1. As followers of God in the Way of Jesus, my congregation (Woodridge United Methodist Church) strives to love God and love our neighbors. Which, as Jesus put it, means everybody.
2. A vital piece of loving our neighbors – and of UMC membership vows – is striving to fight evil, injustice, and oppression.
3. Race relations in our country, especially between blacks and whites, have far, far too often and for far, far too long been filled with exactly that which we are supposed to oppose: evil, injustice and oppression.
4. Woodridge UMC is predominately – though certainly not entirely – caucasian.
5. The Reverend Danita Anderson, WUMC’s incoming Senior Pastor, is African-American (and thus her appointment here is considered a cross-cultural one by the Northern IL Conference).
…I propose that the best use of your reading time today (tomorrow, this holiday weekend, as long as it takes) is Ta-Nehisi Coates’ terrific, disturbing, in-depth article, “The Case for Reparations”, just released in The Atlantic.
250 years of slavery. 90 years of Jim Crow. 60 years of separate but equal. 35 years of state-sanctioned redlining. Until we reckon with the compounding moral debts of our ancestors, America will never be whole.
Oh, and the photos are fantastic, too.
I’m not saying you have to agree with his conclusions in order to be a good Christian. But I am saying you need to read this and see what it evokes in you. And I am saying that to be a good Christian we must wrestle with the root causes of injustice and oppression and seek to transform them.
As Coates is a prolific blogger, he also offers this excellent side piece on how his thinking transformed. “Four years ago, I opposed reparations. Here’s the story of how my thinking has evolved since then.”
I cannot recommend this essay highly enough. Seriously, stop reading my drivel and get thee over the The Atlantic site (or, if you prefer a hard copy, wherever magazines are sold) now!
American prosperity was built on two and a half centuries of slavery, a deep wound that has never been healed or fully atoned for – and that has been deepened by years of discrimination, segregation, and racist housing policies that persist to this day. Until America reckons with the moral debit it has accrued – and the practical damage it has done – to generations of black Americans, it will fail to live up to its own ideals.
Then, after you’ve digested it all, I hope you’ll come back here and tell me what you thought of it by leaving a comment.