love those who hate you

I started this post about 5 times before I walked away from it. My heart is so heavy that it took me about a week to even actually come back to this post.

Emmett Till should have lived to see the first black President. Trayvon Martin should have graduated with a degree in aviation. Tamir Rice should have graduated high school this year. Ayana Jones should have celebrated her 18th birthday this year. Charleena Lyles should have given birth to a healthy baby and should be alive today to raise that baby. Sandra Bland should still be an employee of Prairie View A & M. Breonna Taylor should have been able to buy the home she had her eye on.

Ahmaud Arbery should have celebrated his 26th birthday.

How many black men and women do I have to memorialize through hashtags and t-shirts? How many times will I have to pray aggressively if I drive past a brown man who has been pulled over? How many more times will I have to position my phone in a discreet position if a friend is pulled over?

How many times will I have to hold my breath when I walk past an older white man? Or a cop? How many times will I have to endure the sales associate standing just a smidge too close for comfort?

My heart is heavy and I want to scream, cry, and fight the hate in the world with my bare fists.

I want to hug every black and brown mother whose son or daughter was murdered for the color of their skin but I don’t have enough arms.

And that hurts my heart. It makes me so MAD that I cannot physically love every single person who has experienced this pain. For the life of me, I literally cannot understand why this country has such a deep-rooted hatred for who they have deemed ‘others’.

This country has a disgusting history of hating others (read Native AmericansBlacksMexicansAsians) and yet in 2020, we pretend that having a black president erases the hundreds of years of racism at the hands of the majority. The examples I shared are but a drop in a large and ever filling bucket.

I am tired.

As much as I love my black skin, I am tired of the mark it forces me to wear. As much as I love my name, I am tired of the ignorant looks or snide remarks I receive when some people hear it. As much as I love my community, I am tired of the stereotypes that follow us. As much as I love my confidence, I am tired of being pegged the ‘angry black girl’ when I am a decibel too loud in a passionate conversation.

I am tired of my black brothers and sisters being murdered and I’m tired of the feelings of anger that fill me when it happens again and again. My heart is heavy.

I spent a lot of time praying about Ahmaud this week; for his mother, his community, for the safety of black folks everywhere. It was all I could do. My heart cannot handle another Facebook post with yet another hashtag with yet another killer going free. It felt so good to know that the killers were arrested, but I didn’t celebrate because we’ve seen this before.

I’ve learned to hold my celebration of justice until after a final verdict is announced. Remember Trayvon? And Sandra? And Tamir? And Kalief?

Yeah … Justice sure was served.

Jesus says to pray for those that persecute me and to turn the other cheek (Matt 6:38-48 NIV). That has always been a bit hard for me to do because I want to slap back. Harder!

But I won’t.

Luke 9:23-24 tells me that I have to die to myself daily if I truly want to serve God. That means killing every desire and giving it to God, including the ones that would cause more violence.

Okay Imani, we already know what the Bible says about returning evil with evil but what does God say about racism? Discrimination?

Oh I am so glad you asked.

Genesis 1:26-27 (NIV) shows us that God created mankind in the image and likeness of the Trinity. So from the very beginning of the Bible, God made it crystal clear that we are ALL made in the image of God.

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 (NIV) shows us that God is great, mighty, and absolutely worthy of all praise but He shows ‘no partiality and accepts no bribes’. God shows LOVE to the foreigner in their land and commanded the Israelites to love them because they were once foreigners in Egypt.

1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV) shows us that God looks at the heart of a man while humans look at the outward appearance. I wonder if discriminatory behaviors would decrease if we stopped looking at the outward appearance of those we interact with and strived to know their heart.

In Proverbs 24:23 (NIV) Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, says that it is not good to show partiality in judging.

Acts 10:34-35 (NIV) shows us that God doesn’t show favoritism but ‘accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right’.

Galatians 2:11-12 (NIV) shows us that we should call out, in love of course, those who display discriminatory behaviors!

Galatians 3:28 (NIV) shows us that we are all one in Christ Jesus.

Revelation 7:9 (NIV) is my personal favorite. “After this, I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

Whoa… How powerful is that? From Genesis to Revelation, God makes it clear that He doesn’t like racism and discrimination. I think it’s safe to say that God is displeased by the amount of times the Bible has been used to excuse slavery or miscegenation laws. I think it is safe to say that it breaks God’s heart to see His creation wrapped up in a disgusting cycle of hate.

The devil is the father of lies (John 8:44) and through his mission of spreading untruths, he has encircled countless generations of families in racism and discrimination and I’m not just talking about white people.

I’ve heard the way some folks in my community talk about Asian people. I’ve seen the way some Asian people react to black folks. I’ve seen the way some black folks talk about Mexican/Central American/Latin people. I understand just enough Spanish to know that what was said about me was not anything I wanted to hear in English.

If we are truly going to be the ‘Christian Nation’ that we claim to be, we better start reading the entire Bible instead of using it when it’s time to protest a pride parade or shaming a young woman who has decided to get an abortion.

Matthew 22:34-40 (NIV) reveals what Jesus Himself called ‘The Greatest Commandment’. Love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

If you reflect on your interactions with someone who looks different or has an accent, can you honestly say that you loved them as much as you love yourself?

Or can you find example after example of someone being treated less than you would want to be treated?

Jesus came that we would have life and have it to the full (John 10:10 NIV). If we are supposed to represent Jesus and win souls for His kingdom, have we done a good job?

Are we helping anyone have a fuller life? Or are we furthering the plan of the enemy?

I had to take a moment to reflect as I wrote this one because it forced me to think about the hate that my community has pushed. While we are by no means in the same societal position as white folks, we must still take responsibility for our discriminatory behaviors.

I pray that this post inspires you to reflect and ask God to reveal any biases that you may have. I pray this post inspires you to seek a heart that is like God’s.

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