Honestly, I’m tired. Flat out sick and tired of hearing that there has been another tragedy. There is a racial divide in our nation, and as a woman in a bi-racial marriage, raising three bi-racial children, I’m scared. I fear for the lives of my family and friends, and it isn’t a good feeling.
Do you have any idea what it feels like to have your son send you a text message saying he isn’t comfortable going to class? Not due to the fact that he isn’t prepared for the lesson or that the class is boring, but instead because a white supremacy group on campus posted on a message board that at 3:00 they are going to shoot every black student they come across on campus. Can you imagine the anxiety that is instilled by this blatant statement full of such rage and hatred?
There are days when I wonder if my sons are okay. I dread getting a call with news that one of them has been harmed or unjustly attacked. Even though they each are going to college, working hard, and trying to better themselves, I still have to ponder the thought that because they are bi-racial, they might be treated differently solely because of that. As their mother, this breaks my heart.
I hear discussions and read posts online from friends and family and I wonder: when did the people I know and care about develop such cruel and biased opinions? What gives a person the right to spew lies and spread such contempt for their fellow man based on only one thing – the color of their skin?? I think there has to be something I can do to bridge the gap between lies and truth; between fact and fiction. I want to be a peacemaker, and I want to go to sleep at night knowing that my family is safe, protected and able to live their lives freely and without fear of harm, ridicule or hatred due to the way they look to society.
The responsibility rests on all of us, whether we want it to or not. Even those who may feel detached from the actual events need to stand up for equality and justice. How is that accomplished?
First off, we need to examine ourselves. Are we biased? Do we form opinions based on facts, or simply on rumors that we hear circulating? Possibly we fear the unknown…if we haven’t ever been in the situations we read and hear about, we cannot possibly relate to them, and therefore we choose to judge and condemn. Or worse yet, we decide to dismiss them as unimportant. I mean, it isn’t OUR family, OUR town so clearly it’s not OUR responsibility to do anything at all, right? WRONG. Just because these events aren’t directly related to you personally, they are indirectly affecting you and your life. And someday, when your son or daughter introduces you to their intended partner, who is black, or Latino, or bi-racial; or they choose to adopt across racial lines you may find yourself very, very affected. You never know what the future may hold…
We must realize and admit that there is a huge problem right now that needs our attention. One thing that helps me react with compassion and understanding when I hear of a tragedy is to imagine if the person involved was one of my family members or friends. How would I feel then? What would my response be? Would there be outrage, or just indifference?
Secondly, we need to have open and honest discussions within our families, circle of friends, and then in our communities. We must have the hard conversations, even when it makes us uncomfortable. My husband and I talk all the time about these issues. He makes a valid point whenever I say I understand how hard it is for him, and others of color, to feel welcomed and loved in the world. He then asks me “How can you possibly know what it’s like? You’re a white woman!”
You know what? He’s right! I don’t face the same prejudices that he, or our children, might encounter. I love him and my extended family, as well as my kids, their friends, and my friends of color, but I don’t really know how they feel inside. I can only empathize with them and do my best to be compassionate and loving as I seek to fathom how it might feel to be judged based on the mere pigment of my skin.
Conversing about racial tension, disrespect, guns, violence, misuse of power and authority, unwillingness to understand and show empathy, and the way folks are presented to others are just a few places we can start. Before we comment on Facebook, talk with another person, or tweet out our thoughts, we must consider whether what we are about to say will uplift, encourage and bring insight to the issue, or simply add to the division, separation and demoralization of others.
Think it doesn’t matter? Feel like you can say whatever you want because you have the right to free speech? You are entitled to your own opinion, but how will we ever overcome the obstacles we currently are stumbling and falling over if we keep alienating ourselves from the truth and all the real problems that are out there?
Finally, I truly believe that we must humble ourselves and take some time to reflect on our values and what beliefs we hold to be important. Are we causing someone else to feel less than we are due to their ethnicity or social status? As a Christian, I strive to live my life patterned after Christ. I seek to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with my God. I treat others, ALL others, with the same love that I receive from Him. We are all created in His image, so who am I to judge anyone based on their race?
There are definite misrepresentations happening in the news and media which simply fuel the fires that are already burning in our world. We are pointing fingers, blaming others and attaching stereotypical lies to events. We need to be strong in our efforts to include everyone in the blessings that are out there. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is for us all: man, woman, and child. All races and ethnicities are valuable. Whether you personally agree with that or not, it’s the truth.
I challenge us all to start today by having an honest conversation with your family, and close circle of friends. Examine your heart, seek first to understand, and then reach out to begin a cycle of peace and unity around you. Let’s make this world a better place, one step at a time. We all are empowered and able to do something.