With the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States, many wanted to claim that racism in America had been defeated. We thought we had achieved something great. Blacks and Whites of good will were filled with pride.
That pride brought us a sense of accomplishment. And we took time to relax and enjoy the victory. During the Obama Presidency, we’ve celebrated other milestones that reinforce our supposed triumph over racism in America.
In the past decade or so, and for a few more years, every great accomplishment of the Civil Rights Movement turns 50 years old. There have been numerous commemorations and televised specials. There will be countless more. In 2018, I’m certain many will speak of how much we’ve accomplished since the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Country will celebrate his sacrifice with pomp and circumstance. Whoever the President is will host a big affair, and the King children will pretend to get along long enough to bask in their father’s glory.
Yet, the reality is that racism in America is not dead
The recent massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, and the burning of Black Churches across the Nation remind us of this fact. America was comfortable with the murders of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Kajime Powell, Eric Garner, Rumain Brisbon, et al, because some could say there were two sides to the story. There was a “justifiable” reason for those killings. There was a way for many in America to blame the victims.
No such reasoning is possible with Emmanuel AME Church. There is no way to blame the victims here. Even the effort at suggesting the Church should have had armed security is theologically reprehensible. The undeniable fact is that there’s still a tremendous problem with racism in America. That this horrifying terrorist attack could inspire even more racially motivated violence is even more evidence of our problem.
We can’t seem to escape racism in America
Why is that? Why is it that no matter how much we think we’ve overcome, we come right back to this familiar place? That is the question I explore in this sermon: