Photo by N. Dumlaoue
The pandemic hit the U.S. in February and by mid-March, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, New York, and 4 other US territories had reported disease. We’ve had some 2 million cases and lost over 100,000 lives.
The virus hit the country as a silent assault, masked under the cover of just another flu. But we soon learned that it carried a deadly punch.
In a few short months, it changed how we experience the world, how we treat one another, and how we navigate our lives. Who would have thought this silent enemy was hiding in plain sight, waiting to disrupt and conquer.
And just as we were getting our arms around a pandemic – masked, hands sanitized, and socially distant – the winds swept in an epidemic. A virus of hate that has been incubating in this country for 100s of years. Each time it raises its ugly head, many fight the assault, pushing it back underground.
The illness contaminates those with narrow minds and hardened hearts. Unfortunately, it has infected the fabric of our nation, threatening the country’s foundation. The carriers spread the contagion through social media posts, community conflicts, and acts of violence towards those that look, speak, and believe differently.
But this disease also devastates the lives that fight to eradicate it. A history of brave souls that have fought diligently to wipe out the virus and its effects – Harriet Tubman, Dred Scott, Frederick Douglas, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and hundreds of others.
A persistent, sinister illness that takes vigilance, education, and determination to eradicate.
My husband and I are Black. We live in a small Oregon community where blacks make up less than 4% of the total population. If you’re not intentional, you will overlook us.
My husband is very active in the community. I don’t think there are many people he doesn’t know. And if doesn’t know them, it won’t be very long until he can tell you their life stories. He is one of those people that love to engage in the lives of others.
A few years ago, he was driving home – the same route he has taken 100s of times. He pulled through a major intersection, the light flashing yellow, the intersection clear. He headed up the hill making the right-turn to our home. When behind him red lights flashed in his rearview mirror. The officer had been following him for nearly a mile. My husband pulled over and lowered his window.
The officer sat in his vehicle for a few minutes and then approached the car. As he neared the window, he belted out the standard, “Driver’s license and registration.” After a glance at both, he asked, “So how long have you had this car?” No references to driving violations or vehicle maintenance issues, just a focus on the ownership of the car. My husband responded, “I’ve had it a few years.” The officer added, “You didn’t give me enough room at the yellow light.” My husband acknowledged his comment. The officer looked around the car, handed him back his license and registration, and walked casually back to his vehicle.
As the officer drove off, my husband sat a few minutes gathering his thoughts, what had just happened? Was this an innocent inquiry? A chance to educate? Was this a subtle, perhaps unconscious, judgmental action that reflects the insidious nature of the virus of racism?
Unlike our need to rush to create a vaccine to battle COVID-19, we have an inoculate for this epidemic.
We each can play a role to combat this infection. When it comes to covert racism, injustice, ignorance, and hatred,
We Are the Vaccine!
We are the answer.
Gen 1:27 reminds us that,
…God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
New International Version (NIV)
The color of our skin, the languages we speak, our cultures, traditions, food preferences all speak to the amazing creativity of our father. Yet, we all carry His image; we all are created by Him. There are no differences, no superiority, only beautiful variation.
We can work to celebrate our differences, honoring the image of God in each person. We can encourage, educate, reflect God’s original plan for His children. We can allow Him to work through us, we are the antidote, and God is the healer.
Image bearers, brothers, sisters, family – in this paradigm there is no room for hate, no place for racism, no space for inferiority.
BeLOVED, please join me in praying for God’s original plan to be recognized in this country and around the world. It is only through Him that we will find our healing.
I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.
Martin Luther King Jr.