It still holds true, at least in most of the congregations I have visited, that Sunday morning is one of the most racially segregated times in American culture. It is easy to look at an individual, dig into their history, and cherry pick incidents that highlight their individual racism. But maybe we focus too much on the speck in our neighbor's eye. When we blame just one officer we ignore the police department, our schools, our economy. We ignore our complicity in sin.
If we really want to address racism in our community, we need to address racism in our own lives and recognize our complicity. (Note, I am writing this as a white, heterosexual, middle-class male who grew up in the suburbs, and now lives in Columbus).
I have sinned.
I benefit from this ongoing sin.
The world suffers because of my sin.
Lord Have Mercy.
We see racism manifest itself everyday, but many of us have the privilege to ignore it. It is easy to walk into a nice YMCA in the suburbs, and assume that everyone has access to these services. But the diversity is eye opening - even for YMCA's within the same network. Jobs might be available in communities that lack public transit, so anyone without a car is out of the running - despite their qualifications. Grocery stores continue to set up and grow in certain communities, overlooking neighborhoods that desperately need access to healthy food. Race is a factor in all of this. Not because white people or black people are inherently evil. Instead, it is a factor because it always has been in our country, and will continue to be until we intentionally address it.
Currently, black kids in Ohio are twice as likely to grow up in a low-income home than their white counterparts. Will solving the economic inequality solve all racism in the United States? No, but we must address all the aspects of racial bias in America holistically if we want to address the problem.
Low Income Ohio Kids (as a Percent)
The log in America's eye continues to be our refusal to address our racist history. We built our country with a faulty foundation, on the backs of slaves and the blood of Native Americans. We must engage in intentional efforts to deconstruct public policies, social norms, and our cultural identity that allow this collective original sin to continue to be perpetrated against ourselves. Then, we can rebuild our nation to be stronger and more just.