What Would Jesus Do?
What Would Jesus Do?
One day, early in our marriage, my husband came home from work frustrated. His supervisor was calling the black men he worked with “boy.” My husband recalled standing there shocked and offended. It was clear his colleagues were offended. Yet, no one said anything.
Maybe you’ve found yourself in a similar situation before. A family member or colleague makes a racist comment and instead of speaking up you remain silent. Have you ever thought about why it’s difficult to speak up? Maybe you’re afraid of the consequences of speaking up. Or maybe, no one has ever taught you what to do or what to say in those situations.
When the supervisor left, my husband turned to his colleague and said, “I can’t believe he just said that, I’m sorry.” He was, after all, incredibly sympathetic to what happened. But as he told this story, I found myself in a position to explain privilege to my husband.
- Privilege is being able to learn about racism on your own time. It’s the ability to close the book, turn off the documentary, and return to the subject when it feels less heavy.
- Privilege is not having to explain racism to your 3-year-old because none of the moms at the park will let their kids play with yours.
- Privilege is browsing through a store without an employee following you.
- Privilege is being stopped by the police and knowing a ticket is the worst thing you’ll be given.
- Privilege is not having to help people identify their privilege.
As you learn about your privilege, you can begin to use that position to stand up for justice. Here are some ways you can use your privilege for good:
- Keep learning. Read books, watch documentaries and have conversations that explore racial injustice in our country and how you can use your privilege to become an ally to your black and brown brothers and sisters. This book may be place to start: I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown.
- If your coworker, boss, or family member uses racist words, or displays racist behaviors or attitudes, call them out on it. Asking questions is a way to identify racist behaviors without making accusations. For example, “Why do you call my coworkers ‘boy?’ Have you considered how this word might make the rest of us feel?”
- If you acknowledge the statistics of police using excessive force against the black community at a higher rate than whites, and the consequently disproportionate rates of death from the use of force, support a cause fighting to change this. Here are a few suggestions:
- Color of change: an online organization that helps “people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us and lead campaigns that build black communities.”
- Know Your Right Camp: seeks “to advance the liberation and well-being of black and brown communities through education.”
- NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund: helps provide legal resources to Black Americans and other minorities in need and also promotes equality in areas of education, voting, criminal and economic justice.
- When protests arise to raise awareness about racial injustice and inequity in our country, protest with me.
- If you understand that racism is a deeply rooted systematic tool of oppression, vote to change it. Vote for candidates that support police reform, prison reform, education reform and opportunities specifically for black and brown people currently disadvantaged.
- If you have one or two black coworkers, know it’s awkward being the only ones. Racism is heavy, help them carry the burden. What could you do to make their experience less awkward? Personally, it would be affirming and refreshing to have a coworker not be afraid of how awkward it feels, but instead ask how they could walk alongside me this season.
- If you witness racism but don’t know what to say to your black friend or coworker, let them know that you’ve been affected. Let them know that you are aware of the problem.
The reason why grace is so complex is because what Jesus did is incomprehensible. God the Son came to earth to die an obedient, sacrificial death. The king became a servant and died for those whom he loved. He surrendered his privilege to serve.
Ask yourself, what would Jesus do? My husband didn’t fully understand his privilege. He just knew that racism is uncomfortable and intolerable. And now as an ally he advocates, interferes, or silently stands in solidarity. He says it can be scary, but he knows it’s right.
My prayer for us is that even when it’s uncomfortable, we continue to be Christ-like influencers. I pray that God’s will be done, for the Holy Spirit to embolden us to love courageously and for us to be spiritually prepared just as Paul wrote to the Ephesians:
“Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.”
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