In 2017 a new national awareness day was started. January 18th is the National Day of Racial Healing. It intentionally occurs the day after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday.
As the pastor of an intentionally multi-ethnic, multi-racial church, conversations about racial healing are crucial for me, and it is important to understand what racial healing is and what it is not. It is interrelated to but not the same as racial awareness, anti-racism activism, and racial reconciliation.
Awareness is the growing capacity to see how race and racism work in our everyday lives, anti-racism is the action against interpersonal and systemic racist practices, and reconciliation is a rebuilding of cross-racial broken relationships caused by racism.
Racial healing is a multifaceted process that involves both the repairing of cross-racial relationships and the mending of wounds caused by racism within an individual racial group. To be clear racism wounds, everyone. Not just people of color.
For people of color one part of inner racial healing is about restoring one's sense of inner worth that has been defaced by racism. I believe for whites it entails healing from false fear of and anger toward people of color. Both of these inner journeys are seen in Scripture:
He (Jesus) has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. Ephesians 2: 15-16 NRSV
Think of "the law" as the sociocultural, systemic mandates and practices we've lived with for so long that establish, promote and perpetuate racism. Think of Jesus as the liberator from these burdens and the cross as the evidence of love conquering fear and mutual respect overcoming hostility.
How are you promoting racial healing within yourself, in your community, and with other racial groups?
In and With Grace,