MLK Day: Some thoughts on Race
Our nation sets today aside to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. One purpose for doing so is to slow the pace at which emerging generations forget the import of people like him. For any blog readers who aren’t familiar with King, stop reading right now and go watch the “I Have a Dream” speech. Or read some portion of Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
I remember – as a young boy – working for my grandfather, taking a lunch break at my home, and wondering why my co-laborer Harmon ate outside. It wasn’t that my family would not invite him in. He wouldn’t COME in. It just wasn’t “done.” Welcome to the Deep South in the mid-60’s. Today I have some thoughts on the matter of race. Some might make you uncomfortable, but – quite frankly – I’m ready for the day when we are mature enough to deal with that.
- Racism is sin. The notion that pigment determines worth is sin. Clubs, and pools, and jobs that exclude someone because of color might be legal, but they are still repulsive and sinful.
- That gate swings both ways. I have trouble with the conflict between Dr. King’s dream speech and the existence of exclusively black entities: Ebony Magazine, BET, Miss Black America, etc. Maybe somebody can explain it to me and change my mind, but I thought the goal was to be color-blind.
- Prejudices exist. They just do: Blacks are lazy, Mexicans are all drug-dealers, Southerners are stupid, Yankees are jerks, Church people are judgmental. Offended yet? Asians are camera and computer nerds, Atheists all hate their fathers, Home-schoolers are socially backward. Comedians make handsome coin exploiting those unfair stereotypes. And you know what? Good. I think it’s about time we lightened up (<-NOT a veiled racial pun there) and laughed a little at the whole thing.
- I’m tired of the race card. My definition of “playing the race card” is to drag the issue of race illegitimately into a debate. There are two problems with it. One, it causes all real thought to cease. It is a game-stopper. In doing so, it also stops potential progress toward understanding each other and resolving differences. Secondly, it dilutes the ability to address REAL racism. I’m tired of it, AND I’m tired of the guys who hog camera time whoring themselves out to it.
- I wish our church was more diverse. More blacks are coming (I don’t like hypens), and that thrills me. Reaching our community doesn’t mean reaching only those who look like the pastor. I want us to look like Heaven will look – all kinds of colors.
- God uses imperfect people. If you dig deep enough you can find some alarmingly imperfect things about Martin Luther King, Jr. Now, re-read that sentence and substitute your name (or anyone else besides Jesus). MLK Jr. was not the only hero of the civil rights movement, but his righteous-but-imperfect life fitly personifies it.
And that means God can use you. God can use your imperfect life. God can use your imperfect attempt to reject racism and prejudice. God can use you to make changes in your network of influence that ripple outward righteously. Worth a try, isn’t it?