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Listen to Your Black Brothers and Sisters

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To my black friends: How can I best hear you right now? How can I best love you right now? What do I need to know that I'm not "getting" right now?

In last Tuesday’s Boundless Facebook Live, I expressed my weariness about all the turmoil going on in America. I ultimately asked all of us to pause, especially from the social media madness: the virtue signaling, blame-shifting and politicizing of every.single.thing.going.on.

But Tuesday was also the day of George Floyd’s Houston funeral. I watched it, so heading into my live time with you all, I was a bit scattered and emotional. I felt burdened to comment on both the broad and narrow implications of the continued racist sentiments and systems in our country. But here are the qualifications I bring to the table:

  • I’m white
  • I’ve lived most of my life as a member of a majority culture
  • I probably don’t even know what I don’t know

Um. Not the best spokesperson on this issue, right?

That said, I truly want to listen, learn, and humbly evaluate my biases — then work to change. So I asked the following questions of our black Facebook Live watchers:

  • How can I best hear you right now?
  • How can I best love you right now?
  • What do I need to know that I’m not “getting” right now?

Several responded thoughtfully and with much grace. Here’s a sampling:

This is a topic that is so very deep for black people. In my circle of black friends we are sharing experiences with each other. We’ve never shared before because the pain is so deep and we just consider it par for the course (being black). I think to just offer your black friends a conversation about racism or to hear their experience might be a start. ~Carol

Just be open to listening to our experiences, without judging. None of us picked our skin color. But when others discount our experiences, it  feels like another slap. Ask your close African American friends that you trust, “Hey, how is it really true?” ~Chenille

I would say to please be careful not to marginalize our pain by saying [things like], “Abortion is worse.” It can be antagonistic and it is not the time. What people generally don’t understand is that African Americans (and I assume other racial minorities) identify with our past racial injustices the same way white America may handle 9/11, Pearl Harbor, the American Revolution, etc. Even though you didn’t experience it or your ancestors may have come over afterward, you identify with it. You don’t say, “It’s in the past, move on.” When I listened to my grandfather tell the story of his father’s murder, or my grandmother tell me about the frequent assaults that occurred when being brought “safely” home in the back of a police car; when I hear my aunt’s stories in Tallahassee with police beatings or my own experiences of being embarrassed and harassed, I realize that this is a legacy as well. I don’t want sympathy or a handout. I want dignity and understanding. I want people to say, “Never forget.” But what do I do when my memorial is another person’s shame? This is really about becoming one without losing our individual cultures. It starts with intentional fellowship and the gospel. Thank you for this conversation. ~Jawara

Black readers, what would you add? How can we at Boundless best hear you, love you and better understand what you’re experiencing right now? Please comment below and help us get there.

And to everyone of every color, here’s the one thing I’ll say. We need to be taking our marching orders from the Holy Spirit, not the latest video, news story, meme or point/counterpoint. To do this, we need to be in God’s Word. I am so serious about this, you guys. This is not Sunday-school-flannelgraph time. This is spiritual-warfare-fighting-the-devil-time. Psalm 1 says that those who meditate on God’s Word are like trees planted by streams of water. Trees that are well-watered bear good fruit. Friends, you can’t fake fruit. It comes only from a living organism that is healthy. And being healthy only happens when you’re getting the right nourishment from the right source. In this case, God himself.

It’s a mess out there, and the mess is coming from many sides and sources. But justice and peace won’t come with liking that woke post that everyone’s talking about. It won’t come with having the better argument, cleverer meme or more biting comeback. The only person who can guide our hearts and minds rightly is Jesus. Are we in step with Him more than the latest social or political commentary?

Let’s keep our eyes on Jesus and ask Him to guide our hearts and actions. Let’s ask Him how to listen. How to serve. How to forgive. How to love. How to speak. Then let’s stand up, link arms and — together as the gloriously diverse but united body of Christ — actually do what He says.

Copyright 2020 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved.

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About the Author

Lisa Anderson

Lisa Anderson is the director of Boundless and young adults at Focus on the Family and hosts The Boundless Show, a national radio program and podcast. She loves connecting with single young adults and strategizing how to better equip them for life, relationships and a faith that goes the distance; she does not love managing budgets or signing contracts, but realizes that’s part of her job, too. Lisa can often be heard at conferences and on radio and TV, getting worked up about dating, relationships, faith and hip-hop. She grew up in San Jose, California, is a graduate of Trinity International University in Chicago, and spent a good chunk of her life in media relations before joining Boundless. She runs to counterbalance her love of pastries and chicken tikka masala, and often quotes her mom, who’s known to say outrageous things. She’s the author of The Dating Manifesto: A Drama-Free Plan for Pursuing Marriage with Purpose (David C. Cook). Follow Lisa on Twitter @LisaCAnderson.


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