Originally published on PA Times.
On July 17, 2020, the United States lost a national treasure in Congressman John Lewis, a civil rights icon whose life and legacy represent the perils and the promise of democracy. Lewis is often heralded as a one of the most courageous heroes of the Civil Rights era. He fought against the manifestations of white supremacy that relegated Black Americans to second class citizens. He railed against the perils of the segregated south, voter suppression and inequalities of opportunity. Lewis was known as the conscience of the Congress, giving voice and perspective to the pain and suffering experienced by countless Black Americans who have been systematically denied fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution. Lewis lived his life fighting for the rights for all citizens, and was a drum major for change in the lives of Black Americans.
As a young 25-year-old, John Lewis was brutalized on the streets of Selma, AL on Bloody Sunday (March 7, 1965). The pain and suffering Lewis endured, alongside more than 600 hundred others, was done fighting for the rights of Black Americans to exist in a society free of subjugation. Lewis’ life and legacy are a testament to the long suffering of Black Americans in their quest for rights guaranteed to Americans under the United States constitution.
Nearly sixty years after the brutality that happened on the Edmund Pettis Bridge, Black Americans have yet to achieve full citizenship with the same rights and protections under the law as other United States citizens. There is still work to do. The Voting Rights Act, most recently reauthorized in 2006 under George W. Bush, is set to expire in 2031 and voter suppression across the country continues to create barriers for full participation. Some of the tactics used to disenfranchise Black voters include: voter roll purges, polling place closures/consolidation, reduced voting hours, creation of at-large offices to dilute minority votes and the denial of voting rights after a felony conviction. The premise of each obstacle runs counter to all Lewis fought so hard to achieve. Lewis’ life is a poignant reminder that the struggle for democracy for Black Americans has not yet been realized.
Lewis cast a long shadow, mentoring and nurturing the minds and souls of so many of us who must now heed his call to get in good, necessary trouble. A powerful orator, Lewis was a drum major for change. He used his powerful platform as a 17 term Congressman to serve as a beacon of hope in working towards a society that is equitable and just. A society in which all people, without regard to their racial identity, can have access to the benefits of the democracy this country so deeply idolizes.
In living up to the hopes and dreams of John Lewis and the countless other civil rights activists who lost their lives in the struggle, we become agents of changes. We must accept the responsibility for ensuring that democracy includes each and every United States citizen. We must acknowledge the historic insults and hold ourselves accountable for ensuring they are never repeated. We must continue to educate our youth about the bloody catalogue of oppression and work without ceasing to protect Black lives.
In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. described the fierce urgency of now. Today, more than 50 years later, there is an extreme urgency of now! Now is the time for our nation’s leaders to address systemic racism! Now is the time for those who have been content with the status quo to speak up and advance the call for justice! Now is the time to reject the illusion of a level playing field and work to create equality of opportunity for all Black Americans.
We are at an important point in our nation’s history, where we have the opportunity to re-envision our society to fully achieve the ideals set forth by the founders. Similar to the courage and perseverance John Lewis displayed, each of us must be prepared to work collectively and summon the commitment to make this country better for every American. The role of the public sector is central to this cause as it is within our purview to advance racial and social equity. Creating a society where every American has equal opportunity and is treated equally under the law would be the greatest tribute we could make to the life and legacy of John Lewis.
The palpable pulse of the nation is calling out for justice—even in the midst of a pandemic.
The voices of the people will not be silenced.
John Lewis Quotes
“Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”
“If you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have a moral obligation to do something about it.”
“Our struggle is a struggle to redeem the soul of America.”
Thankful that he understood the difference between equality and equity.
Equal or Equitable?
Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path.
According to the Scriptures, true equality means that every person and situation is judged with equity, not partiality. Therefore, truth and righteous judgment must always be the goal, not outcomes.
Partiality involves prejudice. God has expressly commanded in the Scriptures that we are to not harbor such sinful bias in our hearts. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. God does not look at your level of education, your financial status, your political ideology, your heritage or the color of your skin when he makes a judgment. So, why should we?
Equity seeks to discern what is objectively true and then to render a judgment solely on that basis. Equality, on the other hand, prioritizes pursuing a desired or preferred outcome without regard to that which is objectively true.
Scripture teaches that the providence of God reigns over all outcomes and judgments that come to pass in this world. The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the LORD. So even when the outcome of a disputed matter is not what you or I may have desired, we remain steadfast in the hope that one day all wrongs will be made right; just as God, who cannot lie, has promised. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.
