I’m going to tell you something that I am embarrassed and ashamed to admit. I do this for a reason, so please read this post in it’s entirety.
Not too long ago, perhaps maybe even just over a year ago, I would be scrolling through Facebook and come upon a post about racial injustice. My immediate thought response was often along the lines of, “Ugh, not everything bad that happens to black people is because they are black.” Or, “Why is everything always a race issue? We have a black president, can’t we just get past this?”
Thinking back to these moments makes my heart very, very sad. I am so grateful for this last year, as it has completely changed my perspective. Let me tell you how this happened.
I grew up in a loving, Christian home. This was a privilege. So was the fact that I had a personal home education. I was being raised by both of my parents who were in a strong marriage and living in the same home. I never went hungry. My mom stayed home for years to give us that personal home education. I had the opportunity to ride horses. I was born white and lived in a mostly white community.
Privilege, privilege, privilege.
The thing is, for quite some time, I didn’t actually know these things meant I was privileged. I thought rich people were the privileged ones. I worked in exchange for a discount for those horseback riding lessons, and the majority of my college education was paid for by scholarship and grants. I guess I didn’t realize middle class America was rich in comparison to most of the world.
Looking back, I see how I was/am privileged and how this fact has benefited me in many ways. Unfortunately, in my own privilege I have been blind to the lack thereof in the lives of others. Specifically in regard to the black community.
Now, my family certainly wasn’t racist and I have had black friends throughout my life. But I didn’t live their life. We didn’t talk about the differences in how we were treated just because of the color of our skin. I wonder now, how did that never come up in our conversations?
Here is the pinnacle of where my perspective shift began to occur. It happened during a message my pastor gave that was titled “Overcoming Racism.” I learned a lot in that message. I won’t be able to go into the details in this post, but please, I encourage you, listen to it for yourself. You can find it HERE. The truth that I learned in those few minutes broke my heart.
I started looking at things a little differently. I took that message as an opportunity to talk to one of my dear friends about what her life is really like. She is biracial. I learned things and my heart broke some more. There is an element of protection to the raising of her children that doesn’t even cross my mind in the raising of my own. She told me about working to the nth degree in school just to be considered an equal to her other peers. She is only one voice out of so many.
My husband is a history buff and loves to watch anything of historical nature. I’ve taken a little more of an interest in shows and movies that explore black history this year. Among such is a mini-series called “Roots” and a movie titled “Selma”. Both of these left my heart grieved at the hatred toward black people so ingrained in the history of our country.
This kind of thing doesn’t just disappear. It takes work to eradicate generations of racism in a community. One thing I’m learning, is that often, people don’t even realize a remark or an action could be hurtful toward another. We don’t know any better because we haven’t taken the time or put in the effort to know better.
And so I write this, because I was one who didn’t know any better. And with the privilege that I have in my life, I have an opportunity to speak to others who may be willing to listen and change their perspective in this issue. So, where do we begin? How do we fight against the idea that one race is better than another?
We get to know each other. Really and truly. If you don’t have a friend who is of a different color, background, or heritage than you, find one. If you already have this sort of friend, be open to listening when they share their personal experiences. Get to know each other. Really and truly.
Because the truth is, we are all created equal. He loves each and every one of us just the same and doesn’t play favorites. He gave his life for all, no matter the color of our skin.
“I looked again. I saw a huge crowd, too huge to count. Everyone was there – all nations and tribes, all races and languages. And they were standing, dressed in white robes and waving palm branches, standing before the Throne and the Lamb and heartily singing: ‘Salvation to our God on his Throne! Salvation to the Lamb!'” (Revelation 7:9-10; The Message)