As a young adult I read Nelson Mandela’s story and his famous quote, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” I have parented with this in my mind. I teach my kids to view all people as equally valuable. Skin, gender, sexual orientation, economic level, language, nationality, whatever the differences are, do not have anything to do with human value. And yet I have raised them in predominantly white affluent society. And actions speak louder than words. I worry about that. They simply do not spend much time with people of any color but their own.
Over the last week slowly my awareness has grown regarding the meaning of the brutal death of George Floyd in the custody of Police. When I first learned and saw the footage I was horrified and still moved on. But for many many more people his death is personal. It should have felt more personal to me. And for black parents it is not just personal it affects the conversations with their children.
Hosting the race conversation in white homes is extremely important. Perhaps even more important is making black friendships and honoring black wisdom, intelligence, and kindness in all homes.
I think about Jesus’ mom and dad, Mary and Joseph. What was he taught by them that brought forth the courageously compassionate story of the Good Samaritan for example. This was a story that rocked people’s understanding of race back then. Jesus taught that God’s favor and God’s will is done through every willing human heart and race does not determine value. Jesus taught those who followed him to build the “Kingdom of God” a prejudice free group called the church- children of God.
I love where I live, I love the schools, the people, and I love St. James the Less. I have loved my upbringing and am grateful for it all. And I see through it to the shadow side of raising my kids around predominantly white people. We simply have to help our kids see through it too.
Our kids are taking in what we are doing and how we are reacting to the protests, the looting, and the public dialogue. Be intentional in your parenting. Give your children hope by acknowledging what is broken in our society, in your life, even in your own ambiguous actions and thoughts. Give them hope that they can affect the world through their actions and thoughts. Prayer is truly an integration of God's life in ours. Pray.
With you on the journey,