An Address To Black And White American Christians

To say that; ‘the church is not what it used to be’ is a great understatement in regard to the condition of much of the Black Church and the White Church in America! For those who may be offended by the terms; “Black Church” and “White Church” let me remind you that historically, in America, the divided came into existence because White people did not want to worship with Black people! In fact, during those days, there was much debate as to whether Black people were even ‘human-people’ and consequently capable of being Christians at all! So it was not a case where Black Christians wanted to be separate, but more of a case where White Christians refused to be united! Apparently many White Christians didn’t give much credence to the Apostle Paul’s statement in Galatians 3:28, where he said: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28 ESV) And even today, after all these years, the eleven o’clock worship hour is still the most segregated hour of the week in America!

Therefore, I am writing this address to Black and White Christians because, until we can authentically, honestly and truthfully address and biblically deal with the racial (cancer) divide in the church, the world has no reason to listen to anything the church has to say about Jesus! In his high priestly prayer in the garden, prior to his passion, Jesus prayed: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” (John 17:20-23 ESV) According to what Jesus prayed, the reason the world does not believe, is not because the Gospel is not being preached, but because the ones who claim to follow Jesus are NOT UNITED AS ONE! It is the unity of believers that will cause the world to believe!

But why is unity so hard? Because of sin and selfishness! Sin and selfishness is the root of all racism! Racism in any form is sin and evil! We (the church) will never have any credibility as authentic witnesses of the faith until we repent of our evil ways! I am sickened by all of the hypocrisy and foolishness that is occurring in the church today! In places where there is some semblance of racial togetherness, most so-called Black and White Christians are not united in Christ, they are united in profit: They are united in seeking blessings and prosperity! But in the real issues, they are divided as ever! For instance, just a few years ago, a White church in Mississippi refused to host the wedding of an interracial couple! Just recently, I just read of a small Christian school in Georgia that has cancelled all association with Nike because of their association with Colin Kaepernick. Many White Christian churches and pastors are all in an uproar because of Kaepernick’s protests during the National Anthem. What seems to be (purposely) getting lost in all of this is the reason for the protests! First of all, Kaepernick has stated over and over again, that the protest is not about the flag or the national anthem, but rather he chose to respectfully kneel to bring attention to the plight of Black people being unjustly treated by the police and the justice system in America! The protest is not about the flag or the military! But people have made it about those things in order to divert attention away from the real issues! People are protesting to highlight the fact that Black lives matter! On one hand, some Whites are upset because they think by saying Black lives matter, Black people are saying other lives don’t matter! But that’s not the case at all! The Black Lives Matter movement, Kaepernick’s protest started in response to an American justice system has historically operated in a manner that makes a distinction between White lives and Black lives! That is a historical and verifiable fact!

By the way, the attention and disgust many so-called Christians have shown toward Kaepernick seems to imply that they have made idols out of the flag and America! According to the Bible, the believers’ first and primary allegiance should be to his God, not his country! And if the primary allegiance is to God, than by virtue of that fact, the primary concern should also be the concerns of God! The primary concerns of God are the Kingdom of God, justice, and righteousness; not a flag or any country! For a Christian to be more concern and have more respect for a flag than for a person or a group of people (created in the image of God) is simply nonsensical, unbiblical, and idolatrous! Real Christians are motivated by love! Even if you don’t agree, your Christian faith demands you treat your adversary with dignity and respect! You can’t be ‘hateful’ and Christian at the same time! You can’t be a Black racist or a White racist,  or a White supremist and a Christian at the same time; one term negates the other!

The questions all of us, who claim to be believers or Christians must truthfully answer are: Is my political association more important to me than my faith? In other words, does my politics dictate my Christian faith or does my Christian faith dictate my politics? Am I a Christian who happens to be Black or White, or am more Black or White than Christian?

But all of this has served to separate the saints from the ‘aints.’ The true people of God are not the ones who say they are, but rather the ones who prove they are by their consistent actions, as the Bible says: “A tree is known by the fruit it bears!”

There was a song written several years ago that said: “There will never be any peace until God is seated at the conference table!” In the same way, there will never be any racial equality and justice in America until all those who claim to be Christians, churches, pastors, bishops, prophets, or whatever are more Christian than they are anything else!
We are divided in this country by race, politics, ethnicity and many other things, but we can only be truly one in Christ when we are truly one with one another! It’s not a matter of one group giving up their agenda or rights for another, but rather of all groups giving up their agendas and rights for HIM!

