Monday, August 8, 2011

Racism is a Heart Issue

The stench of racism is still poignant. In fact, it may be nearing the levels of intensity experienced during the 60’s. I know about racism as a native of Tuskegee & Montgomery, Alabama. The cradle of southern racism. One would think that we have made progress, but the ugly head of racism continues to diminish any ground gained.

I can remember last month, as my wife and I were taking our boys on a trip from the east coast to the west coast. Our plane stopped in Houston, TX. As we were sitting in the airport, a little white boy began to say out loud,”Look, there is a brown family. That brown family is dirty. They are monsters.” I told my wife and boys to gather their things so that we could move to another section of the airport and I overheard the boy’s father tell his wife to stop trying to correct the little boy because it was not a big deal. Well, I knew it was time to address the whole situation. So I said to the boy’s father,” I would suggest that you teach your child not to say such horrible things about people. I would never allow my children to disrespect anyone because of their race.” He replied,”He’s only a child!” In response, I told him, “Apparently he is old enough to understand how to describe people as dirty and monsters, he should be old enough to learn that what he said was wrong.”

This father then tried to apologetically appease me by telling me he was not a racist; after all he has a mixed family, etc, etc, etc… At that point, I walked off and explained to my boys that the little boy was disrespectful and his father was wrong for not correcting him. I told my boys, regardless of what people call you, you have to be confident in who you are and address the issue with the wisdom of God.

That day was one of the best training tools I have had to show my boys that this world has some people that are mean and nasty, but God has endowed them with the fortitude to overcome every attack against them because of their race, religious beliefs and anything else.

I said all of this to say, racism is a learned, nurtured and intentional way of thinking. Regardless of who it is, if their heart is filled with hate and disdain for a person or a people simply because of their race, they will never change until their hearts change. What is unfortunate as demonstrated through my experience in the Houston Airport is there is a new generation of children who are being taught this same destructive way of thinking.

Their teachers are politicians who disrespect President Obama by saying, “you lie”. Their teachers are news commentators that refer to the President as boy. Their teachers are congressmen who call the president “tar baby”. Their teachers are political movements who display our president’s face in the depiction of a monkey. Their teachers are their families, friends, pastors, etc… who see their propensity towards racism but overlook it or say nothing.

This is a true statement and I believe it with all of my heart, until the hearts of those who hate people because of their race change, racism will be here for a long time.

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