Black History Month And The Fault Of Our Pride – Cardinal & Cream

Posted By on February 6, 2020

This may be an unconventional way to start an article for an online newspaper, but I feel it must be said before I go on. I am unqualified to write this. Maybe you knew that already, and if so, good. I am 22 years old, white, and have been too prideful to realize that while I thought I had been a part of the pursuit for racial reconciliation and the mission to seek racial equity, it was not true, not really.

Dr. Frank Anderson is the Director of the Center for Racial Reconciliation, Stephen Olford Chair of Expository Preaching and Associate Professor of Ministry and Missions. He is 60 years old (hopefully he doesnt mind me letting everyone know his age), and the two hardest challenges he has faced are the death of his dad and over five years on dialysis battling kidney disease. He has been working with Union University since 2008, has pastored and has been the director for the Center for Racial Reconciliation at Union since 2018. He has been in true pursuit for authentic diversity for quite a while now, and by his sharing an hour of his time with me, I now feel less equipped to speak and more equipped to listen.

I felt like a child who sits at the feet of her father or grandfather listening to them impart wisdom that must have only come from another world. And it has, or at least it has come from beyond this world.

This is Black History Month. It is more than just Black History Month.

Its not just black and white, said Dr. Anderson. Youve got issues in this country with native Americans; youve got issues in this country with Latinos and Hispanics.

The Center for Racial Reconciliation starts with issues related to racial equity and then tries to speak to the history of that, the inequities that are involved there, he said. Then we try to move towards what do we need to do, specifically in the Christian community, to solve those problems. And hopefully that takes us to a point of racial diversity which enables us to increase our racial unity and when that happens, as it is in heaven, it is here on earth. We begin to look more like what we see in Revelation 7 and 9.

There is something of a calling on us as the body of Christ to work towards that aim, to work towards things being as much as we can possibly help them to be here on earth as they are in heaven, said Dr. Anderson.

Following this, I asked Dr. Anderson how students get involved and how the Center reaches the general Union population. He told me about the lynching memorial, Madison Countys Remembrance project for Eliza Woods and Unions impact in the County Commission agreeing to the project. He told me about Fireside Forum, the Lane/Union collaborative with both students and faculty. He told me about faculty workshops to meet the needs of minority students, commemorations for Native American heritage month, Jewish heritage and Asian American heritage month. He spoke to me about an event that will hopefully be held this month that will include discussion on what it means to be colored and about a potential trip to Eastern Europe in May 2021 with a focal point on the concentration camps. He told me the center is working on a reading list for the University community dealing with reconciliation in general, that they will continue to add class courses, and that in April, the Center, partnered with Mosaic, will sponsor a trip to Memphis to visit the Civil Rights museum.

Did you know about all these things? If you did, you are very much ahead of me. While my mouth was not hanging open while I sat there across from Dr. Anderson, it was in my mind. I had been so busy criticizing Unions lack of diversity that I had missed all that it was doing to pursue that diversity. I was blinded by pride. Blinded to the point of missing three and a half years of partnership with Dr. Anderson and the Center and all that they are facilitating in hopes of racial equity and unity. I held back tears as the reality of my pride stepped outside of the closet and stood right in front of me. All along I thought I was passionate about this, that I knew the necessity of racial reconciliation and that I knew about the challenges of African Americans not just in history but in modern day. I was wrong.

But there is grace to be found. Forgiveness is to be found. And these things will obliterate my pride and teach me again and again (because I dont seem to learn lessons the first time) that humility is the way to unity.

I went on to ask Dr. Anderson if he ever got discouraged and how he deals with that discouragement.

He said that the bulk of his discouragement has not been in the context of Union. Instead, he said, I think, that given our commitment to Christ, given the impact that we say as believers Jesus has had on our way of life, the difference he has made in our lives, beginning with enabling us to have real life, eternal life, and given the problems that we have that are race related, and given the fact that our differences in skin color, race, ethnicity and so on and so forth, is part of the beauty of God creating us. This is the one problem that the Christian community should not be struggling with, yet we are.

However, as he did through the whole conversation, he took discouragement and added hopefulness and a call to action, saying, I think God is entrusting us with this responsibility to be ambassadors for him as we deal with this particular issue, and when I think about it that way, I feel a sense of black privilege, to be here at such a time as this God is trusting me and others of my generation to do something with this for his glory, and maybe hes simply trusting us to forgive. To be forthcoming with the difficulties, but to be forgiving.

Ive read the end of the story, said Dr. Anderson. I am certain about how this is going to come out when we see Jesus. And Im privileged to be a part of it.

Tangible and visible change will probably not happen while Im at Union, and Dr. Anderson said it will probably not happen while he is at Union either. However, Dr. Anderson told me that before Martin Luther King was assassinated, he polled as one of the most hated men. The change did not happen in his lifetime. But here we are, over 50 years later, revering him for his pursuit of peace, unity and racial reconciliation.

I think I can say more about those of us who are in Christ, that if we are doing what were doing for the Lord, it wont return to us empty, said Dr. Anderson. We may not realize the fullness of what weve done until weve seen Jesus face to face.

I dont think Ive been doing what Ive been doing for the Lord, or if I have, it has been half-hearted and self-centered. It is not due to my Universitys lack of effort that I have not seen a growth in racial reconciliation on campus. It is my lack of effort. It is my pride.

So, to my University, to Dr. Anderson and to my African American brothers and sisters, Id like to ask forgiveness, and Id like to begin intentional efforts to listen more and attend more. I have a lot to learn, and I think you all have a lot to teach me.

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Black History Month And The Fault Of Our Pride - Cardinal & Cream

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