Today I had the pleasure of being invited to North Park Univeristy in Chicago to share during a panel discussion and follow up Chapel Chat. The topic centered on our aim to reach the moral excellence of racial reconciliation and justice.
The message comes from this passage:
“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.
In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,”
2 Peter 1:3, 5 NLT
We were asked to briefly respond to the following prompts. The following is a copy of my speaking notes.
1) What did I witness this past weekend that is a direct threat to moral excellence, something that does not reflect God’s character well.
It’s become increasingly difficult to watch not only the way my ancestors were enslaved, but also the fabrication of a mild and sannatized history of this country that minimizes and justifies this evil.
I’ve begun to see how capitalizism and industrialization have driven and benefited from the theft of Indiginus land and the enslavement of Black Americans. In school I remember being taught about the invention of the cotton gin as if it suddenly made things better for everyone when in reality it multiplied the need for slave labor. The birth of the industrial revolution in the US was something that I never realized happened at the cost of enslaved people’s lives.
When we think about repentance and how to turn from our evil ways, it’s not simply a matter of “Forget to forgive”. In the spirit of Sankofa, we genuinely have to look back and correct the generations of false narratives. We have to address the ways that we have dehumanized and undervalued the contributions of people of color to this country. We have to own the erasure of our suffering and oppression. We must begin to use our history as a lens — to see where we – both individually and collectively – continue to participate in this legacy of abuse and injustice. Then we can turn from our evil ways begin the healing of our land. (2 Chronicals 7:14)
2) What keeps you striving for reconciliation?
I center myself on the example of Jesus. I see his incarnation as the embodiment of the direct response required for reconciliation. It’s not easy, pretty, or convenient but it’s essential. Speaking of Jesus, Hebrews 12:2-3 says “… For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame . . . Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
People come against me for speaking out about injustice. I’m often accused of “perpetuating racism” and “dividing up the races” by exposing and challenging how white-supremacy still has a locked grip on our culture. There are times where the verbal attacks and calls for violence against me can be discouraging. But then I am reminded of the example of Jesus, who when he spoke folks were ready to throw him off a cliff! If that’s the expected response to radical truth, then I’ll have to wear my parachute while I cry loud and spare not! Dismantling oppression and abuse culture matters. I can’t afford to let it go unchallenged. I realize that at the core of the Gospel is the message of liberation and reconciliation – we can be restored and I’ve been equipped with the Spirit and with Truth do the work of restoration.