Black lives matter
It is September 2020 as I write this, and the black lives matter movement has quickly moved from a genuine human response to perceived unjust police treatment into an aggressive Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement whereby many people fear that they are being forced (shamed) into submiting to something more radical than genuinely feeling a measure of compassion for our fellow man.
The bowing of the knee and/or raising a clenched fist.
What are we as Christians to think?
Let's start with what God thinks, and for this I need to tell something of Miriam's story in Exodus chapter fifteen.
When Moses led the children of Israel out from under Pharaoh's cruel rule they came to the edge of the Red Sea. I'm sure we all know the story well. God parted the sea and the Israelites walked through on dry land but when Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen tried to follow, the Lord closed the waters over them. Finally the Children of Israel were free from his rule.
Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing. Miriam sang to them:
Miriam was acknowledged by God as a leader of his people.
Micah chapter 6 verse 4
So far so good.
What could go wrong? Let's see.
But He did have a problem with Miriam and Aaron’s response to their brother’s marriage to a black woman.
Moses's new wife was not a Jew. Note that Miriam and Moses did not take offence because she wasn't a Jew, but because she was a Cushite.
There is even a strong possibility that his new wife had become a Jew (or became a Jew)
There has been a portion of black skinned Ethiopians with such a long history of devout Judaism that in Israel they are termed ‘Beta Israel’. In 1984 during a civil war in Sudan that caused a famine Israeli forces secretly smuggled around 8000 Ethiopian Jews out of Sudan to live in Israel. The Queen of Sheba who came to visit King Solomon was was the ruler of an ancient kingdom located in the areas called Ethiopia and Yemen today.
The Bible names Miriam first rather than the more usual practice of naming the man first, because while Aaron was part of this rebellion against Moses, it was Miriam who was at the root of it.
And God's judgement gave her 'a taste of her own medicine'
Miriam had been repulsed by the black woman’s skin so God temporarily made her skin repulsive to others. God’s punishment was also a lesson to her, ‘how does it feel to be judged by your skin?’
When the seven days were up, God healed her skin and she was brought back 'into the fold'
Note however, that Aaron repented and asked Moses to forgive him. From Miriam there is no mention of repentance. Perhaps she still thought she was right?
I will leave the remainder of her story here as it makes the point.
Racism can be described as an explicit or implicit belief or practice that qualitatively distinguishes or values one race over other races. John Piper tells of being at a missionary conference in 1967 where Warren Webster, a former missionary to Pakistan, answered a student’s question: “what if your daughter falls in love with a Pakistani while you’re on the mission field and wants to marry him?” and with great forcefulness he said, “The Bible would say, Better a Christian Pakistani than a godless white American!” John said the impact on us all was profound.
Racism has no place in God's Kingdom. He made us all in His image. He will never judge us on our nationality or our skin colour, but only on our heart's response to His offer of salvation through the death and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.
So what's going on with 'black lives matter'?
What framework do we put it in?
Such things don't suddenly explode out of nowhere. There is always a story.
I'm Irish. I understand this.
To begin with, it's important to understand the power of generational influences.
(I have a written teaching on this site called Understanding generational influences)
Another useful term to explain this issue can be 'generational memories'.
So, like all deep-rooted issues, this is indeed a multi-generational story.
With slavery at its root.
And it's worth taking the time to understand this generational journey in some detail so that as
Many nations were involved and grew extremely rich through the African slave trade to the New World and to Europe. In particular the Portuguese, the British, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch, and the Danish and of course the 'New World' (America).
The number purchased by the traders was considerably higher, since the passage had a high death rate with approximately 1.2–2.4 million dying during the voyage, and millions more dying in seasoning camps in the Caribbean after arrival to the New World.
Most slaves were sold to the European traders by other Africans. They usually bought enslaved people who were captured in endemic warfare between African states. Some Africans had made a business out of capturing Africans from neighboring ethnic groups or war captives and selling them. People living around the Niger River were transported from slave markets to the coast and sold at European trading ports in exchange for muskets and manufactured goods such as cloth or alcohol. In addition to the deaths already mentioned during the voyages, millions of slaves also died as a result of the slave raids, the wars and during the transport to the coast for sale to European slave traders.
While those held in slavery in their own region of Africa might hope to escape, those shipped away had little chance of returning to Africa. Thus, the Africans arriving in Europe or America as slaves were regarded as almost less than human, and certainly as grossly inferior to the white people. Their value was purely a monetary value.
On July 4, 1776, the Second Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, declaring:
However the thinking at the time was that 'all men' essentially referred to European Americans
African Americans, indigenous peoples, Irish, Mexican Americans, and Chinese were perceived to be of a lower status than whites.
