Addressing Racism / by John Hailes

It has been an uncomfortable few weeks living in an America that has been clouded by continued controversies of systematic racism. For many people the exposure of these occurrences were not shocking; but were instead already apart of their everyday life.

I’ve had little desire to write on this subject, until I started thinking about the kids who attend my Kids Church each week. We are highly multicultural and one of our main core values is diversity. My heart began to break thinking that some of my kids could be treated differently based on the color of their skin. Worse, that my kids would have to grow up in a society that they know doesn’t view them as equal.

After all, we know that kids aren’t shielded from these elements of culture. They see it through their parent’s understandable frustration. They see it in the movies and TV they watch, the songs they listen to, on the Internet or on the news. Even through the kids at school who just regurgitate what their parents say.

The truth is most Children’s Pastors across America won’t ever address the issue of RACISM with their kids. Sunday morning in America is the most segregated time of the week. Church so easily has become part of the problem instead of part of the solution. We become an aid to ignorance.

Compassion for others comes from our knowledge of other peoples plight. Consequently our ignorance can feed into a lack of compassion for others. I believe it’s our role to alleviate ignorance and bring reconciliation to America’s next generation. No one is more aptly placed to do this…so here are some suggestions…

1.    Model Diversity in your team

Exposure to others eradicates ignorance. Kids need to see diversity modeled for them. They need role models and influences in their lives who are from other races.

2.    Educate about ‘White Privilege’

There is an awesome illustration you can use here… (http://www.buzzfeed.com/nathanwpyle/this-teacher-taught-his-class-a-powerful-lesson-about-privil) . ‘White privilege’ is just apart of life, it’s not something people should feel guilty about, but it is something people should be aware of. We should be looking to help those less advantaged than ourselves while making the best of the opportunities we have been graced with.

3.    Teach about ‘Made in his image’

We are ALL made in God’s image. We are all made equal and its ok that we are all different. We must raise up the image of those in our society that have been trodden down.

4.    Teach about Jesus & the Marginalized

It’s not a new thing that people are marginalized. See how Jesus broke down cultural barriers when he ministered to women, the sick, the poor, the Samaritan in the book of Luke. Teach on these scriptures and promote Jesus’ model.

5.    Encourage Humility

When we interact with others who are different from ourselves its easy to offend or take offense. We can all be pretty ignorant of others, especially children. We protect ourselves from offense by clothing ourselves with humility. Until we can put others before ourselves, we will never see reconciliation in America.