A Hard Conversation
I’m not much of a news watcher, unlike my honey who actually records the World News. I figure the powers that be pick and choose what they wish to report and it’s usually not good. Shamefully, I get most of the happenings from Facebook news articles, in between the breakups, pregnancies, baby pics and jokes. I refrain from watching the news before I go to sleep because I like to drift off on a good note; however, such was not the case last night. I have yet to turn on the news to hear what’s going on in Ferguson, but you would have to live under a rock not to have heard the happenings there.
I scanned the feeds last night and between all of the ice bucket challenges and laughter I was stopped cold by the image of Michael Brown dead in the middle of the street with what looked like blood pouring from his head. I read the article and just cried. Cried for his mom, especially and what it must feel like to see your child in that condition. I knew a conversation would have to be had in our household…one I sincerely dreaded.
I grew up in Gary, Indiana and our family was the first non-white family to color Polk Street and while I was too young to remember, I recall stories told of my parents being judged by the color of their skin; however, I have never experienced overt racism, unless you count the time that Judy tried to whack me from behind with a two by four because of my “good hair.” Ironically, we were the last non-blacks to leave our neighborhood in Gary and it was by force. We were no longer welcomed so I guess you can say my folks/our family experienced racism coming and going and on we moved to Hammond where, again, we were the first non-white family to color the neighborhood.
My folks didn’t focus on skin color, although they were a bit concerned about the opinion of others where race mingling was concerned, so imagine the drama that ensued when “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” became a reality for them when my husband (then boyfriend) pulled up to meet them for the first time. They survived the introduction and grew to love my husband so all was well in my world…and then came Joshua.
To this day my husband and I have not experienced racism as an interracial couple; however, I clearly recall after giving birth to our son, I had a “knowing in my spirit” is the best way I could describe it, that I needed to be fully aware that I was raising a black man. I shelved the thought in the hopes that this world would support the existence of our bi-racial son. I don’t feel that as much these days as I witness the continued unraveling of this world that we live in.
I sort of began the discussion when Josh was around 4 or 5 by building his character, reminding him who he was in Christ; praying scripture over him…that he would obey them that rule over him; submit to authority; use wisdom. I instructed him on the importance of words like “no,” and “stop.” I was (and still am) intolerant when it came to bad attitudes, willful disobedience, disrespect. I nipped all foolishness in the bud in a hurry because I was well aware that once he left my care, folks on the outside would not tolerate his poor behavior and mommy wouldn’t be there to act as “clean up woman.” Can I say that this is enough for him to get by in the climate of today? Probably not, because he is still a black man. But it is a start.
This morning I asked him if he had heard about Michael Brown and he said no. My boy who lives in the suburbs, who attends private school, who is boisterous and free with his friends and unaware of color, may just be in a bubble that I took a stab at this morning. I explained the situation and broke it down to him and it broke my heart. His eyes grew wide and then pensive and then I began to rub salve on the wound by telling him not to lose his confidence, but use wisdom; not to lose respect, but use honor; not to fear, but to respect….and the conversation will continue.
Today I am praying for those who have been affected by this tragedy, including the officer and his family. I’m praying for heart changes, for peace, for healing and reconciliation, for restoration and trust. I’m praying for parents to step up and instruct their children, parent their children…not allow the streets, the schools, the churches to parent their children. I’m praying for protection for our children as they navigate this “new world” that we live in. Lord Jesus, come!