Monday, May 19, 2008

Racism

I want to ask you a question- and I want you to be honest with me here. No one else will know what you are thinking- so just answer the question honestly.
What is the first thing you think of when you think of African America people?
What is the first thing you think of when you think of Hispanic people?
How about Muslims?
Over weight people?
Poor people receiving public aid?
Just one word- the first word that comes to your head… what came to mind? Now I once again want you to be honest with yourself and tell me- are you part of the problem?

As a mother of a black son- I have grown to see racism in a whole new light. I should have recognized this before, but honestly, I’m embarrassed to say that I am white- and well, I didn’t really have to. Even with Aleigha and Mya being Hispanic we often ‘stood out’- but this is a whole new concept with Kaden. And, I am going to dare to step out and there say it’s because he’s BLACK. As a matter of fact- Kadens caseworker flat out told us ‘If you are willing to take a black child then you will get a child VERY quickly because most people will not’. I knew right then and there that is what we would choose. A black child. The need is the call. In God’s eyes we are all equal.

I will be honest and tell you that I was raised in a pretty much all white town (although my best friend growing up was half Philippine). I have always lived in predominately white areas and that is all I have pretty much ever known. So when Kaden first came to us- we set out to educate our family. I did not want to try to turn my black son into a white child- I wanted to turn our white/Hispanic/black family into a beautiful multicultural family that loves and celebrates all ethnicity- just like Jesus does. This has turned out to be unbelievably easy for us inside our own little family. So easy- that sometimes I forget that our little family is not normal. I forget, that is- until I see the ugly hatred rear it’s head in the eyes of prejudice- and my heart breaks for what my son will once day face. For you see, I have come to find out that white people love ethnic diversity-but only as it relates to restaurants.

‘Sometimes' from strangers I do get smiles of encouragement and comments of “oh he’s so cute.” Yet I am also very much aware that one day those same people will be locking their car doors in a parking lots as my son walks by. I am aware that while many might think that Kaden is a nice boy- he will not be allowed to even look at their white daughter when he comes of dating age. Even sadder yet- in 2004, the median family income of blacks ages 30 to 39 was only 58 percent that of white families ($35,000 for blacks compared to $60,000 for whites). And, according to the Bureau of Justice of Statistics, by the end of 2005 there were 3,145 black male prison inmates per 100,000 in the United States compared to 471 white male inmates per 100,000. One study done in Philadelphia even showed blacks had a 38% higher chance of getting the death penalty than whites. This shows an obvious discrimination problem, because the murders the whites committed were no less severe than that of the blacks. Plus, the fact that there are very few black District Attorneys does not help matters. The majority of District Attorneys that assist in convicting these black men to death are white.

I have also found that often times you get people who claim there is no difference between races- they claim there could not possibly be this problem. Why? Not only because they can’t see beyond their own prejudice- but because they think things are fine the way they are. They don’t want to change. They are happy and comfortable. It doesn’t matter if other people are or not. They think it's always been this way and always will...


For me that is no longer ok. I can no longer ignore the problem.


For me, I am aware now in ways I have never been before…


I know good and bad people, smart and stupid people, generous and mean people, beautiful and ugly people- and believe me, it has nothing to do with their color.

My goal, as a parent, is to teach my children that they–like everyone else born on this planet, regardless of their color – are special and have a role to play, that no one else can play. They may be smart–but there will always be someone smarter. They may be attractive–but there will always be someone more beautiful. They may be athletic–but there will always be someone else who is faster or stronger. Because of this, they must simply try to be the best person they can be and then celebrate whoever that is. Along they way, they must allow others that same privilege- treat others with the same respect no matter who they are or what they look like.


Today I will hug my son just a little bit tighter, knowing that while he is the exact same as the rest of us- his dark skin will always make people feel they have the right to think less of him. Why is that and how can I make that change? Would you help me? From today on will you begin to look a little bit deeper than skin deep? Whether you are black, white, or green with purple polka dots- and whether the other person is the same or not- will you look past that? Look into their heart instead- you might just like what you see. Jesus did.

“and I will make them ONE NATION in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and ONE KING shall be KING over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again” Ezekiel 37:22

4 comments:

The Engelhardt 4 said...

I just read about this in Red Letters, how our world started in Africa, yet they have been more than just crippled for hundreds of years. I am sure that is where ALL of racism stems from. We will work on overcoming racisim in our family. Thank you so much for your enlightenment. Blessings!!

Noah Bear said...

Wonderful post, Amy. Very thought provoking. It's a subject that needs to be addressed, but so few people have the courage to address it - to put it out there and say, "Hey, we've got a problem. What can we do about it?" Thanks for making us all a bit aware.

And, for the record, Kaden can date my Nandini anytime he wants - well, you know, in about 15 years. :-)

Leslie

Special Mom said...

I love this post. So many of my unspoken thoughts. And unfortunately I see it from the side of blacks as well. When I reprimand my "black" child in public and some black people look at me as if to say how dare you scold her/him, or why do you even have care of them, can they possibly be your child? It's hard to see. I pray continually to find ways to change these hearts and minds.

Anonymous said...

African-Americans: heritage, soul
Hispanics: culture
Muslims: faith
Overweight: sad

Hmmm...guess I'm pretty unbiased, although more than I'd like on the overweight issue!