Taken from a sermon by Pastor Payton given on 2/22/15 at the ordination of Roney Riley.
But when we name these oppressive pathologies out loud, the racial walls go up right away, we dig our trenches, the ugly and festering stereotypes bubble to the surface, and we start to lob the racial grenades from either side of that wall.
From one side:
“If only you people had kept your promise of forty acres and a mule,” […and we all have to admit that there is something to that…] or, “if only you people hadn’t redlined and cut us off,” or “if only you people wouldn’t leave us scraps for an educational system,” or “if only you people hadn’t set up those evil Jim Crow laws that persist in softer forms down to this day,” or, “has anyone noticed that most of the school closings are in the beleaguered south and west sides, while the tony – strongly white – north side remained mostly unscathed?,” and, while we’re at it, “it was a white man who outed the Jackie Robinson West team,…here we go again,” …and so the compelling and animating narrative of conspiratorial racism is perpetuated.
Then on the other side, – at least as ugly, and probably more pain producing – “if only you people would take some initiative and get a real job,” or “if only you would get a real job and not sell drugs,” or “if only you people would be reliable and not so violent; we’re afraid of you,” or “if only you people wouldn’t have such a sense of entitlement; you know, that kind of money doesn’t grow on trees!,” or “and then when you get a little money, instead of spending responsibly on basic needs or education, you buy Sprewell rims or chartreuse three hundred dollar basketball shoes,” “oh and while you’re at it, pull your pants up!”
Ouch! That’s all so very ugly, isn’t it.
My dear brothers and sisters, both white and black and in between, and any other color as well, in Christ none of that really matters because it’s all such small potatoes. In Christ, what matters is what unites us, the real crisis. Here’s what unites us: all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. White people are not more sinful than black people; and black people are not more sinful than white people. Furthermore, “God so loved THE WORLD….he didn’t just love white people; he didn’t just love black people,….he loved the world so much that he gave his very best gift, the holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death of Jesus.