As I sit here writing, I have just finished watching an amazing movie called The Help. It’s an amazing story about a young college educated, white woman who dared to have a voice, while also giving African American maids a voice, against the racist society they were living in. They dared to speak out about their mistreatment by families who hired them to clean their homes, raise their children, and cook their meals all while these families constantly degraded them to nothing more than a diseased, mange infested dog asking for scraps. This movie is a picture of racism at its core. Racism has run rampant throughout the entire country since the first African indentured servants made a contract with an employer who would then become their master.
The first official slave came from an indentured servant name John Casor. He was made a slave through a 1664 lawsuit brought by Anthony Johnson, who would become the first official slave owner despite being an African American himself. Despite this fact and the fact African Americans themselves were also slave owners, the majority of those who owned slaves were white. However, no matter the color the owner, slaves were treated harshly. The treatment or punishment of slaves depended on the type of slave they were. House slaves were treated most often times only slightly better than those who worked the fields. African American maids were descendants of female house slaves. Just as house slaves were talked to and treated poorly, maids were berated and degraded, through the language of those they worked for, and often humiliated in front of guests to be put in their place, as some would say.
The word most often used when talking to or about them was and still is the “n” word. I personally do not like this word. I believe it is degrading and should not be used to talk about anyone. I believe African Americans deserve to be respected just as much as everyone else. I do not see skin color when talking to a person, I only see a person. Most often times a person in desperate need of the gospel. I live in an area called the bible belt where racism exists. Not the institutional kind which does exist, but the personal kind that is passed down from generation to generation. The personal kind where a white woman is told to never marry a black man, or a white man can’t marry a black woman. The kind where white and black churches are still segregated, and neither step foot in the other’s church. The kind where white people live throughout the majority of the town and African Americans live in a small section. This is the type of racism that is rampant in the Bible belt today. The kind where African Americans are treated different or less than anyone else, and this way of thinking is ignorant.
I will admit the people where I live have been taught by those who were taught and raised to believe this way of thinking, especially in church. The pastors of the past have taken slavery texts and twisted them to condemn the intermingling either socially or personally with African Americans. This has been a horrible misuse and abuse of God’s word. They’ve also taken scripture that talks of not allowing other nations to intermingle through marriage with the Israelites and twisted it into races shall not mix. These scriptures have so been abused to fit the purpose of the evil hearts of mankind. The bible speaks nothing of racism, but it does tell us where this ideology came from.
In Genesis chapter 11 we see the account of the Tower of Babel, but before that we see the account of creation. All men and women were created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28, 2:6-7, 18-24). We were created as one race. When we get to chapter 11 we see how man tries to build a tower and get to God on his own, instead of through faith in God. They built a tower, and God destroyed it and scattered man throughout the earth. He also confounded their language, and they went on to develop into the many different nations and tribes. Even after all this mankind was and is still one race. God did not change their heritage or genealogy. When we look at the definition of the word race, a group of persons related by a common descent or heredity, we see the bible to be proven right. The bible says we all came from Adam and Eve, the mother of all living, and therefore, mankind can only be described as one race of people. The ideology of races came from man. Man broke themselves up into what they conceived as different types of people. God made many nations, not many races.
Slavery was instituted; the Civil War came along with the Emancipation Proclamation, and finally the passing of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments which gave full constitutional rights to African Americans making them full citizens of the United States. Then a man named Charles Darwin wrote a famous book about evolution, and exacerbated the man driven ideology of races. He viewed the African people, and those descended from them, as being nothing more than a step above apes. The only people he detested more were the Australian Aborigines. With his books, On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man, he created an even bigger divide between what we now see as races. This allowed pastors to use their pulpits in an unsavory manner preaching against miscegenation, the mixing of the races. This also allowed and gave a scientific backing to those who already held these non biblical ideologies to press further with their agendas and spread this hatred to anyone who would listen and take heed.
This eventually led to the Jim Crow laws bringing about segregation and killings in the southern most regions of the U.S. The northern regions weren’t any better, but most of the hatred was concentrated in the southern states. Then the Civil Rights movement came. This movement was desperately needed in this country to give back rights to those they were stolen away from. Every man, woman, and child has the right to be treated with respect and dignity no matter what color their skin. Although mankind has taken steps to ease the pains of the struggle so many have faced since this country was first colonized, it will never be completely healed by the hands of man.
The only man who can completely heal this divide between the one race He created is God. Toward the end of the movie I watched and smiled as both black and white people sat down at the same table and ate what looked like a delicious meal together. One day all who trust in Christ as their savior will all sit down at the same table eating the marriage feast of the lamb. This is when Christ’s bride, everyone who is saved regardless of skin color, has been raptured up to heaven. Black, white, Asian, Hispanic, and a multitude of others will sit down together as one body and partake of the marriage feast of the lamb. We will all bow down and worship the lamb, and we will all serve and praise the lamb together for eternity. If you do not love a brother or a sister due to their skin color, then you do not love them at all, and the bible says those who do not love their brother are not of Christ (1 John 2:8-11).
On August 28, 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech and in it he said,
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, that one day right down in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exhalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I will go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
Sadly for Dr. King he was murdered before he saw this happen here on this earth, and sadly the healing and coming together he dreamt about will never happen on this earth by man’s hands. The only one who can bring us all together and heal us of this evil ideology is the one who bore our sins on another man’s cross. As Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed.” He took what we so rightfully deserve that through Him we may have peace with God, peace with one another, and be healed of the shackles and burdens of sinfulness. When we go to God through faith in Christ we are new creatures that no longer have to look to this world to heal our griefs and sorrows and ease our struggles. Christ gladly bore those burdens, pains, and sorrows for you and for me on the cross.
For those who bear the burden of trying to pick up the pieces and heal the divisiveness of this land, come to Christ, the only one who can heal this division. His burden is light and His yoke is easy (Matt. 11:30). For those harboring hate towards their fellow man due to false ideologies about race, skin color, nationality, or being slighted or wronged by anyone, come to Christ and lay the burden of hate down. As Abilene asked Mrs. Hilley at the end of The Help, “Aren’t you tired?”
Written by Skye Waddle
#imwithHim is a blog series written as part of the Standing in the Gap ministry from West End Baptist Church located in the mountains of Southwest Virginia.