People who grew up in the 1950s and 60s experienced racially charged incidents that profoundly impacted America’s cultural and political landscape. The murder of Emmett Till, Brown vs. Board of Education, the Freedom Rides, student sit ins, Martin Luther King’s philosophy of nonviolence, Selma, and the integration of Ole Miss are just a few of the events that defined that era.
However, I believe that the Milennial generation (talkin bout my generation) is a group that is highly racialized, too. We were kids while Rodney King/ Los Angeles Riots streamed in our television sets at home. The trial of OJ Simpson and how it was perceived by various racial and ethnic groups was an event I remember vividly. We came to age with the ascension of Barack Obama to the presidency. Ferguson, Charleston, and Eric Garner are fresh in our mindsets. The rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement has dominated news cycles. Affirmative-action is continually being debated and illegal immigration is a hot-button issue in the 2016 US Presidential election. There has been an inordinate amount of divisive dialogue and heated rhetoric from these situations and events.
America has a very deep historical wound from racism. Racism can be defined as speaking, acting or thinking negatively about someone else solely based on that person’s color, class or culture. That is why we need GRACISM today. A common definition of grace is the unmerited favor of God on humankind. Gracism is the positive extension of favor on other humans based on color, class or culture.
I’m currently working on a doctorate degree at Duke University. I’m fairly certain that my dissertation will be on millennial’s attitudes towards diversity and inclusion in the local church. As I have researched this topic, I came across David Anderson’s brilliant book, Gracism: The Art of Inclusion.
Anderson enumerates seven principles that Gracist live by based out of 1 Corinthians 12:22-26. Below are the principles:
- I will lift you up – Gracist are like elevators in the lives of other people, especially those on the fringes. They are focused on lifting up others to another floor; to another level in life. They are committed to uplifting those around them. The greatest among you must be a servant. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. – Matthew 23:11-12 NLT
- I will cover you – People make mistakes. They say and do things that hurt us. We get angry. However, Gracists clothe their attitudes and behaviors in godliness before judging or exposing areas in other people. Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. – Colossians 3:12 NLT
- I will share with you – When is the last time you have leveraged your financial and relational network to help others succeed in their economic worlds? Do we assist people in reaching their educational and economic potential on a consistent basis? And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. – Hebrews 13:16 NLT
- I will honor you – I want to spend my life honoring others and Jesus. There are folks out there that have been bruised and bloodied by the world. We must honor those who are marginalized. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. – Hebrews 13:2
- I will stand with you – A lot of times standing with someone is standing up for them. Are we standing up for the poor and the marganilized? Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice. – Proverbs 31:8-9 NLT
- I will consider you – This is where I concern myself with the feelings and dreams of others. Anderson writes, “I have to consider your thoughts, perspectives and feelings rather than making a unilateral decision that might adversely affect you.” Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. – Philippians 2:3-4 NLT
- I will celebrate you – We have to be intentional about rejoicing in other’s success. We often relish in our personal victories and fail to notice the wonderful things that others have accomplished. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. – 1 Thessalonians 5:11 NLT
I’m Harold Dorrell Briscoe. Thanks for reading.