Church, Stay Alert When Battling Racism!

It was Summer Camp of 2001. I went to reach for my friend’s brush and she asked: “What do you need that for? Isn’t your hair going to be nappy, anyway?” That is when I snapped, screaming: “YOU ARE A RACIST!” She looked at me perplexed, “Was it my saying nappy?” she responded. I honestly didn’t know the answer as to why I unloaded years of pent up aggression I had on her, knowing she wouldn’t intentionally hurt me. She then visibly started to shut down. My rage understandably started to make her afraid.

“Because you say that about your hair all the time,” she said.  And she was right, I do. However, for some reason when she said it this time, it hurt. I tried to reason with her to justify my inappropriate behavior. “I feel like we have had this conversation a million times and you still don’t understand what I need,” I told her “I am tired and about to get my period,” – which was a lie. However strategically crafty I tried to make my argument, it did nothing for the damage done. We went in more and more circles, only getting more and more elevated. We both sat there internally clinging to our justification of innocence in the incident, ultimately undoing  years of beautiful connection in what felt like an instant. I’m still heartbroken over the loss. Now in hindsight, I see more clearly what took place that unfortunate day. We, like the church often does, made our disconnect personal, instead of staying alert to the spiritual battle always looking to rob us.For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Church, Stay Alert! I must inform you that your “yes” to Jesus is your “yes” to being aware of the battle. You might not always be affected by it but it is always going on around you in the unseen world. You must stay alert. My story above is a perfect example of two people of faith who dearly loved one another but were deathly ignorant about the battle robbing their hard earned connection: Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).

The enemy doesn’t want our possessions, he wants our connection between each other and most of all God. It is for that reason I have come up with four biblical tips that have since equipped me to STAY ALERT.

  • Take your thoughts captive: We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

    • Her part: she needed to be responsible for not taking her racist thought captive. I have experienced that often with white (well meaning) faith family. A thought that is not their own, but they are unaware. Not seeing the gold in me sharing my heart on the pain I experience with the racism pointed towards my hair. Not seeing it because it was something that doesn’t affect her and ultimately places her in the position of being distracted during battle.

    • My part: is in being reactionary. Name-calling is never productive in arguments. I had no right to call her out of her identity in Christ, no matter the circumstance.

Wake up church, people are dying because we aren’t getting this.

  • Prefer one another: Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor” (Romans 10:12).

    • My part: by snapping at my best friend and resorting to name-calling, I made the mistake of considering her the enemy. She (and you as the church) are NEVER the enemy. The only enemy is the devil.

    • Her part: shutting down and not extending care where she asked me how I am feeling and what I needed to reconcile the situation added to elevating our argument.

The quicker we learn to remember this truth in all arguments, the more united we will remain.  

  • Don’t fear: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

    • Both our part: no matter how much damage this principality has done to each of us individually in the past, fear is not the appropriate response.

    • Her part: responding with excuses shows powerless, lacking in love, and plagued with confusion position.

    • My part: not choosing to first respond that her statement hurt me due to fear she would actually hurt me shows a powerless, lacking in love, and plagued with confusion position.

Had we both been prepared with what fear feels like in this context, and both agreed to throw fear out of our conversation, we would have invited truth in to restore. Remember, the only way to combat fear is with truth and truth is a person. Truth is given more permission to have His way if we know Him well, outside of being attacked.  

  • Don’t justify bad behavior: “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit (2 Corinthians 1:12).

    • Both our part: allowing this principality to rob our integrity and sincerity towards one another for the sake of justifying our bad behavior.

    • Her part: using the weak excuse that because she has heard me call my own hair nappy, that information trumped the pain I communicated previously.

    • My part: was using lies as a weak excuse to not own that instead of being transparent, I negatively reacted.

Though my friend and I had been friends for years, let our story be testament that no excuse justifies bad behavior.

Church, after sharing this with you I am more confident in the importance of staying alert to be relevant in the battle against racism. Let me know if my practical tips help you in your next attack, in our attempts to be relevant.


Amanda Flowers Peterson is part of Ezer Rising’ administration team and contributes specifically on #TruthInColorTuesdays. Where she educates and equips the church to be relevant in the fight against -isms, facilitating difficult conversations as her medium. She is passionate about crisis and pain management, holistic care, racial reconciliation and church equipping. She is married to her best friend Jason, equally partnered in raising their two sons Zephaniah and Zechariah, is the Founder and CEO of Zion Crisis Navigational Services, and is a mental health advocate and activist with Stand Against Stigma. Amanda can usually be found eating, running, reading a thought provoking book or watching her favorite TV shows on hulu. With degrees in psychology and biblical theology as well as fifteen years experience in ministry and government she is determined to represent the change Jesus charged the church to be when He resurrected.
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