My toddler sobbed uncontrollably as she tried to open the door. I calmly – or at least I tried to be calm – told her that she had to wear a diaper. She continued to pout. I continued to wait. After sobbing for a few minutes, she reluctantly realized that I was right.
When God asked me to speak out publicly about racial reconciliation, I threw a tantrum that mimicked my daughter's. Like my daughter, I wanted to do it my way.
A black friend asked me to speak about Travon Martin’s murder. I said no. I didn’t want to burn bridges. I thought God wanted me to use my influence to encourage my white friends, students, and family. I thought that speaking out would destroy those relationships. God waited while I pouted.
A white alumnus asked me to share God’s call to fight injustice. I excused my silence and encouraged him to speak to his friends. God patiently waited as I continued my tantrum.
A non-Christian friend asked, if God cares about racial injustice, how come Christians aren’t talking about systematic racism. I told her that I had been vocal about God’s call for justice. She asked, if no one had heard me, had I really spoken out against injustice?
God patiently asked, are you ready to follow me now? Are you ready to speak up?
I chose not to obey God, because I was afraid. Scared of losing students, donors, friends, and family members, I stayed silent. I thought I knew better than God. I could win people over with my actions, but my actions were drowned out by my silence.
God asked me to speak out so that I could worship him. "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to lose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6) Systematic racism creates chains that are choking people of color. Our silence strengthens those chains.
I Spoke up to Show love to my Friends of Color
Growing up in Saudi Arabia, my father modeled advocating for others, especially Filipinos. One day I asked why the Filipinos in my town loved my father, my Filipino friend said, because unlike everyone else, he treats us like we are human.
We are called to love our neighbor. Elie Wiesel said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference.” Elie Wiesel concluded by saying a person is indifferent because, “his or her neighbor(s) are of no consequence.” My indifference to my black friends' pain was defined by my unwillingness to speak.
By refusing to publicly condemn racism, we are communicating that our black friends’ pain doesn’t matter. When we refuse to testify the words of racist people speak for the majority white culture, they define the narrative drowning out hope. Regardless of what I believed, when I was silent, the only voices my friends of color heard were the voices clamoring that they didn’t matter.
I Spoke up because I believe in Miracles
When you speak with love, conviction, and most importantly the truth of the gospel your words have the power to transform. As I began to speak out against injustice some of my friends’ hearts began to change.
My words created a picture that allowed some people to see the evil of systematic racism. Through scripture, prayer, and the willingness to proclaim truth, I got to show people that racial reconciliation is a gospel issue. We speak up because white nationalist, neo-Nazis, racist, and majority culture people are also our neighbors. Loving our neighbors includes rebuking them so that they can experience the beauty of a multi-ethnic reconciled community.
I Spoke up to know God
As the media reported on Trayvon Martin’s death, I lost hope that God could ever reconcile our community. The media eviscerated a young man. They blamed him for daring to walk home at night. My hopelessness grew as the media transformed Trayvon Martin from a victim to a criminal.
I started to speak out after George Zimmerman was acquitted. Every time I spoke, I saw more of God’s heart for justice.
As we speak out against injustice, God gives us hope to believe that we can be a part of bringing his kingdom here.
Charlottesville was not an anomaly. Systematic racism continues to chain our brothers and sisters. We can choose to excuse our silence and let people's criticism that we are being divisive mute our voice. However, God taught us that all people are made in His image. He commanded us to speak in love. He will patiently wait for us to realize that by staying silent we are complicit.
So let us follow God and worship Him by calling out injustice.