Crossing The Chasm of Race

September 10, 2019 | Written by Sarah Tinan

“At the heart of the fractured soul of America is the frightening chasm of race.” Manning Marable

Race, culture, ethnicity. We’ve been talking about it more transparently and intentionally for some time and we cannot stop talking about it.

Over generations, we’ve managed huge progress as it relates to real love, civility, rights protected by law, and intrinsic worth … and we also consistently underestimate the complexities that leave us peering across the chasm at one another, wondering how it still stays so big and unsettling.

Look at the national news, where daily we read about “the divide.” Actually, look no further than our city news, where we have been a community wading through a fatal law enforcement shooting incident, heavy with words, feelings, assumptions, fears, and divisiveness about race.

As we read, and think, and pray, and talk to our friends, we can be inundated with a hopelessness; a worry about asking the wrong questions, saying the wrong thing, leading out of anger, giving into the temptation to shut it all out and retreat from the conversation altogether.

But engaging in conversation and community and prayer with one another is the exact antithesis to the widening.

For many years, my family has prayed that God would bring more diversity of culture, ethnicity, thought, and experience to the corporate family of Pulpit Rock. My extended family attends PRC (there’s like, A LOT of us running around here) and we see the tremendous benefit in how God has crafted our family. At the risk of sounding self-righteous, we see a tiny taste of how rich and layered we are as a family of multiculturalism, and what it means to us as we dive deep into issues of race.

We are a family of Caucasian, Koreans, Africans/African Americans, and Dominican Americans. Add to that that we have three city/county/state law enforcement officers in our family. You can surmise we’ve had lots to talk about over the last number of years. Big feelings laid bare, complete with tears, feeling misunderstood and vulnerable, and disagreements. But we commit to it and we do it, sometimes ugly and uncomfortable, and sometimes beautiful and covered in grace.

This picture is from a couple of years ago when I asked my sister-in-law to my table and I just asked questions and listened.

I listened to her express fear in raising a black son and what she will tell him about remaining above suspicion and complying with Law Enforcement.
We talked about our family cops; our dad, our brother in law, and my husband and their sadness of being vilified, and fear of being accused of racism and discrimination.
I shared our experiences in raising an African daughter in a white family and the lifelong navigation piece as it relates to identity.
We talked about our intentionality in our youngest child’s access to other black families and friends, and not just connecting with other kids of color who are also adopted by white families.
We heard one another, held space with one another in the spots where we landed apart, and we prayed together.

This sort of discussion is not unusual in my family and I praise God for the parents who insisted this is the type of family we would be.

The key to continually working to fill that chasm is seeking out people on a small scale to work at minimizing it with you. The media will have you despairing and believing in no time that it’s actually pretty hopeless, that it’s too deep, too wide to heal. We begin to dehumanize and assign blame and pull away when we envision groups of people opposed to one another.

We must instead draw close, put a living, breathing face on different, and establish relationship. Surround yourself intentionally with people different in many ways than yourself and start to walk alongside one another.

Consider that there are profound differences in God’s people as we each bear the image of Christ and choose to immerse yourself in the beauty of that.

“Color-blindness” is not a thing. Let’s instead be aware of all the richness we each carry within us, and be extra attuned to all the colors used in creating a masterpiece.

Not only do I believe there is strength in our families and in our churches through this, but surely Heaven will intimately reflect a closeness of lovers of Jesus of every difference possible. What a day that will be…for he has promised chasms sealed shut and our hearts bound together in him.

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