As I mentioned previously, this "Image of God" composition is being written with a primary focus on racial injustice in the United States. This is a deep issue I have grown more aware of and passionate about over the last several years, and I've been doing research during this composition process to back up my music. Here are some of the facts on systemic racism I've found.
- Much of the current plight of African Americans stems back to the 1930s, when redlining was a common practice in real estate.
- As part of the New Deal, the National Housing Act of 1934 was designed to make housing and mortgages more affordable. Billions of dollars in home loans were given out, but only given to white people. In fact, the Federal Housing Administration manual underwriting recommended "prohibition of the occupancy of properties except by race for which they were intended".
- White middle class suburbs were created, with many black families forced to live in inner-city neighborhoods lacking investment. A snowball effect ensues - refusal to invest in a "risky" neighborhood meant no new business ventures, leading to abandoned neighborhoods and therefore more attractive for criminal activity, which leads to further denial of investment and equating black people with bad neighborhoods and crime.
- Further snowballing - Property taxes fund schools. Therefore the affluent white suburbs have better education than the inner-city ghettos. Better education leads to higher college acceptance rates, more job opportunities, and ultimately more wealth. Lower quality or a lack of education naturally has the reverse effect, and many black people had to resort to low wage manual labor.
- Redlining wasn't outlawed until 1968, and still continued under the radar for years to come. When people talk about "systemic racism," the long-lasting effects of this practice are some of the more predominant symptoms they are referring to.
And that's just racism through redlining.
We cannot keep ignoring the pain and plight of people who are suffering, EVEN IF you may think someone is overreacting. If a friend of yours is hurting, you listen to their sufferings and stand with them in the midst of it. When was the last time telling your wife she's overreacting did any good? Unfortunately we are quick to judge and slow to listen. Once we stop viewing the world as "us" versus "them" and instead see each person as divinely created in the image of God, beautifully crafted humans with individual stories, then hurts can be addressed and solutions can be found.
Legislation and policy decisions certainly need to happen on a nation-wide level to address these issues. Prayer for our leaders and choosing to stand behind government officials that offer viable solutions is a must. Finally, the American church needs to unite and show the grace, love and compassion of Christ by being a prophetic voice for the oppressed (in this case people of color).