Friday, August 27, 2010

Dreams of Racial Unity

These thoughts have been rolling around in my mind for weeks and I am just now feeling like it is forming into a post. And honestly, I'm scared to post this because I know I might get some hate mail. But please hear my heart... I love America and it is my deepest desire that we would continue to be that beautiful shining city on a hill...a country that is a beacon to the hurting around the world. Not a country that is hurting each other from within.

It's no secret that I'm not a fan of Obama. However, when he was elected, I experienced a brief feeling of joy that we, as a country, had risen from the depths of black slavery to electing a black President. I hoped upon hope that his election would prove to the African Americans of this country that the majority of Americans are not racist and that racial unity would improve dramatically.

Sadly, this has not been the case. Rather, the racial chasm seems to have only grown wider.

My heart has been heavy as I have watched it play out in the news. I see so many African-American leaders speaking with great anger at what has been done to their people in America over the past few hundred years. And they are correct that African Americans have endured horrible treatment at the hands of white Americans in the past. However...

I recently came across a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King and I was so struck by it. And I realized that his dream has not truly been fulfilled. He did not only dream that his people would be accepted, but that they would rise above what had been done to them. That they would go down in history as over-comers...a people to emulate because of their amazing ability to forgive and not retaliate...to live the best possible 'revenge' by being happy, healthy and productive DESPITE what had been done to them. A people to put on a pedestal. Here is his quote:

"Our actions must be guided by the deepest principles of our Christian faith. Love must be our regulating ideal. Once again we must hear the words of Jesus echoing across the centuries: 'Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, and pray for them that despitefully use you.'...If you will protest courageously, and yet with dignity and Christian love, when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will pause and say, 'There lived a great people--a black people--who injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.'"
--Dr. Martin Luther King

Yesterday, I saw Martin Luther King's neice, Alveda, interviewed. She is a gracious, lovely woman who radiates an inner peace. She was taught by her father (who was murdered) and her uncle Martin (who was murdered, as you know) to forgive her enemies. And she has done so with God's strength. She has chosen not to enslave herself to hatred, even though it would be understandable from the perspective of many. She loves God and she knows that our only hope is in Him. She is truly free! We need to pray for racial unity in our country and that God would give African-Americans the ability to overcome their history here by being able to forgive the atrocities that have been done to them. Then they will truly be set free...set free by the grace of God that enables all of us to be over-comers. We owe them our prayers. Because you know what?

We can never make it right.

We could never pay back the horrible debt. Even if we made each African-American a millionaire, it would not ease the pain at the core of their beings. No, it is a debt that can only be forgiven for THEM to be set free of the pain. White America could throw money at the problem and think it has been fixed, but the pain would remain. Pain does that. It stays unless dismissed. It stays and ferments. It gives birth to more pain, bitterness and misery. That is why Jesus asked us to forgive. It wasn't for the perpetrator to live in peace. It is for the VICTIM to live in peace. As long as we hold onto our pain, we give the perpetrator our lives.

And they are usually unaware of it.

Jesus asks us to do the hard thing (to forgive and have inner peace) rather than live the harder thing (to live in misery, anger and bitterness).

It's a pretty good trade, don't you think?

May each of us lead the way in our personal lives by forgiving everything done to us.

"So Christ has really set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don't get tied up again in slavery..." Galatians 5:1

"...if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." John 8:36

11 comments:

Lori said...

Wow, that was really powerful, Karin. And I agree 100%. I don't at all see how this could possibly be offensive to anyone because it's plain, simple, and TRUE. But sadly there are a lot of people (of ALL races) who want to always blame others for their pain, whatever the true cause is.

Holly said...

I love you Karin :)

Kimberlie said...

I love that you had the courage to write this and it's true, we can never make up for the past, and in thinking that we can, we further open up the divide between us. I tell my children to always ask for forgiveness when you have done something wrong or hurt another person. However, I tell them it doesn't mean that other person will forgive. We do not have that power. Only they have that power and we must accept that. But our Lord says, "Forgive as I have forgiven you..." Maybe some day, we will all learn to forgive each other.

Tesseraemum said...

You are sooo Awesome!! I will be referring my bi-racial friend who is a middle school teacher your post. She sees alot of division in her kids and spends alot of time saying just what you said! Preach it sister!!

Sharon said...

Karin, that was very well written and I totally agree with you.

Cari said...

Your post does take courage to write, and you are right on! Forgiveness leads to healing and restoration. Probably not until heaven will we really see this.

James, Dawn and Family said...

AMEN!

Susan said...

I hope that this does not qualify as "hate mail," but rather as a different opinion.

I agree 100% with what you said about forgiveness, it is to help the person who does the forgiving and not the person/people who are forgiven.

However, I believe this post misses the point that African Americans (and other people of color) still experience racism, making forgiveness not just an act of letting go of past actions, but an ongoing burden.

To me this post minimizes the feelings of African Americans and places the responsibility for racial reconciliation on their shoulders, while leaving white Americans guilt-free and with "no responsibility here whatsoever."

Again, not trying to be hateful, just offering a dissenting point of view.

Karin said...

Susan...thank you for pointing that out. I didn't address fully the white American's responsibility--but yes, of course it is totally wrong to mistreat anyone--especially to mistreat someone because of their race.
I didn't mean to imply that racial reconciliation is all on the shoulders of African Americans. My point wasn't really to racial reconciliation as much as desiring to see true freedom for African-Americans. My heart is just deeply saddened that they continue to live in such anger because it is hurting them more than it is hurting the ones they hate. Those of us who are white Christians should not be engaging in any mistreatment of anyone. Ever.

L15eg said...

I enjoy reading your posts. My mom is a friend of one of your friends (in Granger).

I hope you don't mind, I quoted some of what you said on my facebook. It was very inspiring, and after spending some time in Africa, both Liberia and Kenya over the last three years, I see such a difference between the way most Africans and African-Americans deal with racial issues. Forgiveness heals. I wish everyone would realize and accept this truth as MLK preached and so many of my friends in Africa (who have lived through civil war) have found healing through forgiveness.

Deb said...

I love this post. Love it. I agree money isn't solving the problem. And never will. Neither is white denial that a mere 50 years ago, we had Jim Crow. (sigh) It will take time to move on and it is hard to accept.
Many, many blessings to you.
Deb