It's the summer after 7th grade and I am spending a week on a college campus attending basketball camp. My roomies and I are attempting to be mature by dialing random extensions to other dorm rooms and finally hear the voice of a male. We begin to try to set up a way to meet on campus, totally oblivious to the fact that these guys are likely aware that they are talking to 13 years olds and only teasing us. The one I am talking to asks "what color are you?", my response....."do I sound like a nigger?" He laughed and proceeded to hang up the phone and the weight of what I just said landed like a two ton weight on my heart. In that moment I realized that he was African American and I had just spoken those words to him. I immediately tried to find a way to call back to apologize but that was impossible, we had just dialed random numbers. I'm sure I had used that venomous word before but never to someone that was affected by it, or so I thought. The shame was overwhelming. I immediately realized what racism was and that it lived in my heart, even at that young age, and made the decision that it had to go. I prayed that one day I could apologize to him, I also hoped no one would know what I had done.
This morning my mind was on celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr's birthday and was pondering, aka "pinning" his quotes. I went to get dressed for church and while sitting in the bathtub the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart with these words....THE CURE FOR RACISM IS REPENTANCE!!! Then the scripture 2 Chronicles 7:14 came to me, "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.". Racism is WICKEDNESS, it is SIN. Repentance means to turn away from, we must repent for our racism.
Who am I to speak these words? I am a white girl that has basically lived a life of privilege, never missing a meal that I didn't choose to miss, certainly never feeling the ramifications of racism. I am not ashamed of who I am but I am ashamed that it has taken me 30 years to speak up about about it.
How did I become a racist before I even reached puberty? No, my parents did not raise me that way but my society did. I lived in a town where the black population was basically forced to stay in 2 areas of town, they were called the "quarters" or the "ponderosa". The good blacks were in the "ponderosa", bad ones the "quarters". If a realtor tried to sell a house to a black family elsewhere there were ramifications for it. Yes, it has since changed but not dramatically. I have moved to Baton Rouge since, thinking things would be much different, they aren't, racism is still alive and well in the city. Racism is alive and well all over this country, just turn on the news, it is destroying lives in every race. I see posts on Facebook that make me want to scream. I hear comments from people that make my stomach hurt. I hate conflict so I often bite my tongue but I need to stop. Racism is HATE! There is no excuse. There is no justification. I hear things like "I'm not a racist but......", "I don't dislike ______ people, I dislike bad people", "they did _____ , that's why I feel this way". None of these are a good excuse. Well I guess I should say none of those are a good excuse if you call yourself a Christian, or if you define yourself by love, Christian or not. In truth the majority of what I hear that reverberates with deep seeded racism is from Christians. If you dislike "bad" people then you dislike everyone, we are ALL "bad", some are just "bad" in a socially acceptable way. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:23
Maybe you don't care and don't want to change? Our country will continue on this downward spiral of hate between races, who would want that? I spent a lot of time focusing on "colorblindness", which I don't think is a bad thing. But lately I feel led to something even better, "color beauty". Seeing those that are a different race from me as absolutely beautiful, not only if they are behaving the way I approve of, just beautiful. I have decided to have dialogue about the things that I don't understand. When we understand why someone does the things they do we are much more likely to see it as what it is, simply different, not necessarily bad.
Today I want to invite you to ask God to show you if racism lives within you. Don't trust your own heart to figure this out. "The human heart is deceitful of all things and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9. God knows, we do not. If we spend time asking Him to shine a light on our hearts and show us where we need to repent He will do it. After we repent we can move forward. The spirit of God will lead us in areas that we can be agents of reconciliation. May we all find a place at the feet of Jesus over this issue. He is the only one that will take our sin and He is the one that will heal our land!