The phrase “politically correct” is most often used to marginalize speech and people. It is used to dismiss and disregard concerns that are legitimately raised by people who desire to bring greater reconciliation among all people. On Sunday during our time of prayer, I stated that there was a time in our country when signs that read “Whites Only” and “Colored Only” were ‘politically correct’. These signs went unquestioned and to question them meant you were being politically incorrect. For that you could be beaten and/or killed.
I remember my southern Indiana relatives sitting in our front living room one afternoon. They’d all moved to Southern California, having followed my grandmother Jewel. My great-aunts and uncles sat around visiting and talking. I distinctly remember an awkward moment: awkward for my parents and awkward for me. The “N” word was being used with frequency and derisive laughter. I could see from the expression on my parents’ faces that it made them uncomfortable, but they didn’t say anything. It wouldn’t have been “politically correct”. Besides, family and conversations about anything perceived as political can be a minefield.
Let us cease and desist from the use of this phrase “politically correct” and instead listen to the pain that is underneath and within the requests for kinder speech, for people to be treated with respect. I wish my parents had been able to speak up for the people not in the room that day who were being maligned simply because the color of their skin and their life experience were drastically different from those speaking. “Lord, help me seek to understand rather than be understood.”
The events in Charlottesville, Virginia are evidence of the work we still have left to do to heal from the sin of racism. The deck is stacked against those who have for centuries been marginalized in our country, who were slaves, who are descendants of slaves. Racism is real in our country and it is a sin against God, who calls ALL of us Beloved.
Today, I am thinking of Bob Gillette and Jerry Page, members of our church now deceased. They both landed on the beach at Normandy on D-Day. I am wondering what they would think of the defense by some of the people whose ideas and ideals they fought to silence.
The pernicious presence of racism varies throughout our country. Anything less than an unequivocal condemnation of actions and activities that perpetrate it indicate support for the continuing of this cancer that plagues our nation.
Jesus had no problem calling out the evil of his day that was perpetrated in the structures of his society. “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and have the best seats and places of honor. They devour widows’ houses…..” (Mark 12:38-40)