Today, I had worship with my kids. We have been reading a book called the Sabbath Ox. The story of a man who lived in Germany and was persecuted for his faith. My husband and I often talk with our kids about people from all over the world, of other faiths and other experiences outside of our own. We have enjoyed raising our children amid other cultures from their birth. It has given them a perspective outside of their family, and their race. They have over the years had many questions about what they have experienced. They have had the freedom to go to those other cultures and talk with them, ask them about how they grew up, what was it like. Not only other cultures, but also people who don’t look like them. Skin color, and physical attributes. In fact, my two toddlers told me the story the other day about the “One Armed Trumpeter”. They met him at Campmeeting. They explained to me how he lost his arm when he was little and he looks different than them, but God blessed him to be able to play the trumpet with ONE ARM! LOL, they think he is some kind of Supper Hero, and I don’t tell them any different. Also, they know a friend of ours who is missing a leg. They ask questions, and the questions were answered and they discovered she can do pretty much anything we can do, and that was amazing to them.
Then, just last night I walked into the kitchen and found them having a conversation about their skin color. (Imagine that) They noticed the differences between their skin and their older sister and brothers skin color. My Kids all have different beautiful shades. I have a daughter is dark and beautiful, and I have another daughter who is lighter and beautiful, and the boys are a mix of the two and beautiful. When I heard them talking I took the opportunity to TEACH. Have you ever heard of TEACHABLE MOMENTS? You know, those moments that create opportunity to dialog and share, when it’s better to have discussion and sustain growth. That was a teachable moment for me as a parent. To teach them about the differences in us as African Americans, and also others. We talked about our Hispanic friends and white friends, Indian Friends, Korean Friend, Filipino friends and the list goes on and on. We pointed out some of the differences we have and also some of the similarities we have. In the end, we all are God’s children, with different experiences and circumstances that make us who we are. They understood that was ok and that we are no better or worse because of it. I also talked with my children about History. History is important because without it, we have no clue where we are going, and how we got to where we are. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of it, must be told.
Those conversations with my children teach me a lot. They destroy the myths that we have that “Children Don’t See Color”. Actually, being in the process of raising 4 of my own, all my children notices color, they noticed when someone didn’t look like them, walk like them, talk like them…etc. Kids notice EVERYTHING! If you don’t believe that, go spend some time with a few and you will be amazed. What I discovered was that when they notice it, that is the moment for me as a parent to TEACH, not to scold them and tell them to be quiet, or “Hush”, because I may be embarrassed that they said something, or lie about how we are all the same. We are not all the same. There is nothing wrong with saying that we are not all the same. What we all are are God’s children, but He made us all unique, special and different, inside and out. Each one of my children are different. They share some things in common, but make no mistake about it, they are not the same.
We all have experiences that shape and mold us into the people we are today. Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust Survivor, shared in an article that it was important for him and his family to remind their children of who they were, and where they come from. How far they have come, and what they had to go through to get here. That is not decisive, or rude, or trying to create a war, but rather educating them so that they have a right picture of themselves and the world around them. When we don’t do that, the MEDIA will educate our children about who they are, and also who other people are. I see just how dangerous and irresponsible I would be as a parent to not do so.
Lastley, I also want to teach my children how to have dialog and have a conversation with someone who may not see things the way they do, or agree with them. Or simply just to have a dialog about the differences they see or opinions. I realize I am raising children in a time when face to face communication is no longer the first option to share your thoughts and feelings and also listen to someone. Sitting behind a desk on a computer is the NEW WAY TO SHARE how you feel. It can be quite dangerous in fact, and I myself have fallen into that before, many a times. Just “NEEDING TO GET THIS OUT”, or “I HAVE TO SAY THIS”, “MY PAGE, MY OPINION”. What I have discovered in my own life is that, God will call into account every Idol word….EVERY one! He will have it and bring it to my attention. So knowing God knows that EVERY THINGS WE SAY matters, how much more should we consider that on a forum such as Social Media. Don’t get me wrong, I know some are already saying, “TO NOT SAY SOMETHING IS COWARDLY”. But, in fact to say something on FACEBOOK that you would not say to someone in person, your next door neighbor, your co-worker, church member, your “Friend”, your spouse even, when they are right there with you every day…..is in fact COWARDLY! It is in fact those relationships that God has given you, placed you in a sphere of influence to make a difference, or to have a PRODUCTIVE conversation. Not to sit behind a desk and just spew ANGER, HATE and POKE A BEAR! It is easy to Hashtag and say all kinds of things. The biggest challenge is to do what GOD told us to do….”GO TO YOUR BROTHER” and yes WE ARE BROTHERS AND SISTERS of many different colors, cultures and experiences, and talk to them. You may not walk away agreeing either, but at least you were able to have a rational conversation, and educate one another on your point of view.
