Bakari Kitwana, in his book Why White Kids Love Hip-Hop (Perseus 2005), thinks our kids' generation might be on the brink of something new when it comes to race:
The mainstreaming of hip-hop culture has in part provided a space where American youth, Black and white included, can expore these new ideas together, even if the old racial politics are always lurking in the shadows.Youth culture judges our generation for not leading the way to Jesus-centered reconciliation, and the truth hurts: we deserve it. If you're white, how often do you talk about race with your kids, or actually think about it yourself? Do you understand the term "white privilege"? And if you're black, how are you proactively and prayerfully equipping your kids to deal with the racism their generation is facing as opposed to what you experienced?
As with sexuality, Christian parents can't afford to be on cruise control when it comes to race. The culture is berating our kids to be tolerant and understanding, but Jesus is more radical than that. He calls us to go way beyond "tolerating" each other to repenting, forgiving, and forging relationships that resonate with intimacy. He alone gives us the tools that this country so desperately needs to reconcile:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. (Ephesians 2: 14-18, NIV).In Black and White, two families lived together for six weeks and their Hollywood-inspired conversations focused on teaching each other how to be black and how to be white. Christ-led encounters around that table would be completely different. They would involve listening to each other's pain, confessing ugly truths, repenting of hatred, offering forgiveness, praying, worshipping, striving to know each other intimately and carrying one another's burdens. And they would result in relationships that last a lifetime, not just for six weeks. The problem is that those kinds of conversations rarely take place in the church.
Next week, why not watch the show with your older teens? (Note: it's rated MA for language.) Talk about how it made you feel; honestly assess any differences between your gut reactions. Discuss with them if anything led the two families further up the Ephesians 2:14-18 path. Was the dividing wall of hostility torn down or built up? Ask questions like: "How might our family pursue racial reconciliation in our church, community, country, world?" or "What does it mean to be racist?" If we don't talk to our kids about a biblical view of race, we're letting culture lower the bar.
InterVarsity Christian Fellowship provides thoughtful fodder for conversation around the family dinner table (if you're white, start with Carolyn Carney's White Responsibility in Racial Reconciliation), or read Teaching Kids About Race by Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil as a starting point.