Do you believe what they’re saying? Blacks and whites in America


A disturbing statistic showed up Friday in this article by Jim Wallis in The Washington Post, “White Christians need to act more Christian than white.”

It was in response to this issue:

Have the killings of African American men by police been isolated incidents or are they part of a broader pattern of how police treat minorities?

Among white Christians (both Protestants and Catholics), 72% polled said they were isolated incidents.

Among black Protestants polled, 82% said instead that the treatment is indicative of a broader pattern.

What does this tell us?

White Christians need to be listening much closer to their black brothers and sisters. And believing what they say.

Jim Wallis puts it like this, “White Christians must start acting more Christian than white.”

“It is precisely because we white American Christians lag behind society as a whole in this extreme difference of perspectives that we should make every effort to get our own houses of worship in order — to open our minds to hearing, seeing and ultimately believing the accounts of black Americans. Only then will this gap begin to close, and only after that can we start to build a bridge to real justice and reform.”

What black families know are things that white families deny—that their black children are more likely to be perceived and treated as dangerous and guilty than their white counterparts.

  • When we will stop denying their stories?
  • When will we start hearing them without judgment?
  • When we will believe enough to make a change?

As we celebrate this week the life and works of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., let’s listen again—paying better attention this time—to words he spoke decades ago but which remain true in 2016:

No longer can we afford the luxury of passing by on the other side. Such folly was once called moral failure; today it will lead to universal suicide.

We cannot long survive spiritually separated in a world that is geographically together. In the final analysis, I must not ignore the wounded man on life’s Jericho Road, because he is a part of me and I am a part of him. His agony diminishes me, and his salvation enlarges me.”

~ * ~ * ~

“The church has a schism in its own soul that it must close. It will be one of the tragedies of Christian history if future historians record that at the height of the twentieth century the church was one of the greatest bulwarks of white supremacy.”

~ * ~ * ~

“Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear; only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illumines it.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

May we love each other enough to listen and believe.

* * *

Is it hard or easy for you to believe stories you hear of racism? Please share in the comments.


30 thoughts on “Do you believe what they’re saying? Blacks and whites in America

  1. Beth

    I think it is very much a contentious couple who will not stop pointing fingers and listening to understand rather than to be understood, Lisa. We all need to take a good hard look at ourselves and our prejudices and start to make changes from within. I suppose that’s what Jim Wallis is trying to get at – let’s act like the loving Savior that we say we follow. Thanks for starting a thought-provoking dialogue about this, my friend!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Totally agree, Beth. Stop pointing fingers and listen to understand. That would help EVERY relationship that we’re in. Just being understood is often the essential thing I want from someone else anyway. They don’t have to agree with me, but just try to get what I’m saying. I want to extend that same courtesy to others. Everybody deserves to be heard.

  2. Nancy Sturm

    How does the old saying go…don’t judge a man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes. As a white woman, I can never know what it is like to walk in a black man’s shoes. Unfortunately, I believe there is discrimination in this world. Perhaps (I hope) it is subconscious on the part of many policemen, but it does appear a discrepancy exists in the treatment of blacks and whites in our country. Of course, we know that Jesus would tell us to love our neighbors as ourselves. You’ve inspired me to include racial injustice and differences on my prayer list. Thanks, Lisa!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “As a white woman, I can never know what it is like to walk in a black man’s shoes.” Yep. But thankfully we can listen and learn regardless of who we are. It’s definitely an issue we all need to pray about. Thanks for adding it to your list, Nancy. Blessings to you, friend!

  3. Kathy

    Lisa this is profound and speaks boldly of a startling lack in listening with our hearts to our black sisters and brothers. We need to hear them speak their truth, to teach us their pain, their needs, their truth. So many black mothers have shared their fears with me of their son’s simply walking on the street at night. They mean it. We need to have ears, hearts and minds to hear. Beautiful post Lisa on this most important holiday. Your post reminds me of this video I recently saw:

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a blessing you must be to those moms, Kathy. We all want to be heard and validated. You are doing that for others.

      Oh my—that video made me cry. It’s sad that there is a need for such instruction in this day and age, but I know that it is so. God bless our nation with wisdom, compassion, and understanding as we move forward in a more loving direction by hearing and believing each others’ experiences.

  4. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I do think that some whites think of MLK day as just another day off of work or school. Such a tragedy! And in my area, the Chicago area, there are very tense racial relations right now. And of course, Spike Lee was here this summer filming “Chi-raq”. If people around here don’t understand the suppression of other races, then they are flat-out blind.

    We always need reminders. God knows that in His word, and we know it too. May this year note a good step forward in love.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I know I’ve been blind (and I’m sure I still am!) in so many areas, but I do pray for clearer vision to see reality as others experience it too, not just how I do. I’m sure you see and hear many different things in Chicago that I don’t here in Alabama, and vice versa. May the Lord have mercy on us all! Yes, may this year be one of difference!

  5. ~ linda


    Father God, forgive us for our iniquity, for closed ears, hearts, and minds. May we see Your creations as Yours and different only because You made us all unique. We are colorful and lovable and personable. Those are differences but not a call for hatred or a call for differential treatment. Oh, God, may we all come to see each one of us as Yours. I pray in Your Son’s Name. Amen.

