I grew up in the flatlands of the Mississippi Delta.
It's a beautiful place, where the culture is as rich as the soil.
But this fertile soil isn't only good for raising up artists, and musicians, and poets, and sweet southern ladies...it also raises up a special crop of people.
-People who hate other people, simply because they weren't born with the right shade of southern tan.
Oh yes...I'm talking about that dirty word: Racism.
I'm sure you are familiar with this topic due to the recent release of the novel turned film, The Help.
And, well, I won't go so far as to say that we haven't progressed at all since then...
But it isn't hard looking out at the crops of Delta to see the roots from which they sprang up .
And it's hard to till up seeds that were planted so long ago. To be honest, a lot of people- even "good" Christian brothers and sisters aren't really trying. To them, it is simply the way things are...
Providentially, as a teenager and young adult, I worked a job in a restaurant that allowed me to grow up alongside a group of people from "the other side of the tracks". Literally.
I learned by spending time with them that they were hard working people. People with families. People with churches, and friends. Not so unlike myself. And since they had watched me grow up from infancy, they loved me. And I loved them, dearly. And they loved the people they worked hard to serve...people who also loved them. But they weren't oblivious to the nature of these "relationships". They were aware of the fact that they were allowed to cook and serve in a place where they'd never be allowed to sit and be served. When I began working there, I wasn't privy to the "circumstances". And it wasn't until one day when I used the restroom labeled "Staff" and was told it was for "them" that I understood the sad reality of the situation. It's as if the word, 'colored' had been replaced by the word, 'staff'.
Not long after that, I was upset to learn that a Baptist minister in my town had been fired for bringing a busload of kids (from across the track) to Bible school that summer.
Now, I don't tell you this to stir up anger or dissension. But I tell you this because I think it is good for you to have a clear picture of how things really tick in the South- and how ugly this sin really is. And having this knowledge, you can pray persistently, and ask boldly for this sin to be blotted out.
This is not a sin of the past.
It is a sin of the present. It is real. Dangerous. And sadly, prevalent.
Also, racism goes both ways. It isn't just the old southern white gentleman that hates his fellow man. I have- on numerous occasions- seen both white and black people express blatant hatred for his fellow man simply because he is different. And it isn't just the poor, uneducated people who are guilty of this. It's people with good jobs, in good families, who attend good churches...
If we truly understand the nature of our hearts, we know that deep down the seed of racism is there. Because we know this, we should be committed to arming ourselves against it, and asking God to remove it and to cast it as far as the East from the West. We should pray this without ceasing!
That being said, we should acknowledge our differences, and point them out to our children. The pastor of my church has adopted two beautiful dark skinned children into his family, one from Ethiopia- and one from the US. And I love listening to the munchkin chatter when we all eat together at church. Sitting around a shared table, the little people talk about the different colors of their skin- casually pressing their arms up together to survey the contrast. They admire one another's unique qualities- discussing skin tone, and hair, and eyes, and lips. And I'm so thankful for my children to have this opportunity for fellowship- which is often so rare in southern churches. See, little people don't know anything yet about dirty words like racism and prejudice, and they are simply mystified and excited to study the Lord's beautiful handiwork in one other.
Instead of learning to separate themselves from those who are different, they are learning that we are all part of the same body- Christ's body! And because that is the case, there is no room for separation. We bear one anothers burdens as a family, we rejoice together, we learn and grow together, and we worship God together.
And they realize that He who stitched us all together in our mothers' wombs, created us to uniquely reflect something of Himself. Therefore we should cherish the work of our loving creator's hands- from the rich dark shades of black to the light creamy milk whites, and everything in between- because they reveal to us a little more about our Creator- in whose image we were all beautifully and wonderfully made!
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