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Many issues are happening in this country regarding race. The latest is the riots in Baltimore due a protest the dead of another black person under the custody of police. President Obama addressed this issue yesterday and he called for “soul searching” as we try to grasp the implications of what is happening in our race relationships. “We can’t just leave this to the police. I think there are police departments that have to do some soul-searching. I think there are some communities that have to do some soul-searching, but I think we as a country have to do some soul-searching” (Source.

The essence of President Obama’s speech is as Keith (Tamara Keith NPR collaborator) puts it: “children born into poverty in neighborhoods where they’re more likely to die or go to jail than to college, where fathers are absent, where drugs dominate the local economy. Obama argued society has to make a choice to lift those communities up, otherwise… we’re not going to solve this problem, and we’ll go through the same cycles of periodic conflicts between the police and communities and the occasional riots in the streets.”

Additionally, yesterday Market Place presented a note regarding the barriers that exists in the AP classes and the effort to break down those barriers. In the note it is mentioned that “There are about 650,000 missing students per year — low-income students and students of color — who would participate in advanced courses in their high schools if given the opportunity to participate at the same rate as other students” (Source.

These two notes underline that in our country there is a systemic problem where poor people and people of color (specifically Hispanic/Latino, Black and in Oklahoma’s case, Native American) lack the opportunities to succeed. Poverty, low performing schools, high dropout rate, crime and violence inundate their neighborhoods that in return creates a vicious cycle where very few people can leave those neighborhoods. While riots ought to be never condoned, riots are a symptom of a deeper hurt. The two notes that I attach to this post, touch on the complex problems that President Obama, the article of Market Place and I have outlined.

As President Obama says, it is time for us, as society, to stop denying the problems of discrimination, racism and classicism and address them head on. All sectors of society need to be part of this discussion to find lasting solutions for these matters. Now, as part of the Church, we are called to be part of the solution and be an agent of change for our communities. The Church has a big responsibility in transforming our communities for the better and we need to go BEYOND PAYING ATTENTION and walk with the people, live among the people, invest in the community and truly live out our faith and convictions of the Jesus that walks and cares for people.