It’s appropriate to laud the end of slavery and segregation today. It’s good to remember what institutional racism looked like in its most blatant form. But those institutions were created out of a certain framework of thinking, a certain worldview, a barbaric ethic. It took a few to see the world in a different way, and that way began to catch on.
Ending these institutions was not easy. Lives were taken over it. For someone born in 1980, it’s difficult to appreciate what others have gone through.
But in a sneaky way, it also has not been easy to end the thinking framework that got us into this evil in the first place. Today, it’s still acceptable in many circles for one to qualify themselves as not being a racist, but then to go ahead and tell a racist joke. It’s not uncommon to hear “us and them” language. And it’s perfectly understandable for one to live in the bubble of their own race and culture with but a rare occasional interaction with someone in a different culture.
It’s easy for someone to claim that they embrace and support true diversity…it’s another thing to live it. Solidarity is for the true pioneer. When one finds themselves congregating with those most like them in categories such as race, nationality, orientation, or socioeconomic status, solidarity is truly out of the box. It’s “putting yourself in someone else’s shoes” in a less imaginative way.
Solidarity is super challenging…and biblical. Paul says in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Great words. Great theology. But how is it practiced? James, for one, upholds it by scolding those who show partiality to the privileged in the church:
My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, “You sit here in a good place,” while you say to the poor man, “You stand over there,” or, “Sit down at my feet,” have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him? …
What does solidarity look like for you? Who could you take a little more time out of your day to listen and spend time with? What is your box and how do you get out of it? Constant challenges from Martin Luther King Jr., who while many racist institutions are gone has a lot to say to us to today and tomorrow.