Race is honestly one of those things I wasn’t really aware of until adulthood. Yes, I have always known that I was black but my being raised in multicultural environments kept me largely shielded from understanding that black meant fear.
Or that you were threatening.
Or that you were less than in someone’s eyes.
And while I experienced isolated incidences of racist treatment, it wasn’t until reaching adulthood that I felt the brunt of racism. And my God, its every-freaking-where.
We are not living in a post racial world and quite frankly, I wish we’d stop pretending so we could actually get to the root of our issues. This pretending things are ok and there isn’t a problem crap is going to lead to something explosive happening and who knows what the fallout will be.
I’m grateful for my walk with God that helps me filter through my negative thoughts and emotions but seriously to say that I’m not battling with my own prejudices would be a lie. These attacks on my people make me want to latch on to them more and to others a little less.
Students are getting abused and harassed in institutions of higher learning because of the color of their skin.
A little boy in Michigan murdered in broad daylight by his elderly white neighbor who thought he stole something (and police investigation showed he didn’t).
Being racially profiled in boutique shops and in the freaking dollar stores because you think the color of my skin means I can’t afford something and must have stolen to purchase it or will steal it from you.
Seeing stories like the 3 high school kids in Rochester, NY who were arrested for waiting in the “wrong” place for a freaking school bus.
Seeing stand your ground laws apply to some races (read: whites) and not to others.
Do you know what its like to have to explain to kids what stand your ground is and what it means for them? Or have to hear a young black man wallow in despair because someone connected to a dog fighting ring (Michael Vick) is more likely to be jailed than a person who kills someone who looks like him (George Zimmerman)?
Seeing these stories or witnessing things like police profiling firsthand weigh on you. I think if we’re honest, we all deal with some level of prejudice towards a group who is other. I think we naturally have preconceived ideas about other people and negative imagery and experiences fuel those thoughts.
But tonight I’m reminded of the need for grace. Grace for other, grace for ourselves, grace towards those who submit to their prejudices instead of pushing past them.
I’ve been turning these ideas over in my head for a while but the world’s loss of one of its great leaders is what helps me put things into perspective. One of the most beautiful parts of Nelson Mandela’s legacy is the example he leaves in forgiveness and reconciliation for those who wronged you. Despite the (justifiable) anger and hatred he could have chosen to yield to and act on, Madiba chose peace and to exhibit mercy. And it is his life that reminds me of gospel in this hour.
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, and to love kindness and mercy, and to humble yourself and walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)
This is what I will choose to let my heart rest in tonight. Racism and prejudice aren’t things that I can resolve in the world but they are things that I can humbly bring to God and work out in me. I can confront the darkness in myself, take those thoughts captive, and make them subject to a right spirit of mercy and kindness. This will allow me to enter a space where I can live justly and honor those whose lives have marked my own through their embodiment of peace.