If we benefit from injustice, then we do not deserve justice ourselves.
On July 4th we will celebrate our country’s freedom from an oppressive monarchy. Our brave forbearers knew that liberty was more important than safety. They risked everything so that the 13 colonies could become a nation which ruled itself. They knew that with representative democracy comes contention, argument, and compromise. When a people do not have a king, they must decide among themselves how things will be. Majority rules. But our forbearers were very aware of the need to preserve the rights of the minority. The majority can become oppressive and deny even basic rights to the minority.
Many of us, being European Americans have enjoyed what is called “white privilege” but could also be called “majority privilege” or the privilege that comes with power. We have not lived with fear on a daily basis because of the color of our skin. We may have been ostracized, taken advantage of, humiliated, threatened, or killed, but not because of the color of our skin. We see as normal what others do not enjoy at all. And not only that but we have done a poor job throughout our history of protecting the rights of racial minorities. Take for example: native Americans, African Americans, the Irish, Latinos, Chinese, Japanese, and the list goes on. It is not a history to be proud of. But what we can be proud of is how we, as a nation, have the ability to change. In my own lifetime I have seen attitudes change and laws change, and rights restored, and apologies made.
I know you are not a racist. I am not either. But we white folk have enjoyed a status not enjoyed by others simply because of the color of our God-created skin. That is not just and needs to change. But first comes admitting we are wrong. We are wrong to benefit while others suffer. We are wrong to expect rights for ourselves and then not allow them for others. The first step we must take as white people is to acknowledge our part in this whole unjust system. We must admit now that Black lives matter, because for so long Black lives have not mattered in the sense that these people, simply because of the color of their God-created skin, have not lived with the rights and freedom that white people live with.
If we are not all free, then we are not, any of us free. Our Declaration of Independence declares it in its preamble: “…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” When we, as a society deny those rights to some while preserving them for others, we not only go against our own founding documents, we work against God.
If our religion does not set us free, then it is not from the Risen Christ. Our freedom comes from God. And as Christians it is only when we are free that we can truly love. As we live out that love in our lives and in the freedom God gives us, as we remember, repent and restore we will be part of the long overdue change. Then, and only then, will we live in the freedom God intends for us all.
Pr. Bob Albing