And so established slavery was not (yet) included in the full revelation of that great declaration.
To our shame many southern ministers had embibed the surrounding slave culture and preached of the white man's 'God given' right to have black slaves, which gave slave owners the confidence to believe they had God's approval for their behaviour. The four founders of the first and oldest educational institution of the Southern Baptist Convention owned fifty slaves.
Gradually, over the next eighty years, the views of many in the northern states substantially changed.
President Abraham Lincoln Lincoln personally hated slavery, and considered it immoral.
Tensions over slavery had been steadily growing in the United States and eventually seven southern slave owning states left the Union and formed the Confederate States of America, and civil war (1861-65) followed between the north (the Union) and the south. 180,000 African Americans served with the Union in the war. An estimated 750,000 soldiers from both sides died.
Although the issue of slavery was an important part of the mix, the main purpose of the war from the Union's point of view, was to re-unite America. The Union won the war and on January 1865, both houses of Congress passed the 13th Amendment - the Emancipation Proclamation - which paved the way for the permanent abolition of slavery in the United States.
Abraham Lincoln said.
Two months later he was assasinated by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathiser.
The war had been won on the battlefield but not yet in the hearts of the men who were defeated.
It legally abolished slavery, but not segregation.
Laws in the form of “Black Codes.” were passed throughout the South starting around 1865, that dictated most aspects of black peoples’ lives, including where they could work and live. The codes also ensured black people’s availability for cheap labor after slavery was abolished. They were still regarded as grossly inferior to the white people. Their value was still purely of monetary value.
The Klu Klux Klan, a ruthless secret organization remained bent on preserving white supremacy at all costs.
The courageous actions of Martin Luther King - who was inspired by his Christian beliefs and the nonviolent activism of Mahatma Gandhi - led a march to Washington on August 28th 1963 when 250,000 people, white and black, gathered to hear his famous speech,"I have a dream that one day all could say 'Free at last, Free at last' Thank God Almighty, we are free at last' ( Historic footage) It brought a response from President John F. Kennedy
In a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, he urged the nation to take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race. Soon after, he proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address voting rights, public accommodations, school desegregation, nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, and more.
Kennedy was assasinated in November of 1963, but his proposal culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. The act outlawed segregation in businesses such as theaters, restaurants, and hotels. It banned discriminatory practices in employment and ended segregation in public places such as swimming pools, libraries, and public schools.
However the passing of this law to ensure African Americans of the basic right to vote had little effect in some parts of the state. Perhaps no place was Jim Crow’s grip tighter than in Dallas County, Alabama, where African Americans made up more than half of the population, yet accounted for just 2 percent of registered voters.
For months, the efforts of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee to register Black voters in the county seat of Selma had been thwarted, often being met with violence.
In January 1965, Martin Luther King, Jr., came to the city and gave the backing of the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC) to the cause. Peaceful demonstrations in Selma and surrounding communities resulted in the arrests of thousands, including King. He wrote to the New York Times, “This is Selma, Alabama. There are more negroes in jail with me than there are on the voting rolls.”
Stanford University's Martin Luther King Jr. Research and Education Institute writes,
In the wake of the shocking incident, President Lyndon B. Johnson called for comprehensive voting rights legislation. In a speech to a joint session of Congress on March 15, 1965, the president outlined the devious ways in which election officials denied African American citizens the vote.
Black people attempting to vote often were told by election officials that they had gotten the date, time or polling place wrong, that they possessed insufficient literacy skills or that they had filled out an application incorrectly. Black people, whose population suffered a high rate of illiteracy due to centuries of oppression and poverty, often would be forced to take literacy tests, which they sometimes failed.
Johnson also told Congress that voting officials, primarily in Southern states, had been known to force Black voters to “recite the entire Constitution or explain the most complex provisions of state laws,” a task most white voters would have been hard-pressed to accomplish. In some cases, even Black people with college degrees were turned away from the polls.
Then on March 25th 1965 Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators, this time guarded by state troopers, on a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Montgomery aimed at asking the right to vote for all African Americans and for the end of racial segregation in the South. (Historic footage)
King told the crowd,
Finally, on 6 August, 1965 in the presence of Martin Luther King and other civil rights leaders, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Recalling “the outrage of Selma,” Johnson called the right to vote “the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men”
In 1968 King was shot dead.
However, in 1859 - just three years before the civil war - the first printing of Charles Darwin's book, 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life', sold out in a matter of days, and greatly fueled the idea that the black man was grossly inferior in his evoltionary ape to man timeline theory. [emphasis mine]
In his book The Descent of Man he wrote,
One of Evolution's best known advocates, Professor Stephen Jay Gould, wrote in his book 'Ontogeny and Phylogeny'
In the many years of aggressively apportioning blame for the historical plight of the black man Charles Darwin's truly monumental role is almost totally ignored.
