Even with the recent surge of attention given to issues of race and ethnicity, any attempt to enter a conversation on these issues comes with a degree of timidity: Can I say this?Am I allowed to use that word? How will he respond if I ask about…?

These kinds of questions can also come up around observations of Black History Month, as people consider ways to honor African Americans without resorting to stereotypes, clichés, or tokenism.

Our reluctance to address race and to resign to “safe” silence often comes from a desire to respect others, but also from our own fear of being called insensitive, hurtful, or worse, a racist.

That term comes with so much weight and penalty that people do not relate to it. There are few self-identified racists, though many in our country and our churches indeed struggle with racism. Our distance from this term hinders us from fully engaging with issues of race.

I’ve written previously to challenge fellow Christians to evaluate their hearts to see whether pride and self-exaltation has fueled the sin of racism within them. I know racism is alive and well because I have met people who tell me they struggle with it. Over the past year, I’ve engaged with brothers and sisters who are willing to face their sin, repent, and ask God for strength to change.

Many of these people, I believe, would continue to be complacent in their sin if some churches and organizations hadn’t started to become more vocal over issues of race. When we are willing to have difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, conversations—God works through them.

Researchers found that most evangelicals believe "one of the most effective ways to improve race relations ...

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