Fifty Years Later

I remember the day and I remember it well! I came home from school that Thursday afternoon to discover gospel music playing on the radio and my mother crying. I knew something was amiss because the local radio station that my mother listened to, would normally only play gospel music until noon. After the noon hour, the station would change to a rhythm and blues musical format. As for my mother crying, I had only seen her cry once before that time. It was one year earlier; February 14, 1967, the day the only grandfather I knew (her father) died. I asked my mother what was wrong, to which she replied: “King is dead!” At the time, I was a naïve seven-year-old with no clue as to what she was talking about and so I asked: “King who?” At that point, my mother sat me down and explained to me who Dr. King was and what was going on in America.

Fast-forward to fifty years later. My mother has been gone for 19 years and that naïve little seven-year-old is now a fifty-seven-year-old preacher and pastor. America, although much progress has been made, is still a nation wherein people are judged by the color of their skin more-so than the content of their character! It seems as if, for the most part, the only time some people talk about Dr. King, his dream and what happened is during Black History celebrations in February and on April 4; the anniversary of his assassination.

Tremendous progress has been made! We’ve even had a two-term Black President, but America is still a nation, wounded, handicapped, and scarred by racial prejudice and racial hatred. It’s 2018, and there are still people in this country today who still think “white is right” and “black and brown shouldn’t be around!” The nation has opted to elect a president who shows no apparent respect for the truth, the poor or the disenfranchised. Because of the climate this administration has allowed (encouraged?) closet racists have come out of their closets, boldly speaking with their lips dripping with the saliva of hatred and contempt for people who are not like them! Is this the America of Dr. King’s dream? In 1968, there was confrontation with the police and law enforcement in protest of the war in Vietnam. Today, there still seems to be a systemic problem and disparity between the treatment of Black and White suspects! Black suspects are more likely to be labelled as thugs, shot and killed ,while White suspects are more likely to be labelled as mentally ill, treated with respect and even given burger and fries before going to jail! Is this the America of Dr. King’s dream? Even in Black communities, it seems as if Black lives only really matter when they are taken by the police; otherwise, it seems to be acceptable for Blacks to kill one another over drug, family, or personal disputes! Is this the Black America of Dr. King’s dream? Even many in the church, who are supposed to be setting the moral climate of justice, righteousness and equality for the community have forsaken the path and succumbed to the lures of fame, prosperity, and money! Is this the church of Dr. King’s dream or even the church that Jesus established?

It is fifty years later! We’ve come a long way; but we have such a long way to go! Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was a man in and for his own time. We must quit looking and waiting for ‘another King’ and be kings and queens in our own right in our own generation. We don’t have to go to Washington, we can be agents of change, sources of inspiration and hope, right where we are! It is past time for our actions to be limited to reminiscing about what others have done in the past. We can’t get full off of yesterday’s lunch; we must cook and eat for today! Deep down inside all of us is everything needed to make an impactful difference in the world today. It’s fifty years later; the question is not whether or not the dream is still alive because it has been alive for ages! It didn’t start with Dr. King because it was alive in the hearts of the ancient prophets who spoke of a God who desired justice to roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream!

It is fifty years later! Dr. King lived and was killed for what he believed in! What about you and I today? Are we willing to take the necessary risks to stand up for justice and righteousness or will we be content to settle for the comfort of our own private prosperity as long as we are not directly impacted by the injustices and ills that still plague our society? Will we be content to just ‘talk about it’ or will we rise up and ‘be about it?’ I’ve heard all my life an old axiom that says: ‘Prayer changes things!’ But, the older I get and the more I study ‘the Book,’ I am convinced that is not entirely accurate. Prayer is not designed to change things; prayer is designed to change people so that people might change things!

It is fifty years later: Thank you Dr. King for allowing prayer to change you so that you were inspired to be an agent of change in your generation! Hopefully, we will eventually understand that you didn’t live and die for us to just remember and talk about you, but rather so that things would be easier for us to make changes in our own generation.

