Friday, August 22, 2014

Race on Earth - The New Normal?


As a child I grew up thinking the world was a wonderful place.  As I aged and matured I have realized that there is much beauty in it but much evil as well.  Last night as I was falling asleep the news of the day ran through my mind and I thought of the times as a school girl I was asked by a social studies teacher to bring in a “current event” article from the newspaper. Could our children even do that these days or are the top stories too intense for an elementary student to embrace? An American beheading in the midst of the unrest in the Middle East, racial tension and riots in Missouri over yet another race motivated murder and an outbreak of Ebola in Africa killing hundreds......these things have become our new normal and yet when I read the details of each they eerily remind me of a story I read once before.  The story in the book of Revelation about the end of time.

As I lay still and silent in bed last night lost in thought over each incident I found myself thanking God for his grace in planting my family in America many decades ago. I thought of all the reasons I was grateful. You see unlike many living in Middle Eastern countries I feel safe here. Tucked away in suburbia this country affords me a certain level of comfort. I don’t worry about bombs blowing up my neighborhood or my child’s school. I don’t worry about infants dying as pawns in adult warfare. I don’t worry about being killed because of my religion, and as I thought of those things I thought about the bickering many of us do daily. With James Foley on my mind I thought WE Americans should be grateful…..WE should…this man was held captive for two years and beheaded. Can you imagine? And then I remember…As a young white early 30’s American female I am thankful for those things because in my life those things are true. Living in a world that does not provide those things seems scary and unconscionable….but then it hit me…does a young black early 30’s American male feel the same…or is my unconscionable life his reality.

True no American really has to worry about bombs blowing up our neighborhood but what about bullets? True our children will not be used as leverage and murdered as an act of warfare but what about profiled, gun down and murdered for no apparent reason. Do these acts not trigger the same state of emergency? Racial tensions have plagued the United States since its inception and these tensions seem to be an unrelenting and never-ending point of contention among our own people. We just can’t seem to get passed it. While strides have been made it seems as though we take 10 steps forward and then 4 steps backward.

How does a country whose existence began based upon a racial divide resolve that? Can it? Was this county fated to fail the very day it began because of a built-in design flaw? Can you “edit” the past with changes in the future?

I’ll tell you a little about myself…..I was raised in a suburb of Houston that was a melting pot of race and culture. As the neighborhood aged, the demographics changed drastically. The community was one where white people were the minority. I have lived and grown up immersed in other cultures and do you know what happens when people do that? You learn things about each other and you begin to understand people at the root of their existence. You are able to empathize not sympathize. You don’t co-exist you simply exist. I believe whole heartedly racism is a learned trait, not one you are born with. I know that is true because I have witnessed a community without race barriers.

Growing up white in neighborhood that was anything but white also gave me a dose of reality. The world is not built the way my neighborhood was. I remember being 18 years old in line at college orientation and overhearing the Caucasian girl in front of me say “There’s a lot of Black people here. I have never met a Black person.” My world changed in that moment. I didn’t even know how that was possible but knew instantaneously my upbringing was a gift. Perceiving the world without race as a defining characteristic and viewing people as though a skin color does not mean the person embodies each stereotypical characteristic society has attached to it, is a priceless blessing. An idea we should all seek to acquire and embrace for the sake of the next generation.

The evolving world that my children will inherit definitely concerns me and at times brings me to tears. When the world sees me they see white. When they see my flesh and blood daughter they see black. No one takes in to account how either of us were raised, where we live, which language we speak. It reminds me of how the anti-American terrorists in the Middle East see us. They see American and not American. How is the idea alarming there but not at home? The world sees in color. Can my children walk down the street in peace? What if yours couldn’t?

As I fell asleep, wiping tears from my eyes, I ended with prayer. Prayer for the Middle East. Prayer for the parents of James Foley and Michael Brown. Prayers for my children and all yours….it was not a great week for human kind. We as human beings have to do better or we will not make it.

On that note and as always I will be attending church this weekend if anyone would like to join me to hear the word of God. With so much death in the air it is imperative we ensure our salvation. All are invited to join. Christian, non-Christian, curious or bored….consider yourself invited.

And for tonight…..those are my inside thoughts.