"What does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" The words of Micah 6:8 may be familiar words.
But . . . let me ask you . . . what does it mean to "do justice?"
It's a question we must ask ourselves.
Systemic injustice. Systemic racism. Runs deep and spreads wide in our nation and in our world. As Pastor Vermon Pierre puts it (I encourage you to watch the video below from him - a colleauge from a network of churches in the Phoenix area I am connected with) - these things are "in the walls."
We must look into the walls of our lives - of our culture - of our church community.
Stereotypes. The beliefs that most, or all, members of a particular group of people share certain characteristics. For example, "most black people are a dangerous threat." This is one of the stereotyped assumptions in the walls that is being exposed right now - as Pierre points out.
Prejudice. People become prejudiced when they hold strereotyped beliefs and feelings about a group of people that are neither fair nor based on truth. Stereotypes become internalized and you begin to react mentally and emotionally on the basis of those. Predetermined assumptions about the criminality of black people will prejudice you to call the police when you see something you deem suspicious - a call you likely would not make if the person doing the suspicious thing was white.
Discrimation. People act on the basis of prejudice - as individuals, as insititutions, and even whole economic and social systems in society. We are witnessing the mass exposure of how whole systems and institutions have been practicing discrimination against black people. For generations. Racism is in the walls.
Before we move too quickly to wonder "what do we do?" Let me invite you to look inside. To look inside your own walls. The walls of your heart. The walls of your home. The walls of our church.
Look for stereotypes. Search for prejduice. Keep your eyes open to signs of discrimination.
You may need help. Let me suggest some steps you could take. The video below is helpful. Vermon is one of many black leaders speaking out who we need to listen to. Here is a link to a resource our own denomination recommends - Scaffolded Anti-Racist Resources. Cineplex has made a number of films available for free - Understanding Black Stories. Pick some to watch and discuss.
We will continue this conversation over the next number of weekend services . . .