Racism In Contemporary America
Reflections On Race In America
I moved from South Africa to the US a few years after Nelson Mandela was released from prison. For the five years preceding his release, I had ministered in my country in a fusion of praise and protest. Worship and justice was not a slogan, it had become my life.
God had commissioned me, in a time of worship, on the fourteenth day of a twenty one day fast with my local church, to become a champion for justice in an unjust system. But before I had chance to get going, he spoke again, on the final day of that fast, telling me that South Africa would change in 1990, and that he would send me to America as a continuation of what he was about to commission me to do in South Africa. He went on to say that I would live in America when it was more dangerous to live in America than South Africa, and that my involvement in South Africa's movement of transformation would serve as preparation for a role he wanted me to play, later in life - that of a father and a mentor to a younger generation who would prophesy into the world in a time of international crisis. (See the blog "Merging Two Parallel Movements").
I did not hear an audible voice, but it was exceedingly apparent that God was speaking. My goodness gracious me, it has been fascinating to see history unfolding. In February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison, all political parties were unbanned, and all political prisoners were set free. I moved to the US a few years later.
It has felt, increasingly, like I moved from South Africa to South Africa, excepting, in my old South Africa, we knew we had a problem. Legislated racism meant that there was no place to hide. Prejudice was out in the open - both back and white. But the preservation of white privilege was also out in the open. It required honesty and humility to contemplate the domino effect. Long story short, learning to get into someone else' shoes was vital for survival.
In my new South Africa, we live in denial. Well, let's put it this way, an embarrassingly large percentage of white people have not given much time to think about the ripple effect of the preservation of white privilege. Learning to get a view of the lay of the land from someone's else's vantage point is not something highly prized.
The events of these past few years are causing everything to be brought out into the open.
The time is ripe for God to grab the attention of a number of his people and begin speaking to them about becoming agents of healing and transformation.
Here is a poem, by a key contributor to this exchange, about his experience in this season ...
Atrocity of evil
Awakening of heart
Awareness of injustice
Acceptance of reality
Acknowledgement of complicity
Admission of wrongdoing
Absolution of sin
Advent of hope
Activation of reconciliation
Approval of cause
Announcement of solidarity
Ryan Flanigan (Liturgical Folk)