Vaccine Against Hate

It seems each week brings another troubling verse to the disturbing chorus being played out in our fractured society – another senseless attack on a person of Asian descent. The restraining ropes of human decency have frayed, giving people a sense of license to attack others, simply because of their race. It can be particularly infuriating when these attacks target those perceived to be most vulnerable - women and the elderly. The increased number of hate crimes and hate incidents against Asians has led to demonstrations in several cities in the US and other countries, seeking to bring attention to this growing social plague, with Stop Asian Hate as the rallying cry. Ironically, this is happening as the trial begins against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, that ignited calls for police reform and bringing an end to racism, especially against the black community.

These recent incidents of violence have caused many people to wonder if it’s safe to go to places and engage in activities where before, personal safety wasn’t even a fleeting thought. One of my bucket list items is to drive across the country to see parts of our nation that I’ve never seen before. But there is a pause in my spirit, as I wonder how it would be to stop in a small Midwest town where we would stick out like a Roman candle. Between 1890-1960’s, there were Sundown Towns littered throughout the Midwest and the West. These communities kept Blacks and other minorities like Jews, Native Americans, and Asians from living in their towns. Through violence, threats, employment discrimination, or boycotting businesses that hired minorities, these communities made it unsafe for “other people” to live. While many of these current incidents of hatred are not as systematic or organized as the practices of Sundown Towns, they share the common DNA of racism.

Last week, two things happened. I got my first vaccination shot for the Coronavirus and I received a call from a Black classmate who is also a sister in Christ. She wanted to let me know that she was standing with the Asian community during these distressing times. With racism spreading rapidly like a virus and everyone wondering what can be done to curb it, I know the answer lies in the power of the gospel. The gospel is the vaccine against racism because it brings different people together - Jews, Greeks, slaves, free, men, women under the banner of Christ (Galatians 3:28). Through the gospel we’ve been given the Holy Spirit so we can be transformed, even from the deepest forms of racism. The call from my friend also reminded me about the importance of relationships. Just as my Coronavirus vaccine requires a second shot, there is a necessary follow-up to the gospel that the Lord uses to fight off racism - relationships. The Lord uses relationships to dismantle the human tendency to marginalize or treat with suspicion those that are different from us. Relationships help us truly see the image of God in another person and that we share common hopes, dreams, and needs.

This week is Holy Week when we reflect on our Lord’s sacrificial death and glorious resurrection. Knowing that the sin of racism was one of the sins that was nailed to the cross gives us great hope because racism is part of the curse, not part of the resurrected life. Because Christ died to bring us all into one family (Ephesians 2:11-22), whenever we choose to build relationships across lines that divide us (racial, cultural, socio-economic, etc.) we are inoculating ourselves from the virus of racism that seeks to infect all of our hearts.

No Comments