It’s hard being a black man in America. You should know that.
Being a black man in America means always being met with suspicion until proven otherwise. Being a black man in America means operating under a different set of rules and guidelines for mere survival. But, more than anything, being a black man in America means living with constant, rampant, pervasive injustice:
It would take a large panel of highly educated researchers, professors, and activists to fully describe how each of these injustices affects the lives of black men in America. And as a black man in America, I can spend days and weeks talking about the impact that each of these forms of injustice has had on my life and the lives of my family members.
But I don’t want to talk about that right now. The real question is this: How can I live with these injustices? How can I thrive despite these injustices? Ultimately, how can I, as a black man in America, have peace?
Let me be very clear. When I say “peace”, I do not mean simply acquiring a specific coping strategy that blinds me to the reality around me and ignores the true damage done by injustice in America. I also am not referring to a notion of acceptance, which often results in a “that’s-just-the-way-it-is” mentality that simply receives these injustices as the price to be paid for being black in America. I am also aware that the presence of injustice is not unique to America. The idea that I could move to an “injustice-free” society in another country is not realistic.
No, when I say “peace”, I mean living as a full, complete, respected human being. No more injustice. No more conflict. No more hostility simply because of my skin color. Now you could ask: Is this “peace” even possible to attain in America? On Earth? But that’s not the right question. The question is this:
How can I find peace in the FACE of injustice? How can I find peace while experiencing injustice?
Due to the condition of the human heart, injustice will continue. The desire for power, financial security, positions of high esteem, etc. drive the various forms of injustice that are present today. However, peace is available, regardless of the injustices that I encounter. Regardless of the vast disparities that exist in the world. Regardless of the news reports that detail another killing of an unarmed, black man. Regardless of another economic report that has black men on the bottom rung of the income ladder. Regardless of the high incarceration rates, high college and high school dropout rates, high rates of heart disease and respiratory disease and diabetes that have come to characterize black men in America.
Despite all of this, I can truly say that I have peace amidst the injustice. I can say that because this peace that I have is not impacted by the injustice in the world. It is an incomprehensible, unimaginable, out-of-this-world type of peace. This peace comes directly from God himself. The Creator of the universe. The Maker of everything around us. He gave me this peace, His peace. When I read the Bible, I get a glimpse of what God thinks of me, and an overwhelming peace “that surpasses all understanding” comes over me. God has a lot to say about who I truly am.
God tells me that He created me exactly the way that I am. My skin color was not an accident or a curse. I am exactly what He intended.
God tells me that I am loved. Even with all the bad decisions that I make and hurtful things that I say and do, He loves me.
God tells me that He will take care of me. While others may seem to have more and can seemingly attain higher positions based solely on their skin color or family of origin, God will provide everything that I need.
I know that this is all true because God sent his son, Jesus of Nazareth, into the world. Jesus lived the perfect life that God required from me. Jesus died a gruesome death to pay the debt that my sin and evil earned. Then, Jesus rose from the dead and walked out of the tomb that he was laid in. And now, Jesus is sitting right next to God. And my faith in the work that Jesus did on my behalf has secured an eternal relationship with God that will culminate in me living with him forever in His amazing kingdom.
And when that happened, the first thing that I received from God was His peace.
His peace allows me to have peace in this broken, unjust world. His peace reminds me that injustice is only temporary, and the perpetrators of injustice will be judged and receive true justice from God himself. His peace allows me to live courageously and advocate for fellow recipients of injustice. His peace empowers me to fight against injustice with hope and assurance that God will make everything right.
With Jesus by my side, I have peace. Peace in the face of injustice.
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