Sunday, April 11, 2021

Sharing Our Stories: Racism, prayer, and hope

Racism Comes in All Colors
A guest post by Dr. Angelle M. Jones

“He answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength, and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
– Luke 10:27 (NIV)

I am a Christian, one who is no longer convinced that America is, or ever was a truly Christian nation. You can accept the lie that the continuous mass killings taking place in this country are random lone acts done by individuals with mental health problems, but as much as I love my country, I choose to no longer align with this false narrative.

The sad truth is often the foundation of these acts are based upon and perpetuated by the systemic racism this nation is built on. We are a country built on racial and ethnic hatred, bigotry, misogyny, and classism. The blood on the hands of its founders is that of the thousands who have been murdered throughout history, for nothing less than the color of their skin. Evil shown toward any group that is not of (WASP) White Anglo Saxon Protestant origin is the true story of America’s foundation since its very inception.

The unhappy truth about American history reveals this country has been a breeder of hate culture from its very beginning. I keep saying it, and will continue to repeat it: This nation that has convinced itself that it is a “nation under God” is anything but. Instead of boasting of our glory, we should be glad that God continues to extend mercy upon us as the original sin of racism continues to fester from within. We should turn to God in repentance while that grace is still being offered before we implode.

An example of this hatred reared its ugly head a few weeks ago when in metropolitan Atlanta, a 21-year-old White man murdered six women of Asian descent and two others. A few hours after the shooting, the parents of Robert Aaron Long identified him after seeing images of their son flashing across the TV as the main suspect in the killings. Atlanta authorities have yet to label this heinous act as a hate crime. Whether George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor or the four Asian women, hate kills real people. Too often I think we allow the media to remove the blood from the veins of the humanity of those who are senselessly murdered.

Although he has admitted to the crimes, the young man claims that race did not play a role in his decision to target the Asian spas where the shootings occurred. He instead blamed his sex addiction. While his interest on his Instagram page were listed as “Pizza, guns, drums, music, family, and God. This pretty much sums up my life. It's a pretty good life.” Long and his family identify as Southern Baptist Christians. In the press conference after the shooting, Capt. Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia, described the young man as “pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did.”

A bad day? In response to having a bad day, you murder people? What’s worse is the way the media and authorities often perpetuate narratives like these which continue the cycle of racial division in America.

To immediately dismiss the obvious, and quickly deflect from the fact that the majority of the victims were of Asian descent, and to turn away from calling it a hate crime is yet another slap in the face to people of color. This image of the White person gone mental is one that is being used way too often after the committal of hate crimes. I’m sure any person of color in America can relate to the feeling of sadness when situations like these are often covered over as anything but what they are, especially when committed by a White person. I propose that mental health and evil are two different things. As intertwined as they may be at times, mental health can’t be continually used as a scapegoat for evil. This portrayal of it, to cover the evil acts of Whites toward people of color is blatantly racist and exhibits explicit bias at its absolute best.

While in seminary in Atlanta I had the pleasure of taking classes with several Korean students, and getting to know a little about Korean Christian culture. This experience allowed me to humanize the Asian victims killed in the shooting. One of the most fascinating memories was studying the way this generation of Koreans express “the collective trauma” and the memories of sufferings imposed upon their people in the name of oppression over the course of Korea’s years of oppressive history. Although it has been admitted to be difficult to find the proper English words to describe, the use of the expression of Han is a way that theologians described the mourning and grieving response to the traumatic loss of collective identity. They defined Han as the complex emotions that result from the traumatic loss of divided families: families who were separated during the Korean War. As a Black historian, this concept of racial trauma sounded way too familiar.

Han can be described as a generational feeling of being wronged by someone in authority such as the government. Theory has it that the accumulated narrative of Han in Korea is because of a long history of suffering from invasion, poverty, and international indifference by the global world. I realized as I intently listened and learned, that the two minorities could empathize with one another’s suffering. During racial incidents on campus (yes Christian seminaries have racial problems), Black and Korean students often supported each other in prayer. We collectively prayed and worshipped together during these difficult times, and came along side one another in solidarity.

I later learned from a Korean friend, that the other side of Han is Jung. He eloquently defined Jung as the irrevocable relationship and bond formed through experiencing life together. As Black and Korean-American Christians suffer together, may we express a restorative lament of Han to a God who hears our collective prayers. A Han that allows us both to experience the collective healing power of Jung for our marginalized communities.

Let’s Pray: Dear God, we come to you in prayer for the African-American and Asian-American communities. As we collectively cry out to you, we ask you Lord to turn the pain and resentment of our Han into prayers of praise and thanksgiving. We call on you to extend mercy on those who come against us and others because of the color of our skin. We call on you, Lord, to heal racial division in America. We call on you Lord to receive our Han, and heal our brokenness so that we might experience the unselfish and covenantal Jung with those who are different. Bind our hearts together. Make us one, dear Lord, we pray in the Name of Jesus. Amen.

Author Bio:

“Inspiring and Motivating With the Power of Words” 

Angelle M. Jones believes that the power of words inspires, and motivate to bring about transformative change individually and collectively.

Angelle originally hails from Cleveland, Ohio. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in African-American studies from the University of Cincinnati. Angelle has a master’s degree in Theological Studies from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Georgia and an earned Doctorate in Ministry on the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, and his philosophy of The Beloved Community from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Her ministry career began as a staff member of the Northeastern Ohio Billy Graham Crusade in 1994. For twenty years, as founder and director of In The Spirit Ministries, Inc., she led teams on mission outreaches throughout the world. From 2007-2012, Angelle served as Missions Director of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio where she currently resides. Angelle is founder and director of GlobaLife Coaching and Consulting serving as a Life and Transformation Coach and Church Consultant.

In 2016, Angelle authored and self-published her first book, Happily Never After. Along with sharing words of hope by sharing her writings on her social media platforms, she has been published in Vantage Magazine which is a literary source for faculty, students and alumni of Columbia Theological Seminary, and Ready, which is a cutting-edge online magazine addressing current events and trending socially relevant topics for women.

Angelle is the mother of an adult daughter. She is a grandmother and great-grandmother.

Connect with Dr. Angelle:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.