Bridges – Stepping Forward with Lilka and Andy

How can I hope to bridge the gap and promote meaningful conversation in regard to race? What pre-conceived notions do I need to leave behind in order to bridge the gap? How far across the bridge do I need to walk? What conversations are pertinent and necessary right now to bring unity to a hurting and divided nation?

Lilka, Andy Oldham and I have been having a conversation about this since Lilka’s last letter. We want to step up our conversation and include more people. So beginning in January, our letters and posts will be under a new Category called Bridges. This month, we welcome you to add your suggestions for topics for us to address. This month, Andy will add his voice to let you know who he is. We hope and pray this will both expand and lift our conversation. Please let us know if you’d like to be a regular contributor and feel free to extend an invitation to others to be a part of the discussion. And mostly, thank you to those who have already contributed your thoughts and your heart.

Dear Lilka,

You wrote an extremely important and impactful letter before Thanksgiving. Aside from the Scripture you included, three things stood out to me I’d like to address.

1) I don’t believe everyone who voted for Donald Trump is racist.  2) Our “one nation under God” has spent far too much time placing our hopes and dreams in a person and not enough effort in reverence and obedience to God.  3) I do believe that obeying God’s commandment to love Him and love one another would be a definitive step in the right direction… Love can conquer hate.

First, two things I hear from white people unwilling to look within or uncertain of the meaning of racism are, “I’m not a racist,” or “Black people are racist, too.”

Based upon the definition of racism (below), black folks cannot be racist. It is only white people who can be racist. People of color can be fearful of white people, they can be angry with white people, but they cannot be racist.

Racism: a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others.

©RobertMankoff.June20,2016, The New Yorker

©RobertMankoff.June20,2016, The New Yorker

Thirty years ago, I had to take a long, hard look at myself in the mirror. After a couple of negative experiences with Pakistani men, I concluded all Pakistani men were like them. I carried those stereotypical, racist images with me for more than ten years. I was convinced I was right. When I finally awoke to the ugliness within me, I was shocked and humbled. I always considered myself the furthest thing from a racist. I was wrong.

 

 

Based on the campaign words of our President-elect, some fears are well-founded. The question remains, will his actions reflect those words or his words of promoting unity and being a President for all people?

Careless words stab like a sword, but the words of wise people bring healing. (Proverbs 12:8)

Second, as each Presidential election year rolls around, we who call ourselves Christian become agitated and angry as we create idols out of those who vie for the office of the presidency of our country. We then attach ourselves to those same idols and worship them to the point we quickly forget the true Author of our lives because we packed Him away with last year’s Christmas ornaments.

How can we tell if they have become our idols? We allow our anger to consume us. We let fear run our lives. We refuse to offer compassion, grace and mercy, particularly to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

Be careful not to let anyone rob you of your faith through shallow deceptions and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Focus on the things that Christ is concerned with, not worldly things. Lift your eyes; see things from His perspective. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Finally, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. (Philippians 4:8)

Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by discrimination or hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace. These seeds are like seeds sown into fertile soil. (James 3:17-18 [Mark 4:8-9] The Voice & The Mirror)

Third, when we love instead of label, we do what Jesus asked of us. He told us to love more than any other thing. It becomes obvious when we read His words – the words in red letters – and if we are faithful to Him, we cannot deny His instructions to us. For if we deny them, we deny Christ.

Our President-elect is not an ideologue. He is a pragmatic, secular, visceral individual who reacts to events, flattery and slights in the moment. He does not know God. But all that does not matter if we know God. He may yet surprise us, just as he surprised us by winning the election.

pakistani-suspension-bridgeTo me, it matters not who our President is. It matters that I remember to pray for him. It matters that I remember to pray for and write to my representatives in Congress to ensure justice reigns. It matters that I continue these conversations – uncomfortable though they be – because if we close ourselves off, we will find ourselves “back there” again. It matters that I continue to walk across the bridge. And I will continue to ask you all to open yourselves to new and different information, to watch documentaries like “Rikers,” by PBS and “Thirteenth,” (Critic’s Choice Best Documentary Award, 2016) on Netflix.

