What to do When Racially Charged Events Happen


It’s going to happen again, you know. Do you know how I know? Because it is this cycle that we seem to be in now. It’s almost like we wait for it. We are cringing in the corner, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Then when “it” happens, we are surprised again — caught off-guard again. Aren’t you tired of that? Aren’t you tired of feeling unprepared? Aren’t you ready for a new narrative in our country around race, culture and how we live together? I know I am. 

When it comes to this particular topic, most of us tend to shy away in fear or feel a sense of confusion because we don’t know how to respond. I get it. However, it’s time to move into a state of preparedness and equipping so that you know what to do when these events happen … because they will happen again. The truth of the matter is, they are happening all of the time. 

If You See Something, Say Something
You see this everywhere in an airport. When the genuine threat of danger during airplane travel slipped back into our consciousness as a country, airports around started posting these signs. Airport officials knew that it would be impossible for them to catch everything. So they put this phrase in front of travelers. If you see something, say something. This phrase communicates to those who would see it that safety is up to us all at some level. It communicates that we have a part in attempting to look out for one another. It creates a collectiveness of culture within us when we see the sign. It creates a collective awareness. 

What does this mean for those in the faith community and as leaders of God’s people? Well, if you see something, say something. If you see someone hurting in your congregation and you know that it’s over a racially charged event, acknowledge that you see them. If you see a person on your leadership teams who mentions how they feel about a newsworthy event or something that happened to them personally, be present with them. Ask more questions and make fewer statements. Let them know that you are there and present if they need to talk or to process. Grieve with them. Mourn with them. Pray with them. I mean, that is what we are called to do as ministers anyway, right? 

Just because someone is struggling around a topic or issue that is racially charged doesn’t mean that they are no longer a human being anymore. Treat this just like you would treat a team member or someone from your congregation dealing with a spiritual issue. You would walk with them, be fully present, and ask how you could help. 

If you see something, say something. This is where your leadership intuition needs to kick in, and you need to have great awareness. Build your leadership intuition as well as your learning muscle. If you see something, say something. Something kind. Something full of light. Something that will lead others to the character of Christ, not the depravity of human opinions and thought.