When Will Enough Be Enough?

unarmedWhen I was a child, my parents taught me to always have respect for the police and the system of law and order. Therefore, in the cases involving police killing armed suspects, I always have had the tendency to give the police the benefit of the doubt that those killings were justified. However, as of late in our country, there has been a rash of police shootings of unarmed Black men! But even when I first heard of these shootings, my natural instinct was once again to give the police the benefit of the doubt and reason that these people were shot because the police felt threaten or feared their lives were in danger.

But then, I thought about it! Aren’t police officers supposed to be trained? Aren’t they supposed to be trained to deal with volatile situations such as those that have dominated the news in recent years? Although it is a potentially deadly situation anytime there is an armed suspect, I couldn’t help but notice the difference in the police’s attitude and actions when it is a white suspect as opposed to a black suspect. For example, a few years ago, a young white man sat in a church in South Carolina and murdered nine people in cold blood! When the police caught up with him, they calmly apprehended him, didn’t throw him on the ground and didn’t even rough him up! In fact, they put a bullet-proof vest on him to make sure he wasn’t shot by any snipers and even stopped to get him something to eat on the way to jail! I honestly doubt they would have treated a black suspect with such respect!

And then, there are the recent cases in Baton Rouge and in Minnesota where those young Black men posed no obvious threat, yet they were shot and killed! Now I understand, the police may be a little scared and naturally suspicious of young Black men, but the statistics bare out the fact that more police are shot and killed every year by White men than by Black men! And if the police are really that scared, how can they really serve and protect the rest of us? That’s a recipe for disaster; a scared man with a gun! You would think having a gun would give one the confidence to handle the situation appropriately!

But the thing that really tipped the scale for me was the shooting of Charles Kinsey by a police officer in Miami. Kinsey is behavior therapist who works at a group home in Miami. Police had received a call about a man with a gun walking around threatening to kill himself. When police arrive on the scene, Kinsey laid down on the ground, on his back with his hands raised in the air. Sitting beside him was an autistic patient (the man with the “gun.”) playing with a toy truck! Kinsey explained to the police that he was a behavior specialist and that the man was autistic and had wandered away from the facility, that what was in the autistic man’s hand was not a gun, but a toy truck and that he was trying to retrieve him. Picture this! He’s lying on his back with both hands in the air! He verbally explains to the police what the situation is! The autistic man is sitting in an upright position, playing with his toy truck! Yet it is the black man, laying on his back with both of his hands up, that the police shoots! They claim the shooting was a mistake, but if  there was any mistake to have been made in that situation, wouldn’t it have more likely been shooting the autistic man who was sitting up playing with a toy truck? That would have been a more reasonable “mistake” because the object in the man’s hand could have been mistaken for a gun! But how can you mistakenly shoot an unarmed man lying on his back with his hands in the air right beside the man with the object in his hand? To add insult to injury, after Kinsey was shot, they rolled him over and handcuffed him as he lay bleeding from his wounds! When he asked the police officer why did he shoot him, the police officer reportedly said that he didn’t know! I would suggest that even if they really felt it was a mistake, they wouldn’t have treated him the way they did after they shot him! Thankfully, Kinsey survived the shooting and someone was filming this, but it makes one wonder; how many other times innocent people have been shot and killed and the police covered it up because no one was there to film it?

I read about this incident on a news website that said: “The incident illustrates the edgy mood of US police and the nation in general after the police ambush in Dallas that left five officers dead and another similar incident Sunday in Baton Rouge, Louisiana that killed three.” But I beg to differ! Yes! Police and the nation are on edge, but this incident was not an illustration of that! If such were the case, then the man with the object in his hand would have been shot! But it was the black man, lying on his back with his hands in the air that was shot! So this incident is not an illustration of police edginess in view of what happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge! It is, however, an illustration of the systemic racism and racial profiling that is so pervasive in this country!

America has a serious race problem that has tainted and tipped the scales of justice and the due process of law! To ignore the obvious will not make it go away! We must deal with it! How many more, Black men and police officers will have to die before we do? When will enough be enough?  

Update: Since the original writing of this post, it has been reported that the police said the officer who shot Mr. Kinsey in the leg was actually aiming to shoot the autistic man! Likely story! At any rate, even if he was, he should be fired and in addition to charges of attempted murder, he should be prosecuted for poor judgment, not listening, and being a “bad shot!”