Now more than ever, we must be known for our love and our willingness to promote unity. We must be known for our willingness to hold our hands out in grace and forgiveness. We must be known for our eagerness to step out onto the bridge.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

24 comments

  1. […] This post is being written as part of the Bridges group, seeking to close the divide that is creeping into our society.  I want to thank Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael for their work on this project and for inviting me to be a part.  For more information you can CLICK HERE  . […]

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  2. […] This post is being written as part of the Bridges group, seeking to close the divide that is creeping into our society.  I want to thank Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael for their work on this project and for inviting me to be a part.  For more information you can CLICK HERE […]

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  3. […] This post is being written as part of the Bridges group, seeking to close the divide that is creeping into our society. I want to thank Susan Irene Fox and Lilka Raphael for their work on this project and for inviting me to be a part. For more information you can CLICK HERE […]

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  4. Great points, Andy. Love your heart, brother. I also loved Pete’s honesty.

    I would be willing to contribute when I can. My interest in this subject would be in the area of following Jesus (instead of being a “Christian”). I think being a “Christian” (our traditional understanding) has actually contributed to the race and hate problem.

    Blessings to all of you for doing this.

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    1. I agree with you, Mel. Following Jesus is the answer, for it is He who has shown the love, grace and mercy we need to include, to gather in unity.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Correction Andy, My apologies Andy and Pete.

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  6. Folks being totally honest with you,I cannot see some of the issues you have put a label on such as all whites are racist simply because they are privileged
    .privileged
    1.belonging to a class that enjoys special privileges; favored:the privileged few.
    2.entitled to or exercising a privilege.
    3.restricted to a select group or individual:a privileged position.
    4.Law.not rendering the person making them liable to prosecution for libel or slander, in view of the attendant circumstances.not requiring any testimony concerning them to be presented in court.

    I have found in life there are many folks today that when looked upon seem privileged. My son use to say when we where out in the business truck hey dad see that guy in the mercedes he was probably born with that money he is privileged. I reminded him that some people spend long hours in college and work several jobs in order to be privileged, honored,considered before others. If today A man or woman of different color being white ,black to whatever applied for a job,posiition or whatever and was qualified they would be privileged to have it before the other. Not because of their skin color or declined the job because of their color.

    What gives any individual the right to expect to go before others simply because of the color of their skin or what other may or may not have done to them? Why not call the Spaniards or Africans that sold and favored in- slaving God’s people first, racist and privileged ,more than anything they devalued the brothers and sisters even more. Yet today some get on a band wagon against only white folks.

    I have no problems discussing the topic as it is a real issue. However to label it against one race of people is blind in my heart.

    What about the NFL player that gets out of the car and sticks his head in a car of a white man and is killed. Is the white man racist.The media is already trying to set him up as he was wrong. Sad totally sad this man is dead, no one should have to die a senseless death for something like that.Yet look who got out of his car and stuck his nose in some one else’s car. A black NFL football player. You don’t do that, you might get shot and he did. Its not that he is black or the guy that shot him is white. It is some seriously lost people.

    Society and you good folks want to talk about it. Why not get up and just change your life and talk about the real issue of sin in folks life. labeling white people racist and asking them to apologize for something most of didn’t do, or because they work hard for a job is counter productive and will not yield fruit.

    A police officer shot a black man awhile back. It was on the news this morning. They have been having his trial.He is white. They showed a tape of the officer shocking the guy, then the guy gets loose and runs off. The officer shoots him in the back and kills him. They found him innocent. I am flabbergasted. In my eyes how is a man running from you a danger to you or anyone else. I felt they were wrong. However so was the man for running and failing to cooperate with the officer.

    Needlessly this man is dead. Is the cop a racist because he is white and the guys black. Not in my eyes, he is over emotional and out of control and killed a man.Has nothing to do with race. Almost every day a black officer arrest detains and some days shoots other black men. Cops scare me and I am white I don’t even want to be pulled over by one. They are to nervous and have guns.

    My point is from the beginning of time man has took others as slaves. Some where black taking blacks some whites taking whites. So where is the cut off on lets go get them and make them pay for what they did or lets call them racist and label them. Hey I got a ideal lets call it the 19th century.They have been doing since God’s people where taken captives Its not right. Where they racist? No they where lost and broken is why they felt they could do that.

    Any day after that they are definitely racist because they are white and only whites can be racist. All that makes me feel real good. No to me it has always been and still is going on today. We are in slaving children and women as sex slaves. The ones that take them devalue their lives.Many folks today are in bondage to sin and lost to Jesus. I call it sin so does God. However when you know the Lord you are set free. No man although he chains you can own you. You have already been bought and payed for. I am white and I have had both black and white people look down their noses at me. I intercede for them. They are broken. I never judge and say well they are not saved, even though I might care for their opionion. I don’t call them racist and they need to apologize. They are not going to. Not until they know my Lord. Lilka is not black she is God’s creation and happens to have black skin. It does not define or identify her. Her identity is founded in Christ and always has been.

