons when we return to Peru and get back into homeschooling. When you have a bit of extra reading time, I would highly recommend spending some of that time on the 1776 Unites page.
As I thought about the spiritual side of these racial issues, I turned to Dr. Tony Evans, an incredible pastor and Bible scholar whose voice I have always trusted on Biblical issues. Ade and I had the privilege of attending Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship for a couple of months when we were studying at GIAL (now Dallas International University) several years ago. In fact, we were attending this church during the inauguration and the first few months of Barak Obama’s presidency, and that’s when I learned that I could also trust Dr. Evans’ voice on race issues and how we should deal with them as Christians. As racial tensions heated up in America this past spring and summer, our family used our lockdown Sundays in Peru to tune in to Dr. Evans’ sermons. Two of the best sermons we listened to during that time were Christ’s Call to Unity – June 28, 2020, and Christianity and Culture – July 5, 2020. In typical Tony Evans fashion, he did not shy away from the fact that there ARE racial tensions in America, and even in the church. But rather than blaming the different races, or the president, or either of the political parties, Dr. Evans reminded us that the underlying problem is sin, and that we as Christians have the responsibility to weed this sin out of our lives and to learn to live in unity with each other. When you have some extra media time, I know you would appreciate watching the sermons posted above, or checking out Dr. Evans’ series on Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America.
So, after doing all this research, where do I find myself standing?
First of all, I will not feel ashamed of the fact that I was born white, and was blessed with U.S. citizenship through birth into an American family. But I will also recognize the fact that these two things do not make me any more special than my husband and sons who were born into brown-skinned families in Peru, or more important than an African American whose ancestors were slaves, or better than the Africans who still live in their native land. After all, it was God himself who chose these things for each one of us, as the author of Acts clearly states:
“From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.” Acts 17:26
Secondly, I will not be forced into apologizing for atrocities committed collectively by white people in the past. (I didn’t understand until fairly recently that this is an idea pushed by Critical Race Theory. You can read a good explanation from Answers in Genesis HERE, and also a more in-depth explanation from theologian Owen Strachan HERE.)
My family has done quite a bit of ancestry research and we have never uncovered any slave owners in our history. But even if we did have that ugliness in our past, God holds me responsible for my own personal sins, and not the sins of others. Paul explained this clearly in 2 Corinthians 5:10:
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
I know that I cannot use these Scriptural truths as an excuse to overlook the possibility that I very well could be blind to racial issues that some people face as a “normal” part of their lives. I actually have been very in-tune to this situation in Peru, where I’ve been living for over 20 years now, but this is something that I would also like to be able to address during my visits to the U.S. How will I do that? I’m really not sure, outside of looking for opportunities to get to know people of other colors and cultures, opening doors for meaningful conversations that will hopefully bring better understanding on all sides. According to Jesus’ brother, James, to do anything less really would be a sin.
So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.
I’ll admit, however, that even with my conclusions drawn from many hours of reading and research, I still felt a bit overwhelmed with this topic. I remember sitting on the porch swing one August morning thinking about what seemed like an insurmountable racial mess, and wondering how on earth anything could ever change in America. But then I opened my Bible to Proverbs 2 and found my answer: seek God’s wisdom. And the benefit of getting this wisdom?
Then you will understand what is right and just
and fair—every good path. Prov. 2:9
Now, THIS makes it seem entirely possible for those of us who are Christians be part of the solution to the racial problems plaguing our country today. So who’s willing to stand with me in seeking God’s wisdom?
(check below for links to works cited in this post)
Links to websites & resources mentioned in this post:
Revisiting the “Vision and Philanthropy” Symposium after 15 Years – Robert Woodson
Tony Evans – Resources on Racial Unity
Christ’s Call to Unity – June 28, 2020
Christianity and Culture – July 5, 2020Culture Wars: The Struggle to Define America.
Critical Race Theory in the Church – Answers in Genesis
Is Critical Race Theory Christian? A Macropost (Parts 1-4) – Owen Strachan