As the apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:12
So, with such a degrading multi-generational background to emerge from, we need to be compassionately aware of the lack of worth and the lack of acceptance that has been forged deep within the soul of the African American (and other western nations) for some four centuries. (The trading of enslaved people exported from Africa began slowly in 1525 before gathering momentum in the following centuries)
The 1947 Black baby test with young children showed how this generational inheritance made the children believe that black is ugly and that black is bad. Thus, if they are black they are ugly and they are bad.
Despite discrimination laws being finally removed in 1965, the multi-generational effects of being treated as substantially inferior are still deeply embedded, and many black communities, especially the low income communities, suffer with deep cultural issues.
As I write, there is a strong media spotlight on the subject of police discrimination and violence towards the black communities. This is a widely researched subject, sometimes reaching contradicting conclusions.
The channel four factcheck web page has this to say about police discrimination (mainly) amidst the black communities with cultural issues.
However, other studies show that there are police and court issues to be considered in the mix.
Wikepedia's extensive 'Race and Crime in the United States' page says,
So, while there is enough truth in the claims of discrimination by police and courts to demand appropriate correcting changes be put in place, there is also a very real need for the the black community to take ownership of the internal issues that play a serious part in inflaming the issue.
The Citizen produced an article entitled 'Most serious problems for blacks rooted in culture, not racism'.
The obvious problem is that with such highly visible levels of severe cultural breakdown - which according to the above differs significantly from the black culture of yesteryear - there will be a more than average interaction with authority, figures, whether police, courts or social services, and this can lead to the increased perception of victimhood within the black community and at the same time encourage discrimination within non-black communities. Both 'sides' need to determine to actively promote change.
The polite term "cultural breakdown' masks the many experiences that people have had, or have read about others having. (This is the bit I don't like referring to, but it has to be included)
While blacks make up 13 % of the population according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, black offenders committed 52 per cent of homicides recorded in the data between 1980 and 2008. Only 45 per cent of the offenders were white. Blacks were disproportionately likely to commit homicide and to be the victims.
In 2008 the offending rate for blacks was seven times higher than for whites and the victimisation rate was six times higher. 94 per cent of black victims were killed by blacks and 84 per cent of white victims were killed by whites.
Thus, while most hate crimes (as you will read later) are NOT against blacks, a prevelant perception is that if a black man enters a lift, a white woman will clutch her purse more tightly. Black men are likely do get this reaction more often than white men. Psychologists have done some studies which indicate that on a subconscious level almost all Americans feel more threatened by black men than by white men. That result applies to Americans of every color. Higher poverty rates among various urban black communities might explain the difference in crime rates, although the evidence is mixed.
Sadly the riots, the violence, the harrasment, the looting and the massive levels of wanton destruction being played out on our screens night after night (as I write) in black community areas serves only to compound and confirm, not contradict, that criminal and violent perception.
But back to slavery.
Slavery was, of course, much more widespread than America.
For instance the French colonies in the Caribbean, in which some 80% of the total population had lived under the slave system since the seventeenth century, underwent a most unusual experience involving the initial abolition of slavery in 1794, its re-establishment in 1802 and then a second, and permanent abolition in 1848.
Despite relentless opposition, devout Christians William Wilberforce and former slave trader John Newton (Amazing Grace Hymn) played major roles in finally ending slavery in most of the British Empire. The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 abolished slavery in most British colonies, freeing more than 800,000 enslaved Africans in the Caribbean and South Africa as well as a small number in Canada. (2006 Amazing Grace film)
Those of us who are not black need to be strongly aware of the historical superior view of the white man and the inferior view of the black man that has been forged deep within the soul of the European and American people for centuries. If not in the concious, then the subconcious.
Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through non-violent resistance. (Historic footage) As with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King's non-violent and dignified protests exposed the worst in their opponents.
However, these are different days to the days of Martin Luther King.
The response to George Floyd's death while being held on the ground under the knee of a Minnesota police man triggered a deep emotional response from his community, but this was quickly embraced, inflamed, and led by the Black Lives Matter organisation. (from now on will often be be referred to as BLM)
As the emotional response from the black community and the BLM's organised response both came under the one 'Black Lives Matter' banner, people found themselves wholeheartedly agreeing with the fact that (of course) black lives matter, but feeling threatened by the aggressive demands to 'bow the knee' or 'take the knee' to 'Black Lives Matter'.
