Thank you to those who attended our third annual Faith and Law Lecture event. We thought the topic, racial reconciliation, was particularly befitting in light of recent current events. Over the last couple years, several protests attracting mainstream media attention have ignited over white police officers shooting unarmed black men. Race riots have repeatedly broken out at recent Donald Trump rallies. According to a recent CNN poll, Americans consider racism more of a problem today than they did 20 years ago. This poll also reflects that a majority of white America lives a largely segregated life -- more than 2/3rds of whites socialize and work exclusively or predominately with other whites. In short, despite the fact the Emancipation Proclamation was set forth over 150 years ago, race tensions still abound.
For these reasons, we invited author and professor Soong-Chan Rah to discuss how we may help lead the way in seeking racial reconciliation and caring for those impacted by racial discrimination. In his opening remarks, Professor Rah gave an overview of our nation's history of racial discord, including that which existed between White-Anglo Saxon Protestants and eastern European immigrants, as well as among Caucasians and African-Americans. Despite being thought of as a "Christian nation" by many, and worshipping a God who is "no respecter of persons," many Americans have struggled to hold true to Biblical principles on race. Professor Rah noted that during the 1900s, particularly during the Civil Rights Movement, white Christian men and women engaged in "white flight," migrating from racially mixed cities to homogenous suburbs. Rather than loving their neighbors or embracing their brothers and sisters in Christ, they feared and fled from them.
History, however, does not have to continue to repeat itself. Professor Rah challenged us to promote racial unity through truth and conciliation. First, he encouraged us to truly lament over our nation's history of racial discrimination. Second, he counseled us to give a voice to those who are or were once marginalized. As Psalms 10:17 tells us, this is what God does: "You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry." Third, and maybe most notably, Professor Rah stressed the importance of building relationships and finding common ground with those who are racially different from us.
In sum, by lamenting with, listening to, and loving those of different races, we can be racial peacemakers and help effect racial reconciliation in our communities.
-Christian Legal Aid of DC