Dear Church, from Corey

This is part of a series of posts inviting friends to share their perspectives.

To my Christian brothers and sisters, 

This has been a very rough week for me. I have experienced some very intense emotions: with most of them coupled with anger and disappointment. When Pastor Jeremy asked me to write an article for his blog, I agreed immediately. I took a couple days to try and stable myself emotionally before I started writing. I did not want my anger to guide my words. I simply wanted to speak my truth. Before I move forward, I would like to give you a little background of who I am. 

I am an African American man born in the south, near the end of the Vietnam War. I am an educator by profession with an undergraduate degree in religious studies and English, a graduate degree in education and a doctorate in Organizational Psychology. Presently, I go to different school districts and help create systems that provide successful and equitable opportunities for students and staff. I was recruited to the Portland metro area for this very reason. 

Coming from the South to the Pacific Northwest has been a remarkably interesting experience. The geography, diversity and cultures are quite different. The racism in both regions is different as well, but the results are the same. The racism I have faced in the South is upfront and in your face. The racism in the Pacific Northwest is more civil. It is more covert. 

The civil racist in the Pacific Northwest wants to be seen publicly one way but embraces the inequalities and injustices so their privileges can stay intact. The racist of the south feeds on fear and actively searches for like-minded people. Both regions have collectively mastered the art of systematic manipulation to keep black people “in check.” 

The state of racism in this country is the same it has always been. This is not the first time a person of color has been murdered by the hands of his oppressor and unfortunately, it will not be the last. This is the world we live in. Although there are some people that explicitly show their bias by operating consciously and expressing directly, most people are implicit by expressing indirectly.  

It is time for the church to have those uncomfortable conversations about race. Guess what? Slavery did exist and we are still witnessing the consequences, because people never repented and rectified their actions. When the melanin in a person’s body automatically associates them with everything that is feared or wrong in this country, we have a problem. 

We must recognize our biases and then discuss them. During this process, it is imperative that we are as objective as possible. We must dispel first impressions. Especially, since the first thing we typically see is color.  Instead of participating with or ignoring micro-aggressions, we must use micro-affirmations, acts of inclusion and caring, and acts of listening to support people of color. There are those who will say, they are color blind. That is not what we need. We need you to see color. We need you to see differences, but still unequivocally accept us as your equals. The problems that we face today, is not a black problem. It is a problem against humanity. 

One of my greatest disappointments is the reserved collective voice of the church. The silence is deafening. We pray and worship the same God. We read the same Bible. We are the same body of Christ. If one area of the body hurts, we cannot ignore the pain. We can not hope it goes away after a certain amount of time. We cannot treat the symptoms, without looking at the root cause. We cannot expect change without accepting our responsibility. For us to be Christians: for us to be Christ-like, we must be “the salt of the earth” (Matthew 5:13). We are responsible for preserving life. Not just life or death, but the quality of that life. We are the light of the world. We are the examples that oppose the negative assimilation of the norm. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We need the help of our white brothers and sisters to make this happen. We can not do this alone.

The following books are pretty informative reads:

Instead of participating with or ignoring micro-aggressions, we must use micro-affirmations, acts of inclusion and caring, and acts of listening to support people of color. @drcoreyseymour Click To Tweet

Corey Seymour is an educator, motivational speaker, and social activist in the South and Pacific Northwest. A Texas native, Corey graduated from Rice University with a bachelor of arts, Texas Southern University with a master’s and Walden University with a doctorate. He constantly pursues the idea of equity in education by inclusion and the removal of obstacles that prevent our youth from reaching their academic potential. 

You can connect with Corey on Twitter.

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Jeremy Jernigan

This is the personal blog of Jeremy Jernigan. Husband to Michelle and father to five. Author of Redeeming Pleasure and Lead Pastor at Abundant Life Church in Portland.

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