Ten years ago as a university student was the first time I was confronted with my own racism and the heavy truths of race relations in the world. It was not my first time thinking about race since I am multi-ethnic and since growing up with parents of two different skin colors has always been my reality. However, it was more about confronting the racism within me personally that I always knew was there but I did not know what to do with it. I also had to acknowledge how I witnessed it being played out on a systemic level. I was challenged with the truth that if I was going to call myself a Jesus follower, repentance from racism and moving towards racial reconciliation was going to be part of that, as ugly and painful it was going to be.
What does repentance from racism mean for someone like me, a white, bi-racial Latina, knowing that I come from both marginalized and dominant cultures? What does it mean when tragedy strikes in Ferguson, Missouri because Michael Brown was unjustly murdered by a white police officer because he is black? How do I continue to respond when the media coverage lessens and my Twitter newsfeed is no longer back-to-back with links to articles covering what has happened in Ferguson?
Racial reconciliation is not something we, those outside of the Black community, just think about when tragedy occurs (again) and the media coverage is heavy. This is an ongoing conversation we need to continue to have with Jesus; we need to pray daily and ask him how to respond. In the same way the evils of sexism will continue to affect me on a daily basis as a woman and anti-immigrant sentiment will always cut me deep as a Latina, I am called to choose to think about how the demons of racism affect my sisters and brothers in the black community everyday.
What do we do when no one is looking? It is easy to just want to post articles and re-tweet relevant articles, but what about what is really going on inside of us? Am I going to have enough integrity to confess my racism when it see it rising up in me again, in the same ways I would confess other sins to trusted friends? Do I ask Jesus to forgive me and to remove the roots of racism from my heart when I see it happening in me? Am I able to be honest enough with myself that I have felt nervous when I see black men walking towards me in a public setting at night? Will I continue to have enough courage to speak against racist jokes and comments when I hear them in both in my white and Latino circles? Can I be bold enough as I disciple younger folks and challenge them to repent from their racism and see that this is an essential part of their discipleship, in the same way we challenge young Christians to sexual purity and to evangelize in their faith? Will I have enough courage to continue to speak against the colorism and racism I see within my Latino community, to call folks out when they are speaking harmful words onto one another? Can I have enough humility to let go of the “savior complex” and learn from my black sisters and brothers whom have been called into leadership in their community, knowing that they are the best ones to lead their communities?
If those of us outside the black community cannot have enough humility and courage to start dealing with our racism and moving towards racial reconciliation, we will fail to see change on a systemic level. We have to first confront the sin we are seeing inside of ourselves and start moving towards repentance. It is our sin and our problem. It’s not something we can pick up whenever race relations seem to be gaining more attention in the media, but we must choose to come to Jesus again and again and ask him, “Lord, how do you want me to respond?” Not responding is not an option.
How will you respond today?