Tuesday, January 6, 2015

A letter & racism: how to respond

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, on his blog Pure Church, has placed a letter from his niece Niecie, who was badly treated when she and her friends had a non-violent silent demonstration with signs that held up both the black community and the police. It was a tribute to all who had died. Niecie is an amazing writer as she expresses her feelings: her hurt and anger. Anyabwile's answer to her grief and anger is kind, pastoral and full of the gospel. I think it would be good for all of us to read this exchange of letters. The words will help us understand what it is like to be an African American in this country in too many places and how our faith could possibly, prayerfully, hopefully change that.

Here is a section from Niecie’s letter:

“As you can imagine, things took a turn [after people got out of their New Year’s parties]. As more people flooded the street from the New Year’s parties, they began to slow down at our vigil, then stop. Some were respectful, dropping their voices and even nodding in approval. But then people began to comment. Some were saying things like “F- the police!” Others then joined in with “F- Mike Brown.” Before long what started as a peaceful silent vigil turned into an ugly shouting match with drunk people staggering around and a lot of people getting in each others faces.

But the worst part was some of the racist things that were said. We were called all kinds of names. “Black monkeys.” “Nappy-haired B-.” “Go back to Africa!” One man in his 50s shouted, “Black lives only matter if they’re picking my cotton!” He called us “obsolete farm equipment.” One girl about my age went on with “Nigger” this and “nigger” that. It was bad enough being called that, but the way she spat the words was filled with the iciest hate. The mocking in fake “black voices and slang” was relentless.”

Here is part of Anyabwile’s answer:

“The problem is the racist and their heart of hate—not you. And that’s why you must never hate them. Returning hate can feel so logical, so natural a response to what you’ve received. And you can feel so justified because you’ve been mistreated. But it creates a vicious cycle, an unending loop of barbarity between people. Racists are to be pitied and loved, resisted and instructed, but never hated.”


Anonymous said...

It is troubling to see this resurgence of racism ever since we elected a black president. I had thought (hoped?) America was past that.

Jodie Gallo
Los Angeles, Ca

Viola Larson said...

Jodie, I think there has always been racism in the United States; we need to work on the problem a lot more.

will spotts said...

Viola - thanks for posting this.

Jodie - I thought the same thing.