what can brown do for you?

I don’t have anything to add to the national conversation on race, but here’s how I see it. I don’t think I truly appreciate the cloud of suspicion and harassment that black men experience. This fall one of my students, a large black man, was late for class. When I asked where he was, he shrugged and said he had been pulled over while driving on the East Beltline. He didn’t get a ticket. He was simply the wrong color, in a large. He didn’t think much of it, because it happens often, which seems grossly unjust. No wonder some black men seem to have a chip on their shoulder. Who wouldn’t?

I don’t fully understand the black experience, but I am determined to listen. And I’m wondering what it would look like for the body of Christ to take the lead in racial reconciliation. Especially given the heat the church is beginning to take on sexual issues, this one seems tailor made for the church to regain some cultural respect. Admiration from the culture isn’t the most important thing, but it may open doors to the gospel. Regardless, we do this because it’s right and because we love our brothers and sisters.

It’s easy for white and black people to spot the problems in each other’s community. We each tend to think that God sees things our way. We forget that neither one of us has God’s perspective. Jesus isn’t white or black. He’s brown.

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  1. If you’d like to experience some of what this is like, invite your student to ride along with you (in the passenger seat) through a nice neighborhood sometime. You are likely to be pulled over for “a tail light out” (though, mysteriously, it will be working properly when you check later). Your passenger, though not driving, will be asked for his license, too. After all, there’s only one possible explanation for a white man driving around with a black man: your passenger is a drug dealer.

    I pray that God uses these recent events in Ferguson and elsewhere to wake up white Christians to realize that oppression still exists and there are still gross inequities that the church is uniquely capable of solving, particularly by demonstrating the unity in the midst of diversity we have in the body of Christ.

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