I am a product of a bi-racial household. No, I’m not black (as you could probably tell) but when I was 5 years old my mother met the soul mate of her life and had two siblings. One a baby brother and the youngest, my baby sister. He just so happened to be African-American or as normal people say: black. From the age of 5 I grew up with Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Earth Wind and Fire records playing on the weekends. I also know what the smell of chitlins smells like and love the taste of mustard greens and pork neck bones.
This doesn’t make me black, nor does it qualify me to understand the least bit of what it means to be a minority in America today. However, I did get used to the stares in public and being treated differently when we went out for a meal or to the store.
As a teenager, I also had my unfortunate experience with police harassment, as I was the minority white guy within my group of friends at the time.
The episode in Furgeson and the race wars in my generation is nothing new. This has been going on as far as I can remember. Whether it was the beating of Rodney King, the shooting of Amadou Diallo or OJ Simpson, I think we can all agree that at least some forms of racism and discrimination exist today. I would like to replace the word “racism” with “fear.” For fear, I believe, is at the heart of all racism. Fear of things, cultures and people we simply don’t understand or know about. My experience as a white person raised in black culture removed much of the fear associated with black stereotypes. Because I was engrained in their community, I understood that black people are human beings, just like anyone else. I became familiar with the experience of a black person, yet without the actual color on my skin. People with less exposure to black culture may lack appreciation for or even outright demonize minorities without any clue or understanding. Mind you, there ARE differences and color does matter. But at the end of the day, I found that just because a black man has some size, wears a gold chain and braids, does not mean he is a thug, gangster or violent.
So since this is the latest of an ongoing conversation and experience, lets see what we can learn from this:
1. White people should stop minimizing the reality of racial discrimination.
Yes, we are in a different millennium, but fear is never locked into any specific place and time in history. There has been much progress in racial reconciliation today, yet we still have work to do to see that reconciliation and real understanding and love become second nature between people of different ethnicities.
2. Black people must understand the complexities that exist in their communities and rise to the occasion to help be “repairers of brokeness”.
Fatherlessness, not only in the black family, but in America at large is an epidemic. The breakdown of the family where some young black males are being raised by the streets or lacking true mentoring and fathering must be acknowledged and rectified. Black men must first become responsible themselves and then take up the responsibility of mentoring and guiding those without fathers in their home to break this cycle. I know for myself, being fatherless, it was the input and guidance of Godly men in the church that helped to form me to be the person I am today.
3. We must react to injustice in a way that will actually bring about real change.
I am not making a statement on the Michael Brown case one way or another here. I simply mean to say that when we DO feel that justice has not been served or there has been a breakdown in a flawed social system, we must stop being talkers and become doers. We have to get involved:
What has your experience been with racism, injustice or even reverse discrimination? I would appreciate your respectful and thoughtful comments here. Hateful or misguided comments will be deleted and moderated for better discussion.
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