Core Values Faith Identity Lifestyle

The Third Option: Coming Together to Fight Racism

“The Devil says, ‘You have two options: white people and people of color. God says, ‘No, no, no. I made all y’all colored. And I made all y’all color to be beautiful.” Quote by Miles McPherson

My heart is completely broken for those who have been (and continue to be) marginalized and/or victimized by racism.

I am particularly sympathetic to our brothers and sisters in the black community who have been most recently impacted by the latest events.

The (horrific) hate crimes and the resulting riots that are playing out in our world today are indisputable evidence: we are a broken and divided nation.

Oh, how I yearn for a day when all of us are seen and treated as “equals.” 

I long for a day when the intrinsic worth of every single person is celebrated: when each of us honors that we all are made in the image of God.

But we are not there yet.

Unfortunately, we have a long way to go before racism and “othering” (dehumanizing and marginalizing those who are different from us) is finally behind us. 

We Are All Called to Fight Racism

In my opinion, we all have a part to play in battling racism. 

It’s not enough to “feel bad” about the situation and care from a distance.

To see the change, we need to be the change. 

This includes (but is not limited to):

  • Owning up to our own privileges and acknowledging that as it stands today: all are not treated equally. 
  • Identifying and acknowledging the ways each one of us (intentionally or unintentionally) displays “in-group bias” and makes generalizations about others who are different.
  • Refusing to point fingers, shame-blame, and/or villianize those who disagree.
  • Putting a stop to making assumptions about people or speaking about situations we know nothing about. 
  • Coming alongside and listening to those who are marginalized and victimized by racism.

Loving Relationships for Change

To bring about real change, I believe it’s essential for us to actively lean into relationship with one those who are different from us. And also give a platform to those who are currently marginalized by our culture.

When we are in relationship with one another, we begin to listen and empathize with each other’s stories.

We begin to smash past our blinded ignorance and step into the shoes of the other: to try to understand the pain and struggles to which we were previously oblivious.

Many of us (myself included) yearn for unity.

But racism is the antithesis of such: it divides us.

So, it makes sense that many of us feel a righteous anger burning in our bellies when we see racism and/or other injustices play out. We want all this madness to stop!  

Yes, amen!

Let’s take a stand for what’s right and fight racism! 

However, as we do so, I encourage us all to remember:

  • We cannot fight hate with hate. (Hate begets more hate.)
  • And our battle is not against one another: it’s against the evil powers that cause certain individuals to lose sight of the fact that each of us has intrinsic worth.
Protests with signs that read, "Fire & jail terrorist cops."

“Us” vs. “Them” is Not the Answer

The other day, Sean and I were walking down Valencia Street, one of the main streets in the Mission District of San Francisco. After making our way past countless smashed storefronts (victims to looting as a result of the riots), we stumbled upon a window display that caught our eye.

The words “SFPD” and “black lives matter” (each encircled by hearts) filled the glass window panes.

This display of love and support for all involved fueled intense rage from a fellow passer-by. “You can’t say that! You can’t say you care about black lives if you support the police!” she screamed at the owner.

I didn’t catch the remainder of her rant, but the message was clear:

“You have to choose: you’re either for the black community or you’re for the police.”

I sighed and turned to Sean and said, “This is the problem.” 

I don’t know about you, but I find this whole “you have to choose” ultimatum incredibly disheartening. Because it only perpetuates the problems we are up against: it makes us treat each other as “other,” further divides us, and piles on more hate.

So, what then?

We cannot sit back and allow our marginalized brothers and sisters to be treated with such injustice.

But how can we fight racism if we don’t choose a side?

A Third Option: Coming Together to Fight Racism

A friend recently sent me a talk by Miles McPherson where he speaks about a “The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation.” (He’s the author of a book entitled the same.)

I whole-heartedly agree with McPherson when he says we don’t need to choose between supporting our black communities or supporting the police.

As he puts it, there’s a THIRD OPTION.

This third option is a way to fight racism without choosing one side and causing a further divide.

It involves coming together in relationship with those who are different from us to heal the brokenness, put a stop to the injustice, and break down the walls racism has created.

This talk by McPherson not only provides some perspective from someone in the black community (who experiences racism first-hand), but it also offers up some wonderful encouragement to those of us want to “see change” but don’t know where to go from here

He discusses four practical things each of us can start implementing in our everyday lives to take a stand against racism. They include: 

  1. Rename everyone you see as your “brother” or “sister” (32:43)
  2. Give “in-group” love to those in your “out-group” (34:24)
  3. Acknowledge your “brother’s” or “sister’s” color (and stop saying “I don’t see color”) (35:35)
  4. Give your heart to those “not like you” (i.e., don’t make assumptions based on color and do not “other” those who are different from you) (39:18)

Here is the link to The Third Option: Hope for a Racially Divided Nation, a talk by Miles McPherson (pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego).

Below, I’ve also outlined some of the key take-aways by minute-mark. 

  • 17:56 – Intro from Miles McPherson (you can jump straight here)
  • 18:30 – Start of Miles McPherson’s talk on the Third Option
  • 18:30 – Satan has broken and divided us through racism (internalized and institutionalized).
  • 19:42 – But God has a way of bringing broken things together and making what was once ugly beautiful. 
  • 19:55 – We are His vehicle to bring about change. But we have to do something different and move past the optics of “diversity.” (It’s possible to have a diverse crowd without having true diversity.)
  • 21:57 – The Devil says, “You have to pick one of two sides: for the police or for the black community.” But there’s a THIRD OPTION.
  • 24:24 – How we got divided and how we can apply the “third option” and bring us back together. (Addressing the “in-group bias” and embracing those in the “out-group”.)
  • 32:37 – 4 things to do to start tearing down the walls that divide us and fight racism. 
    • 32:43 – #1: Rename everyone you see as your “brother” or “sister”
    • 34:24 – #2: Give “in-group” love to your “out-group”
    • 35:35 – #3: Acknowledge your “brother’s” or “sister’s” color  (and stop saying “I don’t see color”)
    • 39:18 – #4: Give your heart to those “not like you” (don’t make assumptions based on color and do not “other” anyone – our fight is not against each other but the evil forces that are at play)
“We need to move past the optics of diversity. You can have lots of colors and nationalities in your church and in your house, but they are not in your heart. They could be in your room, but you don’t have a (diverse) ministry. You can have a diverse crowd, but not a diverse ministry.” Quote by Miles McPherson

Some Last Words

Friend, I encourage you to fight the urge to jump in on the “us vs. them” attacks that we’re seeing all over the place today.

We need more love (not more hate) in order to heal the injustice of racism and its resulting divide.

Lastly, if you find yourself heartbroken by all the hate and injustice playing out in our world today, take heart in this fact:

God has a way of bringing broken things back together again.

And He not only heals the ugly. He leaves them more beautiful than when they started.

I know the status of racism in our world today can be incredibly disheartening.

But God is able to restore all things: even this (very ugly) situation with the racial tension and current divide in our world.  

“When you get a tan in Hawaii it’s beautiful. When you get a tan in the womb it’s criminalized. When you get a tan in the womb it’s scary, it’s inferior.  I am not saying all y’all think that. I’m saying this is the difference. When you say you don’t see color you are nullifying not only the color but the burden that comes with the color. You’re nullifying the experience of being in the “out” group.” Quote by Miles McPherson

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