BLM's website states,
Until mid-september 2020 their official website had three options. What We Believe, Our Leadership, Our Co-Founders. These were then removed. (as of mid-September)
Fox News obtained a lesson plan from the Buffalo public school which,
Hebah Farrag, of the USC Center for Religion and Civic Culture interviewed Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac. in 2015. These are the some of the facts that came from that interview.
She grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, but left the tradition at an early age. She watched her mother leave the fellowship several times. “At any given moment, the elders, which were all men, could decide if you were going to be disassociated from the fellowship in the Kingdom Hall,” she recalled. Such an environment left her with a deep sense of shame.
“By 12, 13, I knew that this was not the place for me, but I felt very connected to spirit. So the question became, what is the place for me?” she said. She turned to her great-grandmother, who is from the Choctaw and Blackfoot tribes, and talked to her about her great-grandfather, a medicine man. Her interest in indigenous spirituality led to Ifà.
She said, "When you are working with people who have been directly impacted by state violence and heavy policing in our communities, it is really important that there is a connection to the spirit world"
In this audio extract from a televised interview Patrisse confirmed that she and her two fellow leaders - especially Alicia Garza - are trained marxists.
When Cuban dictator Fidel Castro died in 2016, the organization published an article on 'Medium' that declared “we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,” and ended with “Fidel Vive!” (previously online here)
In another interview Patrisse said, “I was trained to believe in an international fight against U.S. imperialism.”
For Karl Marx, the goal was the conquest of political power by workers, the abolition of private property, and the eventual establishment of a classless and stateless communist society. Lenin wrote that it is “won and maintained by the use of violence”.
In 1848 Marx wrote 'The Communist Manisfesto' where he said, "The communists, the vanguard of the working class, would make up the section of society that would accomplish the abolition of private property and “raise the proletariat (working class) to the position of ruling class"
In October 2016 The Will County News published an article based on an Intelligence report on the aims of the Black Lives Movement by Everett Stern a US Senate and Intelligence director. I quote several extracts from the lengthy report.,
The events in America triggered similar protests elsewhere.
On Twitter, @BLMUK endorsed the complete closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres, saying they were ‘inhumane, overcrowded and unsafe [and] should be abolished.’
So, while you can easily do your own research, the point is made.
A genuine emotional reaction to another unwarranted African American death by police in America was easily hijacked, easily inflamed and easily driven by BLM's radical marxist agenda. Riots, violent assualts, harrasment, attemped murders and murder occurred. (And on the rise as I write: Sept.2020)
A study showed that between May - September (at this time of writing) when 49 US states experienced riots that BLM was behind 91% of the riots. 7% of which turned violent. In that short time over $1 billion of damage was caused making it possibly the highest insurance payout in history.
The most serious inflaming of the black community is the appearance of a 2,500 armed black militia. Calling themselves the NFAC (The Not F****** Around Coalition) Their leader 'Grandmaster Jay' said,
More warlords are not the answer.
The majority of protestors (by far) are peaceful.
There is still a genuine work to be done, and many good hearts everywhere are willing to acknowledge that.
The subconcious linking of the black profile with delinquency can effect even the highest ranks.
Even today as I write this, 25 year old Alexandra Wilson, defence barrister and founder of Black Women in Law, was mistaken for a defendant three times in one day within a British court of law (where the cap and gowns are not normally worn). The courts have apologised and she has graciously accepted that.
Thus, as Christians we need to seperate the aggresive spirit behind Black Lives Matter (BLM) from the genuine historical fears, pain, rejection and general de-valuing of the African American (and other western nations) black man.
And in humility we need to take ownership of the historical fact that the European and American 'white man' has dealt with his brother contrary to what God would demand.
And it's good to confess that.
God will not be offended.
Remember God's strong response to Miriam over her response to Moses' decision to marry an Ethiopian?
Black lives matter, yes. Black Lives Matter, no.
It would be wrong to end this editorial with the focus only on the painful history of African American slavery.
Slavery is still flourishing in many forms throughout the world.
Matthew 25:31- 46 is worth reading afresh occasionally to ensure our hearts are in tune with heart of God.
It would also be wrong to end this editorial with the impression that most hate crimes in America are against African Americans. Jews in America suffer from the most hate crimes. Then Muslims. Then Blacks.
And Christians are the most persecuted religious group in the world.
In this fallen, broken and wounded world we must always remember what Jesus has called us to do.
The battle all around us is not against flesh and blood, but against the unseen, but very real, dark spiritual powers.
The apostle John wrote,
Always using the aggresive binary attack.
If you are pro-life - you hate women! If you believe marriage should be between a man and a woman - you're homophobic! If you won't bow the knee to Black Lives Matter - you're a racist! Etc.
Love your neighbour as yourself, but don't submit your redeemed spirit to the spiritual rulers of this age.
There is only One we bow the knee to.
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