With the emotions of sadness, anger and hopelessness that is affecting our nation right now; there is also restlessness, a feeling of not doing enough. A lot of people feel powerless as to how to fight for justice for George Floyd and the egregiously long list of black victims of violence to white authorities. And I am too. It is even true I have googled how to fix some of these issues. It is true we need a plan for justice. And we need a way to show black people and communities we care about them. We have settled again for posts, protests and conversations because these political, judicial and economic systems feel too big to change. But there is more we can do.
The Bible clearly talks about how God is grieved by oppression. Proverbs 14:31 says
“Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him.” Isaiah 1:17 has a similar message, “learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.” And throughout James 2 we see that faith without works is dead.
In these scriptures, we not only see God’s heart for the oppressed, but we see a call to action. While I want to grieve together in this time of upheaval, fear and uncertainty, there is a bigger issue at hand. Systemic racism invades our daily lives, and times of tragedy like these are just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some ways to show support for black people in your life, even when the protests stop and the news cycle changes.
Actively listen, then speak up to create space for relationships and growth
As brothers and sisters in Christ, we are called to carry one another’s burdens. This is a burden you may never fully understand but sit with me through it. I may ask questions and say things you don’t know how to respond to. Sit with me. Be there for me. And not just in one conversation that ends in a neatly wrapped prayer, but with the heart and willingness to continue to sit and listen. And as Christians this support should not stop at the church doors, we should continue this in our friendships and relationships at work.
A study by the New York Times reported that the number of African Americans in white-collar professions is staggeringly low. The result: “Doubts about the effectiveness of current diversity and inclusion programs are driving more black professionals to give up on the corporate ladder.” Eagerly listen and support the ideas and initiatives of black coworkers. Research has shown that diversity in businesses helps it to thrive significantly and gives everyone more satisfaction about the work that they do.
If you are a business owner, if you are an educator or school administrator, on any boards or leadership committees, if you have a position in healthcare fields, if you are a writer, or creative, if you are in politics, law, or law enforcement– speak up! Encourage us and work alongside us. Let us know we are valued and respected at the table, even if you aren’t in an employer position, your partnership matters.
Patron Black businesses
Now more than ever, African American business owners need your help. In a recent study by the Washington Post, COVID 19 “plummeted the number of working black business owners by 40%… steeper than any other racial group.” Protests are encouraging but they do not put food on the table. We need to be active in financial support and put our money where our mouth is. The Black Wallstreet app is a great way to find black-owned local businesses and businesses that sell online too. Even a Google search of your town or city’s black-owned business will expose you to more ways to support. When you find these places share them on social media and with your friends.
Partner with Black community leaders and Pastors of predominantly Black churches
I have no doubt that there are injustices against communities of color every day that do not make the primetime news; things that happen down the road from your neighborhood. How will you know how to help all of your brothers and sisters? By doing life with them.
If you go to a predominantly white church, engage with black people in your church and people from predominantly black churches. Invite some people for dinner who do not look, think or act like you. Go on walks on a Saturday morning. Or just talk on the phone during the week. Share life and share struggles with people who have completely different lives and struggles than you. And get to know them as friends and equal image-bearers of God, not as projects to be fixed. Partner with churches in communities of color and black community leaders. Allow them to lead the way because they know their community’s needs. Galatian 3:38 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Building these relationships is an ongoing action we are called to live out daily to unify Christ’s body.
We know that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12. We hold on to the hope that Jesus still changes hearts filled with hate and prejudice through His word and through the Holy Spirit. And we know that He will right all of the wrongs of this world. We pray that happens quickly so that real justice can take place. But as we pray for these things, remember, as a Christ-follower, we are called to do more than just pray and discuss. Let us also strive today for His kingdom come, and His will be done, on earth as well as it is in Heaven.