06 September 2013

Overcoming the Racial Divide

The airways have been riddled with race talk in recent months. It’s troubling to endure a dialog that’s more like arguing than constructive discussion. With the Trayvon Martin case demanding center stage and more recent cases in the news, I continue to be saddened by our lack of progress concerning race relations.

I was born in 1961, right in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement. I remember my grandfather using the N word with no shame. Thankfully his son, my dad, did not continue the disgusting habit. Even as a child I sensed its hateful nature and rejected its demeaning tone. I grew up liking African-Americans and have been acquainted with a few along the way. But when I look country-wide, I realize we have a ways to go.

In church on a recent Sunday, my wife and I attended the overflow room, which only holds about 125 people. As the praise music began and church goers poured in looking for seats, I noticed a larger number of African-Americans than usual coming in. One family had 8 members. One Black gentleman sat next to me and there were at least 3 other Black couples.

As we sat through the service, I couldn’t help but think of the History of the Black American, especially in the USA. How they’ve been treated in the past, ongoing challenges and the current debate that dominates the airways. My heart swelled with all kinds of emotions; sadness, compassion and even honor as we sat in church together.

When it came time for us to stand up and shake hands with those sitting around us, I shook the hands of a Black gentleman beside me and one in front with a vigor that was mutual. It was as if we both knew that we were there for a higher cause, a common cause that rose above the pettiness of racial conflict.

The room included many Hispanics as well as we seemed to exemplify the melting pot America was supposed to become for all people, all races. The color of our skin is not supposed to matter, and it didn’t matter, except to demonstrate the variety of God and his creation so wonderfully on display in that little room. The love, grace and power of God had simply settled the argument with his presence alone.

I walked out of church that day reminded that Christ Jesus is the answer to our prejudice, our discrimination of others and our immature love for only those who are just like ourselves.