Race and racism. These difficult and tension-filled topics drive our headlines far too often . . . as was the case 50 years ago, 100 years ago, and even 2,000 years ago. Society continues to be deeply divided over race. But why?
It’s more comfortable to avoid or even deny the discord and instead adopt a simplistic view on race. The further away we are from a problem, the simpler it looks. It’s easy to make assumptions from afar about people who don’t appear to be like us.
As painful as it may be for us to admit, prejudice and racism are almost impossible to see in the mirror because they are hidden in our hearts. They’re easily camouflaged when we point to culture or how we were raised for the biases, stereotypes, and misconceptions that may have crept in.
How can we begin to bridge this divide? How do we meaningfully engage with people of other races and backgrounds?
To begin closing racial divides, we must be brave enough to get to know people with different backgrounds and points of view.
It’s not hard to know and love the people in our lives who look and think like us. What’s often challenging is taking the necessary steps to come together with those who aren’t like us. When we get closer, we start to see that we have more in common than we thought.
Being brave enough to step outside your comfort zone to have authentic and candid conversations about race, racism, and faith is often the first step to reconciliation and unity.
Reach out to the people in your life who are different from you and get to know them better. Make an effort to develop closer friendships with them and ask them about their experiences. Simply listening is one of the most helpful things you can do.
In a 1957 sermon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Building diverse friendships helps us understand the challenges and struggles that others face. Understanding their lives and learning about their experiences helps break down our own hidden prejudices and brings us closer to healing what divides us.
When we come together, we learn from one another. And when we learn from one another, we move toward understanding, acceptance, and love.
It’s your move.