“Where you from?” asked the lady that I was checking in at the front desk a few years ago. I gave the usual explanation of being a mix of French Canadian, Black Canadian, Metis, and Scandanavian, which I understand is a mix that’s not that common. The look I got was a slight look of disgust.
A guest post from Jordan Majeau. Responding to racism in churches with honesty and his request for action.
“Oh…so, you’re a mutt.” was her reply, and then she added. “But you’re so well-spoken. I’m amazed.”
I’m very proud of my roots, and I know that I am loved by all sides of my family. I love that I have dark skin, green eyes, and the history that gave me them. Yet, I am both angry and sad at people like this woman.
These are not my everyday interactions in public, but they do happen from time to time.
Sadly, it’s an expectation that I have, and while it’s disappointing, I’m not surprised.
This disappointment, though, is much more painful when I see racist attitudes and evidence of white supremacy in the church that continues unchecked.
Since the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, I’ve observed a variety of responses from those who would identify as Christians. Genuine remorse, concern, outrage, and desire for change. I’m grateful to see the majority, at least in my feeds, are in this category.
Another response has been the typical “I wish everyone would just live in peace, all lives matter!” I don’t think I need to explain why this response isn’t helpful, but I know the hearts of many of these people, and I don’t believe they intend to harm. They are well-meaning and given enough time, I think they’ll come around. Honestly, I give these folks a pass, and I’m willing to work with them on this. Please know that this is my response to the second group, and I’d encourage you to not expect this same response from other people of color.
Then there is a small category of Christians. They lead off the conversation with “All Lives Matter!” and then it’s usually followed up with “Black Lives Matter is just a left-wing conspiracy created by the media!”. I read a post this morning from an individual, who attended the same Bible College that I attended, who indicated that the modern-day KKK is not a legitimate threat to minorities. These folks are sitting in the pews on Sunday morning. If you gave them a theology exam, they’d probably ace it. Sadly, they’re comfortable with white supremacy.
No Room For Racisim
I know a lot of pastors, and some of them have posted some very direct clear messaging around racism. Which is great! The message has been, “There is no room for racism in our church. We stand alongside the black community, indigenous people and other people of color” For what it’s worth, I believe them, and I don’t doubt the sincerity of their hearts. You’ll forgive me, though, if I have doubts about their resolve. If it’s true that “There is no room for racism in the church,” what exactly will happen to those in the third group I’ve outlined? Will they be confronted? Will they be asked to leave?
When someone comes to church leadership with a complaint about racist behavior, what’s the process that will be followed? Will that person simply be told, “We’re a big church, and that means we’re not all going to agree on some things, you need to take the higher road and respect them just like we respect you. We don’t get involved in politics, we’re just here for souls.”
You cannot make a statement that says, “there is no room for racism” and expect that statement to not cost you anything.
I’m Still Here
Last year I read Austin Channing Brown’s “I’m Still Here,” a very challenging book to read. There’s so much truth when she remarks, “A white woman asked me how she can support racial justice but without any risk. I have bad news. You can’t choose justice and the status quo.”
In the last three weeks, I’ve had a small number of friends ask me, “Is there anything I can do?”. I have thought about it, and here is my request. If the first story I told at the beginning of this post bothered you, deal with racism wherever you have influence. If you’re a person of faith and your pastor/faith leader has made a statement of support for Black Lives Matter, please hold them to it. Our indigenous brothers and sisters have been asking for genuine help for generations. New Canadians are dreaming of a welcoming Canada, let’s not let them down. Make room for them and dismiss those who would rather keep all the space for themselves.
That’s my request. Thanks for reading
APPLICATION: Please leave a comment below for Jordan. How are you taking action? How is your church taking action?
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