As if you did not already know, racism hurts like hell. And I am not just talking about institutional and systematic racism that prevents people from getting employment, decent housing, and a good education, but am also referring to the all-out, blatantly overt assault on a person because of the color of their skin. The wounds cut deep and can only be likened to a knife piercing deeper still into the heart of its victim. Memories of such just don’t disappear overnight, and they are not just something you can shake off your shoulder. How can you freely move on after being called a nigger, or worse, the property of somebody else?
We like to deceive ourselves into thinking that in this day and age that the remnants of such hatred are gone from our society. We like to think that because we have a black president, and because black people have achieved a certain amount of social status, that our country has moved beyond the issue of racism. But when someone feels the liberty to lash out at another and use the kind of insults that were common place in the days of Jim Crow, it shows me that we have a lot of work to do.
This kind of work, however, not only exists for the perpetrator of racism but for those who have been on the receiving end of it as well. I know it may not be popular ideology but we have collective work to do to make sure that this awful evil is eradicated from our society. For the perpetrator, repentance and for the victim, forgiveness. Forgiveness because administering such is the only way that we heal from our pain. Forgiveness because God knows that if we want to be free of bitterness and resentment that we have to release those who have wronged us.
We must understand that forgiveness does not mean that those who have perpetrated racism get to go away Scott free. Most definitely not! Perpetrators have to be willing to unlearn systems, ideologies, and practices that have enabled them to act like barbarians for years. However, forgiveness creates the kind of environment where we both can heal, perpetrator and victim alike, and bring about a new reality where all people, regardless of the color of their skin, their ethnicity, their culture, their tribe, can be and live out to the fullest extent their God-given purpose.