A Vested Interest and the Ethic of Love

How do you get people to care about what concerns you? What makes some people take action on a topic while others remain passive? If you’re passionate about anything at all in life, you want to convince others to be passionate about it, too. But that’s not an easy endeavor.

 A Vested Interest

I spend much of my time talking to people in the racial majority about issues of race, justice, and Jesus. Most people listen politely and maybe even ask a few questions, but very few become active participants in the pursuit of racial justice. But recently I heard someone from this group reflect that she didn’t start caring about issues of race until she made friends with an African-American couple and they recounted the vivid experiences of discrimination that they and their children endured. She said, “It wasn’t until I had actual friends who were being affected by racism that I developed a vested interest in the topic.”

I like the term “vested interest.” It speaks volumes.

 A Vested Interest in Racial Justice

If you’re among the racial minority in this country, you have a vested interest in issues of racial justice.  Why? Because you live through the realities of racial injustice on a daily basis. As an African American, I have been so conditioned to consider racial identity that it has become a subconscious habit. When I enter a room, I automatically look to see if there are any other black people. I easily change from a vernacular dialect to Standard English in different settings. I am subconsciously aware of the glaring absence of minority voices in important settings like the church. Yes, I have a vested interest in race because, like it or not, race is a reality for minorities.

But what if you’re in the racial majority? What if systems, institutions, and power structures tend to work for your benefit? What if property values actually increase when you move into a neighborhood? What if you’ve never had a meaningful relationship with someone from a racial minority? What if many of the topics that minority groups discuss don’t register with you? In other words, what if you don’t have a “vested interest”?

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