A plea for truth and mutual respect

I don’t have any black friends. I’ve known a few blacks as fellow students, coworkers, neighbors…even one who was almost a sister-in-law. But none that I have gotten to know well enough to call my “friend.”

This is likely one of the reasons why I have been largely disengaged from the conversation on race in America. Though I did post a short series on racism last year after all the unrest over the death of George Floyd had begun, my general lack of personal familiarity with the experiences of black people has meant, for me, a general lack of thoughtful consideration of those experiences.

But listening to a few recent episodes of the podcast Winsome Conviction made me realize that I should not neglect to humbly examine my attitude about race, as well as make an effort to try and understand what it’s like to be black in America. Unfortunately, much of what is being said and done today in supposed support of black lives is, I believe, really counterproductive to fostering equality and understanding between the races. Nevertheless, this segment of the population, as co-image-bearers of God, deserves to be known, appreciated and understood.

The black men being interviewed on the podcast are Christians who came across as humble and honest, which inclined me to pay attention to and believe them. The rancorous, divisive demands of the loudest black voices today incline me to the opposite, as I’m sure to many others as well. Which is sad, because if we’re ever going to eradicate the lingering effects of slavery in America and Jim Crow, whites need to be able to hear from blacks who describe their experiences in a way that fosters compassion and understanding, rather than resentment.

And blacks need to pay attention to other black men and women who are wise, who love the truth, and who refuse to contribute to false narratives that are harming black (and white) people and destabilizing the country.

We’ve made so much progress in race relations since the days of Jim Crow, and I and many other whites want to see more. But there will be no more progress as long as truth, justice, and mutual respect are rejected by so many and hyperbole, manipulation, and vengeful hatred masquerading as righteousness are what white (and black) people primarily see and hear.

And there’ll be no real progress without God’s help. Pray with me for peace between the races and between the parties. Oh, how we need you, Lord.