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Bridging the Racial Divide

Overcoming racism requires that we have a better understanding of American history. A large part of the problem is that many don’t understand how deeply ingrained racism is in our cultural history. These resources are meant to educate and inform those who are interested in knowing and learning.

Race and the Church – Azure Hills Seventh-day Adventist Church presents a video discussion by Dr. Kendra Haloviak Valentine, Ph.D. Professor of New Testament Studies at La Sierra University. This is an excellent overview of some of the key issues.

Slavery by a Different Name – A video clip by PBS about Peonage, also called debt slavery or debt servitude. After the “end” of slavery many Southern farmer and land owners created a system where an employer could compel a worker to pay off a debt with work. Legally, peonage was outlawed by Congress in 1867.  However, after Reconstruction, many Southern black men were swept into peonage though different methods, and the system was not completely eradicated until the 1940s. In some cases, employers advanced workers some pay or initial transportation costs, and workers willingly agreed to work without pay in order to pay it off. Sometimes those debts were quickly paid off, and a fair wage worker/employer relationship established. In many more cases, however, workers became indebted to planters (through sharecropping loans), merchants (through credit), or company stores (through living expenses). Workers were often unable to re-pay the debt, and found themselves in a continuous work-without-pay cycle.

[Please Note: Some of the thoughts expressed in the books below are strong and not necessarily supportive of God’s Kingdom principles. The Pacific Union Conference does not endorse such language, but believes their content addresses questions and issues that needs to be explored from a biblical perspective].

What Black Lives Matters Means to Me, by Precilla Josiah – What does Black Lives Matter mean? There have been many assumptions that it means black lives matter more, or black lives matter above other lives—no, that is not what this means. It means that black lives should matter and be valued at the same level as any other life. Our opinions, thoughts and pain should be taken seriously.

Would We Have Marched? – From a devotional perspective, Rich DuBose explores how the contemporaries of Christ may have felt as they wrestled with his claims, teachings and actions.

Significant Videos to Watch

Jim Crow of the North – Roots of racial disparities are seen through a new lens in this film that explores the origins of housing segregation in the Minneapolis area. But the story also illustrates how African-American families and leaders resisted this insidious practice, and how Black people built community — within and despite — the red lines that these restrictive covenants created. Produced by PBS.

A Parable for Today

All Sheep Matter – With the parable of the lost sheep there are lessons that can help us defeat racism:

“A shepherd in charge of 100 sheep notices that one of his sheep has gone astray. What do you think he should do? Should the shepherd leave the flock on the hills unguarded to search for the lost sheep? God’s shepherd goes to look for that one lost sheep, and when he finds her, he is happier about her return than he is about the 99 who stayed put. Your Father in heaven does not want a single one of the tripped, waylaid, stumbling little ones to be lost” (Matthew 18:12-14, The Voice).

All sheep matter to God, yet when one goes missing he focuses all of His energy on that one sheep so He can restore it to His flock!

“The wisdom of the world says the shepherd should forget that one missing sheep and chalk it up as a loss. In God’s economy, each soul has its own value apart from all others. Jesus calls the people of His kingdom to help the weak and the friendless, the small and the frail, the mute and the poor, the ugly and the disfigured.” —The Voice

All lives matter and God celebrates each one. Yet, just like in the parable of the lost sheep, there are times when people are in peril because of environmental and attitudinal endangerments. This marginalizes and depreciates them to the point they are depicted as second-rate and of questionable value. Because of this, special effort is needed to restore them to wholeness.

The statement, “Black Lives Matter,” does not mean other races are less valuable than black lives, or less deserving of care (as the shepherd’s efforts to find his lost sheep never meant the the ninety-nine in the fold were less important). It means that sometimes special effort is needed to restore what has been taken or lost from those who are black. They are “lost” in the sense that they have ended up disenfranchised and suppressed. If we disagree with this statement we need to better educate ourselves about racism, and this page is designed to help do this.

Other related reading: Precious in His Sight | Racism in the Church

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About Rich DuBose

Rich DuBose

writes from Northern California

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