I know it may seem like I am obsessed with racism, but the truth is, I am obsessed with love. To love God, neighbor, and self is to fulfill God’s highest aim for us. I am learning what that means as a black woman living in a time of racial unrest. I have fears that I don’t always feel safe expressing in Christian spaces. This blog series has helped me identify my points of need, as well as my points of hope.
And that brings me to my grandchildren.
In a satisfying affront to white supremacy, two biracial weddings took place in our family in 2017:
On year later, two biracial grand babes were born. Believe it or not, one of them was born on August 12th, 2018, a year to the day of the deadly attack in Charlottesville.
Part of what drives my desire to denounce that kind of hatred is my hope that all of my grandchildren will see themselves as fearfully and wonderfully made by God no matter what a racist may say to the contrary.
You gotta admit, they’re cute!
Candidly, however, it’s hard to love yourself when your people group is at the bottom of America’s caste system. Martin Luther King, Jr. described being black as “forever fighting a degenerating sense of nobodyness.” I concur. There have been times in my life when I wished I was white. Hard to admit, but true.
It’s agonizing to sit through history class learning how your ancestors were enslaved and brutalized. It’s annoying when news outlets engage in poverty porn, slanting images and data that reinforce stereotypes of minorities. It’s depressing to sit in a black church and hear the preacher complain about absentee fathers the same way Republicans do; all the while ignoring fathers sitting right there: loyal, present, and trying.
Black men know that the sight of them makes people afraid. They can’t catch cabs, wear hoodies, or wear a frown on an elevator. Black women are finally embracing our natural hair after decades of straightening it to satisfy European beauty standards. Even fair skin has been historically viewed as prettier within the black community. Have you heard about the paper bag test? You can read about it here.
Black=bad is a narrative that is passed on from generation to generation. Just observe the bias exposed in the following video, a contemporary version of the famous American experiment by Mamie and Kenneth Clark.
This agonizing video exposes a reality that may be at the heart of my deepest pain: degrading a group of people has a lasting, negative impact on all of our hearts and minds. It breeds hatred toward others, as well as self-hatred. In this way, it defies one of God’s highest desires for his children: that we know we are valued and loved unconditionally.
I hope for that kind of deep knowledge to be infused into my grandchildren and into the body of Christ. As I close out My Black History in the next two days, I will talk more about putting this hope into action.
As for me, I will always have hope;
I will praise you more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds,
of your saving acts all day long—
though I know not how to relate them all…
… Even when I am old and gray,
do not forsake me, my God,
till I declare your power to the next generation,
your mighty acts to all who are to come.
Psalm 71. 14-18