T.R. Ragland

Non-Negotiables for Talking About Racial Reconciliation

T.R. Ragland
Non-Negotiables for Talking About Racial Reconciliation

Injuries from discrimination, cultural disunity, and racism have plagued our country since its conception. Whether this bethe early European settlers and the Native Americans, the Union and Confederacy, whites and blacks, or citizens and foreigners we have always found a way to designate and discriminate against an “other.”

Currently, minority groups face struggles in our culture from historical wounds of slavery and discrimination, and recent social and systemic injustices. Everywhere you turn people are talking about these problems (whether they deem them to be valid or not). Although it is good the conversation is happening, we must ask ourselves, are we talking about it rightly?

In order to heal the wounds of racial division in our churches, communities, and country we must remain rooted in truth, equity, and reconciliation while we pursue justice. In any major endeavor, risk will always be involved. To save the ship the captain may require excess cargo to be thrown overboard. However, on our voyage to justice, we must never see truth, equity, and reconciliation as excess. Rather, these must be seen as the priorities. To lose even one in order to secure a short-term victory will ultimately cause us to forfeit the war.

TRUTH

Without truth – which encompasses scripture, honesty, and awareness – any effort to heal the wounds of racial division will lack power and clarity. Since there are so many voices speaking about this, confusion can easily prevail. Our conversations, articles, and roundtables can quickly become a bad game of telephone, and though we are in the good fight we lose sight of the good we are fighting for. This is why a unified voice, rooted in the truth of the scriptures must be at the foundation of our efforts towards justice.

Truth ought to shape our preferences. Without this, preference can make matters about the self, but truth requires a level of consciousness that reveals the lies that seek to throw us off task.

EQUITY

Equality says everyone should get the same treatment, which is an ideal we should work for, but for this to happen, we must first understand how to distribute equity. Equity gives what is needed specifically to the people who need it. When Houston was hit by the hurricane in 2017, many communities did not hesitate to send extra help in the area even though it may have meant another need was not as greatly met elsewhere. Any effort to heal the wounds of racial division at the expense of equity is unrealistic and, in the eyes of the offended party, a false hope. It is no coincidence that the God of the universe stewarded his time on earth by devoting much of it to the “other.” We cannot simply “move on” without dealing with the wreckage the storm of racial hostility has caused in many communities. Thus, a heart of compassion and generosity that helps give a leg up to those in need – with resources, relationships, and knowledge – shows evidence that there is care for the person, not just the cause.

RECONCILIATION

Lastly, all efforts to heal the wounds of racial division without a true desire to reconcile, fail to reflect the very heart of the gospel and gash the wound deeper than before. This last point seems redundant, but the heart of man is deceitfully wicked. Many wear the mask of reconciliation with a hidden agenda for self or with no intentions of entering into gospel-centered relationships. They will dialogue, research, hire, and protest in the name of reconciliation, yet our means of engagement and our actions prove that we are in it for self. If I’m supposedly trying to reconcile a matter with my wife, I may be brutally honest and things may go my way, but if our intimacy with one another is still broken, then I have lost. Celebrating would be a vicious validation of the depths of my selfishness.  Likewise, as we inch towards restoration, we must make sure that our words, actions, and motives are not pushing the goal further away.

All in all, if we wish to see people made whole, communities, and systems flourishing with justice, and the church of Christ truly represent its Savior we must ensure that our pursuit forsakes none of the aforementioned pillars. Each of them together provides a check and balance for the others. With truth we will have purpose; with equity, we will have hope, and with reconciliation, we will have unity. Luckily for us, the author of our faith has provided a blueprint. He did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but instead, He emptied Himself by becoming a man even until death on a cross. Then, as a result of his commitment to truth and humble sacrifice, he secured our salvation while simultaneously breaking down the dividing wall of hostility between God and humanity, and the hostility amongst fellow people. As a result, Christ made available to us the wisdom of truth, grace allotted by equity, and salvation which reconciles us to God.

T.R. "Ty" Ragland is a husband, teacher, journalist, and graduate student at the University of Dallas studying Humanities. Ty yearns to see truth made accessible to the public sphere through all art forms. Ty is the co-founder and associate editor of The Grounds Journal.