The other day while driving to my oldest son’s baseball game, this story came on the radio. It’s about the producers memories of going on a tour of The National Great Blacks In Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. She recalls with audible disturbance, the traumatic memory she has from her school tours through the museum which depicts lynchings and a slave ship as well as segregation and slavery. Its one of the few times everyone in the car was silent. Three white males in the car 47, 14, and 12. And myself a white woman. It really hit us all. My pubescent sons’ mouths were gaping and at one point my youngest announced, “This is horrible! Why would people do that?” I turned the volume down and asked the boys to imagine that they were born and raised in a country where in recent history white people were segregated, lynched, abused, treated like animals and made to be slaves? That’s the history that my black friends in the U.S. live with.
People like me and my husband and sons we have no idea what that feels like. That’s what “white privilege” means. It doesn’t me we get a hand out or hand up. It means we don’t live with a history of oppression against people who look like us in the country we call home.
I know folks are upset about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem. And I know people are quick to defend police officers (so am I… I’m married to one). But we white folks need to listen. We need to listen to stories like this. And to the stories of our black neighbors and co-workers and friends. We need to listen. And shut our mouths. We may have good arguments. But especially those of us who call ourselves Christians need to put our hands over our mouths and listen.
I have nothing but respect and prayers for our veterans and military servants. I love my country. But my country has a history of sinful oppression of people of color. What we hear in the news and see on T.V. and post in our social media is not going to stop the blood of the slaves from crying out in their descendants. We need to lay down our lives and listen. We need to stop being Job’s friends to those who are bearing a bitter burden. We need to love our black neighbors. And give our lives for their restoration to wholeness.
This is the way of Christ, our God and Savior who wasn’t white. This is the way of the God who calls peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation to be his children. This is the way of Jesus, who drove out the proud money-changers and proclaimed, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer for all nations”? And you have turned it into house of robbers!“
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.” -2 For. 5:18-19
Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger… -James 1:19