Man holding a baby

Racism and the nuance it takes to love a diverse family.

A couple of things you’ve likely noticed: Many Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in your life are clearly hurting, and there is power in the way you love. Because of this your love, in all relationships, will require nuance. “I love everyone the same,” or “I don’t see color,” are words expressed as peace offerings. The question is, are we experiencing unity in our relationships? It seems we’re not, but we can work to get there. We often seek to avoid double standards within family and relational dynamics; however, this may keep us from considering the reality of disadvantaged systems. If our desire is fairness, then it is the equity we need, not equality. If every member is uniquely different, why would we seek to treat them the same?

A healthy family interaction may show us what true equity requires. 

When my 5-year-old son gets hurt he runs aimlessly screaming in a panic. I have to catch him, hold him, and comfort him with clear, calm, logical statements — “You’re not dying. Dad can handle this. Let’s take care of it.” After a hug, a kiss, and maybe some ice (he thinks that helps every injury) he usually wants to get back to playing. When my 2 year old daughter is hurt she runs straight to me. I kiss it and hold her. Usually, no words are needed, but I’ll still tell her how sad I am that she got hurt. After she calms down I assure her she’s okay, but she usually wants me to hold her longer even though she’s fine.  They’re both resilient kids, so before long they’re back to life with some new scars and maybe a little more caution. They’re both so valuable to me. They’re both so loved by me. There’s nuance in their experiences though. Their struggles and needs are unique. So in order to give them dignity as individuals and love them well, my response is based on what I know about them. They have the same basic needs, but they require slightly different treatment. I fail at this sometimes, and I can tell by their dissatisfaction.

Racism is an evil eating away at family unity.

It may seem, the solution for the racism that divides us would be to ignore race and treat everyone the same — just be color-blind. However, in no other category do we, believers, find it appropriate or acceptable to simply ignore or deny the causes of our sin. Colorblindness seems right, but it’s a counterfeit peace produced by a counterfeit love. 

We cannot have a solution that denies the reality of tensions and disparities in society. We cannot love people if we deny or ignore their experiences. We cannot address the sin if we are blind to it. This mode of pretending like the problems aren’t there — because we know they shouldn’t be — is precisely what makes us a dysfunctional family. The remedy is the gospel, not denial because Jesus loved us how he knew we needed it. 

When we love with nuance, we change up our communication style, our love language, and our body language depending on the individual we engage. We even make necessary adjustments contingent upon the circumstances of an interaction.

If this is true, how will our family find healing?

Jesus, being in the very form of God, humbled Himself and became a man and a servant of mankind. He considered the joy that would come while He endured the cross. He freely gave Himself up as a sacrifice. Embodying sin, He put sin to death. 

Following the example of Christ, we give ourselves up to pursue joy in Him, and we gain a blood-bought identity, no longer identifying with sin. We embody Jesus, as the Church, and we take on his righteousness. He rose from the dead accomplishing the work to restore personal, relational, and societal brokenness. Having been reconciled to the Father, we become ministers of reconciliation in the world as ambassadors for Christ. The gospel that accomplishes this also unites and reconciles us with one another, and that’s Kingdom work, by love and sacrifice a diverse people are united.

What’s Next?

Our salvation has gained our righteousness in Christ. There is no doubt we are all equal in the eyes of our Father; however, in the eyes and by the rules of this society, our bodies determine our experiences. Therefore, we must navigate with nuance. We must combat the lies of the world with the Truth applied individually and corporately according to need. The Truth liberates both the oppressed and the oppressor. In Truth, we find love and unity.

Kendrick Banks
Kendrick Banks

Kendrick was a founding leader and served as an elder of The Crossing Church in Monroe, LA, a church plant in the Soma Family. He and his wife, Amelia, completed Soma Sending in December 2019. They, along with their two children, Titus and Norah, were sent to Dallas in March 2020, to plant a church in the Oak Cliff neighborhood.

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