Christians, Charleston, White People, & Racism: Let's Be Real
Two posts in one week?! I know, it's unbelievable, but I think that it is very necessary for me to speak my mind on this particular issue.
So as many of you have heard, there was a shooting at a black church in Charleston, South Carolina a couple nights ago. A white man walked into this historically black church and killed 9 people.
I am speaking about this not just because it brings up a very important thing about race issues in America, but since it happened in a church, I will comment on this from a Christian standpoint as well.
First of all, this attack should be a clear indicator that we are not in a post-racial society.
I have heard many people, both white & non-white, say this, but if we were in a "post-racial" society, this definitely would not have happened.
Second of all, this man was not mentally ill.
There tends to be a pattern that when a white man kills people in terrorist acts like this, he is automatically considered "mentally ill," yet when any other person commits the same act they are considered terrorists & thugs. Saying someone is mentally ill suggests that they didn't have the capacity to do something so horrible on their own, so there has to be something else making them do what they did.
That is a false way of thinking because then it allows specifically white men in this case to get away with actions they fully intended on doing by just calling them "sick." They'll get a little back rub & they'll be off on their way, while other people will get the death penalty, no question about it.
Third, I want to know where you stand on this. And if anything, will you stand?
I go to a Christian university, and I have heard white people make microaggressive comments to people of color and get so offended when people tell their stories of how white people were racist to them and say that they're good people and aren't like those people. They don't even take the time to think about how that person may be more hurt and how they may need to help them. That's like a child crying cause they were kicked and telling them to shut up, that you're not the person who kicked them and just walked away.
And it's not just white people. There have definitely been people of color who may not relate to the same racist experiences & tell people like this to "get over it."
But the thing is, when you tell someone to just "get over it," you're not helping anyone. You are invalidating their experiences and telling that person that what they have been through doesn't matter enough to be listened to or understood.
So what if you're not like those other white people? Good. But getting angry and not listening to that person's story isn't going to make you any better either. Just let that person know that you are there for them and that you want to help change that experience, or basically do anything to comfort them in the best way you can.
And so what if you are a minority who has never experienced (or noticed) racism of any kind? Telling that person of color to "get over it" isn't going to make anything better either. If someone got stabbed, you wouldn't tell that person to just get over it. As a person of color, it is important to then acknowledge that while you may not share those experiences that person, what they went through is unfortunate but important that they share so that others can either recognize offensive comments/actions or make sure not to commit the same ones themselves.
So what about the Christians?
As you know, I go to a Christian university. However, I grew up going to secular, public schools.
I will be honest with you & say that some of the most racist things I have ever heard have come from Christians, or people who say they are Christians.
Now I talk about this because the crime happened in a church, but also because I'm waiting for white Christians to talk about it.
Any white people on my Facebook timeline that have said anything about this issue either are not Christian or they left the race aspect out of it.
It's funny because Christians are supposed to be the most compassionate and loving people out there, yet I have seen & heard Christians make some pretty rude & insensitive remarks in regards to race. I've heard white Christians say things about how proud they were that justice was served at Ferguson last summer in front of everyone, including their black friends on Facebook. I've heard white Christians say that black people were taking over my school because they were loud. I've heard white Christians say that black people go to bad schools & live "bad" lives because that's their fault, right after the professor said that many people born into those poorer lifestyles can't get out of them.
I am neither black nor white, but I have been on the receiving end of some microaggressive comments & have witnessed things in regards to race not just between whites & non-whites, but between different races of color as well.
I know that I have probably babbled a lot, but I'm looking for people of all races to stand by our black brothers & sisters in this time of mourning as they once again experience loss just because of their skin color.
I'm also looking for the Christians to stand up and love the people who have been affected and hurt by this massacre. I would even say to just sympathize with those who have experienced racist comments/actions against them. God created us all differently for a reason. Jesus also loved the oppressed and rejected by society the most, and we should all be doing the same.
But even more so than all of this, I'm looking for the white Christians to speak up. You have privilege just because your skin is lighter than mine. You also represent Jesus Christ. If anything, I think you have the greatest responsibility in this whole conversation to show love and stand in solidarity with your brothers & sisters of color. Even if you have never tried to offend anyone in regards to race, it doesn't mean that you have no part in it. You saying nothing is like being witness to a crime but hiding so you don't have to testify.
Our country is so hurt and we need some more love. As people of color, we need to stand in solidarity with the black community as they mourn the losses of their own. As Christians we need to be the first to show love, and not be the first to shut it out. And as white people, there has to be more compassion and empathy. We were not made to stay in our comfort zones, so get out of it and speak out.