It wasn’t that long ago a guy in a yellow shirt would interrupt our television entertainment to ask that annoying question. Even as I consider the ridiculousness yet genius of that marketing campaign, I realize how important his question is today.
Some time ago, this same guy started showing up in another commercial for a competing phone service. But he was asking the same question, “Can you hear me now?” The narrator then would ramble about all the ways that this company offered a better service than the guy’s previous employer. Both companies were trying to get us to do two things that we want and need to do: connect to and communicate with other humans. Additionally, they were offering us tools to accomplish both things.
As we survey that land over the past few months, we cannot escape the fact that the world is changing all around us. As we watch the church trying to adjust to the new normal and figure things out, I am glad that we have the resources and technology to give people what they want and need. I have appreciated the work and dedication of our church staff who ensure that we have online services and Bible studies. And I am also asking myself and others, What do you think God is speaking to us, the church, right now?
These past few months have offered much to contemplate and reflect upon. In addition to the coronavirus, the United States has been confronted again with the pandemic of racism. Racism is the flower the continues to bloom from the root of white supremacy that founded and has sustained this country. That’s the truth, and we must speak it.
In my book, A Sojourner’s Truth: Choosing Freedom and Courage in a Divided World, I share my personal coming of age story as a black girl who was raised in the south. I reflect on how that foundation, my faith, education, and leadership opportunities have shaped my understanding and has fueled my work. We all need to hear and read more stories from people who are not like us.
I often compare racism to pollution. It is created by humans, it negatively impacts every one of us, and because it has been around for so long, we have become comfortable with its existence: so comfortable that some would deny it is even here.
In their classic book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Christian sociologists Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith describe the American nation as a “racialized society.” They write:
“A racialized society is a society wherein race matters profoundly for differences in life experiences, life opportunities, and social relationships. A racialized society can also be said to be ‘a society that allocates differential economic, political, social, and even psychological rewards to groups along racial lines; lines that are socially constructed.’”
God has given us ethnic and cultural differences, which are not for the purposes of division, yet that is the exact purpose of the social construct of race. Race is a defining part of our society—affecting basic things such as where we live, as well as educational achievement and financial prospects. The racializing of America’s society has a long and often neglected history. The idea of race as division was the seed planted in America’s soil which birthed the trees that bore the fruit of racism. This fruit is tilled, fertilized, and replanted throughout generations, until we look up one day to realize that there is a whole forest around us with tall trees entrapping us all, making it hard to see the light.
Continue reading my excerpt, purchase everywhere books are sold.