It is a formal invitation to invite someone to a high school prom. These invitations have ranged from a simple sign to elaborate staged productions with an entire band playing a musical proposal. Social media is replete with creative examples of promposals submitted by thousands of teenagers all seeking to outdo one another.
Amidst the revelry of the season and promposals, a deplorable incident recently occurred at a local public high school. A young man posted his promposal on a social media site, holding the sign and standing alongside his prom date who accepted. The message was decidedly racist, incorporating a vulgar slur, directed against African-Americans. The outrage was immediate and widespread and by that evening, the principal of the school sent an email condemning the actions and promised the couple and all involved parties would be subject to severe consequences.
Meanwhile, social media chimed in and various suggestions were offered by students, parents, and conventional media. Expulsion? Expelling the students would simply sweep the problem under the carpet. While it may be an immediate response and quick fix, it does not address the fundamental problem. Sensitivity training? Sensitivity training may help to instill greater awareness and broaden our exposure to the problems but unless the couple is willing to listen and change their behavior, it would fall on deaf ears.
What is needed is a way for this young couple and others like them to truly understand the pain and consequences of racism. Only when someone viscerally experiences the type of hate and prejudice upon themselves that their own actions are instigating and fomenting upon their intended target, will a lesson be learned. Can such a lesson ever be learned?
In 1959, a white journalist, John Howard Griffin, disguised himself as a black man, taking medications to darken his skin, and traveled through six states in the deep South of the United States. For six weeks, he experienced the direct and indirect racism that many African-Americans experienced in the still racially segregated south. He kept a journal of his experiences which was later published as a book, “Black Like Me.” Griffin experienced first hand what it was like to be treated as a black man. It forever changed his life and he became an advocate and activist for race relations and social justice.
More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; mighty are those who would destroy me, those who attack me with lies. What I did not steal must I now restore?
Psalms 69:4 (ESV)
I am the talk of those who sit in the gate, and the drunkards make songs about me.
Psalms 69:12 (ESV)
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:3 (ESV)
Who is this pitiful man, despised and ridiculed by so many? It is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Racism and prejudice have been with mankind since our creation. If we are to begin to solve this problem and change our attitudes about race relations, we must change our hearts. The only way to do this is to confess and repent of our sins and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
Why should we trust a man who was rejected and reviled by so many and treated like a second class citizen? Jesus Christ is God and lived a life as a perfect Man. He experienced rejection and betrayal by His own people. He was ridiculed by jealous religious leaders of the day. He was slandered for His humble upbringing and apparent lack of formal education.
Griffin experienced this hatred and pain when he became part of the same group upon which racists attacks were directed. This young couple must also experience the pain of their hateful and insensitive promposal. The proposal of Jesus Christ is to place your trust in Him and allow Him to change your heart and your attitude to begin the healing process. He can give us the solution because He was one of us.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.