“As an African American male raised in Pulaski, Tennessee, some might think I encountered racism at every turn. Born in the birthplace of the Ku Klux Klan, the greatest domestic terrorist organization in the history of the United States, I am often asked how I survived.”
The first two chapters of Surrendering to Hope: Guidance for the Broken deal with grief and death, there are more issues in life that can break us. Reading Dr. James B. Angus Jr.’s chapter, Not All is Black and White, is a testimony to the oppressive power of racism – and the keys to survival in the face of it.
Reading this starkly personal story was, for me, a profound statement of the things I do not know by experience. In many ways I’m certain I have closed my eyes to racism in my community and in my own beliefs over the years. I’m grateful to read this truth from a brother in Christ. More, the awareness this testimonial chapter raises can help tear down walls that have been built between people of all colors through the years.
Dr. Angus relates recognizing a place where racism had a strong hold was in the church of his childhood.
“On a cold January morning in 1988, at the age of nine, I was baptized into Christ at the Church of Christ that met on Taylor Street in Pulaski. This black congregation was located on the black side of town … I thought there must have been two churches in the Bible – that is, the black churches of Christ and the white churches of Christ. This definitely wasn’t biblical, but it was the way we lived.”
Not only in the church, but in everyday experiences James says, “I developed a black complex. Every day, I am reminded that I am a black male.” He saw it in the stereotypes assigned to blacks, “black jokes”, and the ways that some in the community overlooked the many significant identifiers of who he was as an individual outside of the fact that he was a black man.
In 2000 James had a taste of injustice as administered by unethical police officers. He details this arrest and the resulting time of struggle with his own feelings about himself and God. Ultimately God led him to the campus of Lipscomb University. Though he still encountered some racism, he also experienced acceptance. He writes, “I learned that not all white men are out to get me; some are there to love and encourage. Together we learned not all was black and white.”
Dr. Angus attributes faith in God for the positives in his life, and who helps him with the things that torment him even today.
“God is able to handle me, and God is able to handle the racism in this country. God is both black and white. God is the god of diverse community.”
I have yet to meet Dr. Angus, but I hope to one day. He is a Minister and Adjunct Instructor at Lipscomb University and lives in Nashville, Tennessee. He is married to Melody Jeanette Angus and on his Facebook page I see pictures of three beautiful children. You can see some video of James preaching HERE.
As we make our way through Surrendering to Hope we will find many more diverse struggles that people like you and me are facing every day. The answer is to put our hope in God who can see us through, but that is easier to write than to do. In the next post we’ll meet someone who is engaged in war with the temptation of pornography.
Whether you’re facing death, loss, racism, or temptation … always remember … Out Here Hope Remains. Thanks for reading and sharing. JED