Sickening. Grotesque. Twisted. Evil. Ignorant.
Those are just a few of the words that I would use to describe the display of hatred that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville.
To say I was surprised, though, would be inaccurate. Last week, before hundreds of white men and women showed up in Charlottesville to march and intimidate people simply because of their skin color, I was well aware that racism still pumped through the veins of our nation.
I’ve witnessed it, I’ve lived among it, and sadly, I’ve been far too apathetic about it. In fact, I want to repent today for how indifferent I’ve been.
As I was praying over the weekend about what I could do in response to Charlottesville (other than praying), I remembered an incident that happened about a year ago.
My family and I were on our way back from vacation and as I was pumping gas an older man approached me with a smile and made a comment about the shirt I was wearing. It was a shirt sporting the logo of my favorite college basketball team and I guess he saw it as an opportunity to make small talk.
My tank eventually filled up but as I walked away the man said something that caught me off guard.
“Yeah, I like your team. I just wish they would play more white kids.”
I didn’t really know how to respond. So, I didn’t. I climbed into my car and drove away. But the statement he made stuck in my head.
“I just wish they would play more white kids.”
I could make excuses all day.
I could pretend he didn’t mean what he meant. I could say that I was trying to avoid an argument. I could act like I was just trying to be peaceful and polite.
But that’s exactly the problem. All of those are excuses, and none of them help solve the problem.
It makes me sick to think about it, but that man could have assumed my silence was an endorsement or acceptance of his view. By ignoring and overlooking the blatant racism, I was effectively perpetuating it. Had I voiced my true feelings and been brave enough lean into the tension, I would have at least shined a light on the issue.
I’m not so naive to think that this blog post, or any other digital call-to-action is going to cure systemic racism or prevent evil acts of white supremacy. But I do believe in the truth of Matthew 5:15.
“Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.” Matthew 5:15
Right now is the time to shine the light of Christ. Not simply on an external “issue,” but on the inner workings of our own hearts and those hearts we influence.
We’ve allowed racism to fester under the surface for far too long.
Learning to recite the preamble of the Constitution in grade school doesn’t equate to understanding equality. It’s a principle that must be protected, fought for, and handed down.
I don’t know what “shining a light” should look like for you today, but it’s time we as the Church do so.
It’s time to repent of indifference and apathy.
It’s time to have conversations with our family and our children about prejudice.
It’s time to stand up and speak out when we’re faced with racism, regardless of how subtle or overt it is.
It’s not someone else’s problem. It’s our problem.
If the events at the University of Virginia don’t hit close enough to home for you, then take a moment to read these interviews from some of the college students who witnessed it. Imagine if it was your daughter who opened the blinds of her dorm room over the weekend to see a group of torch-carrying white supremacists chanting racial obscenities.
There’s no room for bigotry or racism in America. And there’s also no room for apathy.
We all have work to do, and for every single person, it begins by doing something. If we do nothing, rest assured, nothing will change.