What qualifies a person as black?
Where he grew up? Her liking of fried chicken or watermelon? His athletic ability? Or is it the distance he or she keeps from activities like bungee jumping, sky diving, or camping?
Forgive me for jumping into this with stereotypes. (I’m a sarcastic person, but I’m for real about that.) The obvious answer, I would think, to my opening question is “the color of his skin.” But it seems that’s somehow not the case.
I feel like I should give a quick heads-up to anyone who doesn’t know: I’m white. I’ve always been white. Even that one summer when I visited the Gulf Coast for two weeks and my legs were something other than sickly and pasty, I was still white. I’ll always be white. I’m not ashamed of that, though, and I don’t like it when people make me feel like I have to apologize for being knit together this way.
It took me years to accept my appearance – my abundance of freckles (which my cousin told me looked like I’d had feces thrown at me through a screen door), my dishwater hair, and my gangly legs that made me tower over all of the boys at school. But as my relationship with the LORD has grown, none of those things bothers me anymore.
I know that my skin color carries some givens, though – chiefly that my ancestors likely “owned” black people at some point. I don’t want to gloss over that, because it’s a stain on our history. But the thing is it’s just that – history.
There are a few crazies in the world today who live in the past, thinking that their skin color somehow makes them superior to everyone else. Excluding them, I’m reminded of Paul in the Bible. His personal history was stained with the blood of the Christians he sought out and murdered. But when the Holy Spirit of God came upon him, he completely repented (Acts 9). He did not gloss over his past; he looked back on it as a reminder of what God brought him out of, and he used that for the glory of the Lord.
Similarly, aside from the unfortunate remnant of white supremacists, we realize now how heinous it is that “owning” people and treating them like mere things was once so commonplace. It’s terrible. This world is full of terrible things.
I’ll be 30 later this year, so in my lifetime, I’ve never known segregation. I grew up in Alabama, in a neighborhood with several black families. I went to school from kindergarten through college with black boys and girls. We swam in the same pools, played on the same sports teams, went to the same birthday parties, rode our bicycles together, drank from the same water fountains, used the same restrooms, and ate together when the lunch bell rang. Even in the South, I have never in real life seen a white person treat a black person like less than a person.
Of course, I’m not naive enough to believe that just because I don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Some unfortunate events that have taken place within the past few years are evidence of that. And over the course of my 20s, I have become increasingly aware of and disappointed with the world around me. For instance, did you know that more black babies are aborted every year than are birthed? Yes, black-on-black, white-on-black, and cop-on-black crime is horrendous, but check out these statistics from BlackGenocide.org.
Margaret Sanger, the white woman who founded Planned Parenthood, wanted to exterminate black people. She set up shop in minority communities, and by all accounts, her truly racist resolve to do just that – exterminate people of color – has carried on, even today with the blessing of our nation’s first black president.
On a more personal note, I’ve more than once been called a racist because I did not vote for Barack Obama (either time). It doesn’t seem to matter that my reason has nothing to do with the color of the man’s skin, though. His pro-abortion stance (which vastly affects black babies more than any other race) stretches back long before he ever ran for president, and if that’s all I knew about the man, that would be enough reason for me not to vote for him.
Anyhow, in a conversation on the topic shortly after the 2012 election, it was explained to me that even if a black man had been running against Obama on the Republican ticket, the black community would not have voted for the other guy; blacks vote Democrat, and that is that.
This logic baffles me. It makes me wonder – are the black people who vote for Independents or Republicans less black? Are the white people who vote Democrat more black or less white because of that? Does their vote for Democrats somehow make things better?
Are people of color who are staunchly pro-life less black? Is a couple who saves sex for marriage less black? Is a black man who’s devoted to God, to his wife, and to his children not black enough? Is a person less black if he refuses to live his entire adult life on government programs?
It bothers me that my Christian brothers and sisters who live out the teachings of God’s Word are not considered “enough” of their skin color. I cannot find a single place in the Bible that supports color over Christ. In fact, I have yet to come across a passage that promotes anything over Christ.
At Urban Family Communications, our motto is “truth, wisdom, empowerment.” Brothers and sisters, you won’t be empowered without the Truth (John 14:6). The facts, the statistics that show poverty and the criminal and abortion rates among the black community truly grieve me. We need wisdom from the LORD. We MUST listen to and follow His Holy Spirit’s lead when tensions arise. He is the only real source of truth, wisdom, and/or empowerment.
"For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God." -Romans 8:5-8
While I’m on the topic of truth, the truth repeated throughout God’s Word is that Christ died for us all (2 Corinthians 5:15). So though we may look different, we ARE all equal.
It seems like everyone has the answer to loosening up today’s national tension; I guess I’m adding mine to the mix. I don’t think we need to make ourselves “colorblind” to the differences in our appearances; we need to see them as the creative works of our Creator. Our differences are beautiful, and we need to allow them to be used for their intended purpose: To glorify our Almighty God. If you call yourself a believer, then absolutely bring light to and speak against injustices committed against your brother. But I can’t help but think that if our words and deeds indisputably pointed others to the God who defeated death for us all, then we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in today.
I guess it could be argued that it’s easy for me to say all of this. Admittedly, I’ve never had to fear persecution against myself or my sons because of the color of our skin. But I do sometimes fear it because of my outspoken devotion to God. The color of a person’s skin is important; God put a lot of thought into it. But that is something about our makeup that will never change. What can change, though, is what cause we are willing to lay down our lives for. If you’re seeking justice, then follow the lead not of the flesh, but of the One who is justice. It will not be in vain.