Thankfully, some teach, model, and value racial equality. However, some, both black and white, perpetuate the divide over skin color that has existed since our country’s conception. The university I attended in South Carolina did not allow blacks and whites to date each other. The rule was dropped in 2000, my junior year. A lady I know who grew up in Georgia and is quite a bit younger than me was not allowed to bring blacks into her home. Another white lady I know (again younger than me) grew up in Alabama and feared for her life at the public school since blacks terrorized her. Yet another lady I know (younger than me and this time African American) grew up in Mississippi where she learned from her parents to hate whites. And here we are in 2020 celebrating our country’s birthday while also very aware of the on-going painful division of racism.
How do we heal this racial divide in the land of the free?
We will need changes that only government can enact such as the one we are presently observing in Mississippi. For over a hundred years the Confederate battle flag has been conspicuously part of the Mississippi state flag causing pain and division for many. What took place in Mississippi at the end of June 2020 was beautiful. I listened to 30 minutes of the House debate from Saturday, June 27 over the resolution paving the way to change the state flag. I then listened to 90 minutes of the Senate debate from Sunday, June 28 over the bill to change the state flag. Fascinating! Here were men and women who were all emotionally involved and approaching the topic from different perspectives speaking from their heart and yet remaining completely respectful and self-controlled towards one another and then making courageous and sacrificial changes that will aid healing.
But the majority of us will never be in the House or Senate or any other elected position in our country. What can we possibly do privately as individuals to bring healing? We can start with small, simple acts of kindness. Here’s one story from my sphere of influence.
While out on a walk in our subdivision several weeks ago, my husband and I came upon an African American man doing yard work at his home. Never having met him, we briefly spoke and exchanged names. Later, with all the current events heavy on my heart, I decided to write a short note to this family basically saying hi, nice to meet you, your black life matters to me, and here’s my number if I can ever do anything for you. Sound strange? Yeah, it felt strange to send! But the idea came to me, and I couldn’t let go of it. I was moved to do it. So, I sent it and prayed it would bless them. Then, just recently, on yet another walk in the neighborhood, my husband and I came upon the same home and this time met the wife for the first time. She quickly connected the dots (I guess based on our names) that we were the ones that had sent them the card. She said thank you. I responded that I had felt kinda weird sending it. She then explained that it had meant a lot. She did a little tear wipe motion with her hand to her eyes indicating she had been moved to tears. Then she told me that she had taken a picture of the card and sent it to her mom and then also to her husband’s mom. In great surprise, I responded, “Really?!” Wow! Instead of thinking I was weird, they were sharing the short note with relatives! We ended up having a nice, long talk in her driveway. A moment of healing had occurred.
The divide over skin color in America has been deep and deadly, but nothing is impossible with God. Jesus Christ came to earth and died for us providing a way to be reconciled to God. God transforms us from selfish sinners to selfless saints. If people change, communities change, and if communities change, states change, and if states change, a whole country changes. Sure, there will always be a person who hates you simply because of the color of your skin whether you are white or brown or black. You’re still on earth not in heaven. Nevertheless, we can be strong in the Lord and seek to truly love one another in our sphere of influence. ALL Americans can help heal the racial divide in their sphere of influence by following Romans 12:14-21.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY,” says the Lord. “BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.