I’ve seen racism.
I saw it the first time I liked a brown boy. My momma told me I would never be able to date him and our pastor stood in front of the entire southern baptist congregation to say that marrying from another culture was sinful.
I saw it when my family refused to let an outstanding young man come pick my cousin up for a date because of the color of his skin.
I saw it when I went to Kenya and came back to share what I had learned from those brave, strong young women. But instead received comments about ‘those people and their diseases’ from family and friends. As if I had been the brave one for getting on a plane and stepping my privileged feet into their lives.
I saw it only days ago when white men and women attacked my white friend for speaking out against racial injustice. Accusing whites as an entire race was, in their words, ‘The worst form of racism.’ I see it today, as I read the news of yet another man. Treated as less than. Brought to the ground and held there to the point of death. The words ‘I can’t breathe’ escaping his lips.
I have seen racism. In my family. In my friends. My church and my school. I’ve seen it on my newsfeed and yes, even in my own heart at times. I was raised to fear blacks just a little more. Because they’re different. They’re scary. And it’s just a statistical probability that they’re more likely to commit a crime.
I have long fought against that narrative in my own heart and mind. Have re-structured the way I think about my colored brothers and sisters. But I know to speak out is to call out others. It’s to indict my community of fellow whites for their crimes. It’s to risk alienating those I love. But today I break the silence. I break it not to say ‘Here I am! Perfectly just and free of racism.’ But to say, I was raised a racist. And by the grace of God I’ll die with a love for all mankind. Free from the fear of those who are different. Cognizant of my privilege and able to empathize and grieve with those who don’t have it.
To my friends of color, know that I love you. I should have spoken up long ago. But I’m doing it today. Because I feel it’s better late than never. May justice be found. Now and always.
You are not alone. You’re grief is not unnoticed. Your fear of ‘us’ much realer than the fear I was taught to have towards ‘you’. And together we will fight for love and justice. For the color of someone’s skin to be another beautiful attribute of them to celebrate. And not a liability. Racism is real. It’s alive and it’s in America. And it’s time to stop defending those who deny its reality.
“When you spread out your hands, I will hide my eyes from you;
even though you make many prayers, I will not listen; your hands are full of blood.
Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil, learn to do good;
seek justice, correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.”