My family and I love “time period” movies, and are especially partial to those set in the 60s, during the civil rights movement. While it’s hard to watch on screen, though, we feel it’s imperative we remain aware of the horrendous attitudes and actions of some Whites against Blacks during this time.
Because I don’t understand how a White person can think they’re “better” than a person of color, these displays of racism just break my heart. I mean, it’s really hard for me to watch sometimes, and I find myself quoting Willem Dafoe from “Mississippi Burning” when he asked, “What’s wrong with these people?”
I’ll admit, it’s so easy for White Christians like me to say, “We’re all equal!” and “We’re all God’s children!” But the fact is, racism in America is real, and I’m not going to change anything by playing the “everyone is equal in God’s eyes” card.
That being said, I do think the liberal media has made things much, much worse by only reporting racist or seemingly-racist crimes and events. I won’t dare address the dislike for police and overall authority harbored by select people of color, because, quite frankly, my experience as a White man is different. Study after study have proven that Blacks get hassled more by cops than Whites.
Maybe some cops would hassle a person of color when they would leave me alone. I think this would be rare, or rather, I hope it is, but it’s much easier for me to say “all lives matter” than to try and confront the actual problem of racism.
The other day my 19-year-old son, Trey, was driving us across town when he pulled up to a stop sign. He came to a stop and a young, Black man stared at us as he crossed the street in front of us. He arrived at the intersection before we did, so had every right to cross in front of us, yet his look said, “I’m crossin’ this street, whether you like it or not. C’mon, do something, I dare you.”
The look wasn’t “live and let live,” it was pure anger.
He glared at my son as if challenging him.
I don’t judge the man because I’ve never walked in his shoes. He might’ve had every reason to be angry, so Trey and I just kept talking and jamming on Metallica, ignoring the challenging look.
My family and I have an attitude that all people really are created equal, so the flag of racism some fly just doesn’t make sense to us. Genesis chapter one says God created man in His image.
“Man,” as in “mankind.” He didn’t stipulate color; we’re all created in the image of our Creator.
Part of racism is attributed to “nurture,” but we can only blame our upbringing for so much. If a man goes to prison, can his grown son kill someone and then blame it on the way he was raised?
Of course not.
‘Nuff said on that.
But as I was thinking about this blog, I jotted down just a few ways that I, personally, confront racism. Take this for what it’s worth, and please feel free to comment below:
- Don’t try and “relate.”
Last week a Black man from across the street walked up to my wife, Laura, and me as we were headed to our car.
“Y’all gonna give me a jump, man?” he yelled.
“I’m…sorry,” I said, confused, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh,” he continued, “I’m just a (“N-word”) to you, right? I’m just a n*****. Y’all don’t wanna help a n*****.”
Laura said to him, “No, no, no. Wait, nobody said that. We don’t feel that way.”
But the man continued to raise a ruckus. I started to try and relate to him, as in, “I work with Black people” or “my wife and I both have Black family members,” but decided against it.
“My car won’t start, man, and y’all ain’t gonna help a n*****.”
The police pulled up about this time, and one of the officers asked the man, “What’s the problem now?”
The other officer told my wife, “This guy’s as drunk as Cooter Brown (first time I’d ever heard that one) and he keeps trying to start trouble. He was yelling at some other people down the street, too. Don’t give him a jump, because driving is the LAST thing he needs to do right now.”
Finally, the man slowly walked back across the road, found someone else to jumpstart his car, and we haven’t heard from him since.
That was a tense situation, and I was just praying, “Lord, help me keep my cool. Protect Laura and don’t let this turn into something nasty.” Afterward I told her, “Ya know, that dude didn’t care that we both have Black friends, coworkers and family members. He didn’t care that we aren’t racist. There was NOTHING we could’ve said that could’ve made him feel otherwise.”
We couldn’t have challenged his feelings at the time. I know many of us wanna be loved by everyone, but let’s face it, that ain’t gonna happen.
So what was the best play? Well, that’s #5 on my list.
- Don’t play the “some of my best friends are…” bit.
I started to do that a few years ago, and some guy finished my sentence and laughed, “Let me guess, some of your best friends are Black, right?” I realized then that this sounds like nothing more than a “line” to some people. My advice: treat everyone like a human being, and SHOW them you see them as equals. Words are cheap.
- Don’t apologize for slavery.
This may sounds weird, but I’ve heard White people do this, trying to get on the side of people of color. Slavery was a horrible stain on American history, to be certain, but doing this simply seems ludicrous to many people.
- Be yourself.
If you be yourself with people, they’re gonna pick up on the fact that you don’t see them as “different.” When others see you hanging out in colorful circles, it’ll be obvious how you really feel. Don’t rush it.
- Don’t push yourself on people.
I’ve watched Whites try and interject their opinion or experiences into a conversation between people of color. Don’t. This just makes you look overly anxious to “prove” you’re not a racist. Funny thing is, the people in the other conversation may not be thinking that about you at all, so don’t try and PROVE how non-racist you are to folks. Walking around with a sign that says “I’m not a racist” only makes you look like a fool.
- Be cool, and love, love, love!
Jesus told us to love our neighbor, but didn’t draw any boundaries between races, creeds, religions or color, so we can assume we are to love everyone. Black Americans have a long history of ill treatment by Whites, so don’t be put off if someone is angry. Be cool, and carry the love of Jesus in your heart. If you simply LOVE others, it’s going to become obvious how you feel. Again, this may take some time, but ask God to open doors for you to LOVE people, not just prove how “color-friendly” you are. Loving others is what’s important, not what the world thinks of you.
Anyway, just a few thoughts bouncin’ ‘round my head today.
“Peter said, ‘Now I know for certain that God doesn’t show favoritism with people but treats everyone on the same basis.’ (Acts 10:34)”