We can do better
Last week I had a post ready to send out on Friday. Then the case of George Floyd being killed by some Minneapolis police officers took the world by storm instead. So I was quiet, listening, learning, like many of the rest of us.
The truth is, it is hard for a white woman like me to know what to say in such circumstances. “I’m sorry” seems too small. “I understand” is tone deaf – I can’t understand what his mother, his daughter, his friends, or his community feels like because I don’t have the same experiences.
So I said nothing. Yet that isn’t right either.
Now that I have had a week to process my feelings and let black voices speak out, I would like to address it in the way I know best – as a mom trying her best to raise her boys to treat everyone the same.
I feel fortunate, in many ways. I grew up in a multiracial church in the late 70’s and early ‘80’s, a time when that was almost unheard of. I was bussed to a school in a “black neighborhood” in second grade. I only attended six weeks, due to a late-school-year move, but my teacher there, a large, loud, beautiful black woman became one of my favorite teachers. She embraced me (literally and figuratively) and reduced some of my new girl nerves.
At my high school, to my knowledge, blacks and whites got along well. We still ran in our own circles, for the most part, but there wasn’t overt racial tension when I attended, though there had been in its past.
Those were unique circumstances. I do not believe the world as a whole is overtly racist, but I wanted to raise my boys to not be covertly bigoted, either. So, in different life situations, how can we do that, as moms of different backgrounds, beliefs, skin colors, and socioeconomic backgrounds? I’m not going to pretend to have all the answers, because I certainly don’t, but I came up with a few ideas, for all of us.
- Expose our kids to people of different cultures and nationalities. Whether that is the school they attend, the neighborhood we live in, the churches we go to– we can’t appreciate one another without knowing one another. Send them on mission trips to other lands, volunteer at rescue missions, and encourage friendships with those of other backgrounds – not just skin color but religions and economic status as well.
- Expose our kids to books and movies and music and art of other nationalities and races. This is one I didn’t do well. Fortunately, their schools have been good about it.
- Talk about race relations. Let them say what is on their heart and minds with no judgement. Talk it through, as a family. Address fears and questions. If you don’t have the answers, invite a person of that background into the conversation.
- Set an example. Not in a token way, as so many do. “Yes, I have a couple of black friends.” We can do better than that. It will be awkward at first, because we unfortunately as humans gravitate to people “like us,” but we need to reach out and make it happen.
- Admit your mistakes to your kids. If you have been insensitive or silent or prejudged someone, apologize and tell them that you are always working to improve.
- Most importantly, and especially as our children become young adults, pray. Pray for your them to be ambassadors of peace and grace in a dark and sinful world. Pray for racial reconciliation.. Ultimately, God can heal our hearts and our land if we just humble ourselves and let Him.