The colonial history, the legacy of enslavement, racial subordination and segregation, racial terrorism, and racial inequality in the US remains a serious challenge as there has been no real commitment to reparations and to truth and reconciliation for people of African descent.—Statement by the United Nations on Racism in the U.S.
Recently, I had a conversation with a Jewish man in which I compared the enslavement of Jews in Egypt to the ordeal of Africans in America whose ancestors were brought to this country in chains and sold into slavery. I asked him how Jews have been able to transcend their own enslavement. He admitted that slavery for Africans in America was 10 times worse than for Jews in Egypt. He went on to say that one thing that helped Jews move beyond their past was the fact that the old slave generation died out in the wilderness, and was replaced by a new generation that knew no slavery. They got a new start, so to speak.
Africans in America a.k.a blacks are not there yet. A legacy of slavery still mars generations of blacks who continue to be marginalized by American society despite the anomaly of electing a black president in 2008. The United Nations recently took note that black people in the U.S. still face daily reminders of their slave past, even generations later, in the form of subtle and sometimes not so subtle societal discrimination, inequality, injustice and racism that is exclusively based on their skin color. Unlike Jews, blacks can't hide who they are, not that they should have to. It's America's image of black people, and blacks own self-image that must change. For that to happen, hearts must also change.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. —Ezekiel 36:26The growing controversy over the Black Lives Matter movement sends a clear signal that hearts need to be transformed on both sides. Some have chosen to view Black Lives Matter as negative, divisive and racist, even though the movement's founders have stated otherwise:
#BlackLivesMatter doesn’t mean your life isn’t important–it means that black lives, which are seen as without value within a white supremacy [structure in America], are important to your liberation. Given the disproportionate impact state violence has on black lives, we understand that when black people in this country get free, the benefits will be wide reaching and transformative for society as a whole...
This is why we call on black people and our allies to take up the call that black lives matter. We’re not saying black lives are more important than other lives, or that other lives are not criminalized and oppressed in various ways. We remain in active solidarity with all oppressed people who are fighting for their liberation and we know that our destinies are intertwined.—Black Lives Matter statement of purposeIn times past, when blacks in the U.S. organized to achieve parity within the bounds of the majority white society, such groups were targeted for destruction by the government, and their leaders neutralized—i.e. Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, Whitney Young, Martin Luther King Jr., George Jackson, Fred Hampton, Angela Davis and Huey Newton, And so it is with the new Black Lives Matters movement, purposely labelled a terrorist group by some to set the stage for its eventual demise like all the others before it. And that could happen unless America changes course and is convinced of the positives that could come from embracing its racially divided past, righting the many wrongs it's done to blacks, and opening the door to economic opportunities for this oppressed group. Telling blacks they should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps while you still have your boot on their necks holding them down is disingenuous. When Black Lives Matter, we all benefit, and we all matter.
Undoubtedly, blacks must also be accountable for their own actions. For Black Lives Matter to really matter, the black community has to come together and police itself. Black futures are being decimated by self inflicted wounds from black-on-black crime, drug addiction and trafficking, illiteracy, joblessness, juvenile delinquency and a broken family structure of single parent households. Not that these things aren't occurring in other communities, but the numbers for blacks are out of proportion to their percentage in the population. Destructive forces, counter-productive attitudes and behaviors within the black community need to be called out and stopped no matter who's doing it. No longer should those persons committing crimes against black people be ignored and given safe haven to do more harm. If Black Lives Matter they must matter first within the black community, and to their own people.
if they pray to me and repent and turn away from the evil they have been doing, then I will hear them in heaven, forgive their sins, and make their land prosperous again.—2 Chronicles 7:14But it doesn't stop there. Likewise, good-hearted whites must not keep silent when racism continues rear its ugly head in private or public conversations, within institutions, media reporting, commercial images, jokes, comments and so on. To do so only serves to perpetuate and pass down the vestiges of prejudice that divide this country. For America to be made whole, blacks and whites must coalesce to expose and root out the bad apples among us. No doubt it will take a committed village to do it, but it's not an impossible task. In the end, it will be worth it, and a win-win for the generations to come.