One afternoon, I was in the midst of a group of people
having a spirited discussion on current events. We talked
about everything from global warming, to the White House
and everything in between. The discussion then changed to
the plight of the African American living in the United States
today. Piece by piece, everyone present gave his or her
opinions on the plaguing subject. One commentator made
the point that if black men would stop and think before they
react, there wouldn’t be as many police shootings of black
This is when the discussion turned into a cataclysmic avalanche. One by one, people challenged this way of thinking with varied questions, statistics and facts. As the discussion died down and everyone had a chance to make their points, a very thought provoking question was asked by one of the persons in the room. In a resonating tone she asked, “Do you think as a Christian that you should use your voice and speak up about the injustices we as African Americans face in America?” As if time stood still, the room fell silent. Pin drops could have been heard on the plush carpet. In my head, that question stayed at the forefront. Is it my duty as a Christian to speak out on the injustices we face? Is it my duty to bring awareness to those who don’t necessarily have a voice? If I am to speak out, what platform do I use so that it’s heard effectively?
In Proverbs 31:9 it says, “Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” Well, the Bible says it. Does that mean we are to do it? My very humble yet firm answer is YES. I believe in speaking up for those who are oppressed, those who can’t speak for themselves. If I were to witness a bully beating up an innocent kid just for satirical gain, I would step in and help that kid because of their inability to help themselves. If I walk away, I’m just as guilty as the bully or the oppressor. The same logic applies to speaking up for social injustice today. How could I see my brothers and sisters being shot like animals in the streets, being denied basic rights and I sit with my hands folded and use the generic excuse, “well I’m a Christian, Christians don’t speak up about things happening in the world.” Being a Christian isn’t about toting your Bible around, attending church, or being a judge, it’s about using your Christianity in a way that will minister to those in need. Jesus was not a person who sat idly by and watched those who were deemed the “rejects of society” treated unfairly. He spoke up! He exemplified love and compassion for the oppressed. He wanted everyone, no matter their socioeconomic status, their race, color, gender, or creed to be treated equally. If He did witness unfavorable treatment of the downtrodden, Jesus in His sweet calm voice would let it be known to their oppressors how this did not exemplify Christ like behavior.
A widely celebrated and civil rights legend who spoke up about the mistreatment and misfortune of the oppressed, is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. His message and appeal was simple; for everyone in this world to be created equal. Let’s sit and think for a minute. Martin was a Baptist Minister. In essence, it’s safe to say that he was a Christian. No, he wasn’t perfect, but he still was a Christian, nonetheless. What if he had said, “I’m not getting involved in speaking for these people? I’m a Christian and they should just pray and ask God to help those who are wrongfully attacking them.” What impact would have been made had he had that mindset? The answer is simple. There wouldn’t have been a positive outcome. Because Martin was selfless and went to his grave for speaking up, we have a lot of liberties today. His impact was so great that it touched other races and nationalities. I’m a firm believer that God had His hand on Martin Luther King. He gave him the strength and courage to speak with such firmness and eloquence. He gave him the knowledge to deal with those who thought their intellectual abilities outweighed his. After all, if it weren’t for God, Martin wouldn’t have had any success in his crusade. Martin was bold and brave. He had tenacity and endurance. Because of his boldness and sacrifice, he was able to help those who were drowning at the hands of evil men.
So, what’s our excuse for not speaking up? Are we afraid that our peers will ridicule us as Christians? Are we afraid that we might not progress professionally because we used our voice? Whatever it is that’s stopping us from being a mouthpiece for such calculated racism and injustice faced in America today, we need to take a second look. I always like to put myself in the shoes of others who are discriminated against.
What if I were that parent who received a phone call late at night about
my son being shot down by police just because he was “driving while
being black?” What if I were a child selling water, or lemonade and had
the authorities called on me because I was “selling while being black?”
All of these occurrences have caused me to regroup. One can only see
but so much happening within their community before action is taken.
Being labeled Christian does not exempt you from the quandary of this world. We’re all here, serving in various capacities, trying to make our communities better one step at a time. Serving your community encompasses making your voice heard on behalf of someone who can’t do it for themselves. That’s what’s so great about being in an environment where inclusion is the central theme.
As I turned on the news the other day, I saw immigrant children who are helpless, being placed in interment camps. Not only are they separated from their parents; they are scared and fear for their lives. As I watched this scene unfold, an immediate rush of anger swelled through my body! How can one theoretically think it’s okay to tear apart families, to break it down even more, separate children from their parent’s? This tactic is evil and the mastermind of the devil himself. This particular situation is a perfect example of the voiceless not being able to speak for themselves. One might argue that they’re undocumented immigrants who should have gone through the proper steps to become a US citizen. My rebuttal for that is simply this. In certain countries, unfortunately, people don’t have the same rights you and I have here in America. There are certain practices that are looked down upon. Something that we think is miniscule here in America is a big deal in other parts of the world. Who is going to speak up for these people? Who will help voice their concerns as they are facing major opposition from a corrupt and evil government? Many of the immigrants who escape from other countries genuinely want a better way of life for their families. They want a chance at the “American dream.” In all fairness, there is nothing wrong with wanting better for yourself or your loved ones. So, treating these human beings anything outside of love and respect calls for us to simply speak out for them.
I want to challenge you as a Christian. How can you make your voice heard with the race climate heating up here in America? What can you do to help stop the biases being transposed on minorities in this country? Is there something you can do? I believe there is. It just takes a little prayer, faith and action. That formula will be sure to give you a boost in the right direction.