A GUEST POST FROM NONA JAMES ON RACISM
I do not have a Facebook account, but my wife does. She showed me a Facebook post by Redemption Hill Church member Nona James. I was so deeply moved by her words that I wanted to share it with the readers of this blog. I stand 110% with Nona. She....her family....and the other African American members at Redemption Hill Church are more than just our brothers and sisters. They are our family. They are greatly loved and valued by our church, and are difference-makers in our church's ministry. I have started a conversation with Nona about a future seminar to be held at our church to address this issue, in order to help our church family and friends to know what it is like to be on the receiving end of unjust racism. More details are to come as I work with Nona to "make this event happen." Here is Nona's post:
Okay... I cannot be quiet no more. Some may unfriend me and I will be sad, but that will be okay. Others may choose to end our relationship which would make me sad, but that will be okay too - perhaps the friendship was shallow to begin with. But what I am about to share has been carefully thought through and God has directed my thoughts to speak. I am reminded of Dr Martin Luther King, Jr who said, “ if someone sees a wrong occurring and does nothing, then they are no better than the those doing the harm”. Here is my heart....This is a photo of my paternal family - the Huddlestons. The origin of the surname has a rich heritage from Yorkshire, England (I love British history); yet, my grandfather and his family come from hard and modest means from a prior generation of slavery and he eventually settled as a farmer in Middle Tennessee. The man holding the baby is my great grandfather and his father (my great-great grandfather) and another relative served in the 14th Colored Infantry with the Civil War and enlisted at Gallatin, Tennessee around 1863. Many other members in my family have served in the military and military conflict over generations. I have other relatives who have and are serving in law enforcement and judicial systems. I am proud of my family heritage. They... with many other men and women have fought and gave their lives in the battles and the bloodiest battle - the Civil War that our country has seen. All and others served for the liberty and freedom for Americans. Yet, historical facts assert these freedoms were with limits for Blacks versus those who were white. Over time though, efforts have been made to try and equalize liberties for blacks and brown people. But over and over inequities in privileges have been repeated with full rights afforded to white individuals in the U.S. And again, sadly, in 2020 - right now....we continue to see the same disparities and hatred manifested and marginalizing blacks and brown people. Groups are afraid and other folk are just outright hateful and violent. In the past week, my heart has been deeply saddened by the National conflict that has developed as a result of a white man unjustly murdering a black man. While bystanders looked on in shock, they begged the officer to take his knee off the man's neck. The officer was deaf to their visual and audible agony as well as Mr. Floyd's own cries that he could not breath. I will spare you the sad details of the aftermath. Other groups on social media have shared commentaries complaining “what is wrong with "those people" protesting? or don't they appreciate what they have?” And the question I keep asking myself is WHY? Why did this man feel so compelled to perform such a heinous act on another human being? I recall from my research and literature that revealed that Pres. Abraham Lincoln observed similar acts against slaves. Lincoln was so visually sickened by what he was observing that he asked his aides to take him away...he could not stand to watch. But why then and now is hatred manifested because of skin color and physical features of black people?. I submit that history has chronicled and my own research validated, shows that FEAR is the catalyst. We see this even in biblical history, when the Pharisees felted threatened by Jesus Christ, and eventually killed Christ. But why? The depth of this is way too much to go into right now. But when fear is present - an individual or group who believe or sense they will have rights or resources taken away will feel threatened. This can ultimately manifest into hatred and hatred impacts people’s behavior - even to the elevation of violence - as sadly we are seeing displayed. And it is not only one group that we see fear and trauma being displayed. When these event continue to reoccur over and over, fear and trauma is reignited - similar to military PTSD and the results is what we see displayed by the violence and fear. I am deeply sad and troubled by what I have seen occurring in our country. There have been so many great people in our past history (national leaders, ministers, civil rights advocates) who worked hard and some to their death, for a better society than previous decades. BUT... tragically in our present state, little to no group(s) or individuals - even national journalists/analysts have taken the initiative to propose or present any solutions to the current state our country is experiencing! From national leadership to our local communities and churches collectively, I have heard little to nothing about developing plans for future racial reconciliation and peace building! Oh we are quick to get justice and justice will come. But what about healing and reconciliation? What about a National Truth and Reconciliation Committee with state branches to aid communities and community leadership to work together while really learning about one another. I just wonder at times, how many really really know me or want to know me? Other than what they have seen of me for a brief time and would my raw opinions about my racial journey matter. On the other hand, do I really want to get to know my white peers and what they truly think about race and culture? And have I really gotten to know them and grow our relationships? To this end, it is my prayer that humans will be better to one another. I submit it is only thru the blood of Jesus that we must learn to care and love (agape) one another as Christ loves us. Christ went to the cross for humanity - yet it seems we forget about his commitment to us. If we do not work to extend an olive branch to those different than ourselves or our groups we are comfortable with, then we will sadly have this turmoil repeated over and over. Although hard at times lately, I still maintain my faith in humanity - that we are better than this, and I pray God will raise up Christians and leaders that will let God lead them not with racial, social or political agendas, but by God's guidance for our lives and future generations. I pray God leads me to be one of those examples.