Brothers In Conversation About Race (Part 6)

Walter spoke about the need to cross racial borders in order to produce some form of reconciliation. Honestly, that would be the end result of any conversation about race –we come to a resolution where everyone is humanized. The Gospel calls for such revolutionary actions to be normalized. But, borders are instituted by people when they do not want others to enter their space. So when we think about the possibilities of reconciliation, especially, when considering crossing racial borders, we must be extremely clear of the danger of entering into spaces where your skin color has been weaponized and framed you with a malicious intent. I would pose the question: Does our need to be reconciled have to come at the price of being harmed?

Therein lies the issue of race that appears to reshape the conversation. For black people, there are no spaces of safety in a narrative controlled by racism. The narrative called (a)merica has redefined the humanity of people of African descent, and any time some of us enter in to what Kelly Brown Douglas calls “cherished spaces,” we must assimilate or risk being terrorized.

 I am not as hopeful as Walter that these places for border crossing will ever happen in (a)merica. Authenticity must be foundational for reconciliation to be probable, and I am not sure how authentic people can be when their power is on the line.

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3 thoughts on “Brothers In Conversation About Race (Part 6)

  1. Brian, you asked, “Does our need to be reconciled have to come at the price of being harmed?”

    I suppose the answer to this question is determined by what you mean by “being harmed”, as well as who is harmed? Reconciliation to God and to one another, the creation of one man from two in Christ, came at the cost of Jesus Christ being crucified. So, yes, in this sense, reconciliation cannot happen without harm, first to Jesus Christ who was fully God and fully man, and then, in some sense, to each of us.

    We feel harmed, perhaps even violated, when we lay down our rights for the sake of others. The demand of the gospel is that men will die to self by faith in Christ for the glory of Christ. This death is always painful, and always “harmful” to the pride, ambition, and desires of those who once were by nature children of wrath. So, in a sense, racial reconciliation, which can only truly happen in through the gospel, results in “harm” (at least on some level). A problem (rather than “the” problem) with the divide between the white majority in America and people of color is that fact that very few white people – even Christian white people – have been willing to suffer harm to enter into the experience of minorities.

    If by “harm” you mean that people of color or even white people have to die or suffer loss or endure insult or be maimed in order for racial reconciliation to happen, I suppose the answer to that question is also, sadly, yes. We live in a fallen world groping in deep darkness. The unfairness of this plight is found in the fact that white people are all too willing to allow people of color to be the ones who suffer “harm” as we pursue reconciliation rather than choosing to enter into their experience. The majority wants the minority to accommodate their preferences and experiences, rather than vice versa. This is what happens when the majority holds the power. It is not right or fair or just, and it ought not be, but that is, tragically, the way that it is, at least for now.

    But in less than 40 years white people, particularly white males, will no longer be in the majority. Whether or not white people will continue to be in a position of power, despite their minority status, remains to be seen.

    I do wonder if, when the day comes that people of color are not the majority, that the expectation in that day will be that reconciliation will only come at the price of the new minority being harmed? Will it be time for the white majority to pay the price for centuries of injustice, particularly towards black men and women in America? Will the new majority – even people of color who profess faith in Jesus – demand that their oppressors now share in the experience of people of color by subjecting them to an oppressed minority status?

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