An Open Letter to my African-American Friends

Racism, PeanutsDear brothers and Sisters:

I wish to begin by declaring my love and respect for you. I am thankful for you and for your ministries. In many ways, each of you have had a profound influence on my life and ministry.

I also wanted to share with you a concern of my heart. As you know, I am on a journey of discovery. This journey is important to me because I desire to model grace and to mirror the heart of my Savior. I recognize that there are issues pertaining to race in my community. I know that my ancestors treated black Americans as lesser beings, failing to honor the Imago Dei (Image of God) that your ancestors bore. This was and is wrong. It is horrible and while it was culturally acceptable at the time, it should have been recognized as wrong. I also recognize your claim that latent racism exists in the systems of our culture and community. I don’t see these as readily as you do. Understandably (I hope), your perspective is far clearer than mine in these areas…but I am learning. I do not recognize myself as part of the systemic problem nor do I desire to be there. I want to honor you as a fellow Image-bearer. I want you to know what I believe in my heart…we are brothers and equals in every way imaginable. I feel no sense of superiority to you. If anything, perhaps the opposite is true.

Still, I ASSUME that there are things about my life, my actions, and/or my thought life that may hold to a racial bias. Thought I would adjudicate myself innocent of this, my judgment alone is not sufficient to pronounce my innocence. Only God can know and judge my heart.

One thing I ask of you and I pray you will hear me out. I know that you are angry over the injustice you see. I know that there are things that occur that you earnestly believe are related to racism. I get that. At the same time, when you speak of the culture as racist, or the white community as racist, or the system as racist…I accept some of the weight of that personally even though I do not see it in myself. Yes…I FEEL as if you are calling ME a RACIST! Perhaps you are. If so, I hope to prove your assessment wrong. If, however, you are right, I want to learn better. Doing so requires a willing spirit on my part and I must confess….that is far more difficult to do when I hear you call me a racist. When you immediately declare RACE as the reason you were pulled over, passed over, or looked over…I hear you say that all people who are not black (including myself) did that to you. This immediately places me on the defensive.

This is my pledge to you. I will not assume you disdain me because I am white. (This too is racism). I will defend you at every opportunity if others mistreat you because of your race. Further, if I am acting as a racist…I want to know. Please…I “give you permission” to call me out biblically if I am in error, or if you perceive me to be in error. If I am wrong, I will admit it and seek your forgiveness.

But, please, help me keep the conversation going. Please don’t see racism in everything that occurs. Sometimes you’re pulled over simply because you were driving poorly. Sometimes you are looked over simply because others are distracted. Sometimes you are passed over for promotion at work..simply because there is someone who is more suited for the job.

I love you. You are my brothers and sisters. I want to do meaningful work with you. Help me address the injustices shown toward you, whether by me or others. Let’s address it together, as family…in Christ.

Peace.

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