The Day I Learned Racism

“Never, never be afraid to do what’s right, especially if the well-being of a person or animal is at stake. Society’s punishments are small compared to the wounds we inflict on our soul when we look the other way.”-MLK Jr.

It happened when I was about 6 or 7.  It was an ordinary day in my childhood.  I was with my family at one of our rental properties in Corpus Christi.  The tenants had just moved out and we were doing a bunch of repairs and cleaning on the little old wood framed house.  This was a typical weekend in my childhood as my parents had several of these types of small rentals around town and working on then was a family thing.  Everyone did their part.  Even at 6 I was old enough to hold and use a paint brush on the old wood siding or a wet rag to clean the dirty baseboards.

The little old, white, frail lady who lived next door had asked my mom if she could speak with her for a moment.  She was holding and eating a sandwich while we walked up and down the sidewalk as she began… Now it’s been quite a while from the time this occurred but she said something along the lines of this…”Now I don’t mean to sound racist, but please don’t rent that house to no more ni****s.” I’ll never forget that moment.  The first time that I can remember in my life witnessing racism.  It was the first but definitely not the last. 

Let me start with this… Anytime I have every heard somebody say “I don’t mean to sound racist….” Or “I’m not a racist, but…” the statement is almost always 100% followed by a statement that is absolutely racist.  Even at the age of 6 I understood that what this lady was requesting of my mom was so incredibly wrong and hateful.  I don’t remember exactly what transpired after that, but I do know that we rented the house to another black family. 

When I hear people say that racism isn’t a problem anymore, it’s very frustrating because that’s just not true.  The Confederate flag for example is one way that we still allow racism in our country.  I hear the argument that it’s a part of our American history.  Germany does not have a bunch of swastikas on display around their country although it is a very big symbol of what happened in their history. It represents a horrible time in their history and it’s not something they choose to celebrate.  The Confederate flag for America generally represents the South that fought to keep slavery in America.  Why would we as a nation feel the need to parade that part of our history around?  It’s shameful what we Americans allowed to happen to other human beings.  If you feel the need to have it as a historical artifact, fine.  Put it in a museum.  It should not be flown on government buildings.  It is a representation of suppression.

It is very disheartening to me when I see people proudly parading it about.  And I can tell you this that almost every time I see someone driving around with a Confederate flag on their vehicle or home, it is accompanied by a Trump flag.  That in itself says a lot. 

Some people say that people are being too sensitive or getting offended to easily. These comments and beliefs that I hear from people are almost always out of the mouth of a white person.  I am a white woman born and raised in America.  I will never ever claim to know or fully understand the suppression or racism that some of my beloved friends of color have experienced in their lifetime.  But what I can do is educate myself and try my best to change the way things are.  And if any of my actions or words are ever hurtful to a specific group of people I will do my best to educate myself and have empathy for how those actions may cause hurt to someone.  Their feelings of suppression and hate should never be trumped by my “freedom to express myself.”  When your freedom of speech and freedom of expression start infringing on other people’s rights, it’s a problem. 

A lot of people get upset about the whole Black Lives Matter movement.  To this I say you need better education.  Over and over and over again we are seeing the unfair and unequal treatment of black people by the police.  There are bad apples in every batch so I’m not by any means saying that all cops are bad. There are many wonderful men and women putting their lives on the line on a daily basis for the betterment and protection of our country everyday and I am so grateful for that. But there are bad cops.  And until we start holding them accountable for their actions, we will see black people murdered over and over again for something a white person would get a slap on the wrist for.  So when you get upset because somebody kneels during the anthem.  Or you get upset because of peaceful protests.  Remember they tried to have their voices heard, and we ignored.  They cried out for the injustices they have been experiencing even today and we were silent. 

As a follower of Christ it is my duty to speak up for those that are being oppressed, to want justice for everyone, and to love my neighbor.  Being silent is not loving my neighbor.  Being complacent is not loving my neighbor.  Allowing inequality is not loving my neighbor.  Supporting someone who calls members of the KKK “good people” is not loving my neighbor. 

““Learn to do right; seek justice. Defend the oppressed. Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” – Isaiah 1:17

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

As a 6 year old child it was so clear to me that what this little, old, neighbor lady was saying was so wrong, hateful, and ignorant.  It’s hard for me to understand now as a 33 year old woman that a 6 year old could recognize the evil of racism and so many grown adults still can’t.

By Tina

Tina is a mother of 3 who lives in Texas with her wonderful husband, daughter, and 2 sons, 2 dogs Homer and Bailey, cat Caboodles, and a bunch of goldfish. She loves Jesus, animals, kids, and serving in the community.

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