Editors are constantly encouraging me to develop a catchy introduction that captures readers’ attention right away to encourage further reading. And so when I was thinking through sharing thoughts about why writing on race and ethnicity can be difficult, I literally thought I’d just skip the introduction and get straight to the facts. Why do that? Because writing about race is so incredibly hard. Some even go so far as to question the need to read and process material about race.
I have been told that speaking and writing about race could hurt my ministry. That publishers may not be able to publish me because my “platform” would be hindered by my communication on the topic of race. But for me, it’s more than a topic. Race, racial reconciliation, racial harmony, you name it, is about people made in the image of God. It’s not a topic that I can just ignore. And, as a black female in predominantly white spaces, I face the reality of my ethnicity every single day. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s simply reality.
“We are in 2017 and, surely, we are all past the race issue,” I’ve heard. My short answer is “No,” we aren’t past these issues. People are still quite unaware of the struggles of various members of our society. Even just recently, I shared a picture of my husband and I as we both lamented and celebrated the 50-year anniversary of the legalization of interracial marriage. Many of my friends didn’t know that something so precious as interracial marriage was illegal in our country at one point in time (and as recently as 50 years ago). I imagine that for those who became aware, they also gained a deeper understanding as to the pain that many African Americans continue to feel in this country. Fifty years wasn’t that long ago.
So, I continue to speak and write about this topic not because it’s near and dear to my heart alone, although it is so important to me, but because I believe wholeheartedly that this “topic” is a gospel issue and that the church, which I’m a member of, must speak up about it.
God cares: The Word addresses ethnicity extensively. Genesis 1 through 11 seems to focus rather intently on developing creation and establishing cultures. We see God rebuking racism in Numbers. Head over to the New Testament and God establishes that the gospel is for all nations and on the last day all nations will be present worshipping Him. I am only scratching the surface of God’s Word about his love and thoughtful creation for all people. He cares deeply about all nations and tribes and tongues. This is a great motivator to continue to write about the subject of race (and I would say for those who aren’t writing, to read). God does not discriminate.
It’s important to Jesus: There are probably several verses I could draw our attention to in order to demonstrate the importance to Jesus, but I can’t help but think of the most overused, but oh so rich, verse in the Bible. John 3:16 is rich because it sums up the gospel and includes the profound words, “God so loved the world.” Jesus died for anyone, specifically for “whoever” believes in Him and places their faith and trust in His finished work on the cross. Jesus gave his life for the nations, for anyone and everyone who believes! Go on and read the gospels, Ephesians, Galatians, Revelation; shall I go on? You will find the gospel–you will find Jesus. You will also find the wall of hostility has been broken down in the body of Christ– there is one new man. Jesus does not discriminate.
I write and speak, even in hard places, because I am convinced this is important to God. I write and address these topics because, until Christ’s return, strife among nations and people will continue. And maybe in some small way, writing will help advance understanding. It’s not easy but my prayer is that it might inspire others to move and speak because so much is at stake. Perhaps a catchy introduction will help hook readers, but I believe it is the gospel that will cause our hearts to be knit together in a way that only God can do.
I’d like to invite you to join the conversation. How can we all learn to gain a better understanding of each other? How do you think the gospel applies to this conversation?
This isn’t a topic left to the public, news sources, and/or politics, rather this is a topic that the church must not only take up, but be on the forefront of engagement. It’s about people – all who have been bestowed with the gift and honor of being made in the image of our God.