As Peace continues work with race and racial equality it is important to know that race is a human created idea. Race does not have a biological meaning. Race is–an identity created, often by socially dominant groups, to subjugate groups defined as racially inferior. The story of race is a story of money. Growing up I learned that most Europeans came to America seeking religious freedom, but most, including the Pilgrims, were seeking economic opportunity and land was part of that. Back then there was no concept of race, people identified by their country of origin—English, Scottish, or French. By the early 1600’s plantation economy in the colonies was booming and this created a massive need for cheep labor. A need mostly filled by poor European immigrants. Some plantations did use enslaved people from African nations but at the time a slave persons status was not life long. Then in 1676 the indentured servants from Africa and Europe joined together in a rebellion against the colonial government in Virginia. Alarmed by the natural alliance between the Africans and Europeans the colonial government passed a series of laws that segregated and permanently enslaved those of African decent. While also giving their European counterparts some new rights and status. This strategy paved the way for what would become an organized system of racial divide that provided cheep labor for wealthy landowners of European decent. Humans ascribe meaning to skin colors and then use those meanings to create hierarchy–to create more money for the people that were already in power.
Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.” This is the kind of stuff Jesus was saying all the time and that we hear God saying throughout the Hebrew Bible. Peace is talking about race and racial equality because God calls us to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. God is love and God wants love for us… God desires love for all people, for all creation. As Christians love is our most basic vocation/calling. It is a love seen throughout the world, throughout the Bible, but seen most clearly in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are loved so powerfully that Jesus’ love flows through us.
What does Jesus’ love look like in your life? Where in your life might Jesus’ love flow through you in ways that will do the work bringing racial equality?