Silence Sends a Clear Message When We Have an Opportunity to Act
The casket was not empty. It carried the body of a 14-year-old, African American boy by the name ofEmmett Till, son of Mamie.He was from Chicago visiting his family in Mississippi when the prankster took a dare and flirted with a white woman. Four days later he was dead, murdered by the woman’s husband and brother. They beat young Emmett beyond recognition, shot him in the head, and threw his lifeless body in the Tallahatchie River. The two men walked away from the circus court scot free and his mother – that grieving, respectable, Christian woman – required an open casket funeral so “the world can see what they did to my baby.” His name was Emmett. He had people who loved him. His life mattered!
During that time, people named racism but nobody did anything about the evil in their midst. Today, the violence of racism is ever present with us but many in the church refuse to acknowledge it. There is little doubt that blacks and whites identify racism or racist acts differently, and that distinction is the very barrier that paralyzes people from acting rightly. After all, no one wants to be known as racist or considered prejudiced. Christian sociologists and authors Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith believe it is best to refer to our current society as a “racialized” one “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.”
In a racialized society, it is socially acceptable by some for a white, young man with a police record to receive a gun as a birthday present. In a racialized society, a grown, white man with the authority of his police badge can abuse his power and threaten a black child while pulling her hair, focusing her to the ground, and then sitting on her back in broad day light as other adults and black children stand by paralyzed in fear. This is the black experience of domestic terrorism. This is violence and I need some white male Christian leaders who are bold enough to name this sin, denounce it, and then act.
The Apostle Paul wrote the letter of 1 Corinthians to a very disturbed church. They were divided on many issues. They quarreled. There was jealousy, sexual immorality, and lawsuits among them. In the midst of thanking God for this troubled population of believers, teaching and instructing them, offering warnings and rebukes—some gentle, some not—Paul continued to respond to the situations and concerns of their day.
After encouraging them to do everything to glorify God and reminding them not to cause their sisters or brothers in Christ to stumble or get off the course of their faith journey, Paul wrote that he was seeking the good of many and his desire was that people he encountered would be saved. This is exactly the type of declarations I would expect to read from a missionary or evangelist like Paul.
Then he continued with the statement, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1 NIV).” Reading this statement always makes me nervous. At first glance, it is easy to present this verse as a mentoring or leadership topic of consideration. Of course it is. If a disciple is indeed a follower of Christ—which Paul is—then why is it so hard to conceive that he would encourage others to follow him? After all, one sign of a leader is that they have people who are willing to follow them. So I look at the Apostle Paul, the person who wrote almost half of the New Testament, and I think to myself, “Who would not want to follow that guy?”
Happy New Year everyone! 2014 is off to a great start! On yesterday, my precious daughter got baptized and partook in her first Lord’s Supper. And today, is my birthday! So I will be spending half of the day in prayer, meditation, thanksgiving and reflection. This afternoon, my little lady and I will attend a “Mommy and Me” dance class and I think my husband plans to whisk me away this evening.
I will conclude my holiday schedule and return to my normal routine on tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know what you have to look forward to on A Sista’s Journey in the weeks and months ahead. I have officially started my last semester of seminary! Hoorah! (It’s a bittersweet feeling actually. While I am looking forward to a little relief from the rigorous deadlines, I will certainly miss the spiritual and intellectual engagement, along with the fellowship.) This semester is also the start of my final independent study in which I will focus on the topic of biblical justice. Therefore, today begins a four month series on biblical justice. While I will reserve Mondays to continue sharing about other topics that we normally discuss on the blog, keep you up to speed on my writings and other publications, and sharing a Christian Worldview on current events, the rest of the week will be devoted to the series. I will conduct the Biblical Justice Blog Series in a similar manner as the Racial Reconciliation Series completed in 2012.