Monday, January 16, 2012

I Am A Racist

MLK DAY, 2012

As a 19 yr old new Young Life leader, I was placed in a rural school, heavily divided by unspoken racism. Our YL club was, of course, filled with only upper middle class white kids. We did get pretty excited the time that two black kids came to club and made us 'racially diverse.' We even put them in a skit.

While it was a constant pebble in my shoe, I didn't honestly wrestle with the racial division. I thought it about quite often, even had a few conversations with my area director, but in the end, I just shrugged my shoulders that it's 'just the way things are.'

Until... that one conversation happened. The one when my sophomore friend Brian told me his family was moving.

"Bummer, where are you moving?"

"Oh, just thirty minutes east of here." He replied.

"How come, did your dad get a new job?" I assumed.

"No. We're telling people that we just want a change of scenery, but the real reason is my parents don't want me to go to school with black kids. The town we're moving to is almost 95% white people, so its a lot cleaner and safer and the schools are a lot better."

For real? He had to be kidding, right? But the nonchalant nature of his tone let me know otherwise. My heart was broken. I finally had to take that pebble out of my shoe.


Fifteen years later I have seen that same racism in all five schools where I've led YL. And the frightening truth is... I have seen that same racism in my own heart.

How are we to point our high school friends to racial reconciliation when we harbor the same arrogance and hatred?

In John Piper's MLK weekend sermon yesterday, he listed nine destructive forces that work against racial harmony:
  • Satan
  • Guilt
  • Pride
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of inferiority and self-doubt
  • Greed
  • Hate
  • Fear
  • Apathy
He concluded by reminding us that none of these forces is more powerful than the Gospel. We as YL leaders must remind ourselves and our high school friends that the only way to fight racism in our hearts is by consuming the truth of the Gospel.

Helpful Resources On Racism

Today Only: Download John Piper's new book "Bloodlines" for FREE.
If you only read one chapter, read chapter 6.

More Than Equals by Spencer Perkins and Chris Rice
I read this in college and God used it to begin a slow change in my heart.

MLK Jr.'s Letter From A Birmingham Jail
Or you can watch a dramatic reading of it here.

Ephesians 2:11-16

I highly recommend Paul, even over Piper, Perkins, and Dr. King.

How has your YL team or area dealt with the problem of racial division in Young Life? Please comment below.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for admitting it. I am disgusted by what I have witnessed among Young Life leaders and participants, all of whom, are mostly white middle class kids. What is YL doing specifically to discuss and act on anti-racism within the organization? Do you have anti-racist trainings? What kind of discussions are lead with the kids. It wouldn't take long to look up the Facebook pages of YL kids and see the racist atrocities coming out of many of their mouths. Not to mention homophobia.