Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm white.

It's official. I'm white. Or should I say, caucasian?

I've had a passion since I was a kid about this subject that I am going to raise today, but I've been afraid to open my mouth. It seems I'm getting brave in a lot of ways these days. I've been afraid, though because as soon as I open my mouth it leaves me open to criticism. But, that's okay. Open up, fire away.

Our black and African-American friends and brothers and sisters have been treated poorly. Certainly that's obvious through history. We all are aware of that. Many have spoken up about that throughout history, both famous and some not so famous. The majority of those that actually do speak up, though, are those that have had to go through it.

How many actually speak up that haven't had to experience it?

Racism. Prejudice. Profiling.

They are ugly words. They are even uglier to experience. They hurt. They destroy. Sounds kinda like sin, huh?

I've experienced these things in very minimal ways when compared to others. I was the little guy and was therefore picked last in games when I was in elementary school. I was a teenage guy, which I'm sure prompted police attention during my driving days more than once. (I didn't notice this until later in life, now that the police seem to ignore me as an adult and/or family man.) I've been passed up for a game or two of basketball due to my short, whiteness. Mind you, I told you these were minimal compared to what others have experienced.

One movie that made a huge impact on me as a kid was Soul Man with C. Thomas Howell. He played a white character who pretended to be black. He got away with it for a while and was expecting to understand what it was like to be black in our culture. He got an idea, but by the end of the movie realized how little of an idea he got since he was then able to be white, once again.

Then a few years back, I saw Amistad. Talk about crusing me! That movie destroyed me as I balled for over a half hour in response to the way these humans were being treated due to the color of their skin and cultural heritage. Sad. They were treated so much less than human.

I've always known instinctively how wrong it is for us humans to treat each other so differently simply based on the color of our skin (or any other innate reason.) I've never understood why others treat each other differently for this reason. They cannot intermarry. They cannot be best friends. They cannot let them in our house. They cannot go into business together. They cannot hire them. They cannot accept them in the same way as anyone else. Mostly, it doesn't even make sense.

Then I saw Crash. Oh my goodness. If you haven't seen this movie, you have to. Yeah, there is some "offendable" content (ie sexuality, language, violence) but the lessons and reality that it teaches is so much greater. If you must watch an edited version, I'm sure it's been on TNT or something. I actually own an edited, milder version if you want to borrow it. The movie was mind blowing and helped us see the reality that racism, prejudice, and profiling isn't owned only by white people but is a problem across multiple, if not all races. It's an ugly thing. It also helped me to see the different ways that I've probably been guilty of in the past myself and how it occurs so regularly right before our very eyes and we don't even recognize it because we are not the offended party.

Some blame biblical reasons. (Sad, they don't know or understand their Bible very well.) Some blame experience. Some blame ignorance. Some blame the media. These are not excuses. They might be reasons, but they are definitely not excuses. In my experience, more often than not, the greatest reason or excuse has simply been sin.

God created humankind equal. There is no supreme or better race. Why haven't we learned this lesson from the Nazis? Why haven't we learned this lesson from history? We are all children of the same God, whether we recognize or believe that.

I know about now, you might be saying, "you're not so innocent yourself." You're guilty too.

That may have been true from time to time. But, it certainly has not been intentional or I was not aware of it. One of the reasons that I am so passionate and have been so for much of my life is my experiences as a child. Not from experiencing these things myself, but in seeing others experience them in different ways. I don't have some vivid memory of a specific incident. I just remember how apalled I was as I heard of each incident and time that it happened.

This is a reality is today in our culture, at this day and time. Coming from our immediate, past for the United States, these have been some ugly and growing years. We've come a way. Yesterday is proof of that. But, how much is that saying when you consider how ugly the past is.

Today I am thankful for President Obama. I am thankful that he was able to be elected primarily on his gifts, experience and ideas. His race has been for the most part pushed into the background. I am sure that many didn't vote for him (because he was black), but I also heard just yesterday of at least one (white) person who voted for him simply because he was (black.) So, hopefully those ignorances balanced out. While I don't think that's the best or even a good reason to vote for him. It's an even worse reason to vote against him.

No matter what political persuasion or opinions you hold. Yesterday and today are beautiful days in America because we now have a black president. It is beautiful that it is now possible. It is a momentous occasion indeed. I was nervous and excited all day. I was in awe and appreciative.

Mind you, I don't think that racism, prejudice and profiling have now gone by the wayside, I am just grateful that we have reached this step.

I believe that has become possible in large part because of our younger generation. Certainly not all of the older generation would have a problem with this, but I find that the younger generation are much more open to these things. They are more sensitive to ignorance people that are racist. Mind you, they are not innocent, for many fall into the same trap, I'm just saying they are more open. Popular youth culture has had an impact on this, but young ideals can be a helpful thing as well.

Have you ever noticed how true the words of a kindergartner can be, even if they themselves cannot live up to them? (Why are people so mean to each other? Why can't we all just get along?)

Today, more than ever, I want to do something to bring racial reconciliation. I'm never sure what to do or how it will be received, but I want to do something.

There is one thing that I/we are preparing to do as a family. We are planning to foster to adopt a baby of another race.

Hopefully, this will help us to overcome any "unseen" racism/prejudice in our own lives and snuff it out. Hopefully, this will help create and build relationships with others of a different race than our own. Hopefully, this will spur conversations and ideas in others for how to create racial reconciliation.

Our primary reason for fostering to adopt is that hopefully, God will use this to give a child, that otherwise might experience a different kind of life, a new life. One filled with hope. One filled with love. One filled with a family.

But, we would also love for God to use it in racial reconciliation as well. We are willing to accept criticism. We are willing to sacrifice. We are willing to stand for what is right. We are willing go outside of our comfort zones.

Are you? Are you willing to create racial reconciliation? Are you willing to stand for what is right? Do you have the courage? What can YOU do? What WILL you do?

No comments: