I am angry. I am angry about the death of George Floyd. I am angry about the looting and rioting in Minneapolis. I am angry about the way Americans treat each other.
I have been called racist in my life. I have always thought that was a ridiculous description of me. I mean heck I was practically raised by James Sheppard, a man who worked with my father since before I was born. He took me fishing, had tea parties in the yard with me when he would get off work and taught me how to drive a tractor. Oh and he was black, not that I ever noticed but he was. I loved him and he loved me and that was what mattered. As an adult I have had two teenagers live in my home in addition to my other five children, one white one black. Why does race matter? It doesn’t. They were kids who needed help that my husband and I could provide. However, as I get older and more reflective and in light of the current climate I have to ask myself…is it possible that I am racist?
The definition of a racist is “a person who shows or feels discrimination or prejudices against people of other races or who believes that a particular race is superior to another.” Based on this definition I believe i can safely say I am not a racist. Now if this definition included prejudice against people for being stupid we may be on to something but race…no! However, I don’t believe just deciding I am or am not a racist gets to the root of the problem in America today because I do believe we have a definite race problem.
Here is what I believe.
1. Racism exists and is rampant in both the black and white community. This is not just a white problem.
2. Young black men are at a significant disadvantage. I used to believe that If you “acted right” and didn’t break the law then you had nothing to worry about, then Jabari entered my life. Jabari lived with my family from age 16-18 and while I don’t completely “get it” because I am a 49 year old white woman, I now at least have a better view of what these kids are dealing with. Walking through the mall, going on vacation, going in a restaurant in were all different experiences when he was with us. I just call it “the look”. A look my white son of the same age never seemed to be subjected to. A look I didn’t understand then but have come to understand more in the past few years. I often wondered was the difference solely because he was black or was it because he was with a white family or maybe a combination of both? I don’t know. These are things I don’t understand. I just know things were different when he was with us. He was treated differently and that makes me sad and very angry.
3. Americans don’t know how to confront the issue because we don’t understand each other. I have had long and I hope open conversations with black and white people about the Kaepernick kneeling controversy. I don’t agree with it. I will never agree with it. I also will never agree with looting and burning as a means of “making a statement”. However, I sit here and think about the frustration and anger of years of injustice and simply not being heard. What do you do with that? Is this what it looks like? While I don’t agree with the actions, I agree with the message. How do I support one part while having a hard time understanding the other?
Racism is a cancer. It will not be solved by either “side” winning. This is not a battle. If you believe it is I promise you this is one nobody will win. Every person must honestly evaluate their own heart. We must judge our neighbors truly based on their heart and minds and not the color of their skin. I submit to you it is ok to see your neighbors as white or black or brown. It is ok to be wonderfully, beautifully different! That is how God made us, BUT he also made us to love one another.
I am so thankful to the people God has put in my life that have helped me see that color is just color. It is the heart that matters and our hearts are all the same. ❤️