This morning I tuned into Grace Christian Church service online as I do most Sunday mornings. Today was different. After the events that have unfolded this week, I’ve felt like a wounded bird that lost its ability to fly so I tuned in for a message of healing.
The message I received through the Pastor today was exactly what I needed to hear. Here’s the link if you are interested in hearing the message but please note today’s message may not be posted for a day or two: (http://gracesterling.com/watch-service/)
When dealing with violence, racism, and prejudice it’s hard to know exactly what’s “right” or “acceptable” to say, especially as a white woman. Like most, I’m hurting seeing the stories in the news about more black men losing their lives by police officers unnecessarily. But I often wonder, is it OK for me to say this? I will never understand the struggles a black man or woman has faced throughout their lives by being profiled by authorities, followed in shopping malls by security or any of the other number of ways prejudice and racism has been brought into their world. It disgusts me to even think about those experiences but I will never fully grasp their feelings, thoughts or hurt.
However, I’ve been exposed to situations most white woman haven’t from having been in an interracial relationship for nearly 4 years. One of the earliest experiences I faced, I didn’t “actually” experience. We had been dating for maybe a few weeks and were walking through a mall, when we walked past a couple of black women. These women said something was we walked by holding hands, but I really didn’t hear them. He did. He looked at me and asked me if I was OK. I was confused, see I had never really been in a situation before where I would have someone randomly say something to or about me because of the color of my skin, but that’s exactly what happened only they mainly targeted him. “What black women aren’t good enough?” they said. When he told me what they said, I was stunned. He explained to me this would happen often, if we continued to date. Of course, being the type of person who has never backed down from a challenge, I brushed it off and continued on with him. Throughout our relationship there were more situations than I can count where our interracial relationship was a problem for others.
I share this personal information because this relationship and its experiences shaped my filter. By no means do I think I am better or believe I understand more of what it’s like to be a black man or woman because I dated outside my race. What I do know is that I have always had the motivation to stand up against prejudice/racist jokes, etc. for as long as I can remember. I vividly remember as a young child being at a family dinner where racist jokes being told and feeling very uncomfortable. I remember getting very upset telling my relatives I didn’t like them and that they weren’t nice then leaving the room. My point is, my interracial relationship has only intensified my disgust for racism/prejudice.
In order to begin healing and understanding one another, it’s important everyone understands this fact. No one person, no matter their race, can fully understand how someone feels because we all have unique filters shaped by our life experiences. Even two people who experiencing the same event, can develop very different filters based on their previous experiences. It’s no different from the common phrase, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes.”
A few days ago, I posted my disgust for the events unfolding in Baton Rogue, Minnesota and Dallas. It doesn’t stop there. I’m disgusted by family and friends who are posting on social media racist meme’s thinking it’s appropriate or funny given the current situation of our society. These posts perpetuate the hatred, prejudice and racism living in their hearts. Every time you allow yourself to post one of these “jokes” it’s not only growing the prejudice in your heart, but it’s spreading it to others. Then others share it and so on.
Take a joke…some of you are thinking/saying. If you think these posts are “funny” then it’s time to really take a deep look within your heart and start to change it. Again, your filter is influencing you to think these racist/prejudices meme and such are funny, but we have the ability to change our hearts and alter our filters. Next time you see one of these types of posts, stop and think about it for a minute. Is it really funny or necessary to perpetuate the prejudice this message brings?
Now is the time to change and it starts with self-reflection. Our society is imploding upon itself. We have lost mutual respect and love for each other. I pray we can come back together again as a society. Let’s start with challenging ourselves, by correcting our thoughts and actions. Changing our thoughts isn’t going to be easy. Each day, let’s challenge ourselves to taking at least one step to change our hearts. Whether it be correcting your thinking when you see something that results in a prejudice thought, refraining from re-posting an inappropriate joke or anything else that comes up in your day where you notice your treating someone/or a group unfairly, making small changes is how we start. If you want change, like I do…then start with what you see in the mirror.