Michelle Alexander’s, “The New Jim Crow”.
Ta-Nehisi Coates’, “Between the World and Me”.
Bryan Stevenson’s, “Just Mercy”.
All books that any woke person should have in their library. And this is just a sampling of the many books (not including music and film) that detail socially conscious issues.
It seems to be “in” to be woke in today’s world. It’s a cool thing.
It’s interesting to see the increasing popularity of socially conscious American’s. With the emergence of the presidency of Donald Trump and the unjust deaths of Trayvon Martin and many other African American’s, there has emerged a strong voice of American’s who desire to acknowledge racial injustice.
With such a strong interest in the cause for justice though, I’ve become more and more concerned with how much of this is tied to our current political climate. When Donald Trump is no longer president and the buzz around racial discrimination dies down in certain circles, what will happen with the folks who are willing to march and protest? What will happen when the woke people go back to sleep?
Will this for many people, just be a fad? Will this be chalked up to simply a phase in people’s lives when they knew a couple of people of color and desired to fight the system, only years later to contribute to the same old system that continues to rip apart the African American community?
I don’t know. I’m only thinking through this because I’ve noticed it’s become increasingly common to want to discuss the injustice of mass incarceration. Or to complain about gentrification (which half of us are inadvertently contributing to). Or to be able to elaborate on red lining. But when these issues lose their popularity, when it’s no longer trending, folks are still going to be dealing with injustice’s that are happening in their communities. The poor will still be in need. Systems that have oppressed African American’s for centuries will still be oppressing to some sort of degree.
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade or discourage anyone from desiring to fight injustice. I worry though that we’ll allow the suffering of entire people groups to become the badge of honor we wear momentarily to make us feel good about ourselves. African American men are being incarcerated at alarming rates and we should be ashamed if we leverage this injustice to support our political or religious agenda.
My sphere is primarily in the church. What kind of role will we have played in all of this? Will our best case scenario be that we held conferences and spouted disdain for politicians that have no regard for the issues that hit home for us? Will we have tweeted against racism so much that people will look to us as the know it all on racial issues? Will we have expressed enough anger over immigration laws on facebook that we get to sit on a panel with other Christians who see the foreigner in scripture not as an enemy? Not that any of that is bad. But shouldn’t the church play a much larger role?
In 20 years I’ll be in my mid-50’s. I expect to live in a society that still marginalizes minorities. I hope not to. I hope to see massive progress. But after 400 years of slavery, the Jim Crow South and the continual degradation of people of color, I expect there to still be a hostile racial climate. I hope that in time though that many of the concerns raised by the books mentioned will be seen and progress will have been made. While I know some will go back to sleep, I’m hopeful that many of those who have woken will stay awake and try to wake other’s who can bring more change for the generations to come.