two women friends conversation over coffee, church speak love black brothers and sisters

As I sat in a home Bible study with two other couples, I wrestled with the question the host asked.

He read an article that stated a certain percentage of people say they experience discrimination. He posed the question: “How do they know?” I pondered why he asked. Was this question a result of ignorance? Was he racially insensitive? Or was he racist? Whatever the answer, it made me uncomfortable. It stirred me during the short video and the discussion afterward.

To me, the answer was simple; the respondents to the survey said they experience discrimination, so they did. They shouldn’t have to prove it. As the only black person in the room, the question implied, “Your experiences are not believable.” The question didn’t appear to trouble anyone the way it did me.

Misgivings conjured up in my mind: “Why would he ask that? If a person speaks of a particular experience, why would someone doubt it?” We had joined together with these families at the dinner table. I taught their children in Sunday School. These were the people I called my brothers and sisters in Christ. But I decided the study was not the time to bring up my doubts.

Before I could initiate a discussion, another racial incident occurred that involved our teen children.

I encourage my children to address problems independently; however, the issue continued and escalated. I met with the other boy’s mother for coffee to discuss the incident. As I explained the situation, she offered little acknowledgment of imprudence or hurtful actions. I left disappointed. In the church, a few episodes followed, including degrading treatment I endured from a pastor who led a ministry in which I served. He continuously verbalized strong negative views about race, politics, and women. When I expressed my discomfort to him, he fulfilled his obligation to listen, but I wasn’t heard.

I realized the church I’d attended for seventeen years was not my home. I doubted people who were my brothers and sisters in Christ even saw me, knew me, or cared about me.

Recent events regarding racial injustice have brought realizations of how divided we are in the church when it comes to race. Here are 10 ways you can speak love to your black and brown brothers and sisters.

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