This morning I’m trying to respond to the chaos in the world around me. Black men and women around the United States are furious about how the culture has systematically mistreated them. This discussion is nothing new. Yet even though we have protests and more every few years, things don’t seem to change much.
Some write about systematic inequality. Reporters talk about how blacks are less likely to get a loan than a white family. They talk about city planning initiatives that favor whites over blacks. I’m sure the list continues from there.
I know that many of the systematic issues are beyond what I can reasonably influence. So what is an area I can change?
What I can change
Well, I know I can change myself. I know I’ve made assumptions about men and women just because they are black. I pride myself on at least striving to treat everyone equally. I know that I make assumptions not only on skin color but how someone looks. I’ll be wary of a white person dressed all gangster just as much as a black man. But do I tend to profile black people more negatively?
The sad domino effect
There’s a sad domino effect I see. Black people are far more likely to live in poverty. Poverty correlates to drug uses and crime for white and black communities. So the effect is more often I categorize many of the black people I meet as in poverty and likely connected to one of its adverse effects.
I don’t want people to make assumptions about me.
I see two problems with this logic. First and most importantly, I would want someone to see me for me. Even if I were born in poverty, I would fight, and yearn for someone to see me on my merits and not just where I was born. It’s wrong and unloving for me to assume things I don’t know about anyone.
The second problem with my logic is that I fail to ask why more black people are in poverty. I know that poverty often correlates with injustice. Many people stay in poverty because of systematic prejudice against them. Many people also remain in poverty generationally. If your parent was in poverty, there’s a good chance you’ll stay there.
Somehow in some way, I need to advocate for greater justice for those in poverty. I need to speak up for initiatives that help those in poverty. I need to create these initiatives in my church. I need to use my voice and my pen to write in support of equal justice. I need to point out and highlight injustices.
It’s kind of my fault
I know that the generational poverty of many blacks in America connects back to slavery. If your ancestors lived in abject poverty, they passed this on to you. If your ancestors lived in an explicitly segregated society until the 1960s, they passed on inequality to you. The starting point for generations of black poverty is my ancestor’s fault.
So how do I live today to make some difference in this world?
I don’t know.
I do know I need to change.
I do know I’ve got the power to lead.
I do know God has called me to love Him and love my neighbor as myself.