Pastor Bo: A fill-in-the-blanks column on race and responsibility

The video was heartbreaking and raw. A young mother was walking through a grocery store in a large American city, narrating a live video. The store had just been looted and utterly ransacked by a very large group of youth. This young mother could not even find formula for her baby in all of the wreckage. She was alternately crying, cursing and commentating. And in her commentary on the matter, she called out her own race of people for being the ones who did all of the damage.

May people like her increase.

I could not get the video out of my mind, though. Nor could I escape the desire to also comment on that issue and on larger societal issues that more and more often tend to center around one race or another and one subject or another. And it needs to be done; everyone needs to speak up before our country is so fractured and splintered that there is no rescuing it. But I knew immediately what everyone knows when they contemplate speaking up, namely that everything is already so balkanized that any attempt to speak out on any issue seeming to have anything to do with race will automatically result in cries of "You're a racist! Speak to your own kind and no one else, bigot!"

And if those are indeed the parameters in which everyone must now operate, then I am going to be the most useless voice on Earth; I am half Puerto Rican, one-quarter French and one-quarter Lebanese. My tribe consists of exactly one, as far as I know, out of 8.8 billion. If anyone else out there knows of another Prenchanese, I would love to know about it, but I am not holding my breath. I am, though, contemplating whether or not I, as a minority of one, qualify for any special treatment, like maybe always and only being given piping hot fries from Bojangles instead of cold, chewy ones.

Anyway, my point is that if people are only allowed to speak to their own, then many helpful voices are going to be silenced at a time when they are needed most. But as I thought on that, an idea popped into my brain fully formed -- a fill-in-the-blanks column. Using this helpful methodology, I can speak to the issues and have my words in such a format as to be easily applied by anyone as needed.

So here goes. The words you may insert as you need are White, Black, Brown, Red, Yellow and Other. This encompasses all of the races sung of in the precious little song "Jesus Loves the Little Children" and also adds my Brown, whose omission in the song I suppose I should be offended by but never thought to be so. It also encompasses any others, whatever they may be.

Every ________ person has a responsibility to everyone else of their race. The actions of one, or several, will help to shape the opinions, right or wrong, that others have of the entire race. No one says or hears "Samaritan" today without having the word "good" pop into their heads. A race of people that were despised for centuries had their entire reputation transformed by the kind and gracious acts of one. Whatever your race, think enough of others in your race not to act like dumb, destructive, uncivilized little punks.

The next thing to know is that any ________ person can become successful. Never buy into the nonsense that you are being held down or held back by others. Proverbs 10:4 says the hand of the diligent maketh rich, not the hand of the ________. Apply yourself in school. Stay out of trouble. Work harder than others around you. Do not have or produce children out of wedlock. Learn to save and invest and live within your means. If you succeed in life, it is on you; if you fail in life, it is also on you.

You should also know that if you hate someone because of their skin color, you are a racist, no matter your race. You are also as wicked as the devil. ________ people often make excuses for this, but there is no excuse. God so loved the world, not the ________s.

Another big thing is that no ________ person should ever give a bad person a pass or even glorify them just because they are of the same race. When you make saints out of criminals, abusers and other horrible examples, you are going to produce multitudes more of those in your own community, to your own detriment.

The family unit is another big issue. ________ communities suffer when intact homes are the exception rather than the rule. ________ kids need a mother and father. And this means that ________ women need a husband, not a baby daddy, and ________ men need a wife, not a baby mama. No ________ person should ever be given married-people privileges without marriage. Stop being selfish; when you sleep with someone you are not married to, you are sending the message that your desires are more important than the well-being of the children.

Teaching ________ kids early on to be well-mannered and polite is also huge. Every ________ person should desire for his or her race to be universally viewed as the most pleasant people on Earth to be around. Teach your kids to say "yes, sir" and "no, sir," "yes, ma'am" and "no, ma'am." Teach them to stand up straight and look people in the eyes when they speak. Teach them to use proper grammar. Teach the boys to hold the doors open for ladies. Teach them to interact respectfully with adults and with those in authority.

Above all, every ________ person should remember that he or she will one day stand face to face with the God who made every ________, ________, ________, ________, ________ and ________ person because he wanted them, and they'll have to answer (among other things) for how they treated them along the way.

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church of Mooresboro, North Carolina, a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books available on Amazon and at Email him at