Disclosure: this is going to be raw and a very sensitive subject. I feel like however I have to know. I pondered for days, weeks even about broaching this subject because it is a sore spot for so many people and my intention never is to offend, hurt, or make matters worse in any way. Please note that this comes from no place but innocence, and an inquiring mind to be better at love, kindness and gracefulness. I would absolutely love to have a meaningful discussion with anyone who would like to chip in with a kind, loving tone. This is going to be a long one, so here we go.
I feel like I have been living under a rock for the first 30 plus years of my life. Let’s be honest, I am pasty white. I come from a long line of pasty white people, and grew up in an area where the majority of the people I was exposed to were, you guessed it, pasty white. I still reside in the same county, although I think it is beginning to become more racially diverse here in the suburbs. Despite the sea of white around me growing up, my parents still somehow managed to expose me to different ethnicities. My dad (discreetly) taught me the curse words he learned from his Hispanic friends growing up in California. We rocked out to Shirley Ceasar and Charles Johnson and the Revivers all the time at my house, and my parents never missed an opportunity to attend a service in a predominantly black church. We loved the worship there! That being said, I honestly feel like I don’t see color. Most of the time.
A few years ago something happened that started the ball rolling in my head. I was floored when someone who claimed to be Christian asked me what I would do if my daughter “brought home a black guy.” What?! I know my mouth was gaping open while they said that! I replied “well, the same thing I would do if she brought home a white guy or a green guy. Make sure he has a job and loves Jesus.” I had no idea people in this day and age, especially Christians would ever think such things!
But here’s the thing, coming from a white mom…It feels like a struggle at times to feel successful at teaching my kids to not see color. The reason? There is so much media attention brought to it. They see news stories and lets face it, most of them around here are about inner city crimes. The mug shots they show a lot of times are of people of a darker complexion than us. My kids notice this. Also, they witnessed the news coverage of the riots in Ferguson and now they are terrified to go near that city. Not only are these crimes displayed continually in the media, the media never ceases to make a point to say a white suspect or a black suspect. Again, just pointing out that maybe color had anything to do with whatever situation they may be talking about. It’s frustrating. And I feel like I am then forced to talk about the fact that they are black, or Hispanic or whatever, when in my head I keep thinking, why is this even a thing??? We are all human, we all live in the same country, we all desire the same basic things, why continue to stir up the racial tensions? Or maybe they aren’t stirring up anything and a point really does need to be made about skin tone?
Here’s where it becomes tricky for me.
Obviously, racism is real. And I apologize to anyone who has ever experienced it. It is wrong and unacceptable. But, how do we get past it? Like I said, I feel like I have been living under a rock my whole life, because I naively believed, at the very least in a church setting nobody cared about race. But since I experienced a spiritual awakening a couple years ago, I have been enlightened to the fact that it does exist and is overwhelmingly apparent. Have I experienced it? Not personally, and I hope to God I have never unknowingly added to the problem, but with so very many people speaking out about it, there has to be something to it. Everyone is entitled to their own feelings and has a right to share their experiences. Going on the defense by saying it is in their heads or they are just too sensitive is wrong. But by continually bringing it up, are we adding fuel to the fire?
Obviously, I cannot control the media any more than I can control what my neighbors or fellow Christians say or think. But by bringing up race positively or negatively so often are we just stirring the pot? In my head I think if we just live and love the people around us, isn’t that enough to initiate change? When I am constantly reminded of someone’s color, I tend to see it. When I am just talking to a friend, that is all I see, a friend.
So, coming from me, a pasty white suburban soccer mom, what is the correct emphasis? Clearly, what we are currently doing in America isn’t working. It seems like such a fine line. I realize heritage and nationality are important to some, and they want to acknowledge it, so discussion is a good thing. But then again, the more discussion, the more people tend to see color. It seems like that would just stir up more racism. See my dilemma? I am terrified to accidentally offend someone by in ignorance saying something that I would think nothing about, but is hurtful to them. But I would also hope, that if I ever have or ever do say something that may be offensive, that person wouldn’t hold it against me, realizing I have different life experiences than they do. Just as any comment made in innocence.
In the end, I just want to raise my children to be good people. Tolerant of all humans no matter race, gender, or sexual identity. The Bible says in Roman’s 10:12,13, For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
In God’s eyes we are all the same. Why can’t we all view others through God’s eyes?
I sincerely hope this blog is not offensive in anyway. I have been thinking over this for a long time, and I want to be sensitive to others values, beliefs and opinions and grow as a person. But, I also am extremely interested in this topic, as it obviously is vital for growth not only in our churches but in our country. The chasm seems so wide at times, when in reality, there shouldn’t be a divide at all.
What is the best solution?
Red and yellow, black and white, everyone really is precious in His sight.