I was having a conversation with some mom friends of mine yesterday and one of the African American moms in my circle began relating to us how she deals with her grown children. She mentioned as a side note that her grandmother practically raised her and was always very controlling. She ended this side note with a glance over at another African American woman and a “you know, that’s just how ‘we’ are.” that gave me the impression that what she was talking about was a cultural thing that transcends generations.
So as she was continuing her conversation with us, my mind was turning over the fact that for some reason African American older women (and I have experienced this myself over the years) have a tendency to control the family. Why is this? What has been passed down from generation to generation to create this “normalcy” for African American families. It didn’t take me long to turn a light bulb on. A couple generations ago when slavery was “normalcy”, the men of the family were missing most of the time. They were working day and night. Not only were the men missing, but the younger women as well…they were working day and night. This left who to tend to the children, to raise the next generation? Y’all. This left the grandmothers. For 245 years (and that is just in America…slavery has actually been going on for thousands of years) the grandmothers shouldered the chief responsibility of keeping some sort of semblence of a family together.
Stay with me here. What is on my heart is not to shame white people, but rather to help us all come to a better understanding of the demon that we are fighting here in racism. If you have African American friends that you love dearly, please just hear me out for a minute. If you are an African American, please bear with me, because my history knowledge is pretty much lily white which means I will not get this right in any sense of the word unless the Holy Spirit is speaking, but please hear my heart as I speak into something that He knows better than any of us. If you claim loudly that you are not a racist and have no racist tendencies in your heart, please let that open heart make sure that it has a good understanding of the depths of superiority so that it can reject this evil at its outset. Hear me out and in the end disagree with me, educate me, slander me…all I ask is that you hear me.
I am a woman who at every raised racism issue has said, “What in the world is the problem here? Slavery has been dead for 100 years. Why are we still making issues over this? I would never in my life own a slave and haven’t and none of my friends have ever been slaves and won’t be.” And then I have gone about my life, only having to deal with race issues when they come up in the news. Some of my African American friends, however, deal with them every. single. day. Those issues are imbedded in their culture and imbedded in their identity. While we tell them to “get over it”, they are struggling to understand how we can expect someone to “get over” something that is IN them. For instance, in many African American communities education is still consider to be “for white people”. As a matter of fact, young people are often viewed as traitorous when they leave their community to pursue higher education. Why? Because for THOUSANDS of years, white people have told black people that education is for white people. As a matter of fact, that generational deception did not even end with slavery… schools in the South did not desegregate until the 1950’s and 60’s. We currently live among African Americans that were not allowed the same education as white people. With that lie in mind, why would African Americans that had just been released from slavery want to pursue something that belonged the people who had just oppressed them for GENERATIONS? The white culture released God created people from their chains in the 1860’s and then white people went on with their lives assuming they had done their “good deed” and now people, who were enslaved, beaten, raped, murdered and overall treated like animals, should be happy and move on with their lives. How do you “get over” that kind of lie sown deliberately into the fabric of your culture? How do you “get over” that kind of lie when the people who sowed it not only don’t take it back, but they fight to keep it? That’s what white culture did after slavery. If they couldn’t have slaves, they were going to fight for the lie that education is for white people. The slaves could be free, but they couldn’t have education. The slaves could be free, but they couldn’t believe that they were worthy of the same rooms as white people. The slaves could be free, but let’s see them put their culture back together after white people destroyed it. The slaves could be free, but they wouldn’t get support or help from most white people…they would be free in a world that would fight them to hang onto the lie. This is the kind of racism we are still fighting today because knowledge is power, and there are white people all over this nation, hidden in every nook in cranny of it that are more comfortable with white people in charge of the education.