Justice, as taught in the Scriptures, is first and foremost a matter of equity, not equality. Then shalt thou understand righteousness, and judgment, and equity; yea, every good path. There is a distinction to be made between the two and the differentiation is very important.
Any concept of equality that is not fundamentally rooted in equity can never be regarded as justice.
We are to judge with truth in mind, not outcome. Jesus said, Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.
King Solomon applied that principle in his dealings with the two women who were each claiming they were the mother of the child in question. His righteous judgment was rendered not on the basis of emotional pleadings or subjective presuppositions, but on objective and impartial truth, even though for one of the two women who entreated him, the outcome would be other than what she desired.
We are to judge with equity and leave any consequences to an omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent God who alone is sovereign over all outcomes.
Something to seriously consider and remember, because politicians and the media will continually speak about equality, searching for an outcome that favors their belief system; yet, never mention equity. Why? Because they are operating from a worldly belief system and not from “What saith the Scriptures.”
Unfortunately, you have bought into the media hype and misuse of the racism. It doesn’t exist. Hence, no systemic racism.
There’s No Scientific Basis for Race—It’s a Made-Up Label
The word “race” has been used to define and separate people for millennia. But the concept of race is not grounded in genetics.
As professor Evelynn Hammonds states in the film Race: The Power of an Illusion: “Race is a human invention. We created it, and we have used it in ways that have been in many, many respects quite negative and quite harmful.”
People from every demographic have wrongly applied the term race and it needs to stop. Regardless of your political, religious or cultural ideologies, to use the term “systemic racism” only serves to prove that you have no idea as to how the term “race” originated; and worse, you are actually perpetuating a lie that continues to divide us as a people. Even the Bible never refers to any group of people as belonging to a specific race. Yes, the word race appears four times in Scripture, but it is used to describe an event (…they which run in a race run all…) not a group of people. So how did we get to where we are today as this false descriptor continues to be used?
During the Age of Enlightenment, scientific and intellectual ideals exposed a basic contradiction between principle and practice: the enslavement of human beings. Despite the fact that Enlightenment ideals of human freedom and equality inspired revolutions in the United States and France, the practice of slavery persisted throughout the United States and European empires. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, American and European scientists tried to explain this contradiction through the study of “race science,” which advanced the idea that humankind is divided into separate and unequal races. If it could be scientifically proven that Europeans were biologically superior to those from other places, then persons of European ancestry could justify slavery and other imperialistic practices.
Prominent scientists from many countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands, England, Germany and the United States, used “race science” to give legitimacy to the race-based divisions in their societies. Journalists, teachers and religious leaders popularized the errant science. Racial distinctions continue to shape our politics, our neighborhoods and our sense of self.
Before the discovery of DNA, scientists had no idea how traits were passed on. Researchers who have since studied people at the genetic level now understand that the whole categorization of races was misconceived. When scientists set out to assemble the first complete human genome, which was a composite of different individuals, they deliberately gathered samples from people who self-identified as members of different races. In June 2000, when the results were announced at a White House ceremony, Craig Venter, a pioneer of DNA sequencing, observed, “The concept of race has no genetic or scientific basis.” In reality, it has no ethical, moral or logical basis either.
Over the past few decades, genetic research has revealed two deep truths about people. The first is that all humans are closely related; more closely related than all other living things. Everyone has the same collection of genes and everyone has slightly different versions of some of them. Studies of this genetic diversity have allowed scientists to reconstruct a family tree of human populations. That has revealed the second deep truth: In a very real sense, all people alive today are Africans. So, if you are exhibiting some form of prejudice towards another person, simply because the amount of melanin in their composite genetic makeup, you are, in essence, also biased towards yourself.
When people speak about race, usually they are referring to skin color and, at the same time, to something more than skin color. This is the legacy of wrongheaded scientists who lacked DNA testing and developed the “science” of race to suit their own prejudices. Science today tells us that the visible differences between peoples are merely a reflection of how our ancestors dealt with sun exposure.
Because racial categories are a man made creation, we can always make new categories that function better…and…we should do so.
Honestly, if we would all simply follow the examples of Jesus Christ…then much of indifference and prejudice that has spawned violence and hatred would cease to exist.
The Scriptures clearly remind us: For there is no respect of persons with God.
God does not care about the color of your skin, how much money you have, where you were born, your native language or your level of education. Why? Because he loves all of us equally…as we should also love each other.
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.