    No if you want to talk about it as racism and its whites fault you want get far in my opinion. It will have to be a topic of sin and brokenness, then you could plow some ground up. Just my thinking.

    I will be contacting some of the other brother and sisters in my area soon. I will call on their congregations and offer my love to them. I will remind them that satan has had us divided way to long, today is the day we walk across that bridge and meet. Not because of what we did in the past or do tomorrow, that will always be with us. We will do it because its what God wants. Until we do that we will not be. whole and united but broken and scattered. God never intended for it to be hard for us to do. We have to become Christlike and mentor others to be Christlike. We have to unite in deeds of kindness and encourage each other. Lets go and make disciples for Christ and set the world ablaze with the anointing of the Holy Spirit that is in us. Then we want talk about race. We will talk about Jesus. Thank you for letting me share my thoughts,Lilka ,Susan and Pete.

    Much Love Tom

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    1. Tom, I have read through this carefully three times now, and what I have gleaned from this (and please correct me if I am wrong) is you believe three things: 1) none of this is an issue of racism, 2) it is all an issue of sin and brokenness, and 3) in order to turn it around, we must put aside issues of “racism” and a) be more Christlike ourselves and b) focus on bringing all people to Christ so the hateful behavior is transformed.

      So let me address each of these beliefs in turn, if not in order, and let me begin with something you said in the middle of your response.
      “Society and you good folks want to talk about it. Why not get up and just change your life and talk about the real issue of sin in folks life. labeling white people racist and asking them to apologize for something most of didn’t do, or because they work hard for a job is counter productive and will not yield fruit.”

      First, let me be clear; we are nor have ever asked for an apology from anyone. It is not about fault. It is not about labeling. It is simply about recognizing the problem. Second, I am not labeling all white people racist; I was only attempting to clarify the definition of racism. Third, I don’t think talking about racism – particularly institutional racism – and talking about sin is an “either/or” proposition. I believe we need to talk about both. As I said in a reply to a comment on Andy’s blog, “if we don’t actively engage in these discussions, we will deny the problem exists. Seeking answers or solutions to problems never masks or whitewashes a problem; ignoring the problem does.” Please understand Tom, my intend is not to lay blame or find fault; it is to find solutions and unity.

      So let me give an example. If someone you know is an alcoholic, would you simply bring the Gospel to him? Or would you also attempt to get the person to understand there is a problem and encourage the person to seek help for the problem? Because as long as the person is drinking, they will not be in a position to hear the Gospel. Once they are sober, they will “get” the love and grace you have been talking about. Yes, in the moments they are not drinking the Gospel will help them decide to get sober, but both issues must be addressed. You cannot ignore one for the other.

      With institutional racism, a white person who goes into a large apartment building and fills out an application for an apartment at the same time a person of color fills out an application for the same apartment doesn’t even know he has privilege. Yet, eight times out of ten (as with a job or an application for a loan), the white person will get it over the person of color. Is that sin? Yes. It is also racism. I think we must address the roots of both through the love and grace of God.

      Thank you as ever for contributing your thoughts to this. If we aren’t honest with each other (sometimes from opposite sides of bridge), we cannot hope to meet in the middle. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I am going to pray about this. You do the same Susan. That I can see you good folks side in this. I will in turn an the Lord to open my heart and mind to what you all are sharing and pray for you to also see my point in this. It is the way I believe the Holy Spirit is putting it on my heart. Not that he can’t do things in more than one way. I always appreciate what folks try do so in order to build unity. Thank Susan for your reply.

        Much love Tom

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      2. Tom, I think we are closer on this bridge than you may think. I definitely respect and see the points you have made on this and I am praying, too. I want you to know that I believe the Lord always comes first in everything.
        Much love, Susan

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      3. Haha that’s why we love each other so much. Disagreement does not mean we cannot love honor and respect sweet sister. I am still praying for a heart that listens and open to the Holy Spirit.

        Blessings to you

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      4. 😀 Love you SO much, Tom.

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  7. “Love instead of label.” That is what was came to my thoughts.

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    1. That’s what we need to remember, Susan.

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  8. “Love instead of label.” You’ve made so many good points here Susan but these words are really the gist of the matter. I’ll meet you on The Bridge.

