Not long ago, I found myself in the blazing crossfire of a spirited debate. The question was whether the effects of slavery, institutional segregation, and racial discrimination still lingered on in the American society?
This question was brought into a sharp focus again this week as we celebrated the 50th year anniversary of the March on Washington, which vividly dramatized the shameful state of racial injustice during those times.
Symbolically, they had come, as Martin Luther King, Jr. put it in his powerful ‘I have a Dream Speech,’ “to cash a check” on the “promissory note to which every American was to fall heir.”
The commemoration eerily shadowed by recent National News like the tragic Travyon Martin incident, the New York Police ‘Stop and Frisk’ tactics, the senseless beating death of the 88-year-old World War II veteran in Spoken Washington, and many other racially-laced news, are tell-tale signs of a nation still struggling with a blight on our national conscience. This insidious mindset of racial inequalities or the absence thereof, still lurking in the heart of a Nation under God, formed as the beacon of freedom, liberty and Justice, is troublesome.
In a time like this, our memories are violently jogged by the Voice of God through the prophetic voice of Martin Luther King, Jr., about our Nation’s perverted thinking that one color is superior to another. The call then was for a confrontation designed to bring us to our knees, and challenge us to CHANGE OUR MINDS about Racial Equality.
This call still reverberates, 50 years later!
So why does this national wart keep coming up?!
Those in the ‘it’s-all-over-let’s-move-on’ camp often display a lack of empathy. This betrays their discomfort of, and refusal to lean into our ugly past long enough to recognize there is a problem, let alone start seeking real solutions.
The ‘it’s-still-happening-today’ crew’s exuberance in seeing the racial discrimination demon behind every bad behavior and quickly pointing them out as proof that racial hatred and its’ attitude still exists, shows a knee-jerk reaction that equally fails to effectively address the issue.
These simplistic positions alarmingly polarizes us while exposing our poor understanding of the deeper historical and social issues, tainted by our fallen human nature desperately incapable of any good.
Although I’m still learning, I’ve gone through a deep transformation in my thinking.
We can’t even begin to address this unless we admit there is a problem. Then we can continue with a willingness to lean into this uncomfortable past with an honest dialogue, maybe something like South Africa’s ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’.
Importantly, any solution that does not include intentionally gazing into the face of our Creator, and seeking His design for the harmonious coexistence of all races and peoples, will yield insignificant results rendering The Dream a taunting nightmare.
What are some actions we can take to deal with this seemingly stubborn attitude of racial injustice?