It was a warm day in May on my second trip to Haiti. I took a morning walk, with the older boys (ages 8 to 11). Holding my hand and swinging it with each step the youngest looked up at me, “You should stay in the sun all day so you can be the same color as me.” We all laughed, knowing that his dark pigment wasn’t obtained through mere sunlight. But I told him it was a fantastic idea and I would readily do so if it would really make me the same color as him.
In his little corner of the world I am the minority. I look so different from him, but he is my friend. We laugh and talk and throw rocks up at towering mango trees and suddenly the color of our skin becomes insignificant. In his childlike innocence he doesn’t know that outside of Haiti we are viewed as very different. There is a chasm that stands between my ethnicity and his. There is devastating hurt and hatred and injustice.
The event of May 25 hit the news like fire. Another black man killed by a white police officer. He was out of line. His act was evil. But was one murder (of an estimated 46 per day in the US) really the cause of so much outrage and violence. No, I don’t think so. Not really. It was the tip of the iceberg of a million other offences over the last 400 years. America has always boasted of freedom and equality, but for some that is far from the reality of life here.
Ken Ham speaks into the ongoing “black and white” tension. He says; “African Americans were once subject to great injustices in the land of the free. From Jim Crow laws to scientific experimentation, African Americans suffered and struggled, the Church was largely silent and indifferent to their plight. The reaction of Africans to the outright racism and silence was predictable. As the Bible says ‘A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city…’ Proverbs 18:19.” And we are still, all these years later, failing in many ways to win back the trust of our brothers.
We know the reality of ethnic tension in America and around the world. Every genocide was born of it. What is the solution? I’ve asked myself this many times over the past few weeks. Being engaged to a man who doesn’t share my ethnicity and living a majority of my time as a minority in Haiti the tension is more deeply felt. What is the solution? Should I be blind to our biological differences such as skin tone and hair texture? Should we choose to love blindly? No! Absolutely not! As Christians we see the differences, just as that little Haitian boy saw my pale hand in his dark one. We see, but we also see past those differences until they become no hindrance to unity.
I will say that again. When we see all of our differences in light of our Creator who loves diversity, they become no hindrance to unity. Whatever the divisions, true men and women of God don’t hate back, they don’t curse back, they don’t abuse back. They love, they do good, they bless, they pray. I was asked my view on the killing of last month. It has been hard to put to words. I will say this. I do not condone the violence coming from the streets, but I do weep with the black community. And I long for the day that the hurts between us will finally be reconciled.
The list could go on and on of the men and women and children from different ethnicities that have made a mark on my life. They have shaped me not in spite of our differences but because of them. In the incredible design of our Father we are only able to experience the full beauty of His design when we experience diversity.
There is beauty and power of praise that comes from unity in diversity that is greater than that which comes from unity alone… More depth and beauty is felt from a choir that sings in parts than a choir that sings only in unison. Unity in diversity is more beautiful and more powerful than unity in uniformity. This carries over to the untold differences that exist between the peoples of the world. When their diversity unites in worship to God, the beauty of their praise will echo the depth and greatness of God’s beauty far more than if the redeemed were from only a few different people groups.John Piper
The past few years I have come across many wonderful resources on ethnicity and racism and crossing cultures. Here is a list of my recommendations.