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    1. Thank you, Lilka. I look forward to your letter next week. Love you, my sister. ❤

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  9. Reblogged this on B is for Blessed! and commented:
    Feel free to join our conversations. The dialogue continues…

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  10. […] via Bridges – Stepping Forward with Lilka and Andy — Susan Irene Fox […]

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  11. I would like to be a part of this conversation. As one who admittedly does have racist tendencies, I would like to overcome them and be more moderate in my thoughts and feelings toward people of different ethnicity. I hope to learn, and perhaps have some things to contribute.

    Your statement that black people cannot be racist caught me off guard. I can see the truth of that when I look at the definition you used. I looked it up as well, and found a similar definition that said “having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another”. While I can’t say that I know any black people who think white’s are superior, I do believe their is a prevailing thought that white people have more privileged in our society, and that fuels a lot of the racial tension that we see. And this thought of privileged is true from what I see all around me. My question would be does this feeling of white privileged make black people feel like the are inferior? Does it cause them to lash out when they perceive an injustice has bee done? Is this in essence a form of reverse racism?

    Another interesting word I looked up was bigot, as I always thought it was similar to racist. The definition of bigot is a person who is intolerant toward those holding different opinions. When I see people rioting in he streets over an election, or over a judges decision on a particular case, is this bigotry? Is bigotry as bad as racism, or akin to it? Maybe I can be called a bigot for my views on rioting after a court decision, but it seems that those rioting are not labeled the same when they are intolerant of my view point. I have a lot to learn about this very important topic.

    By the way, I did vote for Mr Trump for two main reasons. The Supreme Court and the direction it will take under both candidates was the first. Having the court tip to he left would be disaster in my eyes. The second reason was the abortion issue I simply cannot support a candidate who believes a baby can be killed right up to the moment before it is out of the womb naturally. You are already seeing Mr Trump back down on some of the rhetoric of the campaign. and I always believed that rhetoric was just his way of getting the medias attention more than his personal agenda, and it worked brilliantly. It is going to be interesting to watch how his administration shapes things in the coming months.

    Again, thanks for tackling this subject, and I look forward to further posts.

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    1. Lots to respond to here, Pete, and I will do my best to cover each subject except one. Abortion is a hot-button issue I feel best discussed under an entirely different post. I think you will agree.

      First, let me address the term, “reverse racism.” It is a term invented by the right-wing majority when they are called out on racism and discrimination. It is rhetoric, often political in nature, used to discredit anti-racist efforts. Racism is not simply prejudice or bigotry; it is far more complex. In the history of America, racism is institutional. In America, white people do not face discrimination when we apply for housing, a loan or a job. We do not face discrimination in the court system, or get longer sentences for the same crime. That is the racism people of color face in this country. There is no “reverse racism.”

      Why don’t we have a White History Month? Because history and language textbooks have included our history ever since they were written. The history of people of color did not make it into history books until I became a teacher in my early 40s – and that was only 25 years ago.

      Second, I absolutely agree with you about rioting. Violence is never the answer. Peaceful demonstration is guaranteed in the constitution as free speech – as is flag burning, by the way, like it or not. As is taking a knee during the national anthem. As is any type of hate speech, unfortunately, unless it is specifically said to incite violence.

      At the same time, can you understand the anger of people who, time after time, see police officers acquitted for taking black lives?

      The important point I’m trying to make is, instead of reacting, instead of labeling, instead of thinking what we always think, let’s take a step back. Let’s take a breath. Let’s make a commitment to try to see the other person’s point of view, to try to see past the initial reaction into someone’s thinking, into someone’s hurt, into someone’s heart. I keep repeating myself, but if we refuse to do this, we will never, ever move forward.

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      1. I couldn’t agree more Susan. I think we need to have empathy with those facing a society that does discriminate by Nature. And I’m happy to take that step back and look at myself. I know I need to change my attitudes and my perceptions. And I’m asking God to help me and hoping this discussion will open my eyes a little more to what is going on in the background that I haven’t seen before. That movie you sent me to Netflix was eye opening to say the least. I thank you for that. I look forward to Future discussion

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      2. And thank you, Pete, for being willing to take a look, and for watching the movie. I must always take a step back, too, and ensure I come from the love of Christ and not my own agenda.

        Thank you for bringing your own questions to the discussion – how else will we ever be able to look in those corners and round them out into a circle of love and acceptance?

        Bless you, my friend, for your honesty and openness. ❤

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    2. Glad you are going to join us Pete!

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