Tag Archives: racism

Guest post: My first contact with the racism virus

At 9, I had an up-close and personal look at the racial divide.

It happened during my family’s trip to a suburban Chicago shopping mall. As we exited a large department store, another child got my attention.

He was with his family, too. I wondered if he was just as amazed by being in the 1970s megastructure.

But he was amazed by something else. He yelled, “Mommy, look at all the Black people!” I looked to see the people he saw.

Being African-American, I saw Black people all the time. As the obvious conclusion sunk in, I knew the boy was looking at my parents, my three siblings, and me.

My would-be playmate became my White audience instead. Our child-to-child connection was tainted. It felt like he was on vacation and I was on display — for all the wrong reasons.

My mother’s face grew concerned. I’d been exposed to the racism virus and it was too late to give me a vaccine. I’d have to build immunity over time. I’d need doses of truth to counteract the attempt to inject me with insignificance.

The boy’s mother made a poor attempt to hide her embarrassment. Avoiding eye contact with us, she grabbed her son’s hand and hurried away. But they left the insidious residue of an “us and them” mentality. It stuck with me and tried to mutate my thinking. I fought back hard because racism will try to confuse you, confine you or make you a carrier.

I’d seen images of the civil rights movement on television and heard snippets of my parents’ conversations about the need for racial equality.

I’d sat attentively in the classroom learning about African-American contributions to our nation as we observed what was then Black History Week (now it’s the entire month of February).

And yet, I held a naïve hope in my childhood heart. I thought any child I met could be my next friend. A lie said no. However, truth wouldn’t let things stay that way.

I’d later become best friends with a girl of biracial heritage. Her parents’ marriage reminded me love wins. A few years later, through my high school’s student exchange program, I’d become friends with white kids who weren’t startled by the appearance of black people. We shared hopes, dreams, and the common teenage longing for acceptance.

Because at its worst, racism robs a person of any chance of being accepted — as a person. Instead, it limits them to a color, a stereotype, or a statistic.

Decades later, I’m much less naïve and more infused with biblical truth. I’ve endured countless exposures to the racism virus.

Some people still look at my skin color as the first or only consideration for who I am or what I have to offer. But categorizing people solely based on our perspective can cause us to miss God’s heart. He never intended for His mosaic creation to lead to the mistreatment of others.

Historically, our nation missed God’s intentions and we remain stuck in the mire of slavery’s legacy and today’s racially tinged rhetoric. And yet, my childhood experience, or your similar experiences, reminds us we need to move forward.

Some people have.

Some people struggle with racism’s confusion or confinement.

Sadly, others have become unwitting or uncaring carriers of the divisive and hateful strain. However, improving race relations won’t matter to us, if we don’t sense God’s purpose for us.

Otherwise, at best, we’ll settle for a politically correct stance instead of a true change of heart. But if we are to walk in God’s purpose…
“The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7 NLT)

“For anyone wanting to receive God’s forgiveness, His perspective or His healing, it’s made possible through faith in Christ.” (see Romans 7:21-25)

His power is just a prayer away.

With a sincere heart, go ahead and ask Him. The results will surely bring hope for the heart and joy to the soul.

Scriptural Reflections:
1. Genesis 1:26-31
2. Matthew 22:37-40
3. Acts 15:11
4. Ephesians 4:2-6 and 31
5. James 2:1, 9 and 10
6. 1 John 4:7 and 8
7. Revelation 5:8-10

The Lord doesn't see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

Joy A. Williams


Joy A. Williams is an author, blogger, and speaker. She has served as a small-group Bible study leader, Women’s Conference and Retreat speaker for over twenty years. Joy encourages sincere or sidetracked truth seekers with “joy to the soul” on her weekly blog.

You can also connect with Joy on Twitter or Facebook and on Pinterest.

 

Featured image photo by Suad Kamardeen on Unsplash

The slippery slope to bigotry and hatred

This past week’s events in Charlottesville have hit a little too close to home. We live just 100 miles, or less than 2 hours away. It’s a town I’ve been to many times. A quiet college town nestled at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Not a place I would expect to see as the location for hate-fueled violence and death.

But it did happen. And it’s a wake-up call for me that there is no place immune to the dark nothingness of bigotry and hatred that infects our world, our country.

I realize that my generation is not the first to witness the fear-mongering and anger that leads to racism and division. But we are the first to see how technology and social media have become a new kind of fuel with the power to fan the flames of hate, causing them to spread further, faster. And as absolutely terrifying as the ones who stand on street corners, boldly shouting their hate-filled rhetoric, or drive their cars into crowds of people for no reason other than they disagree, it’s the people who sit on the other side of their computer and phone screens shouting and cursing and bullying that scare me even more.

Emboldened by the perception of a thin veil of anonymity Twitter and Facebook become a playground of lines drawn in the sand where groups gather on one side or the other and loudly condemn anyone who thinks differently from them.  Everyone is put into a group. We are an “us” or a “them”. You are with us or against us. And if you are a “them”, oh boy you are everything that is wrong with this world. You are stupid, blind, naive, evil, a bleeding-heart liberal, a crack-pot conservative, just plain wrong. You are worthy of every curse-word in the book.

And the war cries go out in 130 characters or less, and the troops rally. Friendships are ended at the click of the “unfriend” button. There is no room for respectful debate or common ground. This is where it begins. It is the slippery slope toward bigotry and hatred.

Because as soon as we, any one of us, are able to look down on our neighbor and elevate ourselves — as smarter, freer, better, more enlightened, shrewd, or reasonable — we have placed a foot over the line of intolerance; taken a step closer to fanaticism.

The only thing worthy of our intolerance is hate.

While we absolutely should and must speak out against hate, we also have to guard our hearts and tongues lest we allow the dark nothingness to seep into our words and relationships. None of us are immune to the shadows of hatred, or a heart hardened by anger.

“…Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him. This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters…Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:14b-18, NIV)

What happened in Charlottesville this past weekend is horrifying and unacceptable. That level of hate and anger can only come from those who belong to the evil one (1 John 3:12). If we declare that we belong, instead, to the Almighty Father then we must reside in love. Therefore, let us speak only truth and love, being cautious of what we say, post, tweet, or comment, but let us protect our hearts from the enemy by refusing to judge, discriminate, or look down on others. Jesus calls us to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters, not try to elevate ourselves above them.

But most of all let us love with our actions. If you are appalled by the hatred and violence happening across this country; if you are worried about the future legacy we are leaving for our children; if you are concerned about the quality of people in leadership positions, get up and do something to spread love. Write your elected officials, volunteer at a local hospital or first-response unit, donate to the Virginia State Police Association Emergency Relief Fund in memory of the fallen officers, pray for the families of those who were killed, speak to your children about acceptance, tolerance, and love.

Close your laptop, and power-off your phone. Sit face-to-face with someone who thinks differently from you. Buy them a cup of coffee and have a real conversation. Stop trying to decide who is an “us” or a “them” and instead let it be we who come together to trample condemnation, judgement, anger, and fear.

Love like your life depends on it.

1 John 3:18

photo credit: girl/afraid when life shows you signs via photopin (license)