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The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial (with the Washington Monument in the foreground); Washington, D.C.

 

This past Saturday, my wife and I had the opportunity to watch “Selma”. Before the trailers for other movies began, my heart was encouraged to witness the diversity in the theater: culturally, ethnically, and generationally. I saw white couples, black couples, white teens, black teens, interracial couples and clergy. Contrary to some media reports, we were about to watch an American movie, not simply a black movie.

After watching “Selma”, I was moved to tears for several reasons:

1. The Activism of Young People

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a young man who was driven by a resolve to see injustice confronted and all Americans be treated equally and fairly under the law. He could have left the leadership reigns to someone else. He could have abandoned the cause for the pursuit of writing and staying in the shadows. He made a different decision. He made a deliberate choice to sacrifice himself, his family, his friends and a “comfortable” life for the inconvenience of real change. But, it was not only Dr. King. The countless young people who joined their parents’ generation to fight the good fight was stunning, convicting, and remarkable in scope.

2. The Engagement of Men and Women of Faith

When the call to march and action was summoned, men and women of faith from across the country and the world joined in the effort. This diverse group of men and women risked their very lives and “reputations” for the sake of the Gospel. Their brave acts served as a template of what faith in action looks like. Coupled with reading historical accounts for years, the visual representation of “Selma” brought the truth of community to life on screen in a poignant manner. They lived what they preached. They lived what they sang. They lived what they taught.

3. The Courage to Move Forward

“Selma” was not only a movie about a march over a bridge for voting rights for all Americans. It was a movie that stirred up the consciousness of the viewer to have the courage to move forward. We cannot deny the strides that have been made in our country and abroad as it relates to racial reconciliation. Nevertheless, we cannot sit on our laurels under the false impression that we don’t have more work to do. But it will take all of us. All of us.

Where Do We Go From Here?

As an American, I’m encouraged to see young people and people of faith coming together with boldness to see our country reconciled. As an young pastor, I feel a deep call of responsibility to contribute to this conversation of “Where Do We Go From Here?”. As an African-American male who is in an interracial marriage with family and friends from all ethnic backgrounds, I also feel the call to discover ways to bridge the racial divide that for too long has hindered progress as an American community. The protests across the nation after the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Garner and others reflect a deep-seeded distrust of authority and across racial lines. Oftentimes, the conversations on social media are purposely presented with talking points by those who support these protests and those who do not.

I’ve already heard the “conversation killers” (aka kill any chance for real talk):

“What else do “these” people want? You’ve got a black president!” 

“All the police are crooked and abuse their authority! You can’t trust them!”

“Where has all your praying got you? We are still in a mess!”

As a man of faith, I pray to God for understanding and wisdom about where do we go from here. Not just me, but we. The concerns of the protestors and the point of view of those who don’t agree both need to be explored by those willing to listen and then respond. A conversation about what to do next doesn’t abandon your principles or views. It provides an outlet to sharpen them and allow for questioning of why you believe what you do. Conversations with the agreement of working toward practical solutions and policy grants our country the privilege of becoming a more perfect union.

Granted, there are extremists who terrorize Americans not with bombs but weapons of vile content and abusive behavior. Unfortunately, they are not willing to engage. But, I challenge those who are willing to sit with those who have the courage to move forward — to start conversations who think differently from you culturally, spiritually and politically. If we are going to seriously answer the question, “Where Do We Go From Here?”, we must have the conversation to figure out if we agree on where “here” is and if we’re willing to take the first step into our collective future.

I believe it’s possible. I know it’s possible. It’s my turn to respond. It’s your turn too. – RF

1 reply
  1. Debra Hutlburt
    Debra Hutlburt says:

    Very well said. I always related to people of color because I was treated unfairly because even though I am white I spent everyday at the pool and people would say “look at her, she looks just like a little n_____ girl!! This was the mid sixties. My father was racist, I knew the n word was not good to be called. I never agreed with it. I hated it because black people that I saw did nothing to deserve being treated so horribly! Everyone throughout my life even till now that have hurt me, raped me, used me, were all white.My mother was German, that wasnt good! My clothes were nice till I said, “my mom made it!” I was baptized Catholic & was told I was going to go to hell? My brothers were in trouble with the law. I was no good, too then. Alcoholism was a new secret to keep when I was ten, I was raped at ten, that was a secret too, until I told at 33 years old. A new family who were black moved down the street from my house. One of them was in my class. She & I were so happy because we knew we could be freinds because no one else liked us. It was great, but it didn’t last. Her parents said our friendship would cause bad trouble. We were not allowed to even say hi to each other again, ever. Not long after, they moved away. Thinking back on her just now, I recall I was envious of her beautiful skin and long pretty fingernails and could wear her hair in ways I couldn’t and she was pretty. Her mother sewed her pretty dresses, too, like mine. We knew it was better quality, but we learned to not say home made again. We learned to lie to avoid ridicule. It didn’t help though. We still were always last picked to be on the kick ball teams at recess. Sometimes, we didn’t get to play at all. Our teacher was as bad as the kids who hated us.Racisim is not only a black, Asian, Hispanic, Arab or Indian problem. It is worldwide, it is a problem that unless we move beyond it and love and accept whom ever we choose to like, love or marry it will eventually become one terroristic war over and over against all humanity. That means ALL of us are or will become at risk of being exterminated. Then what? It cannot be allowed to happen. WE, all of US, have to make a change and the change has to begin at home then school until the day arrives and we are all equal. Not one of us is better than the other. None of us, we don’t come into this world with the choice of who our parents are.

    Reply

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