Racism is a serious issue in the world we live in. This isn’t breaking news. It’s been going on long before the United States became a sovereign nation. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t think it will end here. Days into the protests and riots that began in Minneapolis following the murder of George Floyd, a few Christian websites began emailing me asking if I’d write something. I simply didn’t have the words.
There are a lot of opinions concerning the weeks that have followed. This includes the current situation in Atlanta with the death of Rayshad Brooks. Maybe the fact that I mentioned George Floyd being murdered and the death of Brooks bothers you. That’s ok. As I said, there are many opinions right now. When you consider yourself a follower of Jesus, it can be a struggle to have any thoughts, let alone defend them.
Racism wasn’t discussed where I grew up. We lived in a small town in northern Indiana with around 19,000 people when I was in high school. I could count on both hands as a freshman how many kids had a skin tone that was different than mine. The town was almost completely white. We didn’t have a reason to discuss racism. It wasn’t an issue. Unless you looked different than us and drove through our town. Then we needed to know what you were up to. See where I’m going?
When I was first asked to write about racism, I had to think about this for a while. I no longer live in the white community where I grew up. I have a biracial little girl that calls me daddy. She’s now in daycare with a room full of kids under the age of six. Many of them are much lighter than she is when it comes to skin color. Some of the children are a little darker. A few days into considering writing about racism, I decided to talk to her about it.
There’s not much she and I don’t discuss. On a daily basis, we read and talk about the Bible. We pray and she questions me about Jesus. She goes to a private, Christian daycare. The Christian faith is something she’s familiar with. The two of us talk about ballet and her other favorite sports. We talk about the cartoons she watches and the news that is on television. For some reason, even with the differences between her mother’s and my own skin color, racism hasn’t come up.
The day the two of us talked, it was important. I got down on my knees so I could look at her at eye level. She knows it’s important when I do this. I asked what she thought about going to school with kids who didn’t look like her? She had no idea what I was talking about. So, I asked her what she thought of the kids who didn’t have the same skin color as she did at school? Again, she had no clue what I was talking about. “Everyone in my class looks like me. There are just a few kids with yellow or red hair.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. I closed my eyes, bowed my head, and said “thank you, God.” My daughter is blind to the fact that some people have different shades of skin, and she can probably name off more colors than I can. What an incredible blessing.
A big part of me not writing about this is based on discussions I had with a few significant mentors. I reached out to five men who play a very significant role in shaping me into the man God’s calling me to be. Two of these men have the same color of skin as I do. Three of them don’t.
I just didn’t feel qualified to write about racism. Part of this is because I’m a white male in my late 30s who grew up in an all-white town. Until 2016, I had never been in a position where I was scared because of the color of my skin. Also, throughout my life, there have been plenty of words of hate that have spewed out of my mouth.
So, I did what too many of us do. I decided it wasn’t my conversation to have. I had no business writing about the subject. That being said, as more and more articles have been written, I would become outraged at what others had to say. Did you just catch that? I wasn’t man enough to be a part of the discussion. But, I wanted to throw a fit when something was said I didn’t agree with.
Racism is a serious problem. Eventually, I’m going to have to talk to my daughter about some of her friends looking different. I’ll be honest. I’m more concerned with how my words will affect her than I am those of you reading this right now. You’re going to read this and won’t even remember what was written twenty minutes from now. What I say to her when that time comes will produce an effect in her life.
I’m not ok with police officers murdering a man in the streets of Minneapolis. I’m also not ok with a police offer being charged with felony murder because he was attacked by a drunk criminal in Atlanta. I’m not ok with violent riots. It sickens me to see how many people are ok with the insane idea of defunding police departments throughout the country.
As the father of a bi-racial little girl who will turn five later this year, racism scares the crap out of me. Just as frightening is how people have responded to racism throughout the United States these past few weeks. When that day comes for me to have this conversation with my daughter, here are a few points I want to make clear with her.
Racism is real
Regardless of where you live, the majority of the area’s population, and what the media does or doesn’t want you to believe, racism is real. As much as it’s dominating the news right now, we’ll never hear just how real the subject is. This is kind of like the conversation I tried to have with Lil v before. She didn’t know what racism was. This doesn’t mean it’s not real. It simply means she was unaware of its effect on the lives of others.
Too many of us, especially people who grew up as I did, look past this. Race isn’t an issue in our lives. It doesn’t define us or plays a role in our security or well being. We are blind to the consequences and torture. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. When we look past this, we become a huge part of the problem.
If I don’t discuss racism with my little girl, someone else will fill her in. They might use words I’m not ok with her hearing. It’s my responsibility to make sure I prepare her for this. No, hopefully, her race is never an issue in her life. Something she never has to be concerned about. Still, as her daddy, I have a responsibility.
Two wrongs will never make a right
As I mentioned earlier, the influence of hate is at full blast right now in the United States. Both in the actions of the people carrying out racism, as well as how many people are choosing to respond. I started this article by saying I don’t think this will be where it all ends. That doesn’t make me a racist or a bad person. That’s me looking at history and the current circumstances and choosing to be prepared for this to be an ongoing issue.
There’s nothing we can do to stop racism. You’re on this website because you’re a Christian. You’re completely aware of the evil that’s in our world. As much as I hate to say it until Jesus returns, I don’t see a way out of the issue. But, we do control how we respond to evil. As hurt as you get, the pain that you feel, the fear that may consume you, you don’t respond the way many are choosing to right now.
Yes, there are evil police officers. The response isn’t to get rid of all police. It’s to be light and salt in a world of darkness. There’s a reason why Martin Luther King Jr was amazing as he was when it came to racism and civil rights. This is because of his response to evil. Yes, racism is just as real as it was when Martin Luther King Jr. was marching through the south. Yes, there has been significant change as a result of how he chose to respond.
This world doesn’t get to define you
As I wrap this up, looking through the mistakes of my past and some of the things I’ve said and been told, I think this is by far the most important thing I will discuss with my daughter. This world and the people in it don’t get to label you and decide who or what you are. You are a child of God, just like many other people who have many different shades of skin.
You don’t always have to agree with them. You don’t have to consider everyone a friend. But you do have to show love to every person you meet. Regardless of a name they call you. It doesn’t matter what their opinion of me or your mother is. Despite what their actions may be until you and enough of your friends respond to them with the love they lack, nothing will ever change.
Jeffrey has a degree in theology from Aidan University and is the founder of Gospel Grammar in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. His goal is to inspire others to seek a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.