Ferguson & 8 ways to turn a Moment into a Movement

For the last few months, our headlines are inundated with heartache from Ferguson, Chicago, Syria, Iraq, Nigeria, Liberia and I could go on and on. It’s  overwhelming. What has resonated with me is the continued racial divide in AMERICA. Why are we still dealing with racial conflicts in 2014? How do we change it? Does the “Church” respond? How do we respond? I’ve discovered the process of reconciliation and setting things right takes time.  It can take many decades. 

I have wrestled with my thoughts for the last two months. I must admit my feelings of anger, confusion and shame. Not shame on my part, but the shame in the systematic injustices we have here in America.

I want to have the right response. I desire unity not division. I want my words to reconcile and connect humanity not divide.

I’m a reconciler.

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Normally incidents linger in the headlines for two weeks and then we move on. But this is different. The racial situations of the last few years hit a nerve in many. We refuse to move on. We refuse to accept the issues plaguing many communities as the norm. Is this a moment?  We cannot become desensitized.

Let’s ask ourselves, “How do we undo RACISM and can we”?

This idea sounds crazy. We understand racialization is embedded within every fabric of our society. It’s in every system and every structure. Let’s be honest. America’s built on the ideology of racial hierarchy and racial segregation.

How do we Change it?

I don’t deny race relations have improved tremendously. This is not the same America our parents grew up in. I ask you, “What are the barriers to create continued systematic change”? Why is justice and equality so difficult? “With Liberty and Justice for all”. As I glimpse at the headlines I wonder, “Where is the JUSTICE for ALL”? Reconciliation leads to Justice but Justice does not necessarily lead to reconciliation. The process to healing our nation begins with Reconciliation.

Why is it difficult to have a real conversation about race and the issues surrounding injustices? There are a few words I’m exploring: Fear, Power and Shame. I believe these little words have great impact to stifle, paralyze and divide.

What’s Next?  How do we create a MOVEMENT FOR CHANGE? This is bigger than #MikeBown, #EzellFord, #EricGarner, #RenishaMcBride #Jordandavis #TrayvonMartin and not to forget #JonathanFerrell. One day this could be your son, daughter, nephew or grandchild.

Injustices happen to every race, however, statistically it’s disproportionately happening to African-Americans and Latinos. This is the statistical reality.

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How do we create a lasting MOVEMENT?

We feel shameful because at times these incidents don’t convict us, because it doesn’t directly affect our personal lives. But JUSTICE says,

“We must care”.

“We must stand”.

“It whispers mercy and compassion”.

“We must seek to set things right”. 

“We must seek Reconciliation, which leads to JUSTICE FOR ALL”

“Justice must roll on like a river”.

How do we help this next generation see that they matter, regardless of race and ethnicity? Everyone should have an equal opportunity.

How do we start a movement?

Movements are about mobilizing people behind a shared purpose. Movements can begin with a small group of people who believe passionately in something. These people can end up changing the culture around the world. I’m crazy enough to believe this can happen in America, if it begins first in the Hearts of the people of God. Where do we begin?

1. It begins with Prayer: Pray and Ask the Lord to Reveal any sins of racism you may have. (Philippians 4:6-7)

2. Awareness & Acknowledgment: Empathy and compassion for the perspective of others. (1 John 1:9)

3. Listening is an art that can lead to understanding.  (James 1:19)

4. Build a diverse community of friends. (Acts 17:26-28, Galatians 3:28)

5. Practice “Truth-Telling”. (John 8:32, Ephesians 4:15)

6. Forgiveness is not an occasional ACT it’s an ATTITUDE. Martin Luther King. Forgiveness leads to life. (Mark 11:25)

7. Repentance: To change one’s mind leads to a change in action. Embrace personal change before you attempt corporate change. (Acts 3:19)

8. Develop a mobilization plan and action steps that lead to personal, community and system change. (Proverbs 24:6-16)

Embrace the awkwardness and discomfort of the race discussion. It will take time. Possibly this “moment” will begin a “movement” for change.