As a parent, I must teach my children to not only Speak up, but to Listen. Not only to Educate, but to be educated. And when it is all said and done, TAKE IT TO THE LORD IN PRAYER! No one can change the Human heart but GOD. He’s the only one people. So please stop trying to wage war on FAcebook, and begin to Pray for wisdom, understanding. That is not a cop-out for silence, because JEsus was NEVER silent regarding injustice, but He used wisdom and was not afraid to go to someone and have that conversation. You notice, when face to face with Christ, the heart of a person is exposed….and that goes for all of us. There are some of us who are just Angry and use times like these to vent and retaliate against whoever gets in my way. THAT…isn’t real, that is Satan taking occasion to use you to create Confusion. God is not the author confusion, Satan is.
However, conflict is not bad, but infact causes us to not be comfortable with the status quo.
Conflict makes us uncomfortable, it makes us unable to be at peace. That is what God uses to mature us, root out evil, strife, bitterness. Causes us to take a hard look at ourselves and admit that we need to GROW! Without Conflict, growth can’t happen.
I lastly want to share a story with you. This is for all of my friends and family members who are of another race or culture. Just because we may be the same color, doesn’t mean we have the same culture. That goes for anyone. But, I share this story because it was a very pivotal moment in my life when I was exposed to what race was. Years ago, at around the age of 7 yrs. old. My mother and I sit in our apartment. At the time, it was myself, my mother and my middle Brother Quinten who lived there. We had moved to a new place, kind of far away from our family and it was different. The neighborhood was predominately white at the time. My brother’s best friend at the time was a caucasian young man. They hung out a lot and often would go out to do what teens do. One evening my mother received a phone call that her teenage son was in the hospital, beaten, and broken ribs. My mother, like any mother panic and that was a nightmare for her. At 7, I was terrified at who would do this to my brother. Later that evening it turned out that my brother was seen walking with his caucasian friend and was approached by several caucasian young men and they began to taunt them, calling my brother names (names that you can imagine). And they told them he had no business hanging around there and beat him up and put him in the hospital. At 7, I didn’t fully comprehend, but later as I grew I began to understand that there were places that you just couldn’t move to, places you couldn’t go, and it forever shook me to the core. I grew and had friends over the years, and still do, of every color. But, this is just one of many experiences that I have had as a African American. But I don’t teach my children to hate others because of it. I don’t condone them to have a thought that all “White” people are out to get you. Because I know that isn’t true. Racism is simply another word for FEAR! Fear makes people do things that are evil, sick and rude. Fear prevents people from seeing the truth and being able to act on the truth.
“For GOD has not given us a Spirit of Fear, but of POWER, of LOVE and of A SOUND MIND”, 2 Timothy 1:7.
When you have POWER, LOVE and a SOUND MIND, you can hear the heart of what someone is saying. You can also listen to the opposing view without retaliating and acting crazy. You can come to a point where you can even agree to disagree. If there are any group of people who should be able to demonstrate this characteristic its CHRISTIANS! As Christians we up lift CHRIST more than our color, (Black or white). We lay down our lives (our prejudices, angers and wanting to be right) to lift up the other. Christ came here and gave up the CROWN for our miserable, horrible, SINFUL selves.
Today, I lay it down. I lay down my preconceived ideas about my neighbors, family members and friends. I lay aside the anger of my experiences and personal struggles and I choose to pick up the cross. The cross covers it all, and I will have meaningful, conversations with those who want to have it. I won’t argue on facebook about it. I won’t poke the BEAR silently behind the computer as I hear others doing it, and let them take the blame knowing that I actually feel the same way they do, but they just have the guts to say it. I won’t do it here.
I choose to do it face to face, one on one, or in a group, that is willing to listen, and also pledge to listen to you as well. and at the end of the day, I will lay it all down and give it to JESUS! I will stand up for justice for all people, because Jesus did just that. I will use wisdom and speak when it is in the right spirit and at teachable moments, not in anger and foolish debate.
I challenge us all to sit down in our homes, in our churches, at our jobs while on lunch, with our neighbors, and our friends and have the long awaited discussions about race, and be willing to listen with an open mind and heart, and also allow others to be heard. Because folks…..until we are honest about theses things, we are not going to heaven. There will be no black and white churches in heaven, there will be no china towns, or Mexican towns in heaven. There will be no black and white neighborhoods in heaven. Sorry, but it simply isn’t going to happen, and I don’t know about you….BUT I AM READY TO BLOW THIS POPSICLE STAND!
So LET’S DO IT! Let start to talk about it and pray about it 😉
As a parent, watching the world right now….at this very moment, I realize I play a roll in what is taking place. I MUST EDUCATE MY CHILDREN, and I must be willing to have the hard conversations. I must be willing to not pretend that RACE isn’t an issue.