As I conclude a beautiful weekend of celebrating my two African-American sons; one graduating from high school and one graduating from college, I must admit that I feel a sense heaviness. I look around the world and I am grieved. I am grieved by the reality that the world may not look at my sons the way in which I do. I see young black men who are on their way to doing great things in the world. The reality is that many people in society see them as threats.
The world is talking about the George Floyd murder. The. World. Think about that… the world is talking about how in the United States black men are murdered at the hands of law enforcement and even at the hands of regular citizens. With all of the talk around the most recent murder, my mind is all over the place. My mind is on my sons. My mind is on my nephews. My mind is on my godsons. My mind is on my male cousins. My mind is wondering how people can be so full of hate that they see no problem killing a human being because of their skin color. My mind is wondering how people can believe a person with color has no value.
When these types of cases occur, social media fires up. People (mostly African-American) make posts about the atrocity of the murder. Rallies are held to bring light to the unfair treatment that took place.
For this case with George Floyd, I see a little different reaction. This time around, I see more people of other races speaking out about unwarranted murders of African-Americans. I see organizations speaking out as well as celebrities. As the outcries go out, history says there will be many more black men killed. Regardless of the social media outcry and the raised voices at rallies, it continues to happen.
My mind then goes to wondering about a solution. Let’s turn from the outcry that this is just wrong to how we prevent this from ever happening again. One way to make a difference, is to apply strong consequences for hate crimes, regardless of who it is… police officers, citizens, etc. Perhaps people won’t be so quick to murder minorities if they knew they would have to pay for the crime. Another solution that could be quite powerful is for those who truly disagree with discrimination and racism to stand for what is right. When your “friends” begin to talk negatively about another race of people, you speak up and challenge their beliefs.
Aside from those solutions, my mind goes to how do we change the ideals of racist people. The root of racism is the heart. Hatred sets up camp in the heart. Negative thoughts about a whole race of people is housed deep in the heart. So, then I ask… how can you change a person’s heart.
There is only one person who can truly change someone’s heart…. and that is God Almighty. Scripture says, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14
I have heard this scripture a lot lately applied to the concerns in the world about the COVID-19 pandemic, but this scripture covers everything that is happening in the world. It covers pandemics, famine, racism, drought, crashed economies, etc. So, if racism is a heart issue, then only God can change things and only God can heal our land. If you are a Christian and you believe God’s word, you must humble yourself (knowing we need God), pray (talk to God about it), seek His face (seek God for who He is… the all-powerful God), turn from your wicked ways (acknowledge there are some parts of you that aren’t quite right). THEN God will hear us, He will forgive their sin and HEAL OUR LAND.
So, are we truly tired of these atrocities? If so, we have some work to do… on our knees. Prayer truly does change things.
Paula Patterson is a Superintendent of Schools who shares practical points on leadership.