The other day I spoke into my son’s life. I told him that I had noticed something he was gifted with… I saw a strength in him given to him by the Lord. It was ONE conversation…ONE encouragement. I saw him almost instantly begin to grow in this area. He began to act as if he believed what I said was true. He had not seen this about himself before, but now he was aware of this gift of God. Recently I heard him respond to a question that someone asked him with almost my exact words about his strength in that area. And this morning it hit me square in the chest. We have a very hard time understanding why the African American culture lives in poverty…we have a hard time understanding why most of the violent crime is caused by this culture…we use the arguments of “if they would just do this…or do that…we wouldn’t have these problems” yet white culture told them for GENERATIONS what they were. White culture told them that they were only good for menial labor. White culture told them that they weren’t worthy of families and weren’t worthy enough to raise their own children. White culture told them that they were the dirt we should be allowed to walk on. White culture told them this for GENERATIONS. White culture still tells them that they are the reason for America’s problems. White culture still tells them that they are not smart enough. White culture still tells them that they are likely criminals. White culture still tells them that most of them belong in jail…that it is weird if they are stay at home moms…that it is abnormal if they adopt (especially if the children are white *gasp*). White culture may not say all of this out loud, but white culture still tells them that they don’t belong.
An African American male in this country, particularly one raised in an area of poverty, has all the makings of a criminal, but not because he aspires to be one. Often his father is already absent… an absent father is the norm in African American families because it has been for GENERATIONS. Slavery was quick to consume the males…to render them broken, ineffective, and submissive…for GENERATIONS…to teach them that they were less than, not worthy, on level with animals…for THOUSANDS OF YEARS this was spoken into them. And friends, they still believe it…millions of them still believe it. They still believe, in the back of their heads, the lies that have been repeated generation after generation. You want to know something even scarier, white culture still believes it…the white community as a whole still believes that the reason such a high percentage of the crime rate belongs to African Americans is because they are just less than…they just can’t get it together. I am now sobbing at the truth of what I am typing…because I know it is truth.
So a boy is born African American and everything in his life is already stacked against him. He likely lives with other African Americans who believe the lie that they are worthless… if they don’t believe it at first, they only have to watch as their mentors and friends to have that lie reiterated to them over and over. This boy decides that he is not going to be like the others and begins to focus on his education…he begins to be mocked and called “white boy” by his African American friends. His mother sees something in him and supports his education in whatever ways she possible can. She gets a third job, but that takes her away even more from her child and she can’t be there to make sure he gets home safely or isn’t in with the wrong crowd. If the boy makes it through without believing the lie among his own community, he has to fight his way into a “white world”, no longer filled with blatant racism (although he will likely come into contact with some of that), but filled with people who could just care less whether he makes it or not…people who are more likely (just subconsciously because their thoughts haven’t traveled any of these paths) to choose the white boy because he often has more money, better clothes, and has had his mom (and most times his dad) at home all his life to make sure he has the proper manners and training. I certainly hope right now that I am not “stereotyping” this by telling a story…I certainly am not saying it is like this for everyone…but only that it is like this for far too many… because even after all that this boy, who just wants to make a difference, has fought through and had to watch on his way and had to resist and had to go alone, we expect that he will have no rebellion or bitterness in his heart, but just accept that this is the way the world is.
“Let no one deceive himself. If any of you thinks he is wise in this age, he should become a fool…” Galatians 6:3
“Let nothing be done through strife or vain glory, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem the other better than himself.” Phil 2:3
“I say to every one among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly because every one of you has a God given measure of faith.” Romans 12:3
The attitude of superiority and privilege is not limited to color. City people can look down on country people. Wealthy people can look down on poor people. Beautiful people can look down on ugly people. Gifted people look down on average people. Healthy people look down on disabled people. The world loves winners. It loves the well dressed and the affluent. It automatically loves white people…black people have to fight for it. I have seen it. I have walked into rooms and rooms of stay at home moms, homeschooling moms, moms able to be involved in their kids education because the father is present and has one great job that covers it all…very, very, very few of these women are ever African American. I have walked into schools where the overwhelming number of students are black, but most of the teachers are white. I live in a county that is majority African American while the one right next door is majority Caucasian. Is that my fault? No it’s not. But it bothers me enough to take action against the lies that divide us and that is what I hope this offering does for you. I don’t know enough about black history to even be dangerous. I probably have even over stepped my bounds in what I have written here. This is not written to garner “pity and sympathy” for anyone which honestly just makes the situation worse, because the African Americans that I know are infinitely stronger individuals than most of the white people around me. They are stronger because they have survived more, they have forgiven more, they have not had the luxury of “faking it until they making it”…they have just had to make it. They are not to be pitied in any sense of the word.
