I remember being told things about African American people as a kid. I believe these things were said to me out of fear and lack of knowledge. Not hate. But it rises up to be the same ugly beast inside. I specifically remember when I was 19 or 20. I was driving through downtown Elkhart. I stopped at a light and I saw a black man walking down the sidewalk. Out of instinct, I locked my doors. At that moment I felt the Lord hit me in the heart. "Erin, would you have done that if the man was white?" My answer? "No." Why? Why was it my instinct to lock my doors at the sight of a black man? The conviction and grief that grabbed my heart were unreal. I never thought of myself as a racist person! Heck, I had an African American friend! But the truth was, there was still an arrogance in my heart, a judgment and a fear that was not from God. It was placed there by man. I had a prejudice in my heart. From that moment on I feel like God started to work in my heart as a white woman. To chose to always see others as the way the Lord does.
To research as to why others have had a less privileged life than I have. To learn how other cultures and other people live. The more you learn about other cultures, races etc the more you learn that you have nothing to be afraid of. The more you learn the more enriched your life is. You learn to celebrate the differences and find joy and hope in those differences.
I recently had jury duty. (Omiword I was a hot mess. I can't even watch law and order.....can you imagine me in a real-life law and order?! Um no!) During the selection process, the defendant's attorney asked my group if anyone automatically assumed the defendant had committed a crime because of his appearance. He was African American. A man in my group raised his hand. While I give him credit for his honesty, it broke my heart. A lot of us have been taught that very stereotype. This is a learned behavior! This is not natural or how God created us to see each other. It is time to see the truth behind our thoughts of others. It is time to take responsibility and change our hearts. To be the change for the history for our children and our children's children.
The other thing that really gets me in the gut is when people say things like "Slavery was in the past. It isn't happening now, let it go." REEEAAALLLLYYY???? We remember the tragedy of 9/11 and say "never forget". But when it is slavery, death, and oppression. An attack on America, by America, we want to say forget it? How does that work? Does it clear the conscience? And guess what, slavery was eons ago yes, but the stigma and lies still remain in hearts today. To see another human as less than because of their race is where the problem began and to say it is over is ignorant. I have many African American friends who have stories upon stories of malicious and hurtful treatment due to the color of their skin. This isn't an issue from our history. It is an issue of our present and it has to change.
I really want to challenge your heart and mind today. When you see someone of a different race do you grab your purse tighter? Do you automatically assume the worst? Make choices that put you in situations where you are the minority. Get out of your little white box! Go out of your way to meet people who are different from you. If you live in an area where you don't think you have the opportunity to meet people of other races then get out of it once in a while. Make the opportunity. Use your voice to make a difference. I want to clarify that while I am speaking of African Americans today this is all encompassing for all people different from you. Get out of your box and meet a Syrian, Iranian, Mexican, Nigerian, Ethiopian, Indian....allow yourself into their culture and don't expect them to only be a part of yours. Learn their hearts and you will be blessed in a way you've never known. I promise you. You won't regret learning to grow in love and letting go of your fears.
I want things to be different for my babies and everyone else's too. Don't you?
Watch these three videos and allow yourself to hear. They are fairly short but full of truths.