If you didn’t already know this: one of my sons is black.
Just typing those words stirs up much emotion.
With the recent happenings in Ferguson, racial divides have soared to the forefronts of our minds. It’s made me realize, along with many others, that racism is far from over in our nation. This is not a statement about whether the cop was in the right or the wrong. Rather, it’s the long-standing wounds that were exposed from what transpired.
It’s almost as if a bandaid was ripped off a wound that has not fully healed.
One day, I will have to explain to my son the truth of how we treated black people in this nation. I will have to tell him that we treated his ancestors in a sub-human way. I will have to tell him that much of this nation was built on the back of black slaves.
I will have to explain to him that white people and black people used to not be able to dine together, go to school together or even watch a movie together. And I will have to tell him that racism, as far as we think we’ve come, still exists today.
But I will also tell him about Jesus. Jesus was shamed, falsely accused and killed. He paid the price for all sin, including racism, to be obliterated from our lives. And one day, when we stand before Jesus, it won’t just be white Americans, but people from all nations, tribes and tongues will be dancing around the throne of grace.
In the mean time, I want my son to be proud he’s black. I want him to celebrate his heritage. And I want my son to have the same privileges and rights and opportunities that my white children do.
I want my son to live free of fear that because of the magic combination of his gender and skin tone, he might be singled out. I know as a white guy, the thought of being singled out based on my race or gender has never crossed my mind.
I know first hand that it’s easy to write off the cries of black people because I don’t understand what they’ve experienced. It may not seem “real” to me, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened or doesn’t exist.
It’s also easy to dismiss their complaints because it makes me uncomfortable. It makes me squirm in my seat to think that certain people are treated differently solely on the basis of their skin color. And because of that discomfort, I’d rather not talk about it… or maybe find myself even denying they’re treated any differently.
Ultimately, what’s risen to the surface from Ferguson isn’t was the cop in the right or wrong, but rather the fact that racism still exists. What’s transpired after the fact is disheartening. The sides people have taken, the comments made, the unwillingness to listen… all points to the fact that racism is still a very real thing.
Unfortunately, the situation in Ferguson has gotten violent. That is just as unacceptable as racism. However, let us not overlook the reality of discrimination that still exists because certain people are responding improperly. Violence isn’t the answer, neither is denial.
I’m not taking sides with this whole Ferguson thing. I wasn’t there. I don’t know the truth. I’d like to think our justice system did it’s job.
However, the side I am taking is this:
The dust will soon settle from Ferguson and the media will find another dramatic story to report, but the reality of racism will still exist. Many will try to just sweep it under the rug and go about their business.
If we ever expect to get anywhere with overcoming racism, this is what I suggest we do:
- We must listen; because we don’t really know what it’s like to be black.
- We must be slow to speak; because we don’t really know everything.
- We must try to understand; because Jesus did that for us by becoming a man.
- And we must, especially if we’re followers of Christ, treat every human being in light of the reality that we are all created in the image of God.
My desire for all my children (black and white) is that they live free. Free from fear, stereotypes, etc. And I will do everything I can as their dad to see that happen.
Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.