Rather what I am calling for here is support and encouragement. What I am calling for here is an exposing of lies and deception. What I am calling for here is a purposeful eating of the elephant in the room one bite at a time. We are not fighting a surface problem here. We are fighting the demon of generational deception. We are fighting a racist demon who has effectively blinded the world with prejudice. We are fighting a demon whose lies must be exposed and conquered! These young people need our support and our encouragement to go and do better than we have. White young people need to be taught about the evils of slavery, not just the word. The wound needs to be uncovered so that our kids see the horrors of it and refuse to ever have any part in the lies of it. Black young people need to be taught that they are equal…whether this stupid, broken world treats them that way or not…they are worthy of education and they will find supportive white people all around them to help them succeed and let them lead. If we aren’t racist then we are ACTIVELY seeking to break the deception whenever and wherever we have the opportunity.
Listen. We can keep putting a bandaid back over the problem and then wondering why the wound isn’t healing or we can uncover it completely, disinfect it, clean it out, and bandage it properly. It only heals if we are willing to put ourselves through the pain of purifying it. We can continue to act like there isn’t a problem, but we can’t then wonder why there is still a problem. This may lose me some friends of both colors because my heart on paper this morning is not likely popular with either side, but so be it. The Holy Spirit gave me this to write today and I must be obedient.
To my African American friends reading this. I am so sorry if I in any way caused pain in what I have written…if I have gotten this wrong…if I have stopped too short or needled into things I have no right to. I am so sorry if in trying to be a part of a solution, I have just been “white”. I am so desperately sorry for the difficulty that has been created for you in this country that directly results from the horrendous evil called slavery. I am so sorry that if I had lived in that time and space, if I had not known better or been taught right, I might have had a part in the suffering of your great grandparents or grandparents…suffering which has been passed down to you in some ways.
And I just want to say that IT IS WRONG. IT IS A LIE what you have been told. IT IS A LIE what the accuser says to you over and over again. I know what he says because he says it to me, but I do not face the same rejection that you might on a daily basis. IT IS A LIE. You are worthy. You are just as worthy as any President and so am I. We were all created EQUALLY… no one superior… as a matter of fact, the ones who will reign in heaven are the ones who exercise no superiority here on earth. You should not have to fight in any way simply to establish your worth, God did that for you when He created you and it is appalling that I have not found this idea more appalling before now.
And thank you. Thank you to the African American followers of Jesus who have fought against the deception, who have fought against the voice inside and outside your head, who have fought tooth and nail against the demon of deception to walk in the light as He is in the light and to teach your children to do so. You have chosen to lay down bitterness, to accept the revilings of others, to break the generational curses, so that you might lead others out of that same darkness. Today, at this very second, I could not be more impressed with you and more proud to be your sister in Christ. I love you with the depths of my heart and am not deserving of your kind of mercy.
Friends of all colors, this kind of deception cannot and will not be eradicated with laws. This kind of deception is only broken by the light. It must be exposed wherever it is encountered and the truth must be spoken and prevailed. Boys must be told and taught their value and girls must be protected and cherished as they are meant to be. We, as children of the Light, are the leaders of this change. We must fight the darkness that is racism. We must do it by consciously speaking truth to our children and to our neighbors. We must do it by exposing and refuting the lies that still exist in our culture today. We must do it with an understanding of the demon that we are fighting here instead of an attitude that blames others and leaves them holding the responsibility. It is our privilege to experience redemption here on earth and nowhere greater is it needed than between the races.
Of all evil things in the Bible, oppressive superiority is spoken against the most. God hates pride. He especially hates the type of pride that leads to oppressing others. All His commands point to helping those in need and taking care of those without. He destroyed the Israelites for becoming an oppressive people as if to say “I don’t put up with this from ANYONE.” Jesus, Himself, left His comfortable throne in heaven to come down into our dirt and free us from the enemy’s deception. In that He leaves us an example of what anyone with talent or beauty or position or wealth or personality or anything that this world considers superior should do with it if we are to truly be following Jesus. Oppression is OUR battle, Christians…because of Jesus, it’s always our battle too.