  6. Sharon

    One of the things that Jesus did while He walked upon this earth, was to intentionally dismantle preconceived notions of anything and anyone. I think these words that He spoke were infinitely powerful:

    “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:27-28, ESV)

    It is imperative that we who call ourselves followers of Christ learn to believe this and live accordingly. Jesus broke boundaries, stereotypes, prejudices. We must not tolerate anything that looks any different than Him.

    I believe the stories of racism, because I believe that sin lurks in the human heart. May God rid us of its stain, and may we become purveyors of His peace in a world that disdains differences.


    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Preach on, Sharon. Your words are worthy of a post all their own. Thank you for your message and your heart for finding the sameness in our differences. It’s the way of Jesus.

  7. Mary Geisen

    Excellent post! I definitely paused to soak join your words and the stats that you reference. I can see how people’s perceptions would err to one side or the other but that doesn’t make it right.

    The statement you shared from Dr. King that says “It will be one of the tragedies of Christian history if future historians record that at the height of the twentieth century the church was one of the greatest bulwarks of white supremacy.” really hit me between the eyes. The church needs to step out in love and grace and live out what it means to be a Christian. Jesus is our way, truth and life and now we need to live it out in our everyday lives. Thank you for this powerful post!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That statement from Dr. King hurt me too—especially since it’s been half a century since he said it. 🙁 Although we’ve made progress in many ways, we still aren’t where we need to be to reflect the true love of Christ for all people. Yes, may we each “step out in love and grace.” Great way to put it, Mary.

  8. Trudy

    Amen! Thank you for making us more aware of this, Lisa. All that prejudice breaks my heart. Yes, we need to be more Christian before we are white and open our ears to these heartbreaking stories. I love the quote by MLK – “I must not ignore the wounded man on life’s Jericho Road, because he is a part of me and I am a part of him.” May we be more like Jesus who seeks out the broken soul within and doesn’t even notice the color of the skin.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ooh, I like what you’re saying, Trudy: “seek out the broken soul within.” That is exactly what Jesus did. Lord, greater vision please! Thank you for sharing this.

  9. Anita Ojeda

    It’s easy for me to believe the stories, because I work with with Native Americans who deal with the same sort of racism (being singled out at Wal Mart to have their bags checked, more Natives are killed by police than Blacks, etc.). We need to not only listen, but to empower the new generation to tell their own stories in their own words (because that is the most powerful place to tell a story from).

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      So interesting, Anita. We have very few (actually, I know of none, sadly) Native Americans in my circle of friends and acquaintances, so I wasn’t aware that they were treated with even greater discrimination than blacks. Wow. Sometimes it’s almost too much to think about. Yet that’s definitely the wrong attitude—we all need to become more aware of it, not less, so things can change. Thanks for sharing and opening my eyes a little bit wider again!

  10. June

    I’ve been making it a point to listen, talk to, and gain understanding about racism in America from black people I know and trust. I believe it’s an important issue and, to borrow Deidra’s words, we need to “move the conversation forward.”

    But I will admit that I do not believe everything I see, hear and read from certain sources. Some of these sources, in my opinion, do more to divide us than to bring us together. They have their own agendas, which are far from the ways of Jesus.

    I wholeheartedly agree that the church should lead when it comes to defeating racism. In fact, I can’t think of another part of society that could hope to be as successful. As Sharon said, she believes in racism because sin lurks in the human heart. It’s as simple and complex as that!

    Kudos to you, Lisa, for being brave enough to “go there.” Every grace-filled conversation we can have brings us closer to understanding and closer to reconciliation. Blessings!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, June, that we aren’t to believe everything we hear…from any side of any issue. We have to consider the sources and always use discretion. We see a need for that every day as politicians spew so many words at us at this time of year. ha.

      I love your heart to intentionally seek out conversations among black friends. It’s amazing the things we can learn if we take the time and heart to listen to each other.

  11. Laura Thomas

    Ahh if only we would love as Jesus loves… that perfect love that casts out fear… thanks for honing in on this, Lisa. I know my judgemental heart needs to soften in so many ways :/ Food for thought and matters for prayer. Much prayer. Stopping by from #TellHisStory

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve got a lot of softening left to do, too, Laura. It’s so easy to be judgmental; it makes us feel better about ourselves without having to work on it. But yeah, it’s not the Jesus way. Perfect Love—oh, one day to be in His full presence and see what that looks like!

  12. floyd

    I appreciate your heart, Lisa. It’s a tough subject and the roots of the issue run deep. The government can only do so much in the fight for equality and in some cases have made it worse.

    I grew up in southern CA. in the late sixties and it was a scary place to be. One of my best friends, that I didn’t know back then, grew up there too. As a true brother in Christ over the years we’ve had influences on the way one another thinks. It is the insecurities and pride that drive folks. We found out that we really are brothers from a different mother.

    It really is all about the age old adage of not judging a book by its cover and the golden rule of Christ to treat others the way we would like to be treated. Every single person out there has a story to tell… just like us. Praying this country would see it that way. That will change everything.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love your heart, Floyd. It’s a blessing that you started out young with a brother from a different mother. It makes a difference. Yes, everyone has a story; I’m thankful for storytellers like that you help us hear those stories. Keep telling them.

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