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Fighting for Justice Together

Written by Lawrence Yoo

When I saw the video and read the articles about the Ahmaud Arbery shooting, it broke my heart. It hurts to see that level of hatred and racism. It was infuriating, but, unfortunately, it wasn’t surprising. I have heard too many stories from my brothers and sisters of color about abusive encounters to be surprised. We need to be aware so that we can grieve, knowing that when one of us suffers, we all suffer, and so that we might fight for justice together. Below are just a few stories of daily encounters with racism.

I was driving home from Sushioki one afternoon at the beginning of Covid, when I saw a car stopped about five car-lengths short of the traffic light ahead of me. Confused, I tried to slowly pass him on the right shoulder to make a turn at the right traffic light. The man in the car lowered his window, so I lowered mine as well, thinking he might need help. He then began to yell curse words and threaten me, ending with, “Get off the f-ing road, you f-ing chink.” I was shocked by this encounter. Then I became terribly angry. I imagined this happening to one of my sons, or my wife, and I became even angrier. This happened five minutes from my home and our church.

An African-American church member was out with his four-year-old son at a playground in Brier Creek. As he was backing up his car to leave the parking lot, a car with four young men, sped up as if they were going to hit his car, slamming on the brakes right before contact and laughing. Angry, he got out of the car and said, “What are you doing? I have a child in the car.” What followed was a string of obscenities and racial slurs. When he got back in the car, his son asked, “Why were those men so mean?”

A Korean-American woman from our church tells stories of children at the bus stop yelling “ching chong” and even spitting at her. Another told about unwanted attention from men who perceive her to be “exotic” because of her ethnicity.

The goal of sharing these stories isn’t to incite pity or a cry for rescue. I share these because we are a family, and we share each other’s burdens and joys. I know many of you want to be an agent for change but are not quite sure how to begin. Below are a few action points to guide us in our fight for justice.

1. Pray

I didn’t include this one just because I’m a pastor. I truly believe that systemic injustices and strongholds can only be effectively fought with the fuel of prayer.

2. Become a Safe Place for Minority Brothers and Sisters

Ask questions in community. We all have stories to tell, but we often don’t share because we don’t want to look like a complainer, or always angry, or someone in need of rescuing. Listening with grace, even if you don’t always know how to respond, can go a long way.

3. Speak Up and Speak Out

Use social media to raise awareness. Speak up when your crazy uncle says something at the next family gathering. Call out situations and circumstances as you see them.

4. Teach and Model for Children

Racism starts early. What are we laughing at? What are we modeling? Intentionally train your children to be empathetic people. Teach them history and social awareness.

5. Expand Your Circles

Be intentional to socialize with people who are different from you. Be willing to be the minority in a group. Choose to be uncomfortable. Live in diverse communities.

One thing I pray often for Waypoint is that we will show the kingdom of God through our diversity and love.

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