Can We Please Ignore Our Racist Past?

I didn’t think I was being controversial. I wasn’t trying to be inflammatory. But this past week I saw a video that gave the statistics of the top 10 lynching states over a span of 8 decades. I shared the video on my Facebook page and added the message:

2,751 confirmed lynchings over 8 decades in ONLY 10 states. There’s NO WAY the Civil Rights Movement can undo all of the damage to race-relations. We have a lot of work to do…

Here’s the video…

While everyone who saw it agreed that the content was horrific, a couple people chastised me for sharing it, saying that I was stoking the fires of hate and that I should allow people to forget and move on. One said:

Absolutely disgusting….and tell me what purpose you serve in playing a video like this? Show me in the Bible what you are teaching? Sometimes I wonder what it is that you are trying to do with your posts…inspire people to be led to God or be inspired to be led by hate…

And another:

[D]welling on it is like not forgiving. How long can we live the sins of some one else’s father. I grew up in Atlanta, in the 70’s. I remember the bitterness. It was still there. Did it help, in moving forward with change, to bring up things, like lynchings? No. It just stirs up strife. The Bible talks about moving forward. Let’s follow what it says, instead of beating ourselves up in the 21st century, for things that happened over a hundred years ago.

I was astounded that people I know to be Christians would rather ignore the past than to deal with it. It’s not even as though this issue was long since over. This was still happening 49 years ago. It’s NOT ancient history. In Matthew 18, Jesus’s own model for resolving conflict when someone sins against you is to deal with it – not to simply bury it or sweep it under the rug. How do you plan to help reconcile people if you never address wrongs that were done?

“My husband had an affair on me!”

“Yes, but that was last week. Don’t dwell on it. Move on.”


Remember when Jonah was on his way to rebuke Nineveh and God said, “You know what, that’s in the past. Let’s just let it go and move on. It doesn’t do any good to dwell on old things.”

Yeah, neither do I.

The Bible is literally FILLED with examples of God calling out unrighteous behavior that needs to be changed. Racism is STILL a prevalent problem in our nation, and these sins of the past that some seem to want to forget only ended 49 years ago. People are still alive that witnessed and participated in such behavior. It is ABSOLUTELY okay with God to tell people that this is not righteous behavior/thinking and needs to be fought.

ostrichI care about reconciling people and that doesn’t happen unless we address the wrongs from the past. You can’t bury your head in the sand and move forward in ignorant bliss.

We need to move away from hate, but we need to acknowledge history and the wrongs we have done so we can move forward.

Shining light into darkness makes it harder for people to hide in the dark.

What do you think? Have you heard people advocating for a “forgive and forget” attitude when it comes to America’s racist past? How does this make you feel?

7 Replies to “Can We Please Ignore Our Racist Past?”

  1. I completely acknowledge and agree that racism absolutely still exists today and it is imperative that each generation understands their history from all aspects good and bad. My husband and I both have several family members on both sides of the family that survived the era when the KKK, lynching, protests, etc. took place and while the information provided was important I fail to see the benefit of posting a video that is so graphic and does absolutely nothing to contribute to healing, promoting unity or love. I understand you were trying to make a point but at what cost? My husband grew up during the Civil Rights Movement and can attest to the many people and events that contributed to the forward progress that resulted in much of the healing of race-relations we see today while at the same time acknowledging the many sacrifices that were made for that progress to happen in the first place. Neither the sacrifices nor the progress should be ignored and I don’t believe people think our racist past should be ignored, not acknowledged, learned about and educating our generations about the past. I do believe one must be mindful of not only how it is presented but what is presented as well. It is disheartening that you tend to always attempt to “shine light” in the darkest areas of our History and seem lose sight of all of the people and events that while acknowledging the darkest days of the past chose to focus on forward progress even if it meant laying down their life to promote their cause of fairness, love and unity. I see racism still happening on a daily basis especially the blatant racism that seems once again to becoming the norm and it is absolutely disheartening when I see society focusing on the transgressions of our ancestors and using it as a crutch to not move forward.
    This type of video does several things, it re-victimizes people that have survived, it only portrays a small portion of history and focuses on the horrific side of our history with the only mention of the Civil Rights Movement was in the statement you made “There’s NO WAY the Civil Rights Movement can undo all of the damage to race-relations. We have a lot of work to do…” That comment is a testimony that you may not understand what the Civil Rights Movement was truly about or the forward progress that has been made as a result of the Civil Rights Movement and the heroic people that were instrumental in how far we have come. Yes, “we have a lot of work to do” and that is partially the result of people not fully understanding our history but also because people are misinformed or inaccurate information being passed along through the generations. My husband and I visited the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, TN a few years back on Martin Luther King Day and were horrified how many parents we heard passing along inaccurate information about slavery, KKK, lynching, and the Civil Rights Movement.
    Civil rights activists used nonviolent protest and civil disobedience to bring about change, and the federal government made legislative headway with initiatives such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Many leaders from within the African American community and beyond rose to prominence during the Civil Rights era, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, Andrew Goodman and others. They risked—and sometimes lost—their lives in the name of freedom and equality.
    The most important achievements of African-American Movements have been the post-Civil War constitutional amendments that abolished slavery and established the citizenship status of blacks and the judicial decisions and legislation based on these amendments, notably the Supreme Court’s decision Brown v. Board of Education of 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The modern period of civil rights reform can be divided into several areas, each beginning with isolated, small-scale protests and ultimately resulting in the emergence of new, more militant movements, leaders, and organizations. During the 1950s and 1960s, the NAACP–sponsored legal suits and legislative lobbying were supplemented by an increasingly massive and militant social movement seeking a broad range of social changes.
    The black protest activity in the post-Brown period began on December 1, 1955 when Rosa Parks of Montgomery, Alabama, refused to give up her seat to a white bus rider, defying a southern custom that required blacks to give seats toward the front of buses to whites. When she was jailed, a black community boycott of the city’s buses began. The boycott lasted more than a year, that demonstrated unity and determination of black residents and inspiring blacks elsewhere.
    Martin Luther King, Jr., who emerged as the boycott movement’s most effective leader, he understood the larger significance of the boycott and quickly realized that the nonviolent tactics could be used by southern blacks. Although Parks and King were members of the NAACP, the Montgomery movement led to the creation in 1957 of a new regional organization, the clergy-led Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) with King as its president. February 1, 1960, four freshmen at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical College began student sit-ins designed to end segregation at southern lunch counters. These protests spread rapidly throughout the South and led to the founding, in April 1960, of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).
    The SCLC protest strategy achieved its first major success in 1963 when the group launched a major campaign in Birmingham, Alabama and by the summer of 1963, the Birmingham protests had become only one of many local protest insurgencies that resulted in the August 28 March on Washington where Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech to a crowd of over 200,000 people. King’s linkage of black militancy and idealism helped bring about passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Selma to Montgomery march was the culmination of a stage of the African-American freedom struggle which also included white supporters and soon after, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Severe government repression, the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, caused a decline in protest activity after the 1960s.
    Civil rights advocates acknowledged desegregation had not brought significant improvements in the lives of poor blacks, but were divided over the future direction of black advancement efforts. Many of the civil rights efforts of the 1970s and 1980s were devoted to defending previous gains or strengthening enforcement
    The modern African-American civil rights movement, has transformed American democracy. It also serves as a model for group advancement and pride efforts involving women, students, Chicanos, gays, lesbians, and the elderly. Continuing strife regarding affirmative action and historically rooted patterns of discrimination are aspects of more fundamental, ongoing debates about the boundaries of individual freedom, the role of government, and alternative concepts of social justice. I am very disappointed you choose to consistently highlight the areas in history that are the most painful to remember vice highlighting how far we have come and things WE CAN DO NOW to improve race-relations and continue moving forward instead of repeating history. While we absolutely must learn our history to prevent repeating it, it is direly important that we don’t focus more on the heinous acts of our ancestors and more on how far we’ve have come. Lest we not forget while Jim Crow, the KKK, lynching, and slavery were all major parts of our past we must continue to acknowledge and continue moving forward just as our ancestors of the civil rights movement to prevent history from repeating itself. We can report on the atrocities of our past without pictures or videos that can significantly affect the well-being of those that have actually lived through it and choose to continue moving forward. Our generation will never be able to fully understand or appreciate the malicious, inhumane, and straight up evil things that that our ancestors experienced nor can we fully appreciate the momentous victories. We can only learn, educate ourselves and pass the COMPLETE story of our history to future generations in order to preserve the past but continue to move forward minimizing the gaps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can appreciate the time it took to write your response. You seem to think that I am disparaging of the Civil Rights Movement in my post – not at all. When I say that there is no way the Civil Rights Movement can undo the damage of the past I simply mean that this nation has hundreds of years of slavery, abuse, and mistreatment. It’s written into the very fabric of the Constitution. The idea that everything can be better after 50 years of activism isn’t realistic. In the spirit of Dr. King, Rosa Parks, and everyone else who fought for Civil Rights, we STILL have a lot to do.

      As for the video, I do see it as educational. It is educational in the same sense that Roots, Glory, 12 Years a Slave, and many other works are. It literally IS history. As for people wanting to ignore or forget, I have met people that actually DO want to ignore it and move on. This is what people cannot be allowed to do. We must memorialize the past and fight for a better future.


  2. It is extremely important that we remember our past, because who we are today is shaped by what happened then. I’ve met people whose father or uncle was lynched. I know others who witnessed a lynching when they were young. That trauma is never gone, never forgotten. This is not ancient history. We’re only one generation away from this being common. It’s still raw and painful for a lot of Americans. It would be like telling European Jews to forget the Holocaust. Those who think it’s better not to bring it up anymore should read the Old Testament stories about the times the people of God set up memorials so they wouldn’t forget key experiences. They did that for positive and negative events. Are these images and stories painful? Definitely! And they should be. That’s exactly why we need to see the pictures, the videos, and hear or read the stories. We need to be cognizant of the pain. Where we are in ethnic relations today did not happen independent of those atrocities; there’s a direct link. So if we’re really interested in moving beyond, then we first have to deal with the hard, painful facts, understand the issues and the emotions, and then move towards healing, reconciliation, repentance, and atonement. Until that happens, we need to be reminded over and over so we don’t forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Paul Linzey and commented:
    Chris Linzey posted a blog that upset some people. It is worth reading. Interestingly, the people of God in the Old Testament routinely established memorials specifically so they would not forget their past — both positive and negative.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with what you have said here. I just don’t know what “address the wrongs from the past” might look like. I know what I personally can do and strive to do, but I’m just unsure what that might look like on a larger national level. Anyway, thanks for a post that causes us to think about these things.

    Liked by 1 person

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