First, I want my children to know that it is real. Racism is a real thing. It is not a fairytale that has been dreamt up by angry people who cannot forget the past. It is not an ugly piece of history that we have overcome. It is not something that magically went away with the prohibition of slavery or desegregation. It is a real thing that many people have to live with. Yes, still today. It is an evil that is still alive, and not just in the hearts of masked men walking around in white cloaks. Here in the “bible belt” it is thriving among us. It is sitting beside us at church, it is teaching us in school, it is saying the blessing at the family reunion. It may not always be evident, but you can always find it in the details.
Second, it may be “the way we were raised”, but it doesn’t have to be where we stay. You will hear that excuse poured over the belief in hate like a warm gravy that makes it easier to stomach. It was one that I myself used, until the words didn’t make sense anymore. Until I out-educated my ignorance I didn’t question the morality of my opinions. Racism was engrained in my mind, and traced itself along the outer edges of my heart while growing up. I was raised in a house divided on the subject. I remember coming home from pre-k so excited that I had made a new “best friend” on the bus. I also remember hearing my parents fighting from my bedroom that night because my father didn’t want me to be friends with a black girl. My mother attempted to counter the hate with love, but the hate trickled in. I remember being too ashamed to tell anyone that my very first crush in school was a boy of color. Why was I ashamed? Well, any self-respecting white girl wouldn’t date a black boy, of course. Where I grew up, those girls were called “white trash”. For me, change in perspective did not happen overnight. It happened gradually as I prayed to God for his eyes to view the world. It happened as I met new people who challenged my worldview. It happened as I learned about the years of suffering, prejudice, and hate endured by so many people just like me. They were just like me except for one small detail, our skin color. Educating myself woke me up to the prejudice living in my heart; the prejudice that I was in denial was there. You see, like I said earlier racism isn’t always obvious to the naked eye, but it shows itself in the details.
Third, sitting silently speaks loudly. In life we must pick our battles; this is a vital lesson to learn. I have many strong opinions, and sometimes you may find me sitting silently. I find that being silent and letting your actions speak often times is more effective than strong words. However, when it comes to injustice there is no time to sit silently. If you sit silently you do not challenge the hate. If you don’t speak up, you are silently condoning the hate. When you are silent you allow those who are in denial, as I was, to stay stagnant. It will be uncomfortable. People will disagree. People will be angry. However, what is right will always prevail. You will always have an answer for your argument, and that answer is love. You are called to love all, above all, always. Love shows itself in the details.