A few weeks ago, I shared a sermon that I preached on finding one’s identity in Christ instead of the racial labels that we place upon each other and ourselves. One of the ways that we get beyond these labels is by renouncing the identities that we have attached to ourselves, including but not limited to: the victim identity, the self hatred identity, the rage filled identity, the white supremacy identity, the hip white person identity, and the colorblind identity (adapted from the Heart of Racial Justice). As we renounce these things, we embrace what God says about us – that each and every one of us is beautifully and wonderfully made. That at the cross of Christ there is no distinction (meaning division) between our racial, cultural, and ethnic makeup. That God loves us ALL and sent his only Son to die for us ALL and is in the process of drawing us ALL closer to Himself. This is great news!
So allow me to be completely vulnerable for a moment. One of the identities that I struggle with is the victim identity. Throughout my life, I have faced constant barriers as a result of my race and frankly I have learned quite well how to internalize those barriers. And as I internalize them, the statistics that I see only reinforce them such as high unemployment, high poverty, low educational attainments, low homeownership, especially in Minnesota which seems to be a microcosm of all of these disparities (maybe I should move). As I look at these things, I can’t help but think that, dang, I’m screwed. It doesn’t seem to matter how hard you work, how much you try, how many degrees you have behind your name because at the end of the day, racism and all of its related vices is looking at people like me straight in the face blocking our every move.
How do you continue to renounce the victim identity when your reality looks like this? How do you refuse to allow yourself to be defined by the statistics when the reality of the statistics keep you from doing what you need to do for your family and what you feel called to do in life? Sure, its good to know who you are in Christ, in fact, its really important. But what about when others fail to recognize and refuse to acknowledge your God-given identity? What do you do?
As for me, I continue to pray, continue to prophesy, continue to speak by faith to this mountain of racism and command it to move. And it has to, it just has to, because no matter how divisive, no matter how horrendous, its power is no match to the cross of Christ. This cross that made a way for me to be reconciled to God, but also to the very people who refuse to acknowledge my worth simply because I’m black. I also continue to apply the healing balm of Christ to my heart as I recall the names, the jeering, the resistance, the barriers, the exclusion, asking God to heal the pain and forge a new way forward for not only me, but every other person who is oppressed, downtrodden, defeated, heartbroken, exploited, knowing that this too, shall pass.