By DAN HALL
One Christian wrestles with Black Lives Matter
As we recognize and celebrate Black History Month, I want to wade into the very controversial discussion of Black Lives Matter (BLM) and its ubiquity in our nation. Yep, I’m going there. But before I do, let me lay a little groundwork.
I have been working proactively in race relations since 1986. That’s a drop in the bucket compared to stalwarts like Dolphus Weary and Ed King. But my perspectives are not formed from cable news or retweets — rather, I’ve wrestled through the quagmire of race relations not only here in Jackson, but Louisville, Kentucky and Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida. My children collectively have nearly as many black friends as white … the kind of friends that hang out at our house and vice versa.
To better understand the complexity of BLM and its cultural impact, it’s important to delineate what it means through three different lenses:
First, there is the SENTIMENT that “black lives matter.” There is no doubt we’ve made tremendous strides, though with great resistance and consternation at times, since the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But 57 years is not very long to undo 250 years of slavery and another 100 years of institutional marginalization and suppression. So while we celebrate our advancements (and we must!), we have to recognize there are long strides left to make (and we must!).
As a rabid pro-lifer, I understand the sentiment when my pro-life friends say, “All lives matter.” As founder of the Jackson Police Chaplaincy, I understand when other friends say, “Blue lives matter.” But I think they’re missing the point that there are many ways black lives have NOT mattered for the majority of our history, and the residue still negatively affects the black community.
Many godly people feel the weight of this disparity, and their sentiment that “black lives matter” highlights a particular inequality that they believe needs to be corrected.
Second, there is the MOVEMENT of “Black Lives Matter.” This lens is the collective gathering across many ideological, racial and social lines that have coalesced around the SENTIMENT we just discussed. The majority of what we see regularly is the MOVEMENT of BLM. Many conservative parents are mortified that their children have participated in a protest march or have said anything positive about BLM. This reaction is understandable, but primarily because we don’t understand the delineations. As a parent, I’m proud that my children want to make a difference, even if we don’t always agree on some of the nuances.
Finally, there is the ORGANIZATION Black Lives Matter. This lens is what most conservatives and even some liberals fear. Without going into excessive citations, the founders of the ORGANIZATION are proudly Marxist and make known their intentions of social disruption. Well, that scares me too! I don’t apologize for adamantly disagreeing with some of the organization’s core principles.
Why delve into this? Because we live in such a divided society driven by social media banners, commentators posing as journalists, and the refusal to listen. May I offer three suggestions that may help us navigate these incredibly uncertain times:
Don’t defend your position before you hear the other perspective. Too often, we’re so scared of losing ground that we don’t listen to those we believe are wrong. I have friends from many political, social and religious perspectives. We rarely change each other’s minds, but my life is richer because I understand where they’re coming from.
Don’t judge a person’s character based on one position. It took me a long time to embrace as Christians friends who differed with me on abortion. Or to decide that my friends believing socialism is a viable option doesn’t make them unpatriotic! I have a friend who believes my view of capitalism is morally bankrupt; we’ve given each other a lot to consider. I disagree vociferously with them, but again, I feel richer knowing them.
Don’t assume you’re right just because a lot of people agree with you. History is replete with majorities being wrong. When we only watch one cable network or read one perspective, we risk mental and emotional atrophy. Allow yourself to be challenged.
If any people should demonstrate disagreement in love, it should be those of us bound together in Christ. I’m grateful for ALL my Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are … ahem … wrong! (Boy, I hope people understand ironic humor!)
Dan Hall is an executive and strategic coach to leaders and executive teams. He also works with organizations on team building, conflict resolution and communication skills. He and his wife, Hazel, have six children and four grandchildren. You can reach him at Dan@OnCourseSolutions.com.