In the year that I was born, at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in Atlanta, GA, Martin Luther King Jr. said this: “I have decided to love. If you are seeking the highest good, I think you can find it through love. And the beautiful thing is that we are moving against wrong when we do it, because John was right, God is love. [The one] who hates does not know God, but [the one] who has love has the key that unlocks the door to the meaning of ultimate reality.” (Where Do We Go from Here: Chaos or Community?, 1967).
The very next year King was murdered.
Dr. Cornel West said this about King’s dream: “he wanted us to be love-struck, not color blind”—it is not that we ignore someone’s race but acknowledge and embrace it, we must “remember that it’s part of who that person is, and to love that person for it.” It is when we know a person (one created in the very image of God) that we love . . . and to be loved is to be known.
For Christmas this year, I purchased for my husband the book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. And, it has been convicting. It is not that I have been completely unaware of where we are situated as a nation with regard to race, but now I am blatantly aware, openly informed. As a human being I am obligated to address this issue of injustice—the system of incarceration, specifically. The only way I know how to begin is by writing about it. Puny, feeble, relatively insignificant start (who am I that anyone will listen to, leave alone heed what I have to say?)—Still, it is a start.
I have escaped the scrutiny the privilege my lighter skin color affords. What a ridiculous reason for there to be a difference in how I am treated and the opportunities available to me. Yet, it is for this reason I am, without question, obligated to be a part of making things right in this world: righteousness and justice—the crux of the law and the prophets. It is not difficult to read a book. This one is available on Audible.com, in Kindle format, used and in libraries. It is not a definitive work (there are incalculable facets to human relationship and sociological/anthropological systems). But, The New Jim Crow is an exposition of the development of policy that is not confined to a political party or religious affiliation. You may not agree with some of the conclusions drawn by the author, Michelle Alexander. Yet, my prayer is that, if you were to read this book, you might develop a different perspective on some major systemic policies that are having devastating effects on entire populations (composed of individuals—human beings who bear the very image of God).
In her book, Alexander sees the effort worth it. That we should eschew the misguided notion of colorblindness, and “see each other fully, learn from each other and do what we can to respond to each other with love. That was King’s dream—a society that is capable of seeing each of us, as we are, with love. That is a goal worth fighting for.” The New Jim Crow, 244.
And, it seems to me that this is a worthy goal for a new year. Is anyone willing to join me?!