As a San Francisco 49ers fan, I will never forget the three year run we had under Coach Jim Harbaugh. Coach Harbaugh implemented not only a winning system but a winning culture. His famous motto “Who’s Got It Better Than Us” brought Niners nation together like never before. You didn’t have to be fan of the team to appreciate the catchy query, however you may have had to if you were to understand the true meaning behind it. Jim Harbaugh grew up in a small town without much. When times were the most tough his father would ask Jim and his brother John, “Who’s got it better than us?” and they would respond with “nooo-body”. During a radio interview Coach explained it this way.
“As you look back on it, I think the message there was that not having things handed to you, things that don’t come easy are really the blessing because you have to overcome some things. And, if it’s harder, than it makes you better in the long run.”
The first time I heard Coach explain that, it immediately resonated with me. I thought to myself, “Well if that’s the case, as it pertains to America, as a Christian black man, who can possibly have it better than us?”
I always get frustrated anytime someone refers to the African American community as the oppressed, the less fortunate, the poor, afflicted etc. Don't get it twisted, I am in no way naive to the realities of systemic racism, or racial profiling. Believe me, I have way too much personal experience to be so blind, but something about that always bothered me and I couldn't put my finger on why for a long time. After much prayer, searching the scriptures, dialogue with friends, and a few good talks with a beautiful Dominican Queen from Florida (aka - my wife), it finally hit me.
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 NIV
Jesus Christ grants me access to a new perspective and that is how I choose to see the world. I refuse to be identified as the victim or any other negative term. I am who my God says I am — not what society says. Society may say I fit the description of the criminal but God says I fit the description of the redeemed. My place in this world, whether good or bad, is not the result of "white privilege" but the result of a sovereign God who works all things together for my good. As far as I'm concerned, I have "black privilege". It is a black privilege to have such a rich history of men and women of faith who exemplified perseverance, endurance, and true freedom. Charles Gilmer puts it this way;
"This is the freedom our forefathers found in the midst of slavery. The freedom to transcend their circumstances. The freedom that comes from living on the basis of a higher reality. This is the freedom that ignited the activity of so many who have fought for the freedom and dignity of our people. This is the freedom that you can experience if you will place your trust in Him (Jesus Christ)"
I believe that instead of planting seeds of bitterness, pity, and hopelessness, this is the message our young brothers and sisters in the hood need to hear. It is a black privilege for us to be able to look back on people like Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, George Washington Carver, Richard Allen, Dr. Martin Luther King and all those who are remembered not for their circumstances but for their faith and powerful impact.
It is a black privilege for us to know you can't honestly speak of American history without the influence and contributions of the black church. As the song goes "We've come this far by faith, leaning on The Lord. Trusting in His Holy Word. He never failed me yet." This is why we need not to feel sorry for ourselves, we ought to instead marvel at how far God has brought us. In Romans chapter 9, the apostle Paul expressed his longing for the people of his own race, and spoke about the privileges of being a Jew in light of what Christ has done for them. That is the same longing I have for the African American. We have a living hope, a real hope, a right now hope. Today is the day of salvation. Let us who know the Lord speak life into our communities. Let us speak words of encouragement and empowerment. Let us proclaim the excellencies of Him who restores dignity and value to those who know not the truth.
There is no amount of racism in the world that can stop us. The justice system can't stop us, the school system can't stop us, nothing. The lack of resources can’t stop us, God is our Provider. The stats concerning fatherlessness in the hood, the stats concerning drugs and guns, and murders, and abortions are all indeed a reality of our environment but that says nothing about a particular individual made in the image of God. That is not your identity. If you would only turn and trust in the one who died for you and rose again, you would then see how precious you really are in His sight. As I continue to grow in my knowledge of God, I appreciate more and more who He has made me to be and how He has always been with me. According to Acts 17:26-27, God purposely made me at a specific time and place. Therefore, I love being black. I love my culture, where I'm from, my black privilege. I can look back on the police who racially profiled me and arrested me for something I didn't do and say "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." Praise The Lord for my Black Privilege!
by Ike Todd