Some Reasons We Don’t Like to Talk About Race

One of the things I get very excited about as I consider the opportunities before MPVCF this year is for us to engage in respectful dialogue over the issue of race. (BTW, I received some helpful input that “racism” can be a buzzword for all races and that it may be more appropriate to describe our opportunity as,”cross-cultural communication.” See above.) In this season of Lent it would be great if we took some time to think and pray about how we, as individuals and as a church, might make a way for an open respectful dialogue to take place?? What follows is a blog from a second-generation Korean-American who is a pastor named Eugene Cho. The name of the church is Quest Church and it is in Seattle. Please consider his thoughts…

One thing that is clear to me is that the church is quite silent. We talk often of reconciliation that’s necessary between God and humanity but need to keep pushing forward about how our faith informs and transforms our relationship with one another.

In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3.28/The Message)

Why is racism such a difficult topic and issue — including for Christians? Well, here are some of my reasons:

  1. It’s hard work. And people can be lazy. And talking about racism is an exhausting conversation because it brings up some deep questions. Reconciliation is hard work.
  2. Something called ‘Life.’ There’s lots of other things going on — umm, like the financial recession.
  3. Confusion. People don’t like confusion. Folks like clarity and certainty. We like answers.
  4. Conflict. People don’t like conflict and, well, the conversation of racism provokes conflict and strong opinions.
  5. Fear. People are afraid. Afraid to consider the possibilities that we’re racist, prejudiced, or implicated by our silence. Afraid to consider that we live as victims in a “victimized” mentality. Afraid to consider that we need to “give up” something. Afraid to “count the costs.”
  6. Apathy. People don’t care. We’re apathetic. And this is probably the scariest reason.
  7. What? We don’t think it exists. What racism? What prejudice? And this is probably as scary as #6.
  8. How? People don’t know how to talk about racism. We don’t have an agreed upon framework to engage the conversation and move toward peace and reconciliation.
  9. We want to forget the past and just “move forward.” It’s over. Heck, Obama is president. It’s a new day.
  10. [Insert additional reasons].

The topics of racism, prejudice, and reconciliation are indeed painful conversations. While I don’t necessarily believe that the answer lies exclusively with the church, I do believe the answer lies with the gospel. It lies ultimately with the message of ’shalom’ that God intended for humanity to live in fellowship with God and with one another — because we are created in the image of God.

Check out this video about one way we can engage the discussion about racism. Far too often, we end up implicating ‘the person’ leading to lots of anger, confusion, and defensiveness. Many times, it’s best to isolate the act and begin from there.

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