Terence Crutcher. Keith Lamont Scott. Two more beloved dark-skinned children of God killed in the streets of US cities by law enforcement. Two more families devastated as they mourn loved ones dead too early, and dead unnecessarily. As I write this post, 706 people have been shot and killed by police in the United States in 2016 — and there’s three and a half months left in this year. That is more than two people per day! The Washington Post is keeping a count here.
This cannot be ignored. We are being destroyed by racism and we must repent of the sin of racism and make bold efforts to dismantle racism. There are books that make the problems clear from Bryan Stevenson’s “Just Mercy” to “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates. For too long, good, white people of privilege have thought of racism as individual acts by individual persons who should know better. However, racism is much more insidious — it is systemic; it is woven through the fabric of our society; it is perpetuated by decades long practices and beliefs. We need to see the disparate realities of living white in America and living black in America — when we see these clearly, when we understand why racism is so firmly rooted in our culture — then we can begin the long work of dismantling these systems of discrimination and oppression.
Here’s a list of things you can do now to help overcome racism:
- Educate yourself, read books by African American authors about what it is like to be black in America. Learn the statistics for incarceration rates and educational levels. Learn about economic disparities and the pre-school to prison pipeline.
- Support black owned and black run businesses and organizations.
- Diversify your friend circle. Who do you invite into your home? With whom do you socialize?
- Listen to people of color, believe people of color when they tell you about their experiences and feelings.
- Learn about implicit bias and even do some implicit bias surveys.
- Organize community oversight boards for police departments.
- Increase your intercultural competency.
Racism has been at work for centuries, it will take a long time to fully dismantle systemic racism. But though the task is daunting, it is worthy